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Ptyochromis sp. "salmon"
by Greg Steeves

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Hippo Point on the Kenyan shore of Lake Victoria is home to a large compliment of beautiful cichlid species. The striking crimson coloration of Ptyochromis sp. "salmon" makes it instantly recognizable. Found over sandy regions, this furu dines primarily on snails.

Vertebrate Fin Organism Fish Underwater

Ptyochromis as an independent genus can be attributed to Humphrey Greenwood in 1957. This was a revision of the type specimen Ctenochromis sauvagei Pfeffer, 1896. The name Ptyochromis is derived from the Greek "ptyo" which means "to spit out" (Greenwood, 1957) and relates to crushing shells orally and then disposing of the inedible fragments. Interestingly, although other members of this genus employ this feeding strategy, I have observed Ptyochromis sp. "salmon" actually tapping a hole in the shell of Malaysian trumpet snails, Melanoides tuberculata and orally extracting the meat by "sucking it out". This snail is notorious for being tough and it may well be that the P. sp. "salmon" has developed this feeder mechanism for dealing with this particular snail species.

Growing to a length of 14 cm, males show a slightly larger adult size than the females. The cranial angle is steeply sloping and convex. Thick lips are positioned low in the jaw. Both mandibles protrude equally. The mouth is down-turned and lined with recurved slender and strong bicuspid (mostly) teeth. Older P. sp. "salmon", like most other furu, develops a great number of unicuspid teeth. It is not uncommon for an individual to have as many as 8 rows of teeth with 5-6 being the norm.

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