There is almost no sexual difference in Tanganicodus irsacae regarding color pattern but the female is smaller than the male. These goby cichlids are biparental mouthbrooders. The fact that male and female form a bond, usually for life, is quite unusual for mouthbrooders. The pair defends a territory, and both male and female chase (smaller) intruders from their premises, but most of their aggression is directed towards conspecifics.
Bills & Ribbink (1997) mention that Neolamprologus signatus is monogamous, and that a territory, which has an average diameter of about 1.5 meters, includes holes for the female as well as for the male. This video shows a male at Kalugunga (Tanzania) courting a female which is usually an indication that a species is probably not monogamous. The male dances in front of the female: standing on his head with his extended branchiostegal (gill) membrane touching the sand and the rest of the body (all fins erect) in the “air”, while blocking the female’s path. He quickly changes the lateral displays, twisting left to right, trying to keep up with the fleeing female. There are several brood-guarding pairs in the same area that seemed to behave more like a member of a monogamous species. This is the first ever underwater video of [ss] and at a newly discovered area, i.e. the Central Tanzanian shore. The video was shot at about 35 meters with ambient light which is highly reduced at that depth. That is the reason some scenes are a bit blurry.
Neolamprologus tretocephalus produce 200–300 eggs per spawn. The fry are guarded by both male and female; the female stays near the fry all the time while the male guards more the perimeter of the territory, which is not very large. The fry are protected for as long as four months before they are chased from the nest; they have then grown to a size of about 30 mm.
exLamprologus brevis is the only shell-dwelling species where both male and female live in the same shell. When the female is in the fry-defending stage, however, one sees her usually on her own with the male probably consorting another female.
Haplochromis vittatus is the only piscivorous haplochromine in Lake Kivu and easily recognized by the two horizontal stripes on the body. The video clip shows a few sub adult individuals hunting for fish fry hiding in the rocks.
Haplochromis graueri is recognized by its "heavy" head and males by their turquoise snout. This individual at Kibuye [Rwanda] searches for invertebrates in a patch of freshly disturbed bottom substrate by ramming its head into the ground.
Haplochromis gracilior is the only haplochromine species in Lake Kivu of which the male is entirely black, i.e. without red pigment in the dorsal, anal, or caudal fin. At Kibuye [Rwanda] territorial males were common at a depth of about 2-3 meters and territories were less than two meters apart. Many differently patterned cichlids occur in the shallow rocky habitat and because of their variability within a species are difficult to identify. Females of Haplochromis gracilior have an irregular pattern of 6-8 vertical bars which are sometimes overlain with irregular blotches.
At Kibuye [Rwanda] breeding males of Haplochromis adolphifrederici occur at a depth of less than 5 meters where they share the rocky habitat with males of H. gracilior. Females can be distinguished by their yellowish color and pattern of vertical bars. Of the 15 recognized haplochromines in Lake Kivu, Haplochromis adolphifrederici is one of the three polychromatic species of which individuals exhibit a pattern of irregular black blotches on a silvery white background. The other two polychromatic species are H. vittatus and the peadophage H. occultidens.
Neolamprologus leleupi leleupi is a widespread species along the Congolese shore of the lake, but most populations contain gray or beige-colored individuals. In May 2014 another bright yellow population was discovered near Kilima [D.R. Congo]. The individuals at this site were more lemon yellow than in the other known populations where they are slightly more orange. Since this site had never been fished before Neolamprologus leleupi leleupi was common at this site.
A pair of Theraps irregularis guard their offspring in the extremely shallow water near the bank of the Rio Chocolhaito [Chiapas, Mexico]. The fry have little problem following their parents and swimming against the current.
A pair of Theraps irregularis spawning on a large rock in the middle of the current of the Rio Chocolhaito [Chiapas, Mexico]. The relatively large eggs can be seen on the lower left side of the large rock. The female adds a few eggs during the sequence. It is amazing that these eggs are deposited right in the current and not in a quieter part of the stream.
This clip shows many Theraps irregularis facing the current in the Rio Chocolhaito [Chiapas, Mexico] and also a little bit of the habitat of the river which is rather shallow.
The flow of the Rio Chocolhaito [Chiapas, Mexico] is rather strong, even in the dry season, and Chuco intermedium pairs have to resort to the deeper sections of it to guard their fry.
In Lake Miramar Vieja melanurus picks at the algae and other vegetable matter that grows on the granules of the disintegrated stromatolites that form the main hard structure in the lake. Breeding pairs were videoed while defending fry in shallow caves at the base of the huge columns of stromatolites.
Various pairs of Rheoheros lentiginosus are seen here guarding their fry in Laguna Miramar [Chiapas, Mexico]. The clip starts with a pair that is guarding eggs that have been deposited in a hole in a log on the lake bottom at a depth of about 2 meters. The fry-guarding pairs either took their offspring on a "trip" in the habitat searching for food while other pairs defended their young in a cave of the stromatolites that make up the hard structure of the lake. Notice that at the end a young is snatched by a juvenile Petenia splendida. The video halts to show the enormously extended mouth of the predator.
This young individual of Rheoheros lentiginosus turns over leaves on the bottom of Lake Miramar [Chiapas, Mexico] in search of invertebrates.
The local variant of Cincelichthys pearsei in Lake Miramar [Chiapas, Mexico] exhibits more blue than yellow on the body and head. Both male and female are actively involved in guarding their offspring and when not bothered usually stay at one particular place in the habitat. The fry form a small cloud while feeding on plankton, but will drop to the bottom when feeling threatened and following their parents to safety.
Almost all the breeding pairs of Trichromis salvini we saw (March 2014) in Laguna Miramar [Chiapas, Mexico] were of an extremely small adult size. Females were not much larger than about 5 cm while the males were not much bigger at about 6-7 cm. The clip shows three different pairs defending their fry in the irregularly-shaped stromatolites which provide the main habitat in the lake. Lake Miramar is a remarkable place with probably the largest freshwater stromatolites in the world, with some columns reaching into depths of more than 20 meters, and probably much deeper.
At a depth of about 8 meters in Lake Miramar [Chiapas, Mexico] this pair of Petenia splendida defend their fry from predators, which are mostly juveniles of their own species (see one attack fry at the end of the clip). The territory is centered around a large hole in the stromatolite substrate of the lake from which the fry come forward when the coast is clear. In the first weeks the fry feed on plankton but will soon hunt fry of other cichlids.
In the clear and shallow water of Lake Miramar [Chiapas, Mexico] a pair of Thorichthys helleri spawns in the leaf litter. The female deposits a few eggs at the time which are then fertilized by the larger male. The eggs are attached to a single leaf. Notice that on several occasions a sneaker male (a male that has a neutral coloration and does not have a territory) steals a fertilization of the just-laid eggs. On each occasion the pair is too late to prevent the sneaker from fertilizing their eggs. This behavior had not yet been reported from Central American cichlids, most of which are substrate brooders.
Tyrannochromis macrostoma is a piscivore which ambushes its prey in a peculiar manner. When a possible victim is located, the predator turns the body on its side and focuses on the fish with one eye only. Then, sideways, it slowly lowers its body until it is within striking distance. With a sudden dash forwards the victim is captured. Fry-caring females are a common sight in the rocky environment. Among the broods there are almost always foreign fry which have found their way to the protecting female predator, who either cannot make the distinction between her own young and the foreign young or allows the alien fry among her brood as detractors to fry predators.
Territorial males of Protomelas sp. 'steveni taiwan' defend a large section on the upper side of a large boulder. They feed from within their territories but not from the spawning site which often shows a lush growth of algae since all other herbivores are prevented from feeding there as well. Ripe females can thus at once see the spawning site within the male’s territory and judge the safety of its position.
Otopharynx lithobates is one the iconic cichlid species from Lake Malawi, in particular the geographical variant found at Zimbawe Rock. Not all males of this population display a broad sulfur-yellow "blaze" on the head, some have a narrow, whitish patch. Both males and females pick at small indeterminate matter on the rocks and I have often seen them feeding on fecal matter as well. Perhaps there is a higher concentration of certain invertebrates in decaying feces than on the aufwuchs.
Mylochromis sp. 'mollis likoma' picks at invertebrates in the rubble of intermediate habitats around Likoma Island. Males construct interesting spawning sites in which they remove a few pebble-sized stones from a certain spot to create a small, 10-15 cm in diameter, flat sandy spot which serves as a spawning platform. By making such "holes" in the rubble females can easily discover where males have their breeding territories.
Mylochromis sp. 'kande' is a large and elongate member of the genus which has only been seen at Kande Island. Males build cave-crater bowers in which they use an object, most often a stone, against which they construct a shallow spawning pit. The lek consists of tens of breeding males which can be as close together as about one meter, but more often 2-3 meters. Females usually visit several different males to have their brood fertilized. Mouthbrooding females remain solitary and hide among the rocks of the intermediate habitat. It seems that this species lives most of the year on the open sand and only congregate at Kande Island to breed. I have seen them at different times of the year and maybe breeding takes place, with changing participants, throughout the year.
The interesting feeding behavior of Hemitaeniochromis sp. 'spilopterus kande' is displayed here when after a female Mylochromis sp. 'kande' has laid a batch of eggs a large male [ss] inserts himself between the male and female and quickly eats the eggs before the female can turn around to pick them up. The male Mylochromis seems to think that the egg-robber is a competitor and tries to protect "his" female but does not chase away the egg-robbers (there is also a small individual who joins the feast) to save the eggs.
Protomelas ornatus is a predator which feeds on invertebrates but also on juvenile fishes. It is frequently observed rolling onto its side while it feeds from horizontal cracks. It is rarely seen feeding from the face of a rock, like Placidochromis milomo and Chilotilapia euchilus. In the latter two species the lips are recurved and swollen in all directions, while those of [ss] are pointed and laterally compressed. This has the effect of creating two different niches, allowing [ss] and C. euchilus to share the same habitat without competing with each other for food. Females guard their offspring several weeks after first release and hide them among the rubble of the shallow intermediate habitat.
Adults of Melanochromis mpoto are usually solitary but quick to form small packs of up to a dozen individuals when hunting opportunities arise. Such packs can contain more than a single male in breeding coloration. These small packs move quickly through the habitat, apparently causing commotion among small prey fishes and invertebrates, and scavenging on anything that seems worth consuming. Larger specimens appear to be mainly opportunistic piscivores.
Melanochromis auratus is a very common cichlid in the southwestern part of the lake and with its attractive color pattern stands out in the community. Like all algae-eating members of Melanochromis it has a small mouth with a short lower jaw. [ss] does not comb the loose algae/diatoms from the aufwuchs like Metriaclima or Petrotilapia, but picks at lush spots trying to extract some of the diatoms and/or blue-green algae.
Copadichromis jacksoni is a rather large utaka, males of which defend the tops of prominent boulders in the rocky habitat. [ss] is most often seen in rocky habitats with a sharp decline but has been found all over the lake except for the deep southern portion. The territorial males can be as close as 5 meters apart but are usually further away from each other although normally several breeding males are visible from a certain position. Females are quite large as well and characterized by two, not three, black spots on the flank.
Aulonocara rostratum are majestic cichlids that never show any serious aggression. Males defend large craters in the sand and neighboring males are sometimes less than 2 meters away. Females group on the outside of the breeding arenas and probably spawn with the males early in the morning (I have never witnessed them spawning). Mouthbrooding females form small nursery schools and probably release their offspring simultaneously after a three-week incubation.
Aulonocara baenschi is restricted in its distribution to Nkhomo Reef which does not include a large rocky habitat but rather small heaps of rocks. Such collections of rocks are concentrated in small sub-reefs and very difficult to locate because the bottom is 20 meters or deeper. Males defend a cave under a rock or group of rocks and attract females to spawn with them inside the cove. Male male interaction is very modest and I have never seen two males aggressively embroiled in a fight. Unfortunately this species is threatened in its existence because it is very popular in the hobby but the wild population is rather small and cannot stand much more collecting. Please refrain from buying wild-caught specimens of this species.
Pterophyllum scalare is probably the most majestic cichlid in the world. To see how they gracefully slide between the numerous branches and twigs of their habitat is amazing. They seem to prefer 5-6 ft deep water with plenty of branches of trees that have fallen into the water. They feed on the algae that grow on the branches. Predators can’t easily get at them (video cameras have a hard time to focus on them as well), while the angelfish move around the forest as if there were no obstacles at all. Spectacular!.
Dicrossus filamentosus is a common dwarf cichlid in the small tributaries of the Rio Negro where they pick at any edible items from the aufwuchs on leaves and branches. Breeding males are rare in the low water season but are sometimes seen cruising their territories. Only the female takes care of her offspring and in this clip you see two different females leading their fry through the water plants along the banks of the Rio Jufari.
Crenicichla inpa is a medium-sized pike cichlid which is rather common in the smaller tributaries of the Rio Negro and its effluents. It shares the habitat with the larger C. johanna and C. lenticulata and with the much smaller C. notophthalmus, but it is an ambush hunter that behaves like the larger pikes in that it hangs out under logs and branches, or hides between the leaf litter waiting for bite-size prey to come within reach.
Biotodoma wavrini are commonly found together with Satanoperca lilith over sandy substrates in small tributaries of the Rio Negro, but instead of sifting randomly through mouthfuls of sand Biotodoma wavrini picks at items that have been located visually. They are rare in fast flowing streams or in the fast flowing parts of streams, but can tolerate a steady current in the water.
The adults of Satanoperca lilith live in the deeper parts of the small tributaries of the Rio Negro but their juveniles forage in the very shallow water of less than 50 cm deep along the stream’s banks. Juveniles would be too vulnerable if they stayed with their parents on the open sandy bottom in the flow. All they need is fine sand, plentiful in northern Amazonas basin, from which they extract by filtering and chewing tiny invertebrates. At about 35 seconds in the clip a Crenicichla notophthalmus pounces on prey in the background.
Mesonauta insignis is a common cichlid of the smaller tributaries of the Rio Negro and Rio Branco. It is always found in the upper 20 cm of the water column among the stems and floating leaves of water plants. It feeds on higher plants and in the clip one individual is chewing on a stem of Eliocharis.
Heros liberifer is a medium-sized cichlid which is very common in the smaller tributaries of the middle Rio Negro. Most individuals shelter underneath logs and branches, but sometimes small groups are more in the open, even on the open sand in the flow of the stream—but not in the strongest flowing part. During the low water season (videoed in October 2012) breeding is very rare and the adults “hang out” together without much quarreling. They feed mainly from the algae growing on the logs and branches.
Crenicichla notophthalmus is a very common cichlid in the small tributaries of the Rio Negro. In the Igarapé Bariri it lives in the leaf litter together with Apistogramma species but it also hunts in thick stands of water plants where Apistogramma is less common. During the low water season breeding pairs are very rare and most individuals seen are only interested in hunting tiny fish or small invertebrates which they locate deep in the leaf litter.
Crenicichla johanna is the largest member of Crenicichla found in the small tributaries of the Rio Negro. This subadult individual had a size similar to the adult specimens of C. lenticulata with which it was found together.
Cichla orinocensis is a common large predator in the main stream of the Rio Negro but also occurs in smaller tributaries where it hangs out near large trunks and logs. Even the small streams are home to the pink Amazon dolphin, locally known as boto, and this predator is a real threat for relatively large species in the small streams. Cichla orinocensis is a voracious predator in its own right and is feared by fish that are bite-sized but not by the tiny tetras and other small fish that are not worth the effort in capturing them.
The pair of Crenicichla lenticulata in this video was filmed in October (2012) during the low water season. Both male and female guard their offspring—sometimes for months after the fry swim free as in this pair. Notice the very large juveniles, about a half dozen, which have about one third the length of their parents and are still guarded by them. The juveniles must be at least two months old which indicates the devotion and persistence of the parental fish.
Satanoperca lilith is commonly found in the smaller tributaries of the Rio Negro where they grub in the white sandy substrate which is so characteristic of the tea-colored waters in South America. Satanoperca lilith is usually found in small groups and appears to like areas that are about one meter deep in water that has a moderate flow.
Aequidens pallidus is one of the most common cichlids in the smaller streams of the Rio Negro drainage. They are most often found in water deeper than 50 cm but rarely in the fast flowing part of the stream. They need some structure in the form of branches, roots, or leaf litter and are rarely encountered on the open sandy substrate.
During the low water season Apistogramma gibbiceps forms dense populations in the shallow parts of small streams (igarapés). Most individuals are encountered in the leaf litter that accumulates in eddies and in marginal pools where the flow in minimal (but still present). The density of Apistogramma gibbiceps is often so high that more than a dozen individuals can be seen together at one time. There is very little interaction between the sexes and fry-guarding females are very rare during the low water period. Most breeding probably takes place when the rising waters provide ample breeding substrate in the surrounding forest.
Crenicichla lenticulata is a large pike cichlid which is one of the few cichlid species in the Rio Negro drainage that breeds throughout the year. The pair in this video was filmed in October (2012) during the low water season. Even as adults Crenicichla lenticulata appears to form hunting packs as they hang out under logs. Breeding individuals are recognized by the breeding coloration which consists of the concentration of the black vertical bars to elongated blotches and by the very bright coloration of the head, nape, and upper flank. Both male and female guard their offspring—sometimes for months after the fry swim free. In the same habitat I found the larger C. johanna, medium-sized C. inpa, and the much smaller C. notophthalma.
Laetacara thayeri is mostly found in extremely shallow water; normally in pools fringing small streams or in puddles of the flooded forest. These subadult individuals were videoed in a small pool less than 30 cm deep and which was separated from the main stream by a tiny trickle of water. There are also a few Apistogramma pertensis in the pool but this species is more common in the main stream, albeit in shallow water.
Petrotilapia chrysos is sometimes seen in large schools consisting mostly of females and perhaps subadult males. The male is very dark blue, almost black, and only feeds in his territory while the females move around and feed whenever they can. It is the only Petrotilapia species at the island and it is therefore found in the very shallow as well as in the deeper regions.
Petrotilapia mumboensis is one of the four Petrotilapia species at Mbenji and lives in more or less the same habitat as P. sp. 'yellow chin' although latter seems to be more common in shallow intermediate habitats. The male's spawning cave is between the rocks and it usually has an entrance at the top.
Petrotilapia flaviventris lives at a somewhat deeper level than most other Petrotilapia and is normally found in intermediate habitats or sediment-rich rocky habitats, such as here at Chiwi Rock, Chizumulu Island. The rocky habitat at Chiwi is rather steep and therefore there seems to be more three-dimensional space for males to defend territories. [ss] is therefore a rather common cichlid at Chiwi.
Sciaenochromis fryeri feeds on very small fishes and is specialized on juveniles of non-mbuna. Typically Sciaenochromis fryeri swims at a steady pace over the substrate, either pure rocks or rocks and sand, and halts at strategic points when it notices one or more about-one-inch-large juveniles of P. taeniolatus or of similar species. Instead of immediately pursuing the small fish it tries, little by little, to get closer to the prey without alarming it. Then follows a most interesting part because S. fryeri starts rocking back and forth like it is an herbivorous mbuna feeding from the aufwuchs! With each dip S. fryeri moves a bit closer to the prey fish. When the prey fish remains confident in its position and when S. fryeri has closed in far enough, a sudden strike sideward may secure the prey between the jaws of this deceiving piscivore. At the end there is clip of a mbuna feeding on the aufwuchs, a technique Sciaenochromis fryeri imitates.
The type locality of Tropheus duboisi is the most peculiar in the whole lake. Streams of air bubbles escape the bottom at thousands of places but the gas does not contain any sulfur as it has no smell (perhaps it is carbon dioxide). Such release of gasses is found in very shallow as well as at depths of 40 meters and probably deeper. The local temperature of the water is noticeably warmer but by not more than about 1-2 degrees Celsius.
Tropheus duboisi at its type locality of Pemba shares the rocky habitat with T. sp. 'black' (Orange Moorii) but only the juveniles are normally found in the shallower water; adult Tropheus duboisi live usually deeper than 10 meters. When the first "Orange Moorii" were exported from this place the exporter was of the opinion that they were T. duboisi with an orange band as only the polka-dotted juveniles were seen together with them. Although the habitat at Pemba is very restricted to a few hundred meters of the shoreline, and it is only there where both species of Tropheus occur, Tropheus duboisi is rather common at depths below 10 meters. I have not seen them in groups; adult as well as juveniles are solitary individuals feeding from the algae on the rocks.
Metriaclima sp. 'elongatus chewere' is only found at a small reef near Chewere, a small fishing village north of Chilumba. Males have a spawning burrow beneath a few rocks in the intermediate habitat. Females are often found in small groups while foraging in the water column where they feed on plankton. Mouthbrooding females are mostly solitary and hide between the rocks.
Aulonocara kandeense is restricted in its distribution to Kande Island, a relatively small island in the central part of the lake. The density of this species used to be very high with thousands of individuals foraging at the base of the island. Males have their territory (and spawning cave) between the rocks near the sand floor around the island—at a depth of about 10 meters.
Lethrinops albus breeds in the shallow sandy habitat, often near rocky outcrops. Males construct a mound of sand but spawning takes place alongside near the base, not on top of the mound. Territorial males are about 2-3 meters apart and this particular lek had more than 100 males.
Xenotilapia spilopterus is a biparental mouthbrooder with a very wide distribution in the southern two thirds of the lake. In some places it is so common that juveniles and adults form huge schools feeding on plankton in the water column. Although it feeds from the sands it is often found near rocky habitat where they breed. Both male and female guard their offspring and both parents can take the fry back into their mouths.
Xenotilapia sp. 'papilio sunflower' is a biparental mouthbrooder that lives in the deeper rocky habitat. The brood rarely consists of more than a dozen fry which are guarded by both parents. The adults as well as the fry feed from the layer of sediment covering the rocks.
Xenotilapia flavipinnis has a lake-wide distribution but occurs in several different geographical variants. The pairs videoed here were filmed near Namansi in Tanzania. When not breeding X. flavipinnis forms large school and forages from the sand. In the breeding season pairs form and both male and female brood the young. The first 10-12 days the female brood the eggs and then she gives the larvae to the male who continues till they swim free, about a week later. After that both parents guard the fry. When disturbed the fry sink to the bottom and are then difficult to spot.
Xenotilapia boulengeri (previously known as X. sima, but is a different fish) lives on the sand in sometimes huge schools. It filters the sand in search of something edible. It may live mostly at deep levels and only come to shallow water to spawn but such has not yet been witnessed in the lake. Even though this species is one of the most common cichlids from the sandy habitat, very little is known about its life history.
Variabilichromis moorii is the only lamprologine that primarily feeds on algae. It is a very common cichlid in the southern half of the lake and is found in very shallow rocky areas. This fry-guarding pair was videoed at Mvuna Island.
Tropheus sp. 'mpimbwe' has a very restricted distribution around the rocky peninsula known as Mpimbwe in Tanzania. The video was taken at a shallow rocky reef near the town of Korongwe, in water not deeper than about five meters. The Tropheus here is characterized by a yellow patch on the lower part of the cheek. Since the rocks at the reef are heavily sediment-covered not many Tropheus find enough food there.
Tropheus sp. 'mpimbwe' has a very restricted distribution around the rocky peninsula known as Mpimbwe in Tanzania. The video was taken at Cape Mpimbwe, the outermost point of that area. The Tropheus here is characterized by an orange to red cheek and attains a rather large size. Juveniles have a pretty barred pattern but this disappears in adults, males as well as females.
The Kaiser Moorii, Tropheus sp. 'ikola', here videographed at Kalugunga in Tanzania, is one of the most popular cichlids among aquarists. It shares the rocky habitat with the congener T. annectens and is restricted to the rocky rocks between Isonga and Ikola in Tanzania, a stretch of about 35 km. Both male and female have identical coloration but when mouthbrooding the female becomes lighter with an olive green color.
The juveniles of Tropheus brichardi at the islands around Kipili in Tanzania are bright orange and very attractive compared to the gray-brown color of adult males. They are usually found solitary and may move around the rocky habitat until large enough to defend a specific area.
Tropheus brichardi is common in the upper rocky habitat where it feeds on the algae from the aufwuchs on rocks. Juveniles and young females have a pattern of vertical bars but in adult males this pattern disappears and only one or two yellow bars remain. These yellow bars are originally the areas (ground color) between the dark bars; there is no inversion of the bars. At Mvuna Island where these fish were videoed, males usually have a single bar that is often restricted to an elongated spot.
Tropheus brichardi has its southernmost point of distribution at Mtosi in Tanzania, where this video was taken. It is here found sympatrically with T. moorii which seems to force it to deeper areas of the rocky habitat. The deeper part contains also more sediment and this may be a reason why we don’t find T. moorii there because that species likes cleaner surfaces to feed from. Tropheus brichardi is able to feed from sediment-rich aufwuchs.
Telmatochromis vittatus occurs in the southern half of the lake and is one of the most common cichlids of the shallow habitats. And it occurs in all kinds of habitats. The first part of the video shows a number of individuals in the rocky habitat at Mvuna Island and the second part was filmed at Nkondwe Island in the shell bed of ’Lamprologus’ callipterus where a very dense population was tolerated by the tenant male.
Telmatochromis dhonti has a lake-wide distribution and is more common in muddy-type intermediate habitat, in particular where there is more open sand/mud than rocks. It is often found burrowing under a flat rock (or other object such as tree roots washed in the lake), but small individuals can also occur in shell beds. This video was taken at Korongwe in Tanzania.
Perissodus straeleni is a common scale eater of the rocky habitat. It mimics Cyphotilapia frontosa in coloration so that it can approach victims, often foraging individuals of Cyathopharynx foae, that usually are not afraid of small C. frontosa. The video, which was filmed at Cape Mpimbwe, also shows a courting male and a dark-colored female.
Petrochromis sp. 'texas blue' is a member of the P. polyodon group that consists of very large species that occupy a niche in the upper rocky habitats around the lake. They show a significant amount of variation and are therefore referred to under different names. P. sp. ‘texas blue’ occurs along the south-central Tanzanian shore of the lake between Mtosi (where this video was taken) and Cape Mpimbwe. Males are usually very shy as they appear prime targets for otters. P. sp. ‘texas blue’ is a very accomplished algae feeder and effectively harvests the loose aufwuchs from the substrate with slow movements of the mouth. Compare in this case the much faster browsing movements of P. fasciolatus.
Petrochromis sp. 'orthognathus ikola' is a very attractive species which is found along the central Tanzanian shore of the lake, between Cape Mpimbwe (where this video was taken) and the Mahali Mountains. Males and females have an almost identical coloration although that of the male is more pronounced and has blue tinge. At the Cape it occurs in the pure rocky habitat but at other places it can also be found in intermediate habitats.
Petrochromis sp. 'macrognathus rainbow' is found around the islands near Kipili and at Cape Mpimbwe, where this video was taken. It inhabits the very shallow rocky habitat and is rarely found deeper than seven meters. Females show a pattern of vertical bars on the flank and thus resemble P. macrognathus from the southern part of the lake. P. sp. ‘macrognathus rainbow’ shares the habitat at Cape Mpimbwe with P. sp. ‘texas blue’ (a P. polyodon type), P. ephippium, P. famula, and P. sp. ‘orthognathus ikola’.
Petrochromis fasciolatus has a lake-wide distribution and is more often found in the intermediate habitat than other members of this genus. Apart from the red-eyed variant along the central Tanzanian shore of the lake, no other geographical variants are known for this species. One of the males in the video, which were filmed at Kalugunga in Tanzania, shows an interesting bright orange dot (the same color as the upper iris) on the head. This is an aberration rather than a different species because it is the only one I ever found.
Tropheus annectens has a rather wide distribution in the central part of the lake where it occurs on both sides, along the central-western shore of the Congo and between Ikola and Bulu Point along the eastern shore of Tanzania. It shares the habitat with at least one other member of Tropheus and at Kalugunga, where this video was taken, it is found together with T. sp. ‘ikola’. Adult males of T. annectens lack the bar pattern that characterizes females and juveniles..
Petrochromis famula has a lake-wide distribution but is nowhere found in large numbers. It is the smallest of the trio Petrochromis that seem to occupy the shallow rocky reefs all around the lake. The other two species are P. polyodon (and similar large species) and P. ephippium. The male in this short video was videoed at Kalugunga in Tanzania.
Petrochromis ephippium has a wide distribution in the southern half of the lake and males at Cape Mpimbwe (Tanzania) and further north along the eastern shore of the lake attain an all-yellow color in adulthood. Such yellow males have been regarded as a different species before and were called “Moshi Yellow”. The individuals in the video were filmed at Kalugunga, north of Ikola.
Petrochromis ephippium has a wide distribution in the southern half of the lake and males videoed here at Mvuna Island [Tanzania] normally have a dark color with a white to beige-colored saddle spot. Females have a similar color but are somewhat smaller and more secretive.
Petrochromis ephippium has a wide distribution in the southern half of the lake and males at Cape Mpimbwe (Tanzania) and further north along the eastern shore of the lake attain an all-yellow color in adulthood. Such yellow males have been regarded as a different species before and were called “Moshi Yellow”. The individuals in the video were filmed at Cape Mpimbwe [Tanzania].
Perissodus microlepis is a biparental mouthbrooder in which the female broods the tiny eggs for about six days after which the fry have hatched and have absorbed the small yolk sac. Then they are guarded by the male who takes them into his mouth as soon as danger threatens. Both male and female guard their offspring and when the fry are too large to fit inside the male’s mouth, the female will take them up as well. When there is immediate danger the fry will quickly drop to the substrate and stop moving; then they are very difficult to spot. This fry guarding pair was videoed at Nkondwe Island near Kipili [Tanzania].
Paracyprichromis nigripinnis has a lake-wide distribution but is restricted to the dark caves of the deeper rocky habitat, rarely found shallower than 20 meters of depth. Males normally defend a territory along the ceiling of large caves while the females and non-breeding individuals forage in the cave’s entrance or nearby. The food consists of plankton which is picked up bit by bit. These fish were filmed at Cape Mpimbwe [Tanzania].
Oreochromis tanganicae is usually found near river outlets or in the shallow waters of muddy bays. This school was videoed at Mvuna Island. The large cichlid has an excellent taste and is heavily fished using nets by local fishermen.
Male Ophthalmotilapia ventralis, here videoed at Cape Mpimbwe, defend a spawning site on top of a large rocks but such is not demarcated by sand. Females forage in sometimes large schools and when they are ready to spawn visit the males who defend their territories in shallow water, rarely deeper than five meters. A single female may spawn with two or more males.
Male Ophthalmotilapia nasuta, here videoed at Cape Mpimbwe, build small sand castles on top of a rock in order to be close to the females which swim in the water column above the males’ territories. Every grain of sand is carried by the male from the sandy bottom nearby. The male courts and leads ripe females to his spawning “cup” and vehemently chases competitors from the premises.
Males of Ophthalmotilapia boops are all-black at most localities but at Nkondwe Island near Kipili, where this video was taken, they sport a neon-blue patch on the caudal peduncle. Males have a very large territory on top of a large boulder from which all intruders are chased. Sometimes the spawning site is visible as a yellowish patch of dense algal growth.
Paleolamprologus toae is a species from the northern and central sections of Lake Tanganyika — the pair in the video were filmed at Kalugunga in central Tanzania — and are most often found in the shallow intermediate habitat. The eggs are deposited on the vertical face of a rock and defended by both parents. The fry feed on plankton in the water column while the parents feed at night on crustaceans in the water column.
Neolamprologus tetracanthus is a common cichlid of the intermediate habitat and in particular there where the rocky reef ends and the sand continues. In the southern part of Lake Tanganyika they have a yellow tinge on the body and clear yellow fins, in the northern section of the lake there is no yellow pigment on the fish and they are more bluish silvery. For nesting purposes they dig a crater next to a rock and in here they use the underside of the rock to deposit eggs and often burrow a little nursery hole inside the crater to house the wrigglers and fry. These fry-guarding parents were videoed at Namansi in Tanzania.
Neolamprologus savoryi has a lake-wide distribution but is nowhere found in dense populations. They do not form large aggregations such as seen in N. pulcher but form pairs that defend a small spawning cave in the deeper rocky habitat. Juveniles are characterized by a few broad bars on the flank. These fish were videoed at Mtosi in Tanzania.
Neolamprologus pulcher (previously N. brichardi) is one of the few species in Lake Tanganyika where juveniles and young fish help in defense of the nest of their parents and in which so-called helpers (unrelated adults) assist a successful pair in raising young. The density of breeding pairs can be dense at some places and huge groups of this cichlid feed from the plankton in the water column; as seen here at Nkondwe Island near Kipili.
Neolamprologus modestus has a wide distribution throughout the southern half of the lake. This individual was filmed near Namansi in Tanzania. It has a particular way of exposing food items in the upper layer of the sandy substrate of the intermediate habitat. It dives in the sand and “wags” its tail and waves its body to sweep aside the top layer of the sediment.
Neolamprologus leleupi leleupi is best known as the bright-yellow lamp that is sometimes difficult to keep in the aquarium. In the wild, however, many populations include dark individuals such as this one here at Kalugunga in Tanzania. It feeds on insects and crustaceans and does so on its own. Conspecifics are not tolerated at the table.
Neolamprologus cylindricus is a predator searching for insects and crustaceans in the aufwuchs. Individuals almost always forage on their own and will expel conspecifics from their feeding range. This individual was filmed at Mvuna Island near Kipili [Tanzania].
Lepidiolamprologus mimicus is a predator resembling L. elongatus but lacks the spangling of the latter and has a yellowish coloration. Often it is only the female that guards the free-swimming fry. Videoed at Nkondwe Island near Kipili [Tanzania].
The as yet undescribed cichlid, Lepidiolamprologus sp. 'meeli kipili', utilizes an empty Neothauma shell as a nursery for their offspring. A pair digs a small crater in the sand around one or more empty snail shells. The eggs are deposited on the outside of the shell (as either male or female are too large to fit inside), but the larvae and fry use the shell as a shelter when growing up. Filmed near Namansi in Tanzania.
exLamprologus ocellatus has a lake-wide distribution and is usually found in shallow water rarely deeper than 10 meters. It hides its shell by burying it under the sand, leaving just the entrance free. Juveniles stay for a long time in the female’s shell because without the protection of a shell life is very dangerous on the open sand.
Lepidiolamprologus meeli is usually found near shell beds or at least have a number of shells in their territory. The female lays a small number of eggs, visible near the entrance of her shell, and protects her larvae by keeping them in the shell. Both male and female defend the fry once they swim free. Juveniles and young females have an attractive yellow dorsal with a black blotch.
Lepidiolamprologus attenuatus is a very common cichlid of the intermediate habitat and pairs defending free-swimming fry is a familiar sight. The fry feed on the plankton in the water column. This video was filmed at Nkondwe Island near Kipili.
exLamprologus calliurus resembles ‘L.’ brevis but can be told apart by the lyre-shaped tail. It is also found in shell beds while ‘L.’ brevis is often found in isolated shells. Male exLamprologus calliurus have a characteristic orange patch on the nape behind the eye.
The beautiful Julidochromis marksmithi was videoed at Nkondwe Island near Kipili. This cave brooder has an interesting life history because usually the female grows larger than the male and she shares a cave with usually more than one male. There is normally a difference in the size of the males with the smallest the deepest in the cave, out of reach of the larger male. The female spawns with both males, sometimes at the same time.
Haplotaxodon microlepis is a biparental mouth-brooder in which the female broods the eggs initially but is later assisted by the male when the larvae become too big to fit inside the female’s mouth. Both male and female guard the free-swimming fry and are taken up by both parents when danger threatens. The video was filmed at Cape Mpimbwe in Tanzania..
Eretmodus marksmithi, here videoed at Cape Mpimbwe [Tanzania], feeds from the aufwuchs by literally scraping the algae from the rocks. They have chisel-like teeth that break off the algae at their anchoring point on the rocky substrate. Very few cichlids feed in such a manner.
Ectodus descampsii lives in the upper layers of the sandy habitat and is rarely encountered at a depth of five meters or more. Males construct shallow spawning dishes and court females. Non-breeding individuals gather in small groups and forage from the sand. Filmed at Namansi in Tanzania..
Cyphotilapia frontosa inhabits the deeper rocky habitats usually deeper than about 15 meters. Males usually have a harem of up to 8 females and such a group stays together also outside of the breeding period. In areas where the population density is low one can encounter solitary mouth-brooding females as the one in the video. Filmed near Cape Mpimbwe [Tanzania].
Cunningtonia longiventralis, here videoed near Kipili, Tanzania, is a member of the so-called Featherfin cichlids that are characterized by the very long ventral fins ending in yellow lappets that mimic an egg. The interesting feature of this species is the fact that it rakes algae from the substrate similar to the technique performed by Petrochromis species.
Benthochromis horii, here filmed near Mtosi in Tanzania, normally lives at great depths of about 80-100 meters where it feeds on plankton. During the breeding season males ascend to shallower water where they defend a spawning site on top of a large boulder. Females stay in large schools even when they are mouth-brooding.
Aulonocranus dewindti, the breeding males were videoed at Nkondwe Island near Kipili, lives in the shallow intermediate habitat where males construct a small castle bower against a rock. The density of the population is often very high and skirmishes between males are common. As you can see males can be very vigorous when asserting themselves.
Asprotilapia leptura is a common cichlid in the upper rocky habitat and is often found in groups feeding from the algae on large rocks. It crops algae by grabbing the short strands between their teeth with the jaws extended and then retract the jaws while severing the strands. They do this in a rapid fashion as you can witness in the video. Videographed at Mvuna Island near Kipili.
Eretmodus cyanostictus, here videoed at Nkondwe Island near Kipili, Tanzania, form monogamous pairs that also stay together when not breeding. The attractive goby cichlids, their common name as they hop around the habitat, are biparental mouthbrooders in which the female broods the eggs for the first 10-12 days and then gives the larvae to the male who broods them for a similar period.
Tropheus moorii at Mtosi [Tanzania] feeds from the algae by grabbing the strands between the closely-set teeth and while holding tight push off from the substrate by fanning its large pectoral fins. For really tight algae it sometimes shakes its body to dislodge the strands. It always feeds from previously "cleaned" sites, mostly cleaned by Petrochromis species.
Altolamprologus compressiceps in the central part of Lake Tanganyika have a very dark, almost pure black, coloration. It is rare to see a pair of them together like in this video clip, usually the larger fish will vehemently chase away the smaller individual. In this case this is a pair (male is the larger fish) looking for a suitable spot to spawn. Male and female stay together for only a couple of days after which it is the female taking care of the young.
Buccochromis heterotaenia is a large predator and often found in the deeper rocky habitat. Males construct a semi-circular spawning dish alongside a large boulder. Spawns can easily by more than 500 eggs and females care for their offspring long after they swim free. The male was videoed at Otter Point and the fry-guarding female at Zimbawe Rock.
Aulonocara sp. 'yellow collar' is mainly found in the Southeastern Arm of Lake Malawi. At Mazinzi Reef, where this species was videoed, huge schools of foraging females and non-breeding males occur on the sand right at the base of the rocky reef (at a depth of about 10 meters). Males have spawning burrows under rocks and sometimes even between rocks. It is difficult to get the spectacular colors of the male in the aquarium, but maybe a large tank is needed with several males.
Aristochromis christyi is a piscivore that cruises through the mostly intermediate habitat looking for juvenile cichlids. At the end of the sequence you'll see it attack and capture a small Protomelas taeniolatus. The video was taken at Mbenji Island.
Ctenopharynx nitidus feeds from the thin layer of silt that lies on top of the sand. It quickly sucks in the soft and loose sediment and filters it for invertebrates. It usually moves through the habitat rapidly resembling a vacuum cleaner. Videographed at Ruarwe, Lake Malawi [Malawi].
Adults at Gome Rock.
Protomelas fenestratusdefend breeding shallow spawning pits in the sand between small stones at deep areas at Gome Rock, Lake Malawi [Malawi]. The mouth-brooding females take her babies to shallow Vallisneria beds where they release them.
Copadichromis borleyi adult at Chinyamwezi Island, Lake Malawi [Malawi].
Aulonocara saulosi adult at Gome Rock, Lake Malawi [Malawi].
Aulonocara ethelwynnae feeds from small snails and other invertebrates that live in the upper few centimeters of the sandy substrate which it locates by "sonar". Aulonocara ethelwynnae is only common at Chitande Island where males live usually deeper than 10 meters. Males have a large territory but the spawning site, a cleared spot on the sand, is often difficult to see. Territorial defense is weak. Females live in small groups not larger than 10 individuals.
Abactochromis labrosus searching the rocky caves at Katale Island, Lake Malawi [Malawi] for food items. When two individuals meet the stronger will chase the other vigorously from its feeding grounds. Abactochromis labrosus is a rare species that spends most of its time inside rocky caves where its brown coloration blends well with the environment.
Aulonocara sp. 'chitande type kande' adults at kande Island, lake Malawi [Malawi].
A male Aulonocara sp. 'chitande type masinje' has a small spawning site at Gome, lake Malawi [Malawi] on the sand next to a rock but is not very visible. The site is cleared from coarse gravel but there is usually no dip or crater in the sand. Females forage in schools over sand or in intermediate habitats.
Tropheops kumwera feeding by shaking and ripping off the algae from the rocks cover at Masasa Reef, Lake Malawi. The slow-motion sequence in the video clearly shows the way this mbuna feeds.
Tropheops sp. 'elongatus chizumulu' feeding by shaking and ripping off the algae from the rocks cover at Linganjala Reef, Lake Malawi. The slow-motion sequence in the video clearly shows the way this mbuna feeds.
Tropheops tropheops feeding by pulling off the algae from the rocky habitat with a quick shaking movement at Zimbawe Rock, lake Malawi; Malawi. The slow-motion close-up sequence in the video clearly shows the way this mbuna feeds.
Chindongo bellicosus picking and ripping algae of the rocky habitat, Lake Malawi; Malawi. The slow-motion close-up sequence in the video clearly shows the way this mbuna feeds.
Chindongo bellicosus picking and ripping algae of the rocky habitat at Thumbi West Island, Lake Malawi [Malawi]. The slow-motion close-up sequence in the video clearly shows the way this mbuna feeds.
Chindongo flavus picking and ripping algae of the rocky habitat at Lake Malawi; Malawi. The slow-motion close-up sequence in the video clearly shows the way this mbuna feeds.
Chindongo heteropictus picking and ripping algae of the rocky habitat at Chizumulu Island, Lake Malawi; Malawi.
Pseudotropheus livingstonii picking and ripping algae of the rocky habitat at Lake Malawi; Malawi.
A pair of Coptodon rendalli guarding and guiding their numerous fry in the shallow area of Mvguti at Lake Malawi.
Nimbochromis polystigma blending in with the rocky environment of Lake Malawi because of its cryptic coloration and ambushing small, unaware fish from which it feeds.
Often hunting in large groups Nimbochromis polystigma chases small fish in Vallisneria beds of the shallow areas in Lake Malawi.
Petrotilapia nigra combing the aufwuchs in the rocky habitat of Zimbawe Rock in Lake Malawi in search of diatoms and other loose material. The slow-motion in the video clearly shows the way this mbuna feeds.
Placidochromis milomo wanders through the habitat in search of invertebrates hiding in crevices; once found, the predator quickly presses its lips into the opening and sucks them out. The thick, fat lips act as a gasket which seals the crevice entrance, increasing the strength of the vacuum force.
Protomelas pleurotaenia blowing the substrate in the soft bottom of Otter Island, Lake Malawi; Malawi trying to uncover invertebrates hiding buried.
Pseudotropheus sp. 'aggressive grey' picking and ripping algae of the rocky habitat at Masimbwe Island, Lake Malawi; Malawi.
Chindongo ater picking and ripping algae of the rocky habitat at Chinyamwezi Island, Lake Malawi [Malawi].
Aulonocara stuartgranti feeding over a soft bottom in Lake Malawi, where it listens for invertebrates in the sediment with the help of the enlarged sensory pores in its head. Once prey is located it plunges its head in the substrate and grabs a mouthful if it, which it then filters to clear potential prey.
Chilotilapia euchilus wanders through the habitat in search of invertebrates hiding in crevices; once found, the predator quickly presses its lips into the opening and sucks them out. The thick, fat lips act as a gasket which seals the crevice entrance, increasing the strength of the vacuum force.
The incredibly beautiful Labidochromis caeruleus in the rocky habitat of Mbowe island in Lake Malawi.
Ctenopharynx pictus feeding on plankton just above the rocky surface, it extends its jaws to create a weak flow into his mouth. A slow motion sequence shows the extreme extension of the mouth in detail.
Mylochromis labidodon feeding over the gravely substrate at Minos Reef, where it rolls pebbles with its mouth while uncovering invertebrates hiding beneath them.
Cyathochromis obliquidens feeding from the algae that grows on the leaves of Vallisneria which forms beds in the shallow, muddy areas of Lake Malawi. This very specialized "algae raking" behavior can be fully appreciated in a slow motion sequence of the video.
Genyochromis mento takes advantage of this pair of fighting Tropheops sp. 'elongatus boadzulu' males at Masasa Reef, Malawi, trying to get a mouthful of anal fin from one of them.
A group of Hemitilapia oxyrhynchus in Lake Malawi stripping the leaves of Vallisneria, removing the algae, the plants themselves are left unharmed.
Labeotropheus fuelleborni feeding feeding in the rocky habitat of Lake Malawi by scraping algae from the rock surface. A slow-motion close-up sequence shows how algae are harvested and how the distance to the rock is held by the prominent nose of this wonderful mbuna.
Labidochromis chisumulae picking invertebrates from crevices in the shallow rocky habitat of Chiwi Rocks near Chizumulu Island, Lake Malawi.
Lethrinops furcifer in Lake Malawi scooping sand and sifting it through the gills in order to obtain the small invertebrates it feeds on.
Lichnochromis acuticeps uses its pointed head and compressed snout to penetrate deeply into small cracks among the rocky habitat where it hunts for small fish and invertebrates.
Metriaclima callainos combing the so-called loose aufwuchs in the rocky habitat of Lake Malawi harvesting its food which consists of diatoms and small strands of algae. The slow-motion sequence of the video clearly shows the way this popular cichlid feeds.
Metriaclima sp. 'chinyankwazi' combing aufwuchs in the rocky habitat of Chinyamwezi Island, Lake Malawi, in search of diatoms and other small plantlike material. The slow-motion close-up sequence in the video clearly shows the way this popular mbuna feeds.
Metriaclima sp. 'elongatus goldbar' feeding from the aufwuchs on the rocks of the rocky habitat at Chiwi Rocks in Lake Malawi. It feeds on the so-called loose aufwuchs which consists of diatoms and small algal strands.
Metriaclima sp. 'elongatus linganjala' combing the aufwuchs on the rocks of Linganjala Reef, Chizumulu Island, Lake Malawi. The slow-motion sequence in the video clearly shows that this species feeds in the typical manner of a Metriaclima. You can also see it, opportunistically, feed on plankton.
Metriaclima flavicauda feeds on the so-called loose aufwuchs which consists of diatoms and small algal strands. The slow-motion sequence of its feeding technique clearly shows why this elongate mbuna is a member of Metriaclima.
Metriaclima estherae feeding from the algal matrix on the rocks from which it combs the loose material. The slow-motion sequence in the video clearly shows the way this popular cichlid feeds.
Metriaclima sp. 'kingsizei masimbwe' combing aufwuchs in the rocky habitat of Masimbwe Island, Likoma, Lake Malawi, in search of diatoms and other small plantlike material, from which this mbuna lives.
Metriaclima sp. 'aurora bevous' combing the aufwuchs in the rocky habitat of Chizumulu Island in Lake Malawi in search of diatoms and other loose material. The slow-motion in the video clearly shows the way this mbuna feeds.
Metriaclima zebra at Thumbi West Island in the southern part of Lake Malawi. It feeds by pressing its wide open mouth against the rocky substrate and combing the loose material from it when it closes its mouth. The slow-motion sequence in the video clearly shows the way this popular cichlid feeds.
Dimidiochromis compressiceps gold morph at Chiwi Rocks, Chizumulu Island, Lake Malawi [Malawi].
Potamotrygon hystrix in Igarapé Barirí, Rio Negro basin [Brazil].