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Explorit’s Cichlids Aid UC Davis Research

This article appeared in the June 29, 2018 edition of the Davis Enterprise.

Explorit’s Cichlids Aid UC Davis Research

African Cichlid. Photo by Explorit Science Center.


By Lisa Justice

Special to the Enterprise


If you’ve ever stopped by Explorit’s office or visited our museum, you’re sure to recall a tank of flashy black and silver fish in our entryway. Explorit’s African Cichlids have been greeting visitors for over a decade.


But this week they are moving on to an even bigger task. Explorit’s cichlids are moving to a research lab at U.C. Davis to help us learn more about this fascinating species.


African Cichlids (sick-lids) are a type of fish that have the amazing ability to evolve rapidly. This high rate of speciation makes them very well adapted to the many different lakes and rivers throughout Africa.


Cichlids living in the same body of water have sometimes evolved in completely different ways, due, in part, to the different ecosystems found within a single lake.


Explorit’s particular species is usually silver in color, but dominant males will become a darker, almost black color. In the wild they eat plankton (microscopic organisms found at or near the water’s surface), but will eat a variety of things in captivity.


Females of this species are mouthbrooders and will scoop up unfertilized eggs from the substrate after dropping them into a shallow, excavated spawning pit. The male will then fertilize the eggs in the mother’s mouth.


The eggs will eventually hatch and the young fish will remain in the mother’s mouth until they are large enough for an attempt of survival on their own. We hope many future generations of cichlids will thrive at U.C. Davis.


But Explorit’s aquarium won’t be empty for long. With help from Davis’s own Rivers to Reefs, a new aquatic ecosystem will be moving in soon with a variety of fascinating animals to greet visitors and stimulate curiosity about science and nature.



Explorit’s coming events:


●      Visit our Feathers exhibition! Explorit’sExploration Gallery is open to the public every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 1:00-5:00 p.m.  Admission is $5.00 per person; Explorit members, teachers and children 2 and under are free.

●      Summer Camp registration is open now! Visit for a full schedule and to register online. Or call 530-756-0191.

●      Consider a donation to Explorit. Now more than ever, we need science education. Your donations help Explorit serve our community with exhibits, activities and educational outreach programs in 15 surrounding counties. Sponsor a program or summer camp scholarships by making a gift at, or call us for more details.

●      Looking for that perfect gift?  Give the gift of science with a membership to Explorit and also gain free access to hundreds of science museums across the nation. For more information or to purchase or renew your membership online visit or call Explorit at 530-756-0191. For a list of participating museums across the nation visit

●      Be an informal science educator for a day! Explorit is looking for volunteers to accompany our educators into classrooms during the day and assist with presenting hands-on science to school children. If this sounds like you, please fill out a volunteer application at



Explorit Science Center is located at 3141 5th St. For more information call (530) 756-0191 or visit, or “like” us on Facebook at


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