Dr. Jay Stauffer from the Penn State University and Adrianus Konings from Cichlid Press have announced the discovery of a new haplochromine cichlid fish species in waters of Lake Malawi, Africa.
Lake Malawi, also known as Lake Nyasa, is located between Mozambique, Tanzania and Malawi, and is the eighth largest lake in the world. The lake is the habitat of many species of fish, including up to 1,000 cichlid species.
The study, published in the journal Zootaxa, describes a new cichlid species of the genus Melanochromis.
Melanochromis is a genus of haplochromine cichlids endemic to Lake Malawi. These cichlids are small, slim but muscular, very aggressive fishes, distinguished by having a basic melanin pattern, which consists of two black horizontal lateral stripes on a light background. Most adult members of the genus have a sex-related reversal of pigmentation pattern.
The newly discovered species, called Melanochromis mpoto, measures up to 9 cm in body length.
“Breeding males: head and body cyan blue,” the authors wrote. “Dorsal fin cyan blue with pale-blue distal margin and white lappets. Caudal fin cyan blue with pale-blue submarginal band and narrow yellow distal margin. Full male breeding color conceals basic melanin pattern typical of females and juveniles.”
“Females: head brown/dark brown with gray/brown gular region. Body bluish-brown/dark brown, often with darker midlateral and dorso-lateral stripes and vertical bars. Dorsal and caudal fins gray/brown with broad yellow posterior edge; anal fin gray/brown with 1–3 tiny yellow spots.”
The species name is derived from ChiTumbuka, a language spoken along the northwestern shore of Lake Malawi, and means “northern,” referring to the distribution pattern of this species.
“M. mpoto has a wide distribution in the northern part of the lake and has been encountered along the northwestern shore between Chitande Island, near Chilumba, and Nkhata Bay, and on the northeastern shore between Matema and Hongi Island, near Liuli,” the researchers wrote.