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Otopharynx lithobates
by Marc Elieson

Otopharynx lithobates maleO. lithobates males undergo a really spectacular morphology change as they mature. As I have shown with the pictures here (going in reverse), males slowly transform from a soft tan to a dark neon blue, with a gorgeous orange stripe on the dorsal fin. The lips and head change first, giving their owner a tantilizing taste of what's to come. All Otopharynx have three characteristic dark spots on the flank, but these eventually become completely masked by the dark blue breeding coloration of males.

Otopharynx lithobates maleThis is a haplocrhomine (a.k.a. "Hap") predator, which feeds mostly on crustaceans and insects. It is very similar in appearance and behavior to the Aulonocara peacocks, differing mostly in the shape of its cranium (hence the name Otopharynx). It also differs in that O. litobates lacks egg spots. This fish has been sold erroneously under the name Aristochromis christyi, which is really a very different fish.

O. lithobates are a peaceful Hap, being neither bothered or showing aggression toward other fish. Even among themselves, they are quite mild-mannered, only displaying brief flares of fin or a passing nip during spawning rituals. Notwithstanding their mildness, they are not reticent at obtaining food. They are adept at catching and consuming feeder fish Otopharynx lithobates male(even minnows!), compared to most predators who usually just cripple them, leaving them to die, or canít catch the fast-swimming minnows. Males reach a length of 5", while females get up to about 4". This species tends to be grow rather slowly compared with other fish. Broods typically consist of 15-40 fry, which are 4mm when released.

Note: The male pictured above is a different variety of O. lithobates than that displayed below. For example, notice the difference in the yellowish-organe of the dorsal fin between these two males. □

 

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