Otopharynx lithobates Tanzania

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Matt Clarke on Otopharynx lithobates Tanzania, a stunning cichlid from Lake Malawi in East Africa.

Scientific name: Otopharynx lithobates 'Tanzania'

Origin: Endemic to Lake Malawi, East Africa. The distribution of this species through the lake extends from Thumbi East and West, Chinyamwezi and Monkey Bay in the south-east up

to the Tanzania coast on the north-east side. Fish at different populations have different colour patterns.

Size: 15cm/6", females slightly smaller.

Diet: A substrate feeder which mainly eats detritus, including the faeces of herbivorous cichlids.

Water: Typical Malawi conditions: hard, alkaline water with a pH of 8.0-8.5, and a temp of 25C/77F.

Aquarium: May not be the best choice for a mbuna tank unless it has peaceful species, such as Labidochromis, as this isn't a particularly aggressive species in my experience. A tank of 120cm/48" or more is recommended.

Sexing: Males are more colourful than females. Juveniles are drab, but look great when mature.

Breeding: Quite straightforward to breed. A typical maternal mouthbrooder.

Identification: Three black spots are usually apparent on the flanks of this fish, but these can disappear depending on the mood of the fish. When in full breeding dress, males can look like S. fryeri with a bright yellow dorsal surface.

Similar species: There are about a dozen species in the genus Otopharynx: walteri, tetrastigma, speciosus, argyrosoma, auromarginatus, brooski, ovatus, decorus, heterodon, selenurus, lithobates, tetraspilus and pachycheilus. O. walteri may be synonymous with lithobates.

Availability: O. lithobates is quite common in the trade, but the Tanzania race is less commonly seen. This fish was on sale at Aqua Blue Zaire in Peterlee, County Durham.

Price: These wild caught fish were on sale for

20-25 each.