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FAQs on African Cichlid Identification 5

Related Articles: African Cichlids, Malawian Cichlids: The Mbuna and their Allies By Neale Monks, The Blue Followers: the Placidochromis of Lake Malawi by Daniella Rizzo,


Related FAQs: African Cichlid ID 1, African Cichlid ID 2, African Cichlid ID 3, African Cichlid ID 4, & African Cichlids, African Cichlid Selection, African Cichlid Behavior, African Cichlid Compatibility, African Cichlid Systems, African Cichlid Feeding, African Cichlid Reproduction, African Cichlid Disease, Cichlids of the WorldCichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction, & Malawi Cichlid Systems, Tanganyikan Systems

Fish in picture with electric blue Dempsey     8/18/17
Hi! I recently acquired some new fish and do not know the species. I see them pictured on your page housed with the electric blue Dempsey and am curious as to the species I attached a picture. Any help would be appreciated! Thank you
<Hello Michelle. Off the top of my head, nope, don't recognise this. It's got the build of a Hemichromis, so I'm guessing something West African, but it might well be something Central American. Similarly, while the pattern
reminded me of Tilapia buettikoffteri and/or Tilapia jokae, the oblique band through the eye is wrong for them. Instead let me direct you to an excellent cichlid identification forum:
Given there are something like 2000 cichlid species out there, few people know them all (I certainly don't!) but a group effort like that forum should be able to help. Good luck, and if you find out what it is, perhaps you'll let me know! Cheers, Neale. PS. Will cc our own cichlid expert, Chuck Rambo, for his input too.>

Re: Fish in picture with electric blue Dempsey
<W! N!>

Re: Fish in picture with electric blue Dempsey    9/15/17
Hi just thought I'd let you know that these are spotted tilapia!�� my previous excitement is now gone and I have spotted tilapia with my African cichlids lol.
<Mmm; Pelmatolapia mariae? Do you know the species? Tilapia/Oreochromis/Sarotherodon... are African Cichlids. Bob Fenner>
Re: Fish in picture with electric blue Dempsey /Neale      9/16/17

Hi just thought I'd let you know that these are spotted tilapia! My previous excitement is now gone and I have spotted tilapia with my African cichlids lol.
<It'll likely be fine. This fish used to be called Tilapia mariae, under which name you'll see it quite often in older, more comprehensive aquarium books such as Baensch's Aquarium Atlas. It's fairly robust in temperament,
so not a community fish, but outside of breeding not outright psychotic.
I've kept them with large catfish (e.g., Synodontis nigrita) for example without problems. It's a food fish though, and you should expect an adult size of at least 20 cm/8 inches under aquarium conditions. Also, while basically a herbivore (like most tilapia) with a need for plenty of green foods, it can consume bite-size fish, and again like all tilapia has a limitless appetite! Water chemistry is not a major issue, but avoid very soft/acidic conditions, as the species is more of a coastal freshwater, even brackish water fish than an inland, blackwater or swamp-dwelling fish.
Cheers, Neale.>

Fw: Please help      2/21/17
Bob a request for fish ID from William James in Swaziland.
Please help     2/21/17

Hi Pete,
I am just hoping that this gets to you as I have not been able to send to hotmail accounts, but I am hoping that the error has been fixed now. William asks if your friend can possibly identify the attached pic of a fish.
I hope you are keeping well, I do kinda keep up with your whereabouts on Facebook at least.
Take care
Hope you get this
Re: Please help     2/21/17

Yikes; a cichlid, but... Where is this from, as in what lake/area? BobF
RE: Please help     2/21/17

Hi Bob/Pete
I trust you are well my son found it in a small irrigation canal and brought it home to put in my fish tank when I had a Closer look at it it did not look like any Bream I had ever seen but more like a cichlid from Lake Malawi however I thought that would be impossible to get a cichlid coming all that way to Swaziland through a river system. I'm fascinated to try and find out what type of fish that is. I hope you can help
kind regards
Fwd: Please help     2/21/17

Hello Liz and William,
Your fish looked to me like a Haplochromine cichlid of some sort, and given its shape and size, I was thinking of the dwarf mouthbrooders of the genus Pseudocrenilabrus. So I passed along your photos to Mary Bailey, a well-known cichlid expert with a particular interest in the African species. She was able to go one better than me, suggesting Pseudocrenilabrus philander, the Southern Dwarf Mouthbrooder cichlid. Additional photos would, I am sure, be useful.
Pseudocrenilabrus are interesting fish, small but colourful, but the males are quite aggressive and ill-suited to the average community tank, so be careful with whatever else is in with them!
Regards, Neale

Cichlid ID       5/3/15
Good day, kind sirs.
I was wondering if you could help me with an ID.
These pics are bad (sorry).
I believe I'm dealing with Venustus or Livingstoni.
<Mmm; yes.... Nimbochromis (nee Haplochromis Boulenger 1908) venustus>
I sent my wife to the LFS for BUMBLEBEES and this is what they sold her.
I apologize if this is not your forte. Simply ignore if that is the case
Thanking you in advance...
Father of two.
You guys helped with my 55 build about 6-9 months back. All went well,
<Ah, welcome. Bob Fenner>
re: Cichlid ID       5/3/15

Thank you!!!
<Welcome. BobF>

Cichlids        4/1/15
<.... 7.6 Megs of pix...>
Hello, i have had 2 of my cichlids since October 2013. And my green terror for about 3ish months now. The older 2 are a bumblebee
<Not a good idea to mix Mbunas and Neotropical Cichlids... water chemistry or temperament-wise>

and i am unsure exactly what breed the yellow cichlid is. Within the last month my bumblebee and yellow locked mouths for a bit (never had this problem but one other time when i moved them to my bigger tank) and now the yellow stays in his/her hidey spot and my bumblebee is extremely dark 24/7 now.
<What they do: fight for territory, mates>

I have not vented them to see who is a boy and who is a girl. But within the last week besides staying extremely dark most of the time the bumblebee is extremely fat. Is he/she trying to spawn with my yellow cichlid?
The bumblebee seems extremely agitated and continuously biting and chasing my 2 Plecos (also same age) if they are in the front of the tank or near the yellow cichlid. If it is a girl and is full of eggs to lay, if she doesn't get the chance is she gonna be okay?
<Can't say from here... I would move the offendi or give it a time out in a plastic floating colander>
Also, can you help me figure out what Speckles my yellow cichlid is??
<Mmm; a male cross of some sort...>
I will attach pictures. The pictures are a few months old but I will also add a recent picture of Stripes (bumblebee) recent color change. I also apologize that the new picture of Stripes is not the best. My tablet sucks at pictures of the fish. Thank
you immensely for any information and thoughts!!!!
<Am sending this on to Chuck Rambo here for his better input. Bob Fenner.... Goldfish too?>

Re: Cichlids     4/2/15
Thank you!!!! I am sooo appreciative of you responding. I may try to vent them later i just did a water change so they are mad at me. Also i will get my slightly smaller tank reset up to place the terror elsewhere.
<Ah, good. BobF>

Copadichromis Melas or Midnight Mlotos?      12/23/14
Copadichromis Melas Verification

Hello: I was looking for info on the Copadichromis Melas on the site. There is a Midnight Mloto and I wonder if this "midnight mloto" is just a marketing name. Also, is this fish hybrid or naturally found with the black coloring. Would this color be of the male or female. I hope the attachment is not too big, about 220KB
Thank you
< This is a real fish found in Lake Malawi and described in 2006 by Ad Konings and Jay Stauffer out of Penn State. The photo looks like a male. Females tend to remain silvery in color.-Chuck>


question about a Kenyi Cichlid
Blushing Kenyi Cichlid
Hello! I have a 55 gallon tank in my biology classroom, and I have primarily kept cichlids for the past 17 years - an Oscar for 9 years and most recently a Flowerhorn for 7 years that died last November. I now
want to try a different type of cichlid, and have been looking at the Kenyi - have been advised to go with one male and five females, lots of plants and caves. My local pet store has what I am looking for, but I have one major concern. The beautiful yellow male (about 2 inches) has a perfect red circle on each side (about the size of a smarty candy) near the gills.
The lady at the store says she has isolated him and treated him with antibiotics several times thinking he was sick even though he never acted sick and always ate well. She says she Googled it and found out it is a genetic color mutation and that it is completely healthy. IF this is true,
it would be a cool way to teach "neutral" genetic mutations in my classroom. I tried to Google it and can't find anything. ???? Help ????
Shannon Blanton,
< Do a Google image search for blushing angelfish. These are line bred fish that have been selected for clear gill covers. If these patterns look similar to the Kenyi you have seen then they may be a new strain of Kenyi.
A case of genetic selection by breeders.-Chuck>


Identification of cichlids      8/6/14
Lake Malawi Cichlid ID

Could you please identify these two species for me. The one on the bottom was orange and turned a very light orange or peach.
<Both of your fish are from Lake Malawi. The first photo is of a Petrotilapia species. Either a female or a young fish. These fish get big so if one changes colors it will be easier to identify the species. The
second photo looks like a Labidochromis species. Maybe from Chisimulue.
Check out both of these genera on image search to try any narrow it down.-Chuck>
Peter O'Brien

Re: Identification of cichlids      8/6/14
Thanks for the info. I was not thinking Labidochromis at all. I thought maybe zebra.
Lake Malawi Cichlid ID II    8/7/14

< Labidochromis have a small pointed mouth to pick invertebrates from between rocks. Metraclima/Pseudotropheus have a wide scraping mouth to graze on algae.-Chuck>

Help Identifying a Cichlid
ID Lake Malawi Cichlid      2/27/14

I've recently purchased a cichlid and would like to know if you can tell me what it is. I've done research and think it is a Labeotropheus fuelleborni but am not sure. Thank you.
< Your fish is definitely a Labeotropheus. There are only two species that have that extended nose. L. fuelleborni are big a have a fuller body. The L. trewavasae are thinner and more streamline. Usually the females have the pinkish body color as shown in your photos. Chuck> 

Fwd: Cichlid 1      11/3/13
<Hey Rick>
Can either of you identify the cichlid in the attached photo?  I paged through my copy of Axelrod and couldn't find anything that matches well enough for me to be confident.  The pair is up for adoption, but I need to know what they are to determine whether I can adequately house them.
<Mmm, don't know... does look Lamprologine as Neale speculates. We're waiting on Chuck Rambo's input. B>
This is a photo of the most cooperative of the two. The other has another black spot along the lateral line.  They are currently about 3 inches long.
Behavior I observed is that they stick pretty close to the little rock decoration you see in the picture, so I'm guessing they are some kind of Malawians.  They would have to go in with my J. dickfeldi if I were to take them.

African Cichlid ID      11/3/13
Can either of you identify the cichlid in the attached photo?  I paged through my copy of Axelrod and couldn't find anything that matches well enough for me to be confident.  The pair is up for adoption, but I need to know what they are to determine whether I can adequately house them.
This is a photo of the most cooperative of the two. The other has another black spot along the lateral line.  They are currently about 3 inches long.
Behavior I observed is that they stick pretty close to the little rock decoration you see in the picture, so I'm guessing they are some kind of Malawians.  They would have to go in with my J. dickfeldi if I were to take
< Hard to tell from the photo exactly the species is in the photo. It does look like some kind of Malawian Mbuna but is probably a cross. They would be too aggressive to place with your J. dickfeldi. These Mbuna have teeth used to scrape algae off of rocks and can be very destructive on fins and scales.-Chuck>

Crazy Cichlids, Please Help ID    8/22/13
Lake Malawi Cichlid ID's

Hey Bob and Crew,
I have recently been given these two cichlid's and cannot ID them. The blue and yellow one is very aggressive and also eats any fish in its way. I have looked at many fish on your site and many of them look too similar for me to ID. Can you tell what species of cichlid's these animals are?
Thanks, Amber
< The lower fish is a Pseudotropheus acei. It travels around in large schools feeding on algae growing on wooden objects found in the lake. The upper fish is a very under fed piscivore. It looks like a Stigmatochromis sp. modestus from Makokola Reef in Malawi. It will eat anything that will fit into its large mouth. Chuck><<These fish need to... too skinny! B>>

Cichlid questions     4/28/13
Hi WWM Crew,
Hope all is well. I've recently inherited a 55 gallon Mbuna tank from my brother-in-law - with twins on the way my sister decided it was time to start cutting back on some things. Unfortunately my brother-in-law's knowledge of the fish seemed to end with "they looked nice." I've tried to do some research online, but found a couple points I could use clarification on. From what I can tell, the current species in the tank are 5 Demasoni,
<Males of this species are extremely aggressive, particularly towards their own species and other fish with similar colours. Multiple females per male will help, as will masses of rockwork, but your aquarium is at the absolute minimum size for this species. Don't be fooled by its small adult size (around 7-8 cm) being half that of regular Mbuna -- in no sense is this a "dwarf" cichlid in terms of personality!>
5 Yellow Lab, 4 Snow White Socolofi, 4 Acei,
<These three are relatively easy-going species often recommended to beginners because they're unlikely to kill one another / anything else kept with them. They're also sufficiently different in looks that the Demasoni should be able to tell they're not their own kind.>
and 3 upside-down cats (Synodontis Nigriventris, I believe).
<These prefer soft to moderately hard, slightly acidic to slightly basic water chemistry. Not really suited to a hard water Mbuna system.>
All of the fish are about 2-2.5 inches in size currently.
<Still pups!>
The tank is currently showing no ammonia, no nitrites, and minimal nitrates (i.e., at the very lower threshold of detection on my kit). Filtration is provided by a Penguin Bio-Wheel (200 GPH) that my brother-in-law had and a spare Fluval 305 (260 GPH) I had available and seeded with some of the material from my tropical tank in hopes of jump-starting its bacteria. With 460 GPH of flow I'm pretty comfortable with the filtration. Now, on to the questions:
1) In general, anything to watch out for with that mix of species? I'd imagine hybridization could be a problem, along with aggression (though I haven't noticed much yet, possibly to do the tank being moved and rearranged).
<See above.>
2) I've read that Synodontis cats in general do well with Mbunas, however, I've also seen in a place or two that Synodontis Nigriventris may be an exception since it prefers different water chemistry. Should I  consider relocating them to my 30 gallon tropical community tank? Or should I just assume that since they seem to be doing well that they can  stay?
<I'd move them rather than leave them where they are. Synodontis nigriventris is a lovely, peaceful species that does better in quiet communities of small to medium sized fish. It's only flaws are that it's shy (solved by keeping in groups and using floating plants, in which case it rests under those, even in full view) and that it occasionally nibbles at the fins of things like fancy Guppies.>
3) I've also read a fair bit about overstocking to control aggression but haven't seen much about how many fish that actually entails. I did see Mary's rule of thumb formula that would yield about 25 fish in a 50, which seems like a lot to me - though since we're talking about overstocking that well may be the point. Any guidance on that point?
<It's really tricky to define "overstocking" because it's a recipe for disaster if not done right! The aim isn't so much to overstock the tank as such, but to add so many of a given species that it's impossible for any one male to set up a permanent territory. Oddly, if they're frustrated in this, their aggression actually diminishes a bit, presumably because evolution has favoured males that are most aggressive when they have something worth fighting for, not merely randomly aggressive. Anyway, if this was me, I'd remove all of the Demasoni or at least all but one male and 2-3 females; conventional wisdom is that you need something like a dozen Mbuna of any one species in an aquarium to "overstock" it, and your tank just isn't the right size for that. This is the species you need to watch, and overstocking in terms of Demasoni will make overstocking (in the negative sense) this relatively small tank rather easy, so you end up with difficult to manage water parameters. The other, relatively mellow Mbuna should be happy amongst themselves.>
4) As a follow-up to #3, if I should get more, any suggestions for what would work well? Simply add more of the same, maybe bringing them up to 6 of each species? Or are there any other species that would fit in nicely?
<Iodotropheus is a classic "peaceful" Mbuna, so any of those would be worth considering; Iodotropheus sprengerae is the species commonly offered. But yes, you might choose to add a few more of what you have already, but do bear in mind the Socolofi will get fairly big, around 15 cm/6 inches, so your tank is already quite well stocked. You have excellent water quality now… why push it? Many, if not most problems with cichlid health come down to water quality, particularly chronically high nitrate levels.>
Many thanks in advance, I've learned more from your wonderful site over the years than I would have thought possible when I started in the hobby.
<Thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>
Cichlid ID      4/28/13

Hello Chuck, Bob:
There's a mystery cichlid photo I've put into Chuck's pigeonhole. I'm not very good at identifying Rift Valley cichlids on sight, though this little Mbuna does look rather familiar. Any thoughts?
Cheers, Neale
Re Cichlid ID     4/28/13

Got me. Chuck? B
Cichlid questions     4/28/13

<Chris, I passed your question and my answer along to Mary Bailey, and she offered up a couple alternative (and likely better) bits of advice for you to think upon:
"I'm with you most of the way on what you say, except:
(1)Ps. demasoni is one of those species that behaves like Attila the Hun for some people and is a pussycat for others.  I would prefer a suck it and see approach, especially as these are young fishes growing on together and that often produces a less trauma-ridden scenario than communities of adult Mbuna suddenly thrown into one another's company. 
(2) My overcrowding strategy isn't based on large numbers of individuals of species but on total number of Mbuna of all species.  Back when the strategy was evolved you were lucky if you could obtain a pair of a species, let alone a bunch of them, as we were dealing with wild fishes. 
You are in fact more likely to have trouble if you have multiple conspecific males than if you have just one male of a species, because serious fights are more likely where there is intraspecific competition. 
The general idea of the crowding is not so much to stop males fighting (heterospecific males don't usually bother) as to stop males pursuing their females to death - the tank is so busy that the females can lose themselves in the crowd and males are less keen on leaving their little patch as they may come back to find it usurped and will have to run the gamut of other males to do any serious chasing."
Hope these additions are useful. Mary knows her stuff. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Cichlid questions     4/28/13

I feel foolish now because I completely forgot the other question I had. I neglected to mention there are several that I have been able to positively identify. Could you take a look and let me know what you think they are?
I've found a couple of pictures online that look close in one way or another so I'm starting to think they may be some kind of hybrid or species that might not be that common in the trade.
Many thanks again
<Got this from the illustrious Ad Konings, via the ever helpful Mary Bailey: "Almost certainly juvenile of Nimbochromis fuscotaeniatus". So there you go! Nice fish, and Nimbochromis tend to be peaceful, though predatory. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: cichlid ID      4/29/13
> Hi Bob, Neale,  Never got the photo. After checking the FAQ's I guess the person figured it out. But still never saw the photo on the FAQ's page. Chuck
> <Thank you Chuck. B>
Re: cichlid ID      4/29/13
Hmm… no… got a reply from Ad Konings via Mary Bailey, so took the message out of your (Chuck's) folder.
Cheers, Neale
<Yes. B>
Re: Cichlid questions      4/29/13
Many thanks Neale, Mary, and all the rest for the advice and identification - you've done a lot to put my mind at ease that I don't have an imminent war in the tank :). I think I'm going to just leave well enough alone with the exception of getting the cats out of there and into a new tank. Since my tropical tank has an ever growing number of guppies in it it'll be just the excuse I need to set up an all catfish tank (Corys, upside-downs, and Ancistrus I'm thinking).
<Do note my warning re: S. nigriventris and fancy Guppies…>
I've fallen in love with the cichlids - I think I've spent almost as much time watching them this weekend as my cat has - so I'm very glad to hear that things should work pretty well as they are.
Thank you again for the help in responding to my questions and for having such a wonderful resource available.
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Peacock Identity
Peacock Cichlid ? ID - 1/25/13

HI! Sooo, the more I LOOK at this guy, I am seeing either a MIX or some "Hap"?  Just doesn't quite LOOK like my other peacocks, but I could be wrong.  The horizontal line is throwing me.
Any thoughts? Carrie :)
< Peacock cichlids are characterized by a series of pits or pores around the jaw and head area. These pores are used as sensors that pick up the vibrations of prey items living in the sand. Based on the photo provided it does not appear to be any known peacock cichlid that is found in the wild. It is probably a cross of some sort but hard to tell with not much color on the fish.-Chuck>

´¯`·.. ><((((º>`·.¸¸.·><((((º>´¯`·.¸.·<((((º>

fish id, possibly Krib?     7/6/12
Bob and Crew,
I have searched your site and some others and cannot get an ID on this animal that I am comfortable with. Based on what I see on your site, I am thinking a Cichlid; perhaps, a Krib? He came with 6 'rescued' Blood Parrots and is not the friendliest to them.
Thanks, as always, for your help!
<Nope, not a Krib. It's a Melanochromis species of some sort, probably a male Melanochromis auratus. This species is notoriously aggressive (some would say psychotic) but will work well in mixed species tanks if kept alongside other very aggressive Mbuna. Like other Mbuna, it feeds primarily on algae, so any algae-based flake food will maintain it well. Occasional live daphnia and the like will be appreciated, too. In terms of water chemistry, it will need moderately hard to hard, basic conditions to do well. Cheers, Neale.>

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