Cynotilapia aurifrons Mphanga Rocks. Photo by Greg Steeves
Cynotilapia aurifrons Mphanga Rocks is a variant of C. aurifrons from the Mphanga Rocks area of Lake Malawi. The different locations and variants of C. aurifrons show slight color differences. Male Mphanga Rocks variants show a little more yellow along the dorsal fin and head than the Nkhata Bay variant, but not as much as the Chilumba variant.
In the aquarium, Cynotilapia aurifrons should be fed a diet high in vegetable matter like a spirulina based flake or pellet like other mbuna. While somewhat shy around other species, C. aurifrons males can be very aggressive toward their own. Best kept in groups of one male and multiple females. The presence of other aggressive species will dull the color of males and they will take on the neutral color of females. Male colors are best when spawning. A minimum of a 4 foot tank with plenty of rocks is recommended. To discuss Cynotilapia aurifrons visit the Lake Malawi species forum.
A very rare Congo River cichlid, Pterochromis congicus has not had much traction in the hobby. This species is widespread throughout the central Congo River and is often a source of food for the locals. There are several references to the species reaching on 6″ in length. There isn’t much information on P. congicus despite being on the cover of Cichlid News magazine 4 years ago. This species is also described as demersal, meaning it spends its time and feed along the bottom.
Hopefully more information will become available about Pterochromis congicus in the near future. If you know anything about them, please share your experiences in the West African species forum.
Aside from all the other factors that threaten cichlid species in Lake Malawi, on major problem is the use of mosquito nets for fishing. These nets were given out in an effort to reduce cases of malaria. Unfortunately, these same nets, with their tight weave, were used for fishing. In deep waters, these nets are used to catch the larger fish that are usually a food source for people in the region. The small openings of the nets meant that young fish, which in the past slipped through larger openings, were now being caught. These mosquito nets were so effective that fish stocks in Lake Malawi have fallen by 90%.
The problem isn’t restricted to deep waters. The rocky shores which offered protection for small cichlids are being fished with these mosquito nets. Efforts to outlaw the use of mosquito nets or restrict there use is underway with signs of positive results. For more information on the issue, check out the article on the Deutsche Welle website.
Ptyochromis sp. “salmon” was originally collected from Hippo Point in Southwest Lake Victoria. This species is also commonly found under the name “Hippo Point salmon”. For a couple years P. sp. “salmon” became the must-have fish due to its pink, salmon color. After a while the enthusiasm for the species died down but the species is still available if you are determined to find it.
In the wild, Ptyochromis sp. “salmon” is a snail eater. In tanks, the species can be a little shy and the namesake colors aren’t always displayed. Females don’t display any color. A food high in protein is recommended. Although not aggressive toward other species, P. sp. “salmon” can be aggressive toward its own species. They are best kept in groups of one male and multiple females. Discussion on this species can be done in the Lake Victoria Basin forum.
Originally collected in 1852, Wallace’s Pike Cichlid died during transport to England. It wasn’t until 160 years later that the specimen collected in the upper Rio Negro was identified from its drawings. The new species name of the 160 year-old mystery is Crenicichla monicae. The drawings were matched to 3 specimens collected by the Swedish Amazonas Expedition in 1923–1925. Unfortunately, the publication with more information is behind a paywall at BioOne.org.
Pike cichlid is a common term to describe fish belonging to the genus Crenicichla. Species of Crenicichla range in size from 3 inches all the way to the 20 inches. Crenicichla are predators with a large mouth and elongated body. They make their home in rivers, steams and lakes in South America. The library has several articles on Crenicichla, but for those looking for more information on the genus, check out the Introduction to Pike Cichlids article by Vinny Kutty.
Metriaclima sp. “Msobo”; Male top, female bottom. Photos by Robert De Leon
Metriaclima sp. “Msobo” is a mbuna species that inhabits the rocky coastline on the Northeast part of Lake Malawi. Since arriving in the hobby, this species has seen many different names including Pseudotropheus “msobo deep”, Msobo Magunga and Deep Tanzania. For now the official name has settled as Metriaclima sp. “Msobo” but don’t be surprised if you see variations of the name on stock lists.
A noticeable characteristic of M. sp. “Msobo” is that the colors of the male and female resemble that of Pseudotropheus saulosi. Males have a dark blue and black color that develops as they age and become dominant while females remain yellow/orange. Like P. saulosi, M. sp. “Msobo” is a herbivore that is best kept in groups of one male and multiple females. However, while P. saulosi is relatively docile compared to other mbuna, M. sp. “Msobo” is very aggressive and larger. Males will harass other fish in the aquarium to claim their territory and will not tolerate other males of the same species. Females take constant abuse from the males and can also dish it out. Docile species should not be kept in the tank with M. sp. “Msobo” and a minimum of a 4 foot tank with lots of hiding places is recommended. If you have a tank with other aggressive fish and are looking for add a splash of color, M. sp. “Msobo” may be right for you.
Found throughout Lake Victoria, Psammochromis riponianus is one of those species that has been in the hobby since the 1990′s but never really gained widespread popularity. This species has made a comeback in Lake Victoria since the population decline of the Nile Perch. Unfortunately, poor water visibility in the lake poses a crossbreeding threat for the species.
A new article by Greg Steeves sheds some light on Psammochromis riponianus. The article includes a brief history on the species, collection locations and some tips on keeping and breeding the species. If P. riponianus is a species you are interested in or would like to learn more about, visit the Species Article in the Library. Discussion on P. riponianus can be done in the Lake Victoria Basin forum.
Sarotherodon knauerae was discovered about 5 years ago in the small, isolated Lake Ejaghan. Unlike other lakes in the region, Lake Ejaghan did not form inside a volcanic crater. Instead, the oval shaped Lake Ejaghan is most likely the result of a groundwater solution basin formed during the last Ice Age.
Lake Ejaghan does not have an inflow and its outflow is separated from the Munaya River by a waterfall. These features separated Sarotherodon knauerae from other fish in the region. S. knauerae is the smallest of all Sarotherodons reaching only about 3″. Rarely seen in the hobby, S. knauerae is endangered by pollution and sedimentation. In the lake, S. knauerae feeds on the detritus and spends most of its time in the shallower waters of the lake. To discuss Sarotherodon knauerae, visit the Lake Victoria Basin, West African, Madagascar & Asian Species forum.
Thoracochromis brauschi is a species found in the Fwa River region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (aka Zaire until 1997). There are several species of cichlids in the Fwa River, but T. brauschi is the best known in the hobby.
Thoracochromis brauschi, often called the “blood throat” cichlid, is rarely found on stock lists despite its attractive and unique coloration. Males display a bright red color from the bottom of their mouth all the way through their pelvic fins. Females are drab and do not display the “blood throat” colors. T. brauschi is a mild mannered fish that rarely displays aggression toward other species. This makes them great additions to many community setups. To find out more about Thoracochromis brauschi check out the Species Article by Greg Steeves. Discussion on this species can also be done in the Lake Victoria Basin, West African, Madagascar & Asian Species forum.
Male Gymnogeophagus lipokarenos with pronounced hump. Photo from publication.
Five new Gymnogeophagus species have been described in the Brazilian Neotropical Ichthyology journal. Gymnogeophagus are known as eartheaters for their specialized feeding behavior and are found in river basins of southern Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay.