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What's New ©by Laif DeMason

A noticeable up-tick in cichlid interest, especially wild items, came in the late spring and early summer this year. It seemed like everyone was asking for some kind of cichlid! I can’t say if it was because of the tax return season or the relatively low price of gasoline in the USA that eventually made hobbyists notice they had a little extra money to spend. Whatever the reason; no one who sells fish, retailer, importer, or exporter, was complaining! The end result was a whole lot of new cichlid fishes available to choose from.

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

Lake Tanganyika

Wild Tropheus are still king for most Tanganyika hobbyists. There is also a developing interest in featherfins and goby cichlids as well. Collections of Congolese Cyphotilapia frontosa and Tropheus are also fairly strong. Bred items, especially Cyprichromis varieties and shell dweller species seem popular as well.


Some not-so-often collected Tropheus were recently exported and well received by hobbyists. One such cichlid is pictured here, Tr. moorii Lunangwa south, a red species from the southern Congo coastline.

Quite often when catching frontosa, African divers also catch large Petrochromis species. Recently several types were imported. However, this P. famula from the Mtoto area of Congo is a delicately colored species not usually seen in imports.

Some tank-raised sand cichlids are also in demand. The fry of Callochromis sp. ‘pleurospilus tanzania’ from Utinta, Tanzania has been popular of late. Both small and grown specimens sport a shiny pearly scale colored body. Photo by A. Konings.

African support staff for the experienced deep water frontosa divers often spend time snorkeling in the shallows and catching items like goby cichlids, while the deep divers work below. Recently a Spathodus variety arrived from Kitumba, Congo, sporting yellow body barring and a blue spotted head. Photo by P. Tawil.

Lake Malawi

Yikes, what happened? After a long dormant spell for interest in wild caught Malawi cichlids, hobbyists in the USA are actually asking for these cichlids over tank-raised or farm items. Maybe hobbyists are getting sick of seeing the usual multi-hybrid offspring from the Far East. Colorful yes, but limited in selection and, well, not as interesting as the wealth of species swimming in Lake Malawi!


Small and especially different mbuna have kept the true Malawi cichlid connoisseur happy. The smaller types of Cynotilapia are now classified as C. zebroides. Here a male with a nice wide white dorsal margin from the southeast corner of the lake at Nametumbwe, Malawi. Photo by A. Konings.

Another small ‘perspicax’ type mbuna available years ago from Likoma Island, Malawi is Metriaclima pulpican. Us old-timers haven’t seen this beautiful sky blue barred fish in years! Photo by A. Konings.

Some of the not often exported utakas are also cropping up in shipments. Here is one of such cichlids, Copadichromis mbenjii, also known as “Quads” which hails from Mbenji Island. Photo by A. Konings.

More of a seasonal export is another utaka known as Copadichromis sp. ‘mloto undu’. This fish is found in the extreme southern Tanzanian coastline at Undu Point. Its dark blue body is marked with an ivory white forehead blaze.

West and Other Africa


Several of the small Nanochromis species are found in the Democratic Republic of Congo fairly close to the capitol of Kinshasa. Recently there have been a few different varieties collected and exported from there. Pictured here is one that is often sold as Nanochromis sp. ‘kasai’, but is likely not from there and is Congochromis sabinae. Photo by O. Lucanus.

First nicknamed “pin-stripe damba”, Paretroplus menarambo have, as adults, narrow dark gray and light gray bars along with their red-edged caudal fin. Young, however, can exhibit a more striking and contrasting black barring against a whitish body color when several individuals are housed together.

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