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External bearers[edit]

Mouth brooders - carry eggs or larvae in their mouth. Mouth brooders can be ovophiles or
larvophiles. Ovophile or egg-loving mouth-brooders lay their eggs in a pit, which are sucked up
into the mouth of the female. The small number of large eggs hatch in the mother's mouth, and
the fry remain there for a period of time. Fertilization often occurs with the help of egg-spots,
which are colorful spots on the anal fin of the male. When the female sees these spots, she tries
to pick up the egg-spots, but instead gets a mouthful of sperm, fertilizing the eggs in her mouth.
Many cichlids and some labyrinth fish are ovophile mouthbrooders. Larvophile or larvae-loving
mouth-brooders lay their eggs on a substrate and guard them until the eggs hatch. After
hatching, the female picks up the fry and keeps them in her mouth. When the fry can fend for
themselves, they are released. Some eartheaters are larvophile mouthbrooders.
Internal bearers[edit]
Facultative internal bearers[edit]
The beginning of the evolutionary process of livebearing starts with facultative (optional) internal
bearing. The process occurs in several species of oviparous (egg-laying) killifishes which spawn
in the normal way on the substrate, but in the process accidentally fertilize eggs which the female
retains and does not spawn. These eggs are spawned later, usually without allowing much time
for embryonic development.[4]:147
Bearers: Internal[34]

Facultative internal bearers

Obligate internal bearers

Guppies are livebearers. This one has been pregnant for about 26 days.

Obligate internal bearers[edit]

The next step in the evolution of livebearing is obligate (by necessity) internal bearing, where the
female retains all the embryos. "The only source of nutrition for these embryos, however, is the
egg yolk, as in externally spawned eggs. This situation, also referred to as ovoviviparity, is
characteristic of marine rock fishes and the Lake Baikal sculpins. This strategy allows these fish
to have fecundities approaching those of pelagic fish with external fertilization, but it also enables
them to protect the young during their most vulnerable stage of development. By contrast, sharks
and rays using this strategy produce a relatively small number of embryos and retain them for a
few weeks to 16 months or longer. The shorter times spans are characteristic of species that
eventually deposit their embryos in the environment, surrounded by a horny capsule; whereas
the longer periods are characteristic of sharks that retain the embryos until they are ready to
emerge as actively swimming young."[4]:147[38]
Viviparous fish[edit]
However, some fish do not fit these categories. The livebearing largespring gambusia (Gambusia
geiseri) was thought to be ovoviviparous until it was shown in 2001 that the embryos received
nutrients from the mother.[39]