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Cynotilapia zebroides from Lake Malawi

Cynotilapia zebroides

Cynotilapia zebroides Magunga. Photo be Greg Steeves

Cynotilapia zebroides is the species name for most of the fish once known as Cynotilapia afra. Just like C. afra, C. zebroides has many location variants displaying different color schemes. Most are light blue with either black or dark blue barring. Some of the variants have yellow on the dorsal fin or on the upper half of the body. Many of the different variants can be seen in the Cynotilapia Species Profiles.

Like many other Lake Malawi mbuna, Cynotilapia zebroides can be aggressive. In the aquarium, C. zebriodes are best kept in groups of one male to multiple females. Different variants of C. zebriodes should not be kept together even if the males display different color patterns. The females are all drab in color and will not differentiate between variants. A diet high in vegetable content is strongly recommended. The library has several articles still titled Cynotilapia afra that give more information on the species. They can be found in the Malawi Mbuna Profiles. Discussion on Cynotilapia zebroides can be done in the Lake Malawi Species forum.


Lake Tanganyika undergoing changes

lake tanganyika

Lake Tanganyika. Photo by Francesca Ansaloni (CC BY 2.0)

The cichlids of Lake Tanganyika were spared from the introduction of the Nile Perch which decimated Lake Victoria’s native species beginning in the 1950s. Despite that bit of luck, Lake Tanganyika has become stained by other human activity and changes in water temperatures. Deforestation for agriculture and human expansion has resulted in runoff into the lake. The increased mud and silt are transforming the habitat of many species found in the hobby. Over-fishing and warming water temperatures have also resulted in declining fish populations.

To get a sense of what is happening in Lake Tanganyika and the research behind it check out the article on The Conversation. Links to other stories and studies are found in the article. Discussion can be done in the Lake Tanganyika Species forum.


Lamprologus ocellatus Gold

Lamprologus ocellatus

Lamprologus ocellatus Gold. Photo by Dave Hansen

Of the different variants of Lamprologus ocellatus, one of the most popular is the gold. Found throughout Lake Tanganyika, L. ocellatus inhabit empty snail shells along the sandy bottom or in caves created by rocks. Despite their small size, max 2.5″, these little shelldwellers aren’t afraid to defend their young and territory from much larger fish.

In the aquarium Lamprologus ocellatus are a wonder to watch. When given a sandy substrate and shells, these little fish will rearrange their environment to suit their needs. They can be quite aggressive and will harass any other fish. They are best kept with hardy fish that won’t be too bothered by the constant nipping. Long-finned, delicate or shy fish are not recommended. They will spawn and lay eggs inside a shell and both parents will guard they fry until they are old enough to go off on their own. There is an article in the library by Marc Elieson titled Lamprologus ocellatus and it is part of the larger Shell Dweller Corner section. To discuss these little cichlids visit the Lake Tanganyika Species forum.


Tropheops sp. “Broad Mouth” from Lake Malawi

Tropheops sp

Tropheops sp. “Broad Mouth”. Photo by Ad Konings

Another of the many yet-to-be-described species of mbuna from Lake Malawi is the Tropheops sp. “Broad Mouth”. Characterized by the rapid downward slope of its upper jaw, T. sp. “Broad Mouth” from the Minos Reef area are an attractive blue and yellow. The inhabit the sediment rich, rocky areas feeding on algae.

Species like Tropheops sp. “Broad Mouth” are occasionally imported from the Lake Malawi. Unfortunately, until the species is properly identified, it may appear under different names. Regardless, if you do get your hands on this species typical mbuna rules apply. Males are territorial and aggressive. Best kept in groups of one male to multiple females. A diet heavy in plant matter is best. Caves and rocks should be provided both for spawning and protection. To discuss T. sp. “Broad Mouth” visit the Lake Malawi Species forum.


Thorichthys panchovillai described

Thorichthys panchovillai

Female Thorichthys panchovillai. Photo from Revista Peruana de Biología publication.

A new species of Thorichthys, found in the Coatzacoalcos River of Southern Mexico, has been formally described. Presumably named after the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, Thorichthys panchovillai appears in the same waters as other unidentified Thorichthys species.

The article describing Thorichthys panchovillai appears in the Revista Peruana de Biología and is in Spanish. Hopefully some more information will be available in English soon and we can see how T. panchovillai differs from other Thorichthys collected from the same waters. The article can be found on the Revista Peruana de Biología website. To discuss T. panchovillai visit the Central American Cichlids forum.


Labidochromis textilis from Lake Malawi

Labidochromis textilis

Labidochromis textilis. Photo by Greg Steeves

Originally described by Michael Oliver in the mid 1970′s,Labidochromis textilis never gained much popularity among hobbyists. It is surprising considering that both males and females display the same unusual color pattern. Besides their appearance, L. textilis is also a hardy and peaceful aquarium inhabitant making them idea for both mbuna and hap tank setups.

Like other species in the genus, Labidochromis textilis feeds primarily on small crustaceans. A diet with some protein content is best, especially if you plan on spawning this species. They breed in typical mbuna mouthbrooder fashion. Small caves or rock work is recommended. To discuss this small and peaceful mbuna visit the Lake Malawi Species forum.


Metriaclima fainzilberi Hongi Island

Metriaclima fainzilberi

Metriaclima fainzilberi from Hongi Island. Photo by Ad Konings

Metriaclima fainzilberi from Hongi Island in Lake Malawi is one of the many location variants of this species. The color pattern shown above is typical for this species. Other variants, like the M. fainzilberi OB “Charo”, have been know to produce orange-blotch males. Females of the species tend to remain a solid brownish color.

Metriaclima fainzilberi is a territorial herbivore. In the aquarium, males can be very aggressive. Even females of the species can be treated roughly, and it is recommended that many hiding places are provided. A single male with multiple females is best. Other Metriaclima or similarly shaped/colored females should not be housed together. To discuss this species visit the Lake Malawi Species forum.


Cichlid fossils point to hybridization/diversification

cichlid fossils

Tugenchromis pickfordi fossils. Photo from publication.

The discovery of new cichlid fossils is supporting the idea that early hybridization contributed to the diversity of cichlid species found today. Genetic testing done of Lake Victoria cichlids pointed to similar conclusions (See Feb. 12th blog).

A newly published study in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology speculates that the well-preserved fossilized remains of a new species, Tugenchromis pickfordi, has characteristics that resulted from hybridization. It is believed that hybridization is part of the puzzle of what led to species radiation and the diversity of cichlids in the East African lakes. To read more about the recently discovered cichlid fossils and the study itself visit the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. Discussion can be done in the General African Cichlid Discussion forum.

Unknown Thoracochromis from West Africa

Unknown Thoracochromis

Unknown Thoracochromis species. Photo by Greg Steeves

Arriving in a shipment of wild fish from West Africa over 10 years ago, this unknown Thoracochromis species has flourished in a hobbyist’s tanks. Despite help from Dr. Loiselle and Anton Lamboj, this species could not be identified by name or location. During those years these fish have bred and have found their way into more hobbyist’s hands.

This species’ males have a yellow/golden body with a bright powder blue on the face and fins. Females are drab with a hint of yellow on their bodies. Until more hobbyists keep this species or the origin is identified and described, not much more is known about them. In the interim, the original keeper of this species have them the name Thoracochromis sp. “flavententis” for their color. If you have an inkling of what this species might be or would like to discuss this unknown Thoracochromis visit the West African species forum.

Trematocranus placodon from Lake Malawi

Trematocranus placodon

Trematocranus placodon. Photo by Ad Konings

Commonly known as the Snail-Crusher Hap, Trematocranus placodon gets the name for its ability to crush snails with specially developed teeth. In Lake Malawi male T. placodon build a large, bowl shaped bower in order to attract breeding females. After spawning it is not uncommon for females to hold upwards of 100 eggs for 3 weeks.

In the aquarium Trematocranus placodon can be a challenge. Males can reach 10 inches in length and are very aggressive toward other T. placodon males. Large tanks are a must for this species, especially if you plan to breed them. Due to their aggressive and housing requirements, it is best to keep a single male with multiple females. If the aquarium is big enough, other species of large haps or even frontosa can be tankmates. To dicuss T. placodon visit the Lake Malawi Species forum.

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