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What's New ©by Laif DeMason

From time to time, we all take a moment to assess the “big picture” of what we are doing and where life is taking us. Fish keeping is a big part of most of our lives. I have always thought of cichlid hobbyists as special people; dedicated individuals with a keen interest in the care of their animals. Things have worked out for us, our generation, but what about the next? Who will carry the cichlidophile torch? Maybe it’s time for us to give something back to the hobby. Some of us are members of local fish clubs. But that’s like preaching to the choir. Maybe you’re also a member of other organizations, like Rotary, Lion’s, or Scouting. Maybe you have kids in school or know a great fish store nearby. Donate an aquarium set-up to your favorite social organization and volunteer some time to show others how to work the magic. Or, talk a retailer into hosting a class of kids for a tour, and volunteer to help supervise them. It will be well worth your time. The future depends on it! 

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

Lake Tanganyika 

Reports of heavy rains, poor visibility, and road closures around the lake have filtered in at the time of this writing. However, collection and exports still continue at the normal locations whenever possible. Interest in Petrochromis species remains strong. Also noteworthy is the renewed interest in the many varieties of Tropheus. Further interest in Cyprichromis species and oddball Tanganyikan fish has also taken hold.

what's new: Lake Tanganyika

Hailing from the southern Kipili Bay area, this new form of Cyathopharnyx furcifer sports yellow dorsal fin markings and an orange cap. Photo by A. Konings.

Imported many years ago, Tropheus moorii Ndole has again piqued interest with its strong red coloration and markings. This variety has a stronger red coloration than the closely-related Kachese form which is more orange. 

Collected in areas north of Kigoma, Tanzania, Lamprologus brevis Katabe is available from bred sources again, along with other popular shell-dwelling species. Photo by A. Konings. 

Several different species of Trematocara have recently, and sparingly, been exported from Zambia. T. stigmaticum is pictured here. Photo by A. Konings.

Lake Malawi

Bad weather has also been reported from Lake Malawi. Heavy rains and reduced visibility have temporarily halted collections in some places. Some of the specialized groups of haplochromines have stimulated interest and demand for Malawi fans. Many of the Protomelas species, including the steveni-types, and other predatory haplochromines have found favor as of late. Color and size considerations seem to be driving these choices. 

what's new: Lake Malawi


Occasionally imported (as “Barred Steveni”), Placidochromis sp. “solo” becomes very colorful once settled in. This species still arrives from Tanzania in small numbers and is also available as F1 fry from breeders. 

Commonly bred on Florida fish farms for years, Protomelas annectens has now all but disappeared from commercial institutions. Wild specimens (photo) are rarely seen in shipments from Tanzania. 

This torpedo-shaped predator hails from the extreme northern end of the lake. It is called Otopharnyx sp. “torpedo blue” from Itungi Port, Tanzania. 

Found around the lake, Buccochromis heterotaenia is a strongly-barred predator “hap” that appears infrequently on export lists. 

A recent arrival from Tanzania (and always in low numbers), this Pseudotropheus crabro sports delicate blue and yellow markings over the usual brownish barring. It was called “Bumblebee Ornatus” and “Chameleo” in the past. 

Previously known as a member of Pseudotropheus, this attractive species from Chitimba Bay, Malawi, is actually a Cynotilapia: C. sp. “elongatus chitimba.” Photo by A. Konings.

West Africa

The collecting season is now in full-swing. Some of the established exporters in two countries have pulled out of the business, indicating a lack of demand for the well-known riverine species from the Congo. Another problem may be the presence of too many players in some countries, e.g., Cameroon. Still, there is no shortage of individuals willing to export tropical fish from these areas. 

what's new: West Africa


Gabon remains an undiscovered country for most hobbyists. Its unique cichlids, like this pair of Parananochromis ornatus, must be collected by dedicated enthusiasts if they are to be kept in aquaria. Photo by A. Bornstein. 

Some of the smaller Tilapia species from Lake Bosumtwi in Ghana are sporadically available. Their size makes them interesting candidates for the aquarium. Pictured here is the unique T. discolor. Photo by O. Lucanus. 


Selections of Neotropical cichlid species continue to increase. Not only does Man invent more color varieties of the well-known, like discus and angelfish, but new, natural color forms of species from different locales continue to appear for the real connoisseurs! Thankfully, some old-time favorites, inbred for generations, can still be collected from the wild if one wants to start anew.

what's new: Neotropics


Wild-caught Nicaraguan cichlids have rarely been exported. Pictured here, a wild Amphilophus rostratus provides a unique opportunity to re-establish an old favorite with “fresh” genes. Photo by J. Rapps. 

Another old favorite, Geophagus brasiliensis, is frequently exported. Breeders can thus select the best-colored individuals for production of offspring. Photo by J. Rapps. 

This red-sided, thick-lipped species of Heros has been recently imported from the Columbian Amazon. It is likely yet another new severum-type. Photo by O. Lucanus. 

Another Columbian import, Mesonauta egregius is one of two new Mesonauta species from the area. Photo by O. Lucanus. 
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