Basket hap, Mylochromis lateristriga


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Matt looks at Mylochromis or Maravichromis lateristriga - a large haplochromine from Lake Malawi.

Common name: Basket hap

Scientific name: Mylochromis lateristriga (Gunther, 1864)

Origin: Lake Malawi endemic. Museum records show that this fish has been collected from the Lake's Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique coasts. According to CLOFFA it is more common in the southern parts of the Lake, but it may also occur in the north.

Size: About 20cm/8" in the wild, potentially larger in captivity.

Diet: Museum records show that the species feeds on crustaceans. Flakes and most frozen foods should be fine for these fish.

Aquarium: According to FishBase, M. lateristriga is found in shallow sandy and vegetated areas in sheltered bays. Therefore, a large aquarium with plenty of open-water and a soft, substrate would be preferable. Vallisneria can be grown alongside such species, and related species occur in the Lake. As with other haplochromines, keep one or two males and four or more females, or at least two females per male. These should mix with most other large haps, if given sufficient room. At tank of 120cm/48" is the absolute minimum for these, as they are fairly big when mature.

Notes: This fish was originally placed in Maravichromis for a while, following Trewevas and Eccles' study of Malawian haplochromines, however, subsequent authors have suggested that Maravichromis is a junior synonym and that the fish should be in Mylochromis instead.

Identification: Many of the other Mylochromis have an oblique stripe, but the snout length, at around 1.4 times the eye diameter, sets this one apart. They're also more generalised feeders than most others bearing an oblique stripe. Cichlid expert Michael Oliver believes that the related, and very similar looking, Lichnochromis acuticeps is a sister species to lateristriga, a specialised crevice-feeder with a rather pointy laterally compressed face.

Availability: This fish was on sale at Maidenhead Aquatics @ Harlestone Heath, Northamptonshire, and was purchased from the wholesaler African Cichlid Specialists, who imported the fish directly from Lake Malawi.

Price: These wild fish were selling for 75 per pair.

This article was first published in the January 2006 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine.