Protomelas sp. `steveni taiwan,' photo copyright © by Larry Johnson

Above: This is what a territorial male Protomelas sp. "steveni taiwan" looks like on its native reef. (Photo copyright © by Larry Johnson of Mt. Hope, Ontario, Canada.) Larry captured this stunning view with a digital camera in about 10 m (33 feet) of water on Taiwan Reef in central Lake Malawi. This remote rocky reef is located about 30 km (19 mi) west of the village of Lumbaulo on the Mozambique (eastern) shore and about half that distance north of Chizumulu (Chisumulu) Island.

Although it resembles Protomelas fenestratus and other scientifically described species, Protomelas sp. "steveni taiwan" is considered to be an undescribed species that does not yet have a scientific name. Protomelas sp. `steveni taiwan,' female,
photo copyright © by Ad Konings It is distinguished from similar species by the bright red coloration of the anal fin, seen in mature males like the one above. The coloration of a young male (in which the melanic color pattern of vertical bars is not masked by the bright coloration of territorial males) is shown in photos at Malawi Cichlid Homepage. This basic color pattern of the species is also seen in the female at right, photographed by Ad Konings at Mbamba Bay Island, Tanzania (used with permission). An additional adult male, this one reportedly from Higga Reef, is shown below.

Larry Johnson provided the following notes on his visit to Taiwan Reef (during a visit to Malawi in September and October, 2001):

The water was crystal clear. On each rock, measuring about 30 feet in diameter, there would be approximately 3-4 dominant males, mostly staying on the outer limits of the rock. If one traveled towards the centre one of the others would meet to challenge it. With all the rocks at this location the fish are by no means rare.  — (in litt. 21 Mar 2002)
Protomelas `steveni,' male from Higga Reef, Tanzania, Lake Malawi; aquarium photo by Darin Pearson
Protomelas "steveni," a male from the population at Higga Reef, Tanzania,
Lake Malawi; aquarium photo provided by Darin Pearson 

Ad Konings has the following observations about this species and some of its presumed relatives:

...Protomelas sp. "steveni taiwan" ... is restricted to three isolated areas. The name is derived from Taiwan Reef, a rocky reef ... where the species was first discovered. Interestingly almost identical populations, thought to be the same species, are found in Tanzania at Higga Reef and Mbamba Bay Island and are known as »Chimoto Red« and »Chimoto Yellow« respectively. Territorial males of the »Steveni Taiwan« defend territories on top of rocks at rather deep levels — most males are found at a depth of more than 20 metres [65 ft]. In contrast to the Steveni Imperial, which is sympatric with other »Stevenis«, P. sp. "steveni taiwan" is the only Steveni found in its area of distribution.  — Konings (1995c: 134-135)
In the aquarium, Protomelas sp. "steveni taiwan" would be happiest if given 100 gallons (380 L) or more in which to roam — as usual, the bigger the aquarium, the better. Also as usual, strive for a single male and at least 3 females.

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Last Update: 16 March 2005
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