New Haplochromis cichlid from Lake Victoria

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A new "hap" has been discovered from Lake Victoria.

In 1998 the Max Planck Institute for Biology made an expedition, organised and led by Herbert Tichy, to parts of East Africa in order to collect the DNA of haplochromine cichlids. Although numerous genetic papers have been published following the expedition, some of the fishes collected have remained unstudied taxonomically. 

German aquarist and ichthyologist Erwin Schraml was in Uganda at the same time as the expedition and accompanied it during part of its travels. He has now examined and reported on one of the Haplochromis species collected in the Ugandan part of Lake Victoria near to the capital, Entebbe. This species has been given the working name Haplochromis sp. "HT-8601" (its catalogue number).

Only a single specimen of the species was caught – a female measuring 10.8 cm SL.  Schraml finds that this cichlid is probably a new, undescribed species. 

It exhibits some characteristics of two of Greenwood’s haplochromine genera (no longer generally accepted as valid but nevertheless apparently representing groups within the haplochromines overall), Psammochromis and Gaurochromis, but doesn’t fit into either.  This apparently intermediate systematic position is seen as possible additional confirmation that haplochromine taxonomy is not as clear-cut as suggested by Greenwood.

It is to be hoped that additional material of this species can be collected so that it can be described scientifically. A description could be based on the single known specimen but a wider range of material would be preferable. It would, of course, also be interesting to know what males look like!

For further information see:  Schraml, E. (2011) An expedition through Uganda - 1. Lake Victoria.  eggspots 5: 40-46. www.worldfish.de.