Telmatochromis temporalis is a bi-parental substrate brooding cichlid endemic to Lake Tanganyika. Paired males were always larger than their mates and had territories around nests against con-specific males. However, males smaller than the paired females were found in 18% of the nests. Here we report a reproductive tactic of these small males. The small males had as heavy gonads as paired males, and the gonad somatic index (GSI) of the small males was much higher than that of the latter. The examinations of the paternity and maternity using microsatellite-DNA as a genetic marker revealed that the small males were not genetically related to the pair members, and sired some young in 3 of 5 nests. These small males did not guard the broods, suggesting that they are likely to perform reproductive parasitism as sneakers. Paired males could not enter their spawning nests due to their large size, which made it difficult to chase out sneakers once they entered the nest. Some males as small as the sneakers were found outside the territories of paired males, and their gonads were quite small. Circumstantial evidence suggests that small males have two alternative investment patterns: investing in gonad to be sneakers, and investing in growth to probably be territorial males.
DNA paternity analyses