Matt Clarke on a rarely seen cichlid from the Congo.
Scientific name:Thoracochromis demeusii 'Blue Lip'
Origin: Found in the lower Congo River system between Luozi and Matadi, and in Stanley Pool.
Size: Up to about 10cm/4" for males, smaller for females.
Breeding: A maternal mouthbrooder. It develops a frontal gibbosity, slightly pointier fins and more speckling as it matures. One dealer managed to spawn these fish in his tanks recently. He told us that his male developed a prominent hump and during courtship, a very red throat region. Jeremy likened their spawning behaviour to that of Haplochromis (Astatotilapia) burtoni. Research on demeusii has shown that the male has a single egg-spot on the anal fin, and that this serves little function in life.
Water: Not much is known about the water conditions of the habitat for this species, but it's a fairly safe bet to say they're probably similar to those of other Congo cichlids. Aim for a pH of 6.0-7.5, a GH of 6-10 and a temperature of 25C/77F and you won't go far wrong.
Diet: They will eat anything from bloodworms, Daphnia, Cyclops, flakes and pellets to filamentous algae. Even smaller fishes such as danios if given the chance.
Aquarium: A biotope tank furnished with lots of rock and bogwood, plus some robust plants.
Notes: This is a pseudocrenilabrine cichlid (previously known as Ctenochromis polli), and although there is some debate over which species should remain in Thoracochromis, there are about 20 similar fish, with four or five considered Thoracochromis. This form is sold as a geographic race of demeusii, but Mary Bailey reckons it is probably just a juvenile demeusii: "Blue lips are such a common feature in haplochromines that I doubt if presence or absence can be regarded as a defining character for a species."
Availability: Far from common in the hobby. These fish were on sale at Maidenhead Aquatics at Harlestone Heath, who bought them from UK wholesaler J and K Aquatics.
Price: Expect to pay about 12.50 for a youngster.