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What's New ©by Laif DeMason

Sales of tropical fish have increased since the beginning of the year. This is usually expected as the weather is usually not favorable for outside activities, keeping aquarium fish fanciers inside for more time. Also many of the hobbyists who file and expect an income tax refund, quickly enjoy the extra cash by buying their favorite fish! Speaking of taxes, I wonder how the current talk about tax reform and penalizing companies who import goods will play out on imported fish prices. We all know that real wild caught cichlids cannot be manufactured here, even though some will say they can.

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

Lake Tanganyika

The annual renewal of all the export and collecting licenses and permits has finally occurred taking weeks (as usual) instead of days for exporters in Zambia and Tanzania. The exporters are actively shipping again. This includes fishes collected by them along the Congo coastline as well. However, Burundi is still “off-line” with no exports of Tanganyika fishes.


Recently arrived and reportedly collected from Moliro, Congo, ‘Lamprologus’ multifasciatus is pictured here. Often these wild fish are actually adults but arrive in an extremely tiny size, less than one inch (2.5 cm) and impossible to sex. However, if most all fishes are small, then that usually means there are at least some females present!

Several Altolamprologus varieties are also rich in the southern Congo area. Recently a variety of A. calvus was collected from Musenga, Congo, and shipped as “Pearl White Calvus”. Once settled in, these fish are very black, but do have many striking pearly white spots on their bodies and fins.

A new torpedo lamprologine has finally been exported in fair numbers. Pictured here Lepidiolamprologus mimicus from Lupita Island near Kipili, Tanzania. This fish is not a variant of L. profundicola but is often sold as such or as “Profundicola Tanzania”.

Since Eretmodus types vary in different places around the lake, collectors continue to sample different locales to see if they strike one that hobbyists will demand. The one here was collected at Musenga, Congo, and sports a fair number of blue points as well as yellow bars.

Lake Malawi

While it seems that many advanced aquarists find Malawi cichlids more or less standard fare and find bigger challenges with Tanganyika or more obscure cichlid groups, some are returning to their roots. The popularity of wild mbuna, even the rough and tough ones, along with other very large predatory haplochromines continues to grow.


Until recently some of the Tanzanian coast was not thoroughly collected, most likely due to long stretches of rocks without a village. These locations are now often harvested for certain interesting fish like this Metriaclima fainzilberi which has OB females and hails from Ngwazi, Tanzania. Photo by A. Konings.

Many mbuna not commercially bred, like several from the Melanochromis group, have piqued the challenge for some, and are now being caught by request. Here M. kaskazini or M. sp. ‘northern blue’ from Kirondo, Tanzania, has been available to breeders since the 1990s but not commercially produced by fish farms.

Interest in predatory Tyrannochromis species has been good for a few years now. In fact, so much so that some commercial breeders are producing their own new varieties to present to hobbyists. These hybrids have the correct shape, but are obvious man-made attempts to enhance their natural coloration.

Many Malawi cichlids have man-made forms that have become popular. For many years breeders have selected Sciaenochromis fryeri with white blaze males to develop the “Iceberg Ahli” strain. Now some have taken this one step further so that nearly the whole body is white, the “Snow White Ahli” (pictured here).



There are several dozen angelfish strains being produced worldwide by breeders. Produced now in ever more imaginable colors; blue, green, red, yellow, and albino. Quantum leaps from when I was a kid with our silver, black, and marble strains.

The popularity of the selectively bred strains of the dwarf Apistogramma types continues to improve with many nice color forms. Stores have also noticed that interest in these bred forms have increased with many stores regularly stocking them. Here a colorful Apistogramma viejita II strain.

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