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This study was designed to evaluate morphological variations of cichlids from the Kainji lake, Niger State in Nigeria, the study was conducted in February 2015. A Total of 200 samples of Cichlidae were collected comprising of four species which included Oreochromis niloticus, Tilapia zilli, Pelmatolapia mariae and Sarotherodon galilaeus. Thirty morphometric measurements and meristic counts were recorded. Data was corrected to eliminate size effect on sample and subjected to discriminate function analysis to determine rate of divergence among species. Results obtained revealed significant variation in some morphometric parameters measured and all six meristic counts recorded. Growth pattern revealed negative allometric growth for O. niloticus (2.29), T. mariea (0.72) and S. galilaeus (2.47) while T. zilli, had a positive allometric growth. Discriminate analysis showed some levels of overlap across species for both morphometric measurement and meristic count. Inter-specific distance was closest between T. zilli and O. niloticus (14.70) while the farthest distance was recorded between T. zilli and S. galilaeus (52.40). The observable overlap among species despite morphometric and genetic differences may have been as a result of similar species adaptations in response to the prevailing environmental conditions of the lake.
Cichlidae, Biometrical parameters, Growth pattern, Kainji Lake, Nigeria, Fisheries management, Aquatic health management