Labidochromis sp. "hongi"






Systematics. The genus Labidochromis was described in 1935 by the ichthyologist Trewavas.  The description was revised by Lewis (1982).  L. sp. "hongi" was first reported in collections from the Tanzanian shores of Lake Malawi in 1991 (Konings 1992).  This species is also known as L. sp. "red-top kipuma".  Konings (1995) notes of the populations examined, specimens from the Hongi Island locality exhibited the most conspicuous coloring.

Natural habitat.  L. sp. "hongi" is reported to have disjunct distribution from Liuli southward to Undu Reef on the Tanzanian shores of Lake Malawi.  This species is reported to be found in small groups throughout its range at depths of 5-10 meters (Conkling 1993).  Feeding observations suggest a herbivorous diet (Konings 1995).

Labidochromis sp. "hongi"

Captive Maintenance.  Labidochromis sp. "hongi" has been a rather aggressive, territorial cichlid in my aquariums, contrary to the benign specimens maintained by Conlking (1993).  The aggression level is higher than two other Labidochromis species (L. caeruleus, L. sp. "perlmutt") I have maintained.  The vibrant black barred blue body combined with orange dorsal blaze and fin of the adult males make the challenge of an aggressive fish worthwhile though.  The color of adult females is a somewhat drab, though variable mix of brown/gray body with some orange highlights of the fins.  The fry are colored brown with orange highlights on the fins.  A 100 L (30 gallon) aquarium is suitable for raising fry through the young adult stage.  Adults probably require at least a 160 L (40 gallon) aquarium.   L. sp. "hongi" will spawn readily in captivity and spawning is similar to other maternal mouthbrooders.  Fry will accept crushed flake food and hatched artemia and develop rapidly.

Raising a group of at least six juveniles will likely provide males and females if propagation is desired.  This group size will also provide protection against one rapidly growing fish from aggressively targeting any one other fish.  I started with a group of eight, removed two pair, resulting in a group of one male and three females.  The group of eight displayed a fair amount of intraspecific aggression but rarely was an individual seriously harmed.  When the group size was reduced to four, the male and dominant (largest) female began directing aggression towards the other two females which had to be removed until ultimately only a pair remained.  Most mbuna, Malawi "Haps.", and Victorian Haplochromines are suitable tankmates for L. sp. "hongi".  The territorial nature of L. sp. "hongi" must be considered such that coloration and spawning of tankmates may be inhibited if L. sp. "hongi" are dominant in the aquarium.

Literature Cited

Conkling, D.  1993.  Labidochromis "red-top kimpuma" -a long time wait pays off.  Cichlid News 2(4):  12-13.

Konings, A. 1992.  The cichlids yearbook.  Volume 2.  Cichlid Press, Germany.

Konings, A. 1995. Malawi cichlids in their natural habitat, 2nd edition. Cichlid Press,   Germany, 352pp.

Lewis, D.S.C.  1982.  A revision of the genus Labidochromis (Teleostei: Cichlidae) from Lake Malawi.  Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 75:  189-265.

Trewavas, E. 1935. A synopsis of the cichlid fishes of Lake Nyasa. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (10) 16: 65-118.




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