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It's Not Just About "Westies" Anymore
by Randall Kohn

Lamboj, A. 2004. The Cichlid Fishes of Western Africa. Birgit Schmettkamp Verlag, Bornheim. 255 pp., 620 color photos. ISBN 3-928819-33-X.

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For many years, hobbyists have referred to the Old World cichlid fishes found west of the African rift valley as West African cichlids. This is because many of the western African cichlids that are historically known to hobbyists emanate from the countries located in the far western part of the African continent. As early as 1951, to cite an example, what was then known as Pelmatochromis pulcher found its way from Nigeria to Germany and, eventually, to the rest of Europe and the United States. It was thought to be Pelmatochromis kribensis from southern Cameroon. Although the misidentification was pointed out in 1968; to this day, hobbyists still commonly refer to the fish that is now known as Pelvicachromis pulcher as the "krib" or "kribensis." Old habits die slow.

In more recent years, the "westies" scene has changed dramatically. As more of West, Central and South Africa is surveyed and documented, many new discoveries are made, so much so that the entire region has become a hotbed of cichlid activity. In fact, many of the new and noteworthy cichlids currently available to hobbyists are found in this region. So it seems that it's not just about "westies" anymore. Many of the "West" African cichlids popping up in stores, on stock lists and on the Internet are collected throughout western African and not only in the continent's most western extreme.

Tried and true popular western African cichlids like Anomalochromis thomasi (the dwarf jewel fish), Hemichromis guttatus (the common jewel fish) and Pelvicachromis pulcher (the common krib) are well known to hobbyists. Consequently, gathering information about their breeding behavior and husbandry is as easy as opening up a reference book or questioning other hobbyists. But where do we in the hobby go to get good information about the newer imports that are making their debuts in stores, on stock lists and on the Internet? One would be hard pressed to learn about the Central African species Benitochromis ufermanni, Etia nguti, Pelmatochromis nigrofasciatus and Tilapia bythobates through traditional meansuntil now, that is.

In July 2004, the publisher Birgit Schmettkamp Verlag released the English edition of The Cichlid Fishes of Western Africa by Anton Lamboj. Mag. Dr. Anton Lamboj, one of the world's leading authorities on western African cichlids, and he brings the accumulative knowledge of 38 years of fish keeping experience, extensive work in the field, 14 scientific descriptions and over 100 other published works to his book. In addition to valuable insights concerning systematics, natural habitats, water parameters, diet and breeding, many firsthand observations are made that have never been discussed in the aquarium literature before. Additionally, many common myths surrounding some of the more popular species are dispelled, and species that are new and/or new to the hobby are well introduced, many for the very first time.

The Cichlid Fishes of Western Africa is the most comprehensive and authoritative book of its kind. Unlike earlier efforts, this remarkable resource thoroughly discusses all of the cichlids of the region, as opposed to just a sampling. So whether one is enthusiastic about Old World cichlids, New World cichlids, large cichlids or small, this "bible" is a must read for all who even make pretense toward appreciating cichlids.

For more information about The Cichlid Fishes of Western Africa by Anton Lamboj or to order your own copy, please refer to, the Dwarf Cichlid Connection; or refer to its listing in the "product reviews" on this site.
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