CHATTANOOGA, Tenn —
The Cuckoo Catfish is indemic to Lake Tanginika which means that is the only place it is found. Jake Steventon, an aquarist at the Tennessee Aquarium said the Cuckoo Catfish is named after the Cuckoo Bird.
"Basically what the Cuckoo Bird does is she lays her eggs in another bird's nest and leaves them there for another bird to sit on and keep them warm and hatch and raise," said Steventon.
The Cuckoo Catfish does the same thing with several other species of fish known as cichlids. These fish keep their eggs in their mouth until they hatch.
"The Cuckoo Catfish has learned to capitalize on that and when it sees a pair doing their spawning, she will just kind of hoover above them and just kind of drop her eggs down there as well," said Steventon. "So the cichlid will scoop those eggs up thinking they are hers and the baby catfish will hatch first and then they will have their first meal in mama cichlid's mouth."
Cuckoo Catfish can grow anywhere from three to 13 inches long. They tend to have beautiful leopard spots. Other than the fact that they use other fish to breed their babies, Cuckoo Catfish are very much typical catfish.