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What's new January 2003
What's new April 2003
What's new July 2003
What's new October 2003
What's New ©by Laif DeMason

The seasons have changed and a cold winter’s wind is blowing. People are modifying their outside activities for indoor entertainment. Aquarists are re-thinking their fish set-ups and wondering if any changes are needed. Cichlids hobbyists are re-visiting groups that had popularity in the past as well as going outside the mainstream to select overlooked varieties. A swing to West African riverine cichlids as well as Tanganyikan shell dwellers is evident. Whether or not this trend to smaller cichlids in smaller aquaria will persist remains to be seen.

Here’s “what’s new” on the cichlid scene:

Lake Tanganyika 

Collection and exports from the normal areas of Lake Tanganyika are continuing per usual without interruption. Collection in infrequently visited areas in Zambia and Tanzania are more regular as each exporter drives to gain a little edge over competition. Areas in Congo are still visited sporadically, with the usual talk of real fishing permits and permanent collecting bases in the future.

what's new: Lake Tanganyika

Anyone for another blue Cyphotilapia frontosa? This one from Fulwe Rocks, Tanzania, an infrequently visited collecting site. Photo by A. Konings.

Also from Fulwe Rocks, a Neolamprologus brichardi variety sports blue facial markings. Photo by A. Konings.

From the Kipili area (Tanzania), a recently exported Callochromis macrops has orange facial markings and a jumbo size. Photo by A. Konings.

One of the originally exported Julidochromis species from the early 1970s is the J. ornatus collected near Uvira (Congo). This very yellow form was “lost” to the hobby but has been re-introduced by select breeders.

Lake Malawi

Supplies of collected and bred cichlids appear to be strong. Spotty shortages in some juvenile bred items have been reported from Florida. Collections in Tanzania and Malawi are good with fairly good supplies sent from Mozambique as well. Certain “newly” discovered mbuna species are selling better than expected showing signs of energized interest in this large group.

what's new: Lake Malawi


Sold from Florida farms, an albino form of Aulonocara sp. “Maleri sunshine”, often call “albino gold peacock”.

Collected seasonally from the south in Tanzania, Lethrinops sp. “Ntekete” is a colorful, jumbo form.

Collected from Kande Island, Malawi, Aulonocara sp. “steveni pale Usisya” is similar to the “flavescent Usisya” peacock but with more blue in the body. Photo A. Konings.

Collected in Magunga, Tanzania, this Protomelas sp. “fire blue” has male coloration similar to the old fire blue “Ndiwe” from the past.

A new species collected from Gallireya Reef south of Chilumba and sold as “blue afra” is really related to Metriaclima zebra. Both male and female are blue and are of small size, reflected by the “afra” label. Photo by A. Konings.

On the opposite end of the Metriclima zebra scale, this jumbo-sized “zebra chilumba” is from Maisoni Reef near Chitimba, Malawi.

West Africa

Interest in Cameroon, Congo, Guinea, and Nigeria river cichlids has increased. New varieties are being actively collected, like several river Steatocranus from Congo and tilapiine types from isolated Cameroon lakes, and are certainly new additions to aquarists’ collections. However, lasting appeal for some species is unknown. 

what's new: West Africa


Collected and exported from Cameroon, Benitochromis batesi is now more often available.

A wide variety of Pelvicachromis taeniatus types are exported. Here is the colorful P. taeniatus from Moliwe, Cameroon.

A new species from Lake Ejagham, Cameroon, Tilapia deckerti is also called the “little black jewel” due to its breeding dress. Photo by O. Lucanus.

Another new species exported from Lake Bermin, Cameroon, T. bythobates is a red variety. Photo by O. Lucanus.


The collecting season was longer than usual in some parts of South America, especially Brazil. Some other new material is collected and infrequently exported from lesser-known countries in the Americas. Specialty breeders often pick up on these items and reproduce them in numbers for other hobbyists. 

what's new: Neotropics


Collected from the Rio Arua near Santaren, Brazil, Apistogramma sp. “arua” is a newly offered variety. Photo by O. Lucanus.

Originally from the Rio Guarumo in Panama, Tomocichla asfraci is a bright red form available from specialty breeders. Photo by J. Rapps.

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