The father who finds babysitting a mouthful: Dedicated cardinalfish keeps eggs in his cheeks for weeks at a time (without even a food break)

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Next time you are asked to babysit, spare a thought for this male fish.

The cardinalfish, found off the coast in Malaysia  is a mouthbrooder, where the males carry all the eggs in their mouth for weeks.

And the poor fish takes his job very seriously – he is unable even to eat until his babies have hatched.

Looking after the brood: The male cardinalfish carry all the eggs in their mouth for weeks, unable even to eat until they have hatchedLooking after the brood: The male cardinalfish carry all the eggs in their mouth for weeks, unable even to eat until they have hatched

Stay away! The father fish keeps the brood in his mouth to protect them from predatorsStay away! The father fish keeps the brood in his mouth to protect them from predators

 

The amazing pictures were taken by dive guide Mat Yie in his native Malaysia – and it took Matt a good hour to get these shots.

Every few minutes the fish spits some of the eggs out to move them around.

Mat, 28, said: ‘It is the male alone who looks after the eggs.

‘Generally the female will release an egg mass close to the chosen male and after the male fertilises the eggs, he will take them into his mouth to carry them during the incubation period, until the fry are ready to hatch.

‘The male won’t even be able to eat during this incubation period which lasts several weeks.’

Several animals – including frogs – mouthbrood, but it is generally a fish habit, and generalyl a job for the men.

The female lays a mass of eggs, which the male fish then fertilises, before scooping up the eggs and carrying them until they hatch.

However sweet all of this caring sounds, there is a sting in the tale. Some research implies that up to 30 per cent of the brood do get ingested, and therefore cannabilised.

Dinner's up: Because the fish have adapted to use their mouth as a cot, they cannot eat for weeks at a timeDinner’s up: Because the fish have adapted to use their mouth as a cot, they cannot eat for weeks at a time

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