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im pretty sure sp. just means species. Because there are so many varients of the same fish. Some from the north coast and others from the southern ports of lake malawi for example.
Some Cyno Afra sp, may grow larger than others but maybe not, im not THAT good with my cichlid knowledge.
If im wrong, please correct me
 

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The only dumb question is the question not asked 8)
 

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Cynotilapia is the genus, and Afra is the species. Usually there is a defining trait that allows all fish in the Cynotilapia genus to be placed there. Example: All Cynotilapia have unicuspid teeth, it's a defining characteristic of the fish that make them Cynotilapia.

To be a Cynotilapia Afra, maybe they grow to 4" average and have 13 dorsal spines. (not true - but let's pretend it is for the sake of argument).

So now you're Ad Koenigs and you find a new fish at Makebelieve Island. It looks kind of like a Cynotilapia and after looking at the teeth you determine YEP! it's a Cynotilapia. However, out of the 40-50 of these fish you found, the average size is 7" and they have 15 dorsal spines. So it's not an Afra (because Afras must have 13 dorsal spines and a 4" average size), it's Cynotilapia sp. Makebelieve Island. Or maybe it's bright green and you decide it's Cynotilapia sp. Bright Green.

This species name isn't a scientific name. The scientific community has to agree that it is, in fact, a new species and not just a localized variant of another species. (example: there are 10+ different Cynotilapia Afra that are geologically defined, Lion's Cove, Cobue, etc)

Once they agree on it, they'll give it another name. So Cynotilapia sp. Bright Green becomes Cynotilapia Mombata or something.
 

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Good question! gaqua has it pretty well pinned down :thumb:

There is marked difference in many of the Cyno species (scientifically described or not) that clearly separate them from each other. Size isn't really the major factor. For example the sp. Lion variant from Lion's Cove tends to be smaller than a typical afra while the variant from Mara Rocks tends to be equal or larger. However, there is a significant variation in their shape (IME); the afras tend to be shorter and deeper while the lions tend to be more elongated . The lion females tend to be much more fully colored than the afra females. The lion fry tends towards brown; the afra fry towards blue---etc.....

Some of the 'new' species recently added to Cynotilapia because "All Cynotilapia have unicuspid teeth" aren't that similar looking to afras.
The Cyno sp. 'elongatus taiwan' for example:


I'm currently working on a project to try to put some of what I've said above about shape into some kind of confirmable format.
These are some samples of that effort. The pics have not been selected for 'quality'; more for how parallel the fish are to the camera (minimizing size/shape distortion). The pics have been run through some changes (unfortunately, further denigrating the pic quality :roll: ), imported into AutoCad and had the hash marks added. The hash marks represent no defined measure (ie inch etc). Their purpose is to show relationship between length & height only. Each fish is measured by 4 equal marks from nose to peduncle.
That same grid is then rotated to the vertical to measure the height.
The first two are of Afra (Cobwe then Likoma)



This is of a sp. "Lion" (Lion's Cove)


While I realize the difference is not massive, there is one. The real question is; Is that difference significant in the scheme of things?
 
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