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What's new January 2006
What's new April 2006
What's new July 2006
What's New ©by Laif DeMason

The long, hot summer is finally over and the kids are back at school. The extreme heat waves experienced by many are a reminder to all of us to have a back up system and plan for our fish. Hopefully you did not have any losses from high heat and power outages in your aquaria this summer! Interestingly, fish farms are reporting better than normal sales this summer. Perhaps, hobbyists have spent more time inside avoiding the heat and working in their fish tanks. Or, maybe there are fewer commercial breeders (the number tends to be cyclical in nature) and, thus, less producers to buy fish from. The number of exporters and importers has certainly not decreased. Whatever the reason, fish purveyors are smiling. Hopefully this will continue and the recent changes in air travel will not adversely affect the shipping of tropical fishes.  

Here’s “what’s new” on the cichlid scene:

Lake Tanganyika 

Exports continue to flow from all points on Lake Tanganyika, with most material being collected in Burundi, Tanzania and Zambia. Infrequent collections from Congo are ongoing. Hobbyists are seeking the “ultimate” in exclusive fishes and the not-often-seen items. Popular species seem to be new featherfin varieties, such as Ophthalmotilapia and Cyathopharnyx, along with any fish that is not normally available. Many of the more challenging fishes to keep and breed, such as Petrochromis species, are also sought. 

what's new: Lake Tanganyika

Often sold as Cyprichromis microlepidotus, this C. pavo was photographed near Kasanga, Tanzania. Photo by A. Konings.

Also collected in Tanzania, from Kerenge Island near Kipili, Xenotilapia sp. “papilio sunflower” is infrequently available. 

Collected in northern Congo, this Julidochromis ornatus Bemba is a rare export. 

Several species of Petrochromis are quite popular as of late; here, P. ephippium from Kantalamba, Tanzania. Photo by A. Konings. 

Lake Malawi

Malawi cichlids are still are favored by many fish hobbyists. New converts seem to be joining the ranks regularly. A new trend for US hobbyists is the purchase of wild breeders or F1 young to start out with. The old motivation of price rather than quality has faded. The pedigree of wild strain characteristics is now more important than cost. At the other extreme, “designer” names and strains for varieties not associated with wild stocks have also flourished. Aulonocara varieties with new names are big leaders in this regard. 

what's new: Lake Malawi


Exported from northern Malawi, Petrotilapia sp. “chitimba” often exhibits pleasing wide barring and is usually very territorial. 

Imported from Malawi two years ago, this fish is sold as Dimidiochromis dimidiatus, yet may prove to be a different and unknown species. 

Collected from Gallireya Reef, Malawi, and sold as Metriaclima sp. “long pelvic hara zebra,” this new “zebra”-type sports interesting coloration. 

Exported only in dribbles, Mylochromis cf. sphaerodon from Tanzania is now available from bred sources. Females and juveniles exhibit bright yellow-orange ventral fins. 

Several species of small mbuna remain popular. Pictured here, and often sold as Labidochromis flavigulis, L. strigatus is one of them. 

One of the newer man-made varieties, Aulonocara “Strawberry” is not known nor collected from the wild. 

Lake Victoria

No news of wild-collected material continues to disappoint Victorian cichlids fans. The only current sources for any of these fishes are a handful of breeders. Often, new-comers in the African cichlid hobby do not have any reliable way comparing the fish they purchase with wild fish. Reputable web sites can often help with identification needs.  

what's new: Lake Victoria


Originally from conservation programs and released to hobbyists years ago, Haplochromis (Prognathochromis) perrieri may be difficult to find now. Photo by P. Loiselle.

Still bred by the Haplochromis Study Group in Leiden, Netherlands, Haplochromis (Pundamilia) nyererei Makobe is very colorful in its wild form. Photo by O. Seehausen.  

West Africa

Export companies in the typical West African countries have grown over the last year, indicating that interest and demand may have increased for these species. Many hobbyists still hope that each shipment from their importers will contain the seasonal gems they long for. However, the normal export fare is usually what arrives in each consignment. The best bet is to contact breeders who specialize in the fishes you seek. 

what's new: Other Africa


The cave-spawning Thysochromis ansorgii can be found from private breeders and in commercial shipments from Nigeria. Females, like the one pictured here, exhibit a shiny patch above their vent. Photo by A. Bornstein.

A welcome export from Guinea, Pelmatochromis buettikoferi  is marked with orange, yellow, and green. The trademark “pelmato”-spot migrates downwards as the fish ages. Here, an adult female. Photo by A. Bornstein. 


Most South American countries report brisk exports as the collecting season enters full-swing. Brazil is still struggling with problems in their airline industry. Breeders still produce a large variety of species and remain critical to the supply chain. 

what's new: Neotropics


Rarely exported, and hailing from Panama, Geophagus crassilabris is similar to G. steindachneri but grows much larger. Photo by O. Lucanus. 

Originally from the Rio Madeira area in Brazil, Apistogramma pulchra sports a bright orange tail fin and is related to A. agassizi. Photo by O. Lucanus. 

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