Hippo Point on the Kenyan shore of Lake Victoria
is home to a large compliment of beautiful
cichlid species. The striking crimson coloration
of Ptyochromis sp. "salmon" makes it instantly
recognizable. Found over sandy regions, this furu
dines primarily on snails.
Ptyochromis as an independent genus
can be attributed to Humphrey
Greenwood in 1957. This was a revision
of the type specimen Ctenochromis
sauvagei Pfeffer, 1896. The
name Ptyochromis is derived from
the Greek "ptyo" which means "to
spit out" (Greenwood, 1957) and
relates to crushing shells orally and
then disposing of the inedible fragments.
Interestingly, although other
members of this genus employ this feeding
strategy, I have observed Ptyochromis sp.
"salmon" actually tapping a hole in the shell of
Malaysian trumpet snails, Melanoides tuberculata
and orally extracting the meat by "sucking
it out". This snail is notorious for being tough
and it may well be that the P. sp. "salmon" has
developed this feeder mechanism for dealing
with this particular snail species.
Growing to a length of 14 cm, males show a
slightly larger adult size than the females. The
cranial angle is steeply sloping and convex.
Thick lips are positioned low in the jaw. Both
mandibles protrude equally. The mouth is
down-turned and lined with recurved slender
and strong bicuspid (mostly) teeth.
Older P. sp. "salmon", like most other
furu, develops a great number of unicuspid
teeth. It is not uncommon for an
individual to have as many as 8 rows of
teeth with 5-6 being the norm.