Pundamilia sp. "red head" is an unique and beautiful
fish from the southern end of Lake Victoria. There are
apparently only two locales where populations of this
Pundamilia species resides. The Mabibi Islands are a
home to a variant of Pundamilia sp. "red head". To my
knowledge, this particular variant has never made it to
the hobby. It is reportedly more elongated with a
shorter head, but similar in coloration to the other variant
that hails from Zue Island in Speke Gulf. This is
the fish familiar to aquarists as Pundamilia sp. "red
head". This species has also been called Pundamilia sp.
"Zue Island" or "Zue Island red head nyererei".
It is possible that Pundamilia sp. "red head" is not an
actual nyererei variant. The genus Pundamilia was
validated by Seehausen and Lippisch in 1998. Six to
eight vertical bars are visible on the body (albeit faint),
but the Zue Island red head has a much higher body
profile than any nyererei variants I am aware of. The
belly region is orange and fades to yellow then pink
towards the dorsal. The section of the body above the
anal fin is green. A lighter blaze runs across the spine.
Bottom lip is lightly colored a white blue. Basic face
coloration is pink. Three faded bars run across the forehead.
The throat region is deep red and merges into the
pink of the face. A faded vertical bar runs across the
face and through the eye. The dorsal fin is bright blue
lined and spotted red as it extends. The tail fin is transparent
and red colored. The anal fin is a blue green with
three to five egg spots. Pelvic fins are black along the
first two fin rays and fade to lightly colored red. Maximum
size of Pundamilia sp. "red head" is around four
At Zue Island, Pundamilia sp. "red head" is found in
the area between the shore and water not more than 15
feet deep. This shallow water gem can be found over a
rocky bottom amidst schools of algae grazing Neochromis.
No Pundamilia nyererei types inhabit their
range. Pundamilia sp. "red head" at Zue Island is an
aufwuchs grazer. Other species in the aquarium hobby
from Zue Island include Paralabidochromis chilotes
and Paralabidochromis chromogenys.
In the aquarium, Pundamilia sp. "red head" is undemanding.
They are not as aggressive as other Pundamilia
variants and in a tank with nyererei variants,
care must be taken as they can easily be bullied. Suitable
Victorian tank mates might include Neochromis
rufocaudalis, Xystichromis sp. "flameback", or Haplochromis
sp. "Kenya gold". Be certain to carefully
observe any mixing of fish from this region. Try to
include species of differing body shape and coloration.
Any commercial high quality flake food, brine shrimp,
and algae tabs should adequately suffice for nutrition.
A good regimen is to occasionally mix food sources.
A carotene based color flake will cause dominant
males to literally glow.
Provided that no overly robust species are housed with
Pundamilia sp. "red head", spawning occurs readily.
As with the other haplochromines of Lake Victoria, the
Zue Island red head is a mouth brooder. The eggs are
quite small so an adult female would be able to incubate
a good sized batch. My spawns thus far have been
small, in the 8-14 fry range, but I suspect that before
long broods of near 50 will be possible.
Pundamilia sp. "red head" is not a common
species in the hobby. It is available from
some specialty breeders. Certainly when
more hobbyists are exposed to this wonderful
little fish, demand for it will increase.
The Zue Island red head is one of the many
furu from the ecologically threatened Lake
Victoria. Although it appears to remain in
good numbers within its range, man has
proven time and time again how quickly he
can cause the extinctions of creatures he
shares the earth with through blatant disregard
for their habitat. Let's hope we can
keep captive populations strong and thriving
for many years to come.
Seehausen, O. Lake Victoria Rock Cichlids.
1996 Verduyn Cichlids. pp. 100-128.
Fermon, Y. Conversation.