Xenotilapia sp. 'papilio sunflower' was discovered in Chituta Bay in Zambia and mentioned in the literature for the first time in 1988 (Konings, 1988), as a geographical variant of Asprotilapia leptura (now Xenotilapia leptura).
X. sp. 'papilio sunflower' has s close resemblance with X. papilio and another potentially undescribed species, X. sp. "katete". It differs from X. papilio by missing the small black spots on the pelvic fins and by having a slightly shallower body, and from X. sp. 'katete' by having yellow pelvic fins, which is clear blue in the latter, a more elongated and shallower body and a different form of the dorsal and ventral fins (Konings, 1998).
Two distinct geographical variants are known along its distributional range, which encompasses the shores from Chituta Bay in Zambia to Cape Mpimbwe in Tanzania. The variant found between the western shore of Chituta Bay and Kapata east of Mpulungu stands out by missing the black and more or less elongated spot(s) in the dorsal, which is found in the second form - instead the dorsal are adorned with many small sky-blue dots. The second form is distributed from the eastern part of Chituta Bay to Cape Mpimbwe and is characterized by the above mentioned black spot(s) encircled by a blue ring in the dorsal. The number, form and size of these spots varies considerably among individuals from the same locality, and although there are very little variation along the distributional range, there seems to be a slight tendency to smaller and more rounded spots in the northern part of the range (Konings 1998; Genevelle 2001).
The formal description of Xenotilapia sp. 'papilio sunflower' by Dr. Jos Snoeks and Sébastian Verne should be at hand, but apparently still awaits publication (Genevelle, 2002).