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Pundamilia sp. "blue bar"
by Greg Steeves
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Pundamilia is derived from the Kiswahili (Swahili) word for zebra. The correlation refers to the lateral striping pattern found within the genus. Members of this genus are among the most brilliantly colored of all fish. Pundamilia are primarily planktivores restricted exclusively to Lake Victoria. Gut analysis routinely show fragments of insects as well (Fermon, 1998). The cranial profile is straight or incurved. The outer rows of teeth contain pointed cylindrical unicuspid dentition Pundamilia species carry between 2 and 5 rows of inner teeth. Ocelli, (egg spots) are often arranged in a cluster rather than dotted in a single row and do not cross the fin rays. These ocelli are large in comparison with many other haplochromine types and the orbiting rings touch each other. Differing Pundamilia species are often found cohabitating same location. These intraspecific relationships are well documented in experimentation regarding water clarity and visual recognition with regards to mate selection. With the exception of Pundamilia macrocephala and Pundamilia sp. "red head", most Pundamilia females differ very little in coloration from within the species and on the genus level as well. Pundamilia individuals normally reach a length of 12cm. Exceptions can be found within this group as well with specific locales known for larger individuals. These exceptions (see below) attain in excess of 15cm. Further revisions of the Pundamilia genus will undoubtedly include further species and variants as only a portion are described.

Male Pundamilia are brilliantly colored while females are coal black, tan brown or a shade of grey with 5-7 vertical bars adorning the body. There is little sexual dimorphism; the male perhaps slightly larger than the female.

Pundamilia species frequent rocky shelves never far from cover. The evasive crevices between this substrate have helped the members of the genus survive the Lates niloticus invasion of Lake Victoria.

Pundamilia sp. "blue bar" is found near Hippo Point in Kenya. Hippo Point is renowned for stunning wildlife, birding, and of course a number of cichlids that call this area home. It is common along the rocky shelves near shore. Pundamilia sp. "blue bar" resembles Pundamilia pundamilia in color and body patterning. Pundamilia pundamilia is found in numerous locations south of Hippo Point in Mwanza Gulf. I do not know if this superficial correlation is a valid observation or a case of "look-alike".

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