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The Little Known Arrow-fish; Yssichromis
by Greg Steeves

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The arrow shaped cichlids of the Yssichromis genus were once a group of open water schooling fish that roamed the top strata of their native waters. After the Nile perch (Lates niloticus) upsurge in the 1980's, most species were thought to have expired. Later collections not only found these species once again but in number thought to be greater than before the massive ecological changes occurred in Lake Victoria. As an ever adaptable haplochromine, some Yssichromis survived implanted in large cyprinid schools while others took to rocky areas for cover. Debate is still ongoing as to whether or not these differing niches have caused anatomical changes in these fish. All Yssichromis make idea candidates for the aquarium although only a few representatives have ever been introduced into the aquarium hobby.

Water Fin Underwater Organism Fish

Yssichromis sp. "blue tipped"

Yssichromis heusinkveldi (Witte & Witte-Maas, 1987)

Together with Yssichromis pyrrhocephalus, the similar Yssichromis heusinkveldi prior to 1980 made up the bulk of trawls in Lake Victoria. Unfortunately, in the years following, Y. heusinkveldi became increasingly rare while today we know that Y. pyrrhocephalus is becoming more abundant. The former species was obviously more readily adaptable to changing surroundings while Y. heusinkveldi could not cope with predators or water conditions. At best, this fish is considered critically endangered in Lake Victoria. I am not aware of this beautiful little animal ever being maintained in captivity.

Yssichromis laprogramma (Greenwood & Gee, 1969)

Found in the northern portion of Lake Victoria, Yssichromis laprogramma was discovered near Nsadzi Island in Uganda. "Laprogramma" is in reference to the thick mid lateral stripe that dissects the flanks.

This is another of the small schooling open water zooplankton eaters reaching 8.5cm. It appears to be just as abundant in its native waters now as it was before the Nile perch deluge. It is a shame that it has not yet entered the aquatic hobby as it would, in all probability, make for an ideal resident.

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