Lake Victoria Cichlid ID Mystery

Discussion in 'ID Needed' started by SalmonAfrica, Jan 11, 2018.

  1. SalmonAfrica

    SalmonAfrica Batfish

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    Hi everyone

    @Reedfish you and I were discussing this a little while back. They've grown since!

    The fishes pictured below were sold to me as "Flamebacks". What I do know is that there are a handful of cichlids from this lake that go by this name, and as far as I can tell (which I'll admit here, may not be a reliable guess) is not one of the typical "Flamebacks", nor a Kyoga Flameback, or the sometimes-referred-to-as "Flameback" Pundamilia nyererei.

    The names mentioned above were my first guesses going by the name they were sold as, as well as their ambiguous colouration as juveniles. Granted, the fishes in these pictures are still very young (the biggest being 3 inches/7,5cm), but some patterning has begun to develop. My guess has now shifted to some species of Astatotilapia or Xystichromis, but again I'm not sure.

    Both Reedfish and I have gone through our respective copies of Lake Victoria Basin Cichlids by Mark Smith, and came out unsure. That was a while back, however. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. @Jack Stone do you or any other Rift Lakers have an idea, or could tag someone that does?

    39636045251_d06ae6529c.jpgflare copy by Timothy Smith, on Flickr

    38927734444_c344192d6e.jpgleft5 copy by Timothy Smith, on Flickr

    38927717694_10c23fc20f.jpgright2 copy by Timothy Smith, on Flickr

    Thanks in advance!
     
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  3. RobK

    RobK

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    Xystichromis phytophagus? DayglowM600D.jpg
     
  4. RobK

    RobK

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  5. Reedfish

    Reedfish Moderator

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    @SalmonAfrica

    They have come along nicely!

    Cichlid Forum has a very good data base. One can do a search by lake and then genera
    Spent a few minutes having a look there.
    I would agree that your fish may be some sort of xystichromis. As to the species, not sure.

    Edit: Astatotilpia brownae looks like an option.
     
  6. Hendre

    Hendre Polypterus freak

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    Are they wild caught or not?

    I'm not sure about these but apparently some African cichlids are quite mixed genetically and are sometimes just completely unidentifiable hybrids. Not sure if it's that but it could be an idea if CB :)
     
  7. RobK

    RobK

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    I've got be honest ...they all look very similar to me:confused:.. I think you need a DNA test!
     
  8. RobK

    RobK

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  9. OP
    SalmonAfrica

    SalmonAfrica Batfish

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    Thanks for the replies everyone. It is quite confusing, but that's perhaps because I asked for an ID too early on. These are very young fishes, after all. My main concern with ID, as I have said to Reedfish previously, is that an accurate ID is important so that I can provide both the correct environment as well as the correct diet. Since we've narrowed it down to possible Xystichromis/Astatotilapia, I know now to include a lot more algae/greenery in their meals, as well as clues to how to structure their surroundings.

    X. phytophagus is apparently one of the more common Victorian cichlids so it might be. What makes it difficult is that (a) there are multiple colour varieties of this species, depending on locality, and (b) there are very few photos of juveniles and their colouration, and definitely not a photo for juveniles of every different variety.

    Haha, you see the problem with Xystichromis and Astatotilapia, in that both are superficially similar. Greenwood (way back when), while erecting the Xystichromis genus, gave rather small or internal features as diagnostic characters (teeth, osteology, and intestine length/shape), which are inaccessible in my living specimens. Astatotilapia might be polyphyletic, though, so where one genus ends and another begins may yet be determined. There are also a handful of other very similar genera, all previously lumped into Haplochromis.

    Given the price I got them for, it is highly unlikely that they're wild caught.

    Hybridization is a big problem with Victorian cichlids, both in the wild in their current crisis as well as in captivity. It is a good point to bring up here, as these specimens might have a mixed heritage that confuses the issue.

    Normally in very similar fishes, DNA would be a good route (for a molecular biologist), but fishes from the Rift Lakes often confuse the data through hybrid introgression - basically, genes aren't maintained in a single species lineage due to back-crossing with parental lineages. In short, the picture is fuzzied, and the family tree becomes a bit more of a family criss-cross. This is a common theme among groups that have rapidly radiated.

    I might agree with this one. While none of my fish have quite that male colouration (yet), I have some females that look strikingly similar to those in this link. Definitely worth considering.
     
  10. Reedfish

    Reedfish Moderator

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    I think this is the problem with them.
    Other Rift Cichlids aren't this difficult to ID......as long as you are sure you have a pure specimen. :confused:
     

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