Cave-dwelling cichlids found in Lake Malawi

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Two new species of cave-dwelling cichlids have been described in the most recent issue of the journal Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters.

Rachel Cleaver, Adrianus Konings and Jay Stauffer name the two new species Otopharynx spelaeotes and O. antron.

Otopharynx spelaeotes is distinguished from congeners in having a large eye (diameter 36.1"38.4% head length), more slender caudal peduncle (11.7"12.3% standard length), 31"33 lateral-line scales, 18"24 teeth on the outer row of the left lower jaw, 11"13 gill rakers on the lower limb of the first gill arch, and a male breeding colour that includes yellow/orange ocelli on the anal fin and a blue/black dorsal fin with a very narrow white margin and orange/red lappets.

This species is named after the Greek for cave dweller, and is known from the eastern and western shores of Lake Malawi in the northern two-thirds of the lake.

It is often found in rocky habitats consisting of large boulders, where they feed by scavenging material lying on the rocky substrate of their environment.

Otopharynx antron is distinguished from congeners in having a large eye (diameter 31.4"34.7% head length), longer lower jaw (41.3"47.8% head length), deeper caudal peduncle (12.4"13.4% standard length), 29"31 lateral-line scales, and 15"19 teeth on the outer row of the left lower jaw.

This species is named after a cave or cavity (Greek antron), and is known from the eastern shore of Lake Malawi.

It lives in mixed sand-rock habitat, where males defend small caves with a sandy bottom.

For more information, see the paper: Cleaver, RM, AF Konings and JR, Jr Stauffer (2009) Two new cave-dwelling cichlids of Lake Malawi, Africa. Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 20, pp. 163"178.