Scientists studying the sense of smell of fishes have discovered that Kribensis can detect their own body odour.
Olfactory biologists from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Bonn in Germany, used scented water to examine whether the fish were able to recognise their own smell.
Their study, which has just been published in the journal Animal Cognition, found that the male cichlids, which spawn in 'caves' preferred caves that were scented by their own odour, rather than those bearing the odour of unfamiliar, unrelated male Kribensis.
To determine whether the ability to recognise their own smell was based on individual cues or whether they could detect the smell of family members, the team conducted additional experiments using odours from a familiar brother and an unfamiliar, unrelated male.
The Kribensis still preferred the caves scented with their own body odour compared to the caves scented with the smell of their brothers.
Interestingly, males that had been outbred preferred the odour of unrelated males, which the authors have suggested might be a clue indicating that the cichlids could be using the smell of mates to prevent them from inbreeding with their own relatives.
For more information see: Thnken T, Waltschyk N, Bakker TC, Kullmann H (2009) - Olfactory self-recognition in a cichlid fish. Anim Cogn. 2009 Sep;12(5):717-24. Epub 2009 May 22.