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What's New ©by Laif DeMason

The big news as of this writing is the recent and unexpected death of the longtime Malawi cichlid exporter, Stuart M. Grant. A killifish hobbyist himself, Stuart began his long career collecting and shipping Malawi cichlids in the mid 1970s. Stuart sent hundreds of shipments of cichlids from Lake Malawi to many places around the world over the last 30 years. He was directly responsible for bringing the joy of cichlid keeping to many thousands of people, most of whom never knew the man behind the scenes. Later, he would open his door to any visitor who wanted to come to Malawi and experience the lake and its unique fauna first hand. Often, it is difficult to imagine that the people that you see and talk to regularly will suddenly be gone, never to be able to thank them for what pleasure they brought into your life. If there is a special someone who helped by bringing the hobby to you or by enabling you to start the hobby, then thank that special someone now. 

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

Lake Tanganyika 

Wild caught material continues to be harvested from all points around the lake and shipped out regularly, although at a slower pace. Hobbyists are still keen on Petrochromis species and the demand is good. Goby cichlid species are also popular now. Other different groups of Tanganyikan cichlids are also being sold, seemingly without any focus in popularity.  

what's new: Lake Tanganyika

Shipped recently from Burundi, Petrochromis orthognathus arrived as sub-adults. This variety sports yellow pelvic fins and large yellow egg spots in both the anal fin and soft ray portions of the dorsal fin.

Reportedly collected in southern Congo and sold as Altolamprologus calvus ink fin. This is the second location of the so-called “ink fin” variety, originally collected in Nkamba, Zambia. 

Infrequently collected and exported from Mbita Island, Zambia, Neolamprologus prochilus is an oddity with a large mouth similar to Altolamprologus species. 

Exported in relatively low numbers, Bathybates fasciatus is a torpedo shaped predator. Cover your aquarium, as it can jump! Photo by A. Konings. 

Lake Malawi

The late Stuart Grant has a large species group of Malawi cichlids named on his behalf, Aulonocara stuartgranti. This species, one of the so-called Malawi “peacocks”, has many color forms along the northwestern Malawi coast as well as the central to southeastern coast along Tanzania, Mozambique, and Malawi. In many places the fish can be a combination of blue and yellow body colorations and often the populations gradually change from blue to yellow, or vice-versa over the miles and miles of coastline. Thus, as a result, there are many “intermediate” color forms, found between the well-known populations pictured here.

what's new: Lake Malawi


The very northern form found around the village of Ngara south to Mdoka, the Ngara “peacock”. This fish has a blue head and body with a speckling of orange yellow scale flecks across the side of the body. Photo by A. Konings. 

SJust a little farther south near the town of Chilumba, the Chilumba “peacock”. This fish population is now completely blue with no yellow body coloration. Photo by A. Konings. 

Farther south again is another notable place, Chitimba Bay. Stuart’s wife, Esther Grant lived here in her younger days. The Maulana “peacock” found here has a bicolor hue; a blue body divided by a wide vertical gold yellow bar behind its head. Photo by A. Konings. 

Working our way southward to Usisya, the Flavescent or Usisya “peacock” is found here and on the opposite side of the lake in Tanzania as well. This population has a blue face and a completely yellow body and a black dorsal fin. On the southern end of this population’s range, the black dorsal fin becomes blue. Photo by A. Konings.

Found very far south on the western coastline, Aulonocara sp. ”stuartgranti maleri” made its first debut in the USA at the ACA convention held in Hollywood, Florida in the mid 1970s. This fish was Stuart’s first big seller and the first completely yellow Malawi cichlid exported, the Sunshine Yellow peacock. Photo by A. Konings. 

On the Eastern coast around Fort Maguire, Malawi we find another “peacock” population that was one of the first Aulonocara varieties exported, the Regal peacock. This fish sports a dark blue body divided by a red bar behind its head, thus lending to Stuart’s name for this cichlid, “Red Flush”. Photo by A. Konings. 

Lake Victoria

The recent arrival of new wild caught material from this area has excited many Victoria cichlid enthusiasts. More collections and exports are expected, with hopes of novel species yet to come. However, most of the wild species exported so far are well known varieties. Other related species from different areas have also been collected and exported. 

what's new: Lake Victoria


Collected in the Mwanza Gulf, Tanzania, Neochromis nigricans males becomes coal black when in breeding dress with a bit of red highlights in the caudal fin. 

Collected in local waters in Burundi and exported as Haplochromis burtoni, this fish has blue-green body colors with a bit of orange red behind the gill covers.


Collecting season began recently in most of South America and should be in full swing in the next month. Nomenclature changes for many of the cichlids of this region continue. Scientific names will always be in a constant state of change as new information becomes evident. Unfortunately, amateur aquarists often do not realize the “new” species they just bought on-line is only a well known fish with a new name.   

what's new: Neotropics


Several species are often available from specialized breeders of Central American cichlids. Pictured here, Thorichthys pasiones from Lake Peten, Guatemala. Photo by J. Rapps. 

The leucistic color form of Cryptoheros sp. ‘redpoint honduras’ is new to the trade. It is not the common pink convict (C. nigrofasciatus), although this related species also produced a like-colored morph. Photo by J. Rapps. 

This large pike cichlid, Crenicichla percna, is infrequently exported from the Rio Xingu, Brazil, depending on the conditions of each dry season. Photo by O. Lucanus. 

Selectively bred for a solid red coloration, the Red Melon discus is a new strain and is generally strongly color enhanced to bring out their spectacular hues. Photo by D. Au.
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