Pelvicachromis rubrolabiatus

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Matt Clarke on the newly described Pelvicachromis rubrolabiatus, which has now become available in the shops.

Common name: Pelvicachromis sp. "Bandi 2"

Scientific name: Pelvicachromis rubrolabiatus Lamboj, 2004

Origin: Guinea, West Africa. Lamboj says the species is found in the Kolente region in the Bandi River.

Size: Up to 10cm/4" in males, with females a bit smaller.

Water: Believed to be from acidic forest waters, so keep it in slightly soft, acidic water.

Aquarium: Although it's a bit bigger, this species is said to be a little more placid than the related humilis and signatus, which can sometimes get a little aggressive, especially if spawning. These are said to be fairly simple to keep, and have been bred in captivity. Like other Pelvicachromis, they are cave spawners and both sexes look after the fry, with the female doing the bulk of the egg-fanning. I'd go for a couple of them in a 90cm/36" tank furnished with lots of bogwood and Anubias. They should mix well with most tetras from the region. You may even get away with them in a community, if you mix them carefully.

Notes: I covered the description of P. rubrolabiatus on the PFK website in 2004 when Lamboj first described it in Zootaxa. This fish was described along with P. signatus and have previously been available in the European trade under the names P. sp. "Bandi" and "Bandi 2" respectively. The name rubrolabiatus means "red lips" and refers to the colour of the lips of males.

Identification: P. rubrolabiatus is a close relative of P. humilis, as is P. signatus. All three share two tubular holes, called ossicles, in the infraorbital region of the head and have seven or eight dark vertical bars on the body when displaying. P. rubrolabiatus has seven bars, but signatus and humilis generally have eight. (There's a dark spot on the caudal peduncle of rubrolabiatus, which does look a little like a stripe.) P. rubrolabiatus also has a smaller preorbital depth than signatus. Males of P. signatus have a black spot on the dorsal and caudal fin, while females have a black spot in the middle of the caudal peduncle, and sometimes a couple of black spots on the dorsal. Lamboj says that P. rubrolabiatus also has a shorter snout than either signatus or humilis. Females turn yellow with a pinky-silver belly, dark pelvics and a prominent spot on the dorsal. They're very pretty when coloured up.

Availability: These were on sale at Wildwoods in Middlesex. They're very rarely seen in the trade, and this is the first time I've personally seen this fish for sale over here.

Price: Pelvicachromis tend to be expensive. Expect to pay around 10 each.