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Mbipia lutea
by Greg Steeves
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I parted with a half dozen F1 fry. As the fry began to grow in my tank, they developed the color I had been waiting for quite early. I had no photographs at the time to pass around for identification so I did the best I could explaining the fish to Dr. Les Kaufman at Boston University. Dr. Kaufman is the authority on the Victorian species flock as far as I'm concerned, and I pestered him for information on this fish.

I explained that the dominant male had a lime green body dotted with six black spots along the lateral line. The tail, anal, and dorsal fins are lined with bright red. The fin rays emerging from the dorsal and tail fins are radiant with bright blue. The region of the head from the gill plate up, is a dull blue with a prominant eye barring that extends around the snout, through the eyes, and tapers out towards the lower jaw.

Kaufman explained to me that the name "crossbar" was nothing that he was familiar with, but the fish did sound a lot like one he had dubbed Haplochromis sp. "spotbar" that was indeed from the Yala Swamp region. I confered with Al about this information and asked him if he thought there was anyway that the name could have gotten mixed up as the fish was passed to him. Of course it was possible.

Since that time, I had done quite a bit of digging for information on these beauties, and finally concluded that they had been described in 1996 as Mbipia lutea. There are several 'locale variants' of this species from the Yala Swamp, including the "spotbar" and "porthole", a very similar fish that lacks the barring and spots when fully colored.

We were fortunate enough to also acquire a group of the "portholes", and managed to get quite a few photographs of them before they met a most untimely demise (have you ever noticed that the only tanks that break are the ones with irreplacable fish in them?).

Originally published on AfricanCichlids.net.

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