Three new Melanochromis described

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Three new species of mbuna in the genus Melanochromis have been described in a recent issue of the journal Zootaxa.

Gertrud Konings-Dudin, Adrianus Konings and Jay Stauffer name the three new species from the eastern shore of Lake Malawi M. kaskazini, M. wochepa, and M. mossambiquensis.

Melanochromis kaskazini, named after the Kiswahili word for northern, is distinguished from congeners by its colour pattern: males are cobalt blue without any light colored stripe on the sides of the body; females are white with a yellow or orange anal fin.

The males of M. lepidiadaptes have a similar colour pattern, but differ from M. kaskazini by a suite of mensural characters. This species is previously known in the aquarium trade as Melanochromis sp. northern blue.

Melanochromis wochepa is distinguished from its congeners by the combination of a steep-angled vomer, a male colour pattern of blue without white stripes, a female colour pattern of a submarginal dorsal band that is wider than the mid-lateral and the dorsolateral stripe, thin abdominal yellow stripes never covering the entire lower abdomen, and a suite of mensural characters.

This species is named after its small adult size (the name is the Chinyanja word for small).

Melanochromis mossambiquensis, named after its distribution (along the Mozambique shore of the lake), is distinguished from congeners by a combination of a steep-angled vomer, female colour pattern of a midlateral and dorsolateral black stripe that is narrower than the submarginal black band in the dorsal fin, thin abdominal yellow stripes never covering the entire lower abdomen and black spots on the caudal fin, a male colour pattern that lacks a narrow, yellow mid-lateral stripe, a brown/black body with white dorsolateral and midlateral stripes, and a suite of mensural characters.

This species is previously known in the aquarium trade as Melanochromis sp. auratus elongate.

For more information, see the paper: Konings-Dudin, G, AF Konings and JR, Jr Stauffer (2009) Descriptions of three new species of Melanochromis (Teleostei: Cichlidae)and a redescription of M. vermivorus. Zootaxa 2076, pp. 37"59.