First, the genus Konia, which contains K.
dikume and K. eisentrauti. Both prefer open
water; however, K. dikume likes it much
deeper, at 20 meters (66 ft) and greater,
where there are low oxygen levels in the water.
K. dikume prefers mosquito larvae,
whereas K. eisentrauti likes a more varied
diet consisting of algae, fish eggs, and small
Then there is the monotypic genus Myaka,
with M. myaka, a fine particle feeder that
feeds on the phytoplankton in the open water
column. M. myaka is also reported to eat
There is yet another monotypic genus, Pungu,
with P. maclareni, which is a highly
specialized freshwater sponge eater.
Four members of the Sarotherodon genus
also call the lake home. They are S. caroli,
S. linnellii, S. lohbergeri, and S. steinbachi,
all of which are primarily phytoplankton
feeders living in different areas of the lake.
Lastly, the genus Stomatepia, consisting of
S. mariae, S. mongo, and S. pindu. Members
of the genus Stomatepia feed primarily
on shrimp and insect larvae; however, S.
mariae also eats small fish. So, there they
are folks; 11 endemic cichlid species from
which to choose. Which will it be? I have
decided to work with as many species from
the lake as I can acquire, and both Myaka
myaka and Pungu maclareni currently grace
my fishroom. If their status changes to
'Extinct in the wild,' will future generations
also be able to look to your tanks to see the
only living specimens? They will mine, and
I would now like to tell you a bit about one
of my favorites, Pungu maclareni, in hopes
of enticing you to do the same.
They Call Me Mellow Yellow
One of the most colorful fish from Lake Barombi
Mbo, P. maclareni, or 'pungu,' as
known by the natives, has a yellow base
color with black splotches all over the body.
Depending on the viewing angle, one can
also see hints of silvery-grey and a light silver-
blue. The black spots are also randomly
scattered on all fins, with the exception of
the pectorals, which for the most part lack
any markings. Black streaking is also visible
in the pelvic, dorsal, anal, and caudal fins.
The very most outer edges of the dorsal and
caudal fins are sometimes edged with a light
Both males and females have a black cheek
and throat with the black being more prominent
in the males. During both spawning and
periods of slumber, the black coloration becomes
more intense. Yellow-golden spots
also sometimes appear smack in the middle
of the operculum. Not only are no two specimens
ever marked the same, no single fish is
ever marked identically on the right side and
the left side. This unique pattern of markings
among specimens makes it rather easy to
identify and track individual fish.
While pungu is the name used by the locals,
'mellow yellow' would certainly be fitting
as well, for this is the most peaceful cichlid I
have ever kept. Every time I sit looking into
the tank and see the colony peacefully cruising
around, I begin to sing, "They call me
mellow yellow," and a strange calm washes
over me. The troubles of the day fall away
and I lose myself in their slow deliberate
movements. They appear completely at
peace and are oblivious to the chaos of their
tankmates, M. myaka. The pungu are my
'hippie fish' and represent the yang to M.
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