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Haplochromis sp. 'Kenya gold'
by Don Greg Steeves (Gas)
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The popularity of snail eating haplochromine cichlids from Lake Victoria has always been strong. Species such as Platytainiodus sp. 'red tail sheller', Ptyochromis sp. 'salmon' and Labrochromis ishmaeli (to name only a few) are favorites for several reasons. Firstly, the common aquarium pest Melanoides tuberculata (Malaysian trumphet snail) is abundant and tough to get rid of in many aquariums. These oral shellers do a decent job at controlling this pest. The body shape (particularly the head) is different from most other haplochromines and unique enough in regards to coloration that they can be kept with other cichlids that normally couldn’t be safely housed together without fear of hybridization. Another sheller from Mbita Point, Kenya is Haplochromis sp. 'Kenya gold'. It should be noted that placing this fish in the genus Haplochromis is only done as a place holder. Haplochromis sp. 'Kenya gold' is not closely related to other fish truly belonging to this genus such as Haplochromis lividus from Lake Victoria, or Haplochromis sp. 'ruby' from the Kyoga Basin of Uganda. We have yet to take a good look at the morphology of this cichlid to make our own opinion of where it best fits but it is possible that this might belong in its own genus. That will be a project for some rainy day.

Haplochromis sp. 'Kenya gold' has always been popular in the cichlid hobby but never plentiful. If memory serves, it was at one time raised commercially in Florida but we really don’t think that is happening anymore. This is another of a growing list of fish that are in the hobbyist's hands to ensure survival. The wild population density is not known, however many shellers did not fare well with the Nile perch. We speculate that their habit of feeding on snails along the mud or sand made them easy targets for the large predators. We, the hobbyists, should pay close attention to this species and ensure it is around for generations to come. H. sp 'Kenya gold' is always sought after in the hobby and the few times we’ve had fry to distribute, there was no problem finding them homes.

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