Maylandia melabranchion, illustration from Stauffer
et al. (1997)

The holotype of Maylandia melabranchion, an adult male (PSU 3049, Penn State University) measuring 84.8 mm SL, from Mumbo Island; paratypes of this species also come from Zimbawe Rock, Mitande Rocks (at Thumbi Island West), and Domwe Island (all in the Cape Maclear region), and from Namalenge (or Namalenje) Island off Senga Point on the SW shore of the lake.

This form was previously considered to belong to M. zebra itself (Konings, 1995). The incomplete diagnosis provided for this species (Stauffer et al., 1997: 197) only distinguishes M. melabranchion from M. zebra itself, by having vertical bars that extend into the dorsal fin, unlike M. zebra. Such bars, however, are also found in Stauffer et al.'s M. chrysomallos; that species is reported to have gold highlights on the body's light blue ground coloration whereas M. melabranchion lacks the gold highlights. Moreover, vertical bars extending into the dorsal fin also characterize some individuals of M. pyrsonotos, a species in which the dorsal fin is orange to red.

Breeding males of M. melabranchion "have a dark blue ground coloration laterally with 6-10 vertical bars; breast with a reddish cast on some specimens and tends to be more pronounced in the population from Zimbawe Rocks; head dark blue to black with 1-2 blue interorbital bars [stripes], gular blue/black. Dorsal fin blue with black vertical bars from side extending into dorsal fin; some individuals have orange spots in the posterior 3 membranes" (p. 197). Illustration reproduced from fig. 7 (a photograph retouched by M. Katz) of Stauffer et al. (1997); used by permission of Dr. Jay Stauffer.


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The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa:

Last Update: 16 January 2000
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