The Kampango (Bagrus meridionalis) is a large catfish that lives in Lake Malawi and can grow to as much as five feet long. Unfortunately for the kampango, its size and fatty flesh means that it’s prized as a tasty local dish, but in the depths of the lake, it’s still very much the boss as it hunts by night and feasts on populations of small cichlids, crabs and insect larvae.

As with many things in nature however, looks can be deceiving and despite its predatory nature, this hungry hunter is a surprisingly dedicated parent. As the fish is a substrate brooder,  the eggs are laid in a depression on the sandy lake floor. After they’ve hatched, the young stay put rather than wandering away from the safety of home so both parents need to make sure that they’re properly fed if they’re to grow.

The male kampangos do their fair share and can often be seen swimming above the young offspring, sifting mouthfuls of sand through their gills to filter out invertebrates for them to eat. But because the offspring stay put for at least the first three months of their lives, the area surrounding the nest is soon exhausted of suitable food and the drizzle of insects that the male provides isn’t enough to satisfy the hungry young.

Thankfully the female kampangos go one step further to solve the problem and deliberately feed their hatched offspring with a steady supply of their own unfertilised (and highly nutritious) eggs. No other fish has ever been observed engaging in this remarkable feeding behaviour, making the big catfish utterly unique and earning it a place in the parenting hall of fame.

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