Some might say that the name of the species pictured above is Haplochromis brownae, but for now I will refer to this species as Astatotilapia brownae. Many species from the Lake Victoria basin are classified under the catch-all genus Haplochromis. Over the years there has been an effort to reclassify many of these species into other genus. As far as I know, this species is still considered a Haplochromis but it is also found under the Astatotilapia name.
Originally found in Lake Victoria, this species is believed extinct in the wild. The Nile perch led to a drastic reduction in their numbers. The most recent surveys has come up with fish that appear to be A. brownae, but are misdentifications or hybrids. Poor water quality has let to visibility issues which in turn has caused many fish to spawn with the wrong species. Those who have kept this species report that these fish can be somewhat aggressive, but not as bad as some of the most aggressive Victorians. Males grow to about 4″ and should be kept with multiple females to distribute aggression. To discuss Astatotilapia brownae and other Lake Victoria basin species, visit the Lake Victoria forum.
A new research article has come up with some interesting finding in facial recognition by cichlids. The experiments were conducted with Neolamprologus pulcher, a schooling cichlid from Lake Tanganyika. The study found that when presented with images of different Neolamprologus pulcher, they could quickly recognize them as familiar or unfamiliar. A quick glance, < 0.5 seconds, was all that was needed for N. pulcher to identify recognizable facial features of familiar fish. The speed of recognition is comparable to that of primates, including humans. To read about the study visit PLOS.org. Discussion on N. pulcher can be done in the Lake Tanganyika Species forum.
Lipochromis sp. “Matumbi hunter”. Photo by Greg Steeves
Normally evolutionary traits help species survive in their environments. Drastic changes in a species’ habitat can cause certain traits to become useless. In the case of Lake Victoria cichlids, the introduction of a new predator by humans caused the mass extinction of hundreds of species. The Nile perch is a fast growing and hungry predator quickly eliminated competition and preyed on any fish in the lake.
A new study points to certain evolutionary traits in cichlids that helped them before the introduction of the Nile perch, but quickly became a liability once this new competitor arrived. Cichlids developed jaws that allowed them to eat a variety of foods. According to the study, these same jaws were not suited to compete with the large mouth or the Nile perch. Unfortunately the publication is behind a paywall, but a summary can be found on the National Geographic website.
A pair of Central American cichlids, Chuco intermedium and Paratheraps melanurus, face off in this short video.
Both of these species are quite beautiful and can reach sizes of 10 inches or larger. Just a single pair is stunning but looking at the video you can see this tank is full of these large fish. Chuco intermedium normally make their home in rivers but can be found in calmer lagoons. C. intermedium is not particularly aggressive but will defend its offspring and territory. On the other hand, Paratheraps melanurus lives in calmer waters of slow moving rivers or lakes. P. melanurus is a more aggressive species and care needs to be taken in selecting tankmates and providing adequate hiding areas. For discussion on both of these species visit the Central American Species forum.
Chuco intermedium (left) and Paratheraps melanurus (right). Screen capture from nijlpaard63 video
This rare snail-eating cichlid from Lake Victoria is not only rare in the hobby, but thought to be extinct in the wild. Often confused with Haplochromis sp. 44, Labrochromis ishmaeli is believed to have originally inhabited the sandy-bottom waters of Mwanza Gulf in southern Lake Victoria.
Due to the often muted colors of the males and the always plain females, this species never gained much popularity in the hobby. Anyone interested in keeping a rare cichlid that is probably extinct in the wild, Labrochromis ishmaeli is a must-get fish if the opportunity arises. This cichlids can reach almost 6 inches and is peaceful when not spawning. Keeping L. ishmaeli in a tank by themselves is recommended, especially if you hope to breed them. For more information about this species visit the Labrochromis ishmaeli article by Greg Steeves. Discussion can be done in the Lake Victoria Basin forum.
Packed with the personality of a whale, Neolamprologus signatus is a small shelldwelling cichlid from Lake Tanganyika. Shelldwellers make their home in empty Neothauma tanganyicense shells which they horde and bury for protection and to spawn. N. signatus males reach about 2.5 inches in length with the females half and inch shorter. Males have black barring on their flanks. Females lack the barring but display a pinkish spot over their abdomen.
Fish Health Monitor trial is being held at Blue Planet Aquarium
A new fish health monitor developed by Dr Lynne Sneddon at the University of Liverpool is being tested at the Blue Planet Aquarium in England. The system has been in place for two months monitoring fish movement to determine the overall health of the tanks inhabitants. Using cameras, the system monitors the aquarium’s inhabitants. Healthy fish movement has be programmed into the system and when it detects unhealthy movement, the staff is notified. Initially developed for use in the laboratory, this system has applications in large public aquariums. Maybe one day the fish health monitor will be available for home use with nothing more than a camera and home computer to monitor and alert us to possible health issues in our tanks. To read more about the monitor, visit PHYS.ORG.
Originally belonging to the genus Cynotilapia, Metriaclima sp. “mbweca” was commonly found on price lists as “afra mbweca” or “green afra”. Like other Malawi mbuna, male M. sp. “mbweca” can be territorial and does best in groups of one male and multiple females. While dominant males can be aggressive toward conspecific males, they are not known for being as aggressive as other mbuna. M. sp. “mbweca” can be kept with a variety of other cichlid species. However, care should be taken to ensure that females of other species are not similar to M. sp. “mbweca” females. A short article on Metriaclima sp. “mbweca” by Nick Andreola can be found in the Library.
A great hour-long dive video in the waters off of Chizumulu Island in Lake Malawi.
For Malawi cichlid fans, the name Chizumulu should ring a bell. There are many species in the hobby today that were originally collected from around Chizumulu Island including mbuna, peacocks and haps. While many species of cichlids can be seen in this video, the vast majority are mbuna. If you are a fan of in the wild videos or mbuna, this video by Marc Boulton of African Cichlid Hub is fantastic. To discuss the many species around Chizumulu Island in Lake Malawi, visit the Lake Malawi Species forum.
Labidochromis flavigulis. Chizumulu Island. Photo by Ad Konings