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Petrochromis famula from Lake Tanganyika

Petrochromis famula

Petrochromis famula. Photo by Ad Konings

In a genus of aggressive fish, Petrochromis famula is said to be a less aggressive species. Not as aggressive as other Petrocromis doesn’t mean much considering the genus’ overall intolerance of other Petrochormis. Found primarily in the northern part of Lake Tanganyika, P. famula spends its days scraping algae and small organisms from rocks. Males will claim territories in order to attract females for spawning.

In the aquarium Petrochromis famula can be hard to keep. Best kept in ratios of one male to multiple females. This will help spread out the male’s aggression to multiple targets. Despite that, be prepared to remove a female if needed for her protection. Diet should be high in plant matter. Tankmates should be active and hardy fish like other Petrochromis or Lake Malawi mbuna. Docile or shy fish will not fare well in a Petrochromis tank. An article on the care and maintenance of Petrochromis by Leigh Kissane (ApexPredator) can be found the in library. To discuss P. famula visit the Lake Tanganyika Species forum.


Lethrinops sp. “Red Cap” from Lake Malawi

A short video by PISCES showing a male Lethrinops sp. “Red Cap” Itungi.

Found in various locations of Lake Malawi, the many Lethrinops spp. variants have not been properly identified. The video above shows a male L. sp. “Red Cap” from Itungi in the northern part of the lake. In the wild these fish spend their time sifting through sand in search of small invertebrates to eat. Males are colorful while females are gray/silver.

The Itungi “Red Cap” variant, as the name implies, sports a bright red spot on its head. The other variants are also vibrant, but with different color patterns. To get an idea of the different variants of Lethrinops spp. visit the genus profiles page. To discuss these species visit the Lake Malawi Species forum.

lethrinops sp

Lethrinops sp. “Red Cap” (Itungi). Screen capture from PISCES video



Sciaenochromis sp. “nyassae” from Lake Malawi

Sciaenochromis sp

Sciaenochromis sp. “nyassae”. Photo by Ad Konings

Sciaenochromis sp. “nyassae” is a Lake Malawi predatory cichlid, closely related to the popular Sciaenochromis fryeri. S. sp. nyassae is found in the southern part of the lake in the intermediate zone between rocks and sand. Here it spends its days hunting alone for juvenile fish. It does not appear that S. sp. nyassae is very territorial. One characteristic of this species is that it is rarely seen in its native waters. Males can get blue as they mature with some dark barring. Females are a dull silver.

Like in the lake, Sciaenochromis sp. “nyassae” is also rarely seen in the hobby. Reaching almost 8″ in length and its need to cruise around, a large tank is a must. With the popularity and availability of S. fryeri, S. sp. nyassae does not have much demand. This species is similar in appearance and behavior to its popular cousin. There is a short article in the library on Sciaenochromis fryeri for some insight on S. sp. nyassae. To discuss this species visit the Lake Malawi Species forum.


Paracyprichromis brieni from Lake Tanganyika

Paracyprichromis brieni

Paracyprichromis brieni. Photo by Ad Konings

A shoaling cichlid found throughout Lake Tanganyika, Paracyprichromis brieni is closely related to Paracyprichromis nigripinnis and the more commonly known Cyprichromis species. P. brieni prefers deeper waters but will stay close to rocks. Males stake out territories in rock overhangs or caves for spawning. Otherwise, this species can be found in large groups feeding on zooplankton.

In the aquarium Paracyprichromis brieni will fill out the upper part of the tank while most other cichlids prefer to stay close to the ground. In order to truly appreciate these fish, a group of at least 8 is best. Although having this species may seem like a great idea to fill the unused space up top, P. brieni is a delicate and shy fish. Active and aggressive fish will be too much for this species to handle. Species only tanks are recommended or maybe a pair of Julidochromis or Altolamprologus to inhabit the rocks on the bottom. Compared to P. nigripinnis, P. brieni is longer and slimmer with smaller eyes. Since they are so similar, the two species shouldn’t be kept together. To discuss P. brieni visit the Lake Tanganyika Species forum. An article on the similar Paracyprichromis nigripinnis by Diane Tennison can be found in the library.


Nimbochromis polystigma from Lake Malawi

Nimbochromis polystigma

Nimbochromis polystigma. Photo by Ad Konings

Nimbochromis polystigma is a piscivore found throughout Lake Malawi. Its preferred habitat are areas with a mix of rocks and sand that support vegetation. In this biotype N. polystigma hunts in groups or individually. When alone, N. polystigma can attract prey by play dead using its color pattern to resemble a decaying fish. Both males and females display the brown blotched pattern. When males are looking to spawn, the pattern is replaced by blue coloration. Spawning males become highly aggressive and territorial.

In the aquarium Nimbochromis polystigma‘s color pattern is striking, especially since males can reach almost 12 inches. A large tank is a must since N. polystigma is active and likes to swim around. Don’t be surprised to find your prized N. polystigma “dead” at the bottom of the aquarium, only to spring back to life. One male to a couple females is best. Males will become very aggressive when it comes time to spawn. Anything small enough to fit in its mouth will be eaten, so large tankmates are a must. A short article on N. polystigma can be found in the library. To discuss this species visit the Lake Malawi Species forum.


Laetacara species summary

Laetacara species

Laetacara araguaiae. Photo by Frank M. Greco (CC BY 3.0)

A diagnoses of Laetacara species has been published in Vertebrate Zoology authored by Felipe Polivanov Ottoni. This latest article attempts to unify all prior descriptions and modifications of known species of Laetacara.

If you are looking for the latest information on the different Laetacara species, this article includes distribution information, pictures, and new information about the genus. There are seven described species of Laetacara, and most are available in the hobby. These dwarf cichlids range between 2 and 4 inches in length. Laetacara are monogamous, substrate spawners found in South American waters. To discuss these species visit the South American Cichlids forum.


Corematodus taeniatus from Lake Malawi

Corematodus taeniatus

Corematodus taeniatus. Photo by Ad Konings

Another mimic and scale-eater, Corematodus taeniatus preys on unsuspecting sand-dwelling haps from Lake Malawi. While some scale-eaters target the flank of other fish, C. taeniatus prefers the softer and smaller scales from tail area and other fins. This species inhabits small rock formations close to large expanses of sand where it can mix in with its prey. Males are extremely territorial while females live in small groups.

Not surprisingly Corematodus taeniatus isn’t often seen in the hobby. Its feeding behavior and aggressive nature make it incompatible with most other fish. Despite its nature, some hobbyists have chosen to keep this species and it can be found in the hobby under the name Haplochromis jacksoni. Best kept in species only tanks and only one male to multiple females. Due to their size and aggressiveness, a large tank is a must. A sand substrate with some flat rocks for spawning. To discuss C. taeniatus visit the Lake Malawi Species forum.


Simochromis diagramma from Lake Tanganyika

Simochromis diagramma

Simochromis diagramma. Photo by Ad Konings

The largest in the Simochromis group, Simochromis diagramma inhabit shallow, rocky waters. This species prefers coves and is rarely seen in waters deeper than 15 feet. S. diagramma is a herbivore that feeds on algae and plant matter found in the shallows. Although territorial, this species can sometimes be found in groups. Males can reach up to 8 inches in length.

In the aquarium Simochromis diagramma can be a challenge. Their large size and aggressive personality means that tanks need to be large. Tankmates can also be a challenge, but Tropheus and Petrochromis are usually a good match in temperament and dietary requirements. Tank should have plenty of rocks and the diet should be high in plant matter. Aquarium plants may not do well in a S. diagramma aquarium. Availability of this species is limited, but not impossible to find. To discuss S. diagramma visit the Lake Tanganyika Species forum.


American Cichlid Association Convention 2018

american cichlid association

The American Cichlid Association 2018 convention is just a month away. Hosted by the Houston Aquarium Society and the Houston Cichlid Club, it’s no surprise that the convention will be held in Houston, TX area. The ACA 2018 convention will take place in the Hilton NASA Clear Lake on July 4th through the 8th. Scheduled speakers include Ad Konings, Dave Schumacher, Greg Steeves, Jose Gonzales, Marvin and Kathy England, Micheal Kidd, and Paul Loiselle. There will also be vendors, a banquet, auctions and a fish show.

The ACA is the largest cichlid event of the year. It is hosted by a club or clubs in a different city each years. This year’s convention will be the first in Texas since 2005. The convention will also offer some side trips for those who want to take in more of Houston. Then include Moody Gardens, the Kemah Boardwalk, and the Space Center Houston. For more information and to register for this year’s American Cichlid Association convention visit www.2018acacares.com.


Cichlids on stamps for hobbyists and collectors


For cichlid hobbyists that collect stamps or even if you are not a stamp collector, cichlids depicted on stamps are fun and interesting. As expected, several African nations put out a variety of stamps with cichlid artwork (just google “cichlid stamps”). Most stamps depict species local to their waters. Pictured above is a strange set of stamps from Azerbaijan. Not only does it include 3 cichlid species from the New World, but also a cat. The three cichlid species are Symphysodon aequifasciatus (discus), Pterophyllum scalare (angelfish), and Thorichthys meeki (firemouth). To discuss cichlids on stamps it’s probably best to do it in the General Aquaria Discussion forum. The individual species depicted on the stamps can be discussed in the Central and South American species forums.


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