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 Comp Coordinator

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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:
     
  11. OP
    SalmonAfrica

    SalmonAfrica Batfish

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    A bit of an update!

    Once allowed to settle in, grow up, establish a hierarchy, and get to breeding, these fish eventually show their full colours. Pictured below is the dominant male, who doesn't add much more clue as to what I'm dealing with here. The closest I'm finding is perhaps Xystichromis phytophagus, or perhaps a hybrid of one.

    42102695535_6d097a5e35.jpg

    Less dominant males hold a slightly less bold dress than this, although they are also getting some action with the females. Females and nondominant males look very similar, although reproductive females take on a bit of "gold".

    28135861907_db7fa43e4a.jpg

    A very enjoyable fish, if not a little scrappy between each other. Basically spawning nonstop. So far I've let them go the natural route - parents hold and defend their fry as long as they can, and the survivors, well, survive. But I'll probably be stripping one of the holding females of her eggs soon, and placing the eggs in a tumbler. It's just a matter of extracting one from between the rockscape...
     
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  12. Nico Hamman

    Nico Hamman

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    That male is a stunner!
     
  13. RobK

    RobK

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    Very nice
     
  14. Reedfish

    Reedfish Moderator

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    @SalmonAfrica

    That male has developed nicely.

    I guess the Victorian are the least popular and prob the least well known of the Rifts.
    I only have one book on them as apposed to many on the Tangs and Malawis.
     
  15. MariaS

    MariaS Moderator

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    He is stunning @SalmonAfrica

    Quite true... you don't ever hear much about Victorian cichlids
     
  16. OP
    SalmonAfrica

    SalmonAfrica Batfish

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    Thanks all, I really did not know what to expect, colour wise, from these fishes. I have another male who is similarly colouring up as above, but has a few nibbled fins since he's stepping into dominant territory.

    True. This is the only species of Victorian available from my nearest shops, although I know that true Astatotilapia latifasciata is available from local breeders, too.

    I'm in the same boat with books - it's hard to believe that between both our collections, we each have the same book on the topic.
     
  17. Reedfish

    Reedfish Moderator

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    @SalmonAfrica
    Yesterday evening I was looking on my bookshelf and saw this 2nd publication I had on my bookshelf.
    It's a 60 odd page booklet with general info on how to keep Victorians.

    And a few pages with more in depth info on specific types.
    But just to illustrate the lack of knowledge even in a specific book on the topic, most species are listed for eg as "Haplochromis sp Deep Water". Or " Hap sp Flame Back"

    IMG_1847.jpg
     
  18. OP
    SalmonAfrica

    SalmonAfrica Batfish

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    Oh wow. The funny thing is, Nick James is the "local breeder" I was talking about. He has a hatchery based in Grahamstown, where he breeds a quite few species of cichlid.

    This would be a very difficult group to get popular... besides so many species looking very similar, very few are bred in large numbers.

    This name has been the bane of a proper identification since I picked up this fish :mad:
     
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  19. f-fish

    f-fish #unspecified

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    From your pic its name is on its tail - it is a timothy fish :lol:
     
  20. OP
    SalmonAfrica

    SalmonAfrica Batfish

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    29995373477_86364f665b.jpg

    This was taken just before I packed up my fish room. The stark contrast between males and females was astounding. The female up top was bouncing back from an extended mouthbrooding session, hence some loss in condition.

    Very much missing the dynamics of this group, but glad I got to learn more about them.
     
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  21. Hendre

    Hendre Polypterus freak Comp Coordinator

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    They were so gorgeous, love the photography too.
     

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