Malawi cichlids get new names

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A number of species of Malawi cichlid have been given new names, a new genus has been erected and six new species have been described.

Jay Stauffer and Ad Konings have today published a new review of the planktivorous haplochromine cichlid genus Copadichromis which aims to reexamine the diagnostic traits of the group, following the last work undertaken on the fishes by Eccles and Trewavas back in 1989.

MchengaSix members of the former Copadichromis genus, cyclicos, thinos, conophorus, flavimanus, inornatus and eucinostomus are to get new names after they were placed in a new genus called Mchenga to separate them from other species.

The species in the Mchenga genus differ from Copadichromis in their morphology, the habitats they live in and the way in which they construct their sand nests or bowers.

NyasachromisCopadichromis prostoma and Copadichromis boadzulu are now called Nyasachromis, where they sit alongside some of the other zooplanktivores, such as N. breviceps, N. leuciscus and N. serenus.

The Nyasochromis genus was, like Copadichromis, erected by Eccles and Trewevas when they undertook the mammoth task of rearranging all of the cichlids that had been previously lumped in the genus Haplochromis into distinct recognisable groups.

New speciesThe work, which was published in the journal Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters today, also sees three groups defined within Copadichromis which contain fishes that are more closely related to each other than to other members of the genus.

These are the Copadichromis quadrimaculatus group; the Copadichromis mbenjii group and the Copadichromis virginalis group.

The mbenjii group now includes an additional six species, following the description of half a dozen new species in the paper: C. melas, C. parvus, C. diplostigma, C. insularis, C. cyanocephalus and C. chizumulensis.

For more details on the new species and other changes in the group see the paper: Stauffer, JR and AF Konings (2006) - Review of Copadichromis (Teleostei: Cichlidae) with the description of a new genus and six new species. Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters, Vol. 17, No. 1, p 9-42.