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

The holotype of Maylandia phaeos, an adult male (PSU 3054, Penn State University) measuring 85.1 mm SL, from Cobue, Mozambique, the only locality from which this species is currently known. This species, closely similar to M. zebra itself, seems never to have had a separate name in the aquarium trade. According to the original description (Stauffer et al., 1997: 199), M. phaeos "...superficially resembles M. zebra, but the dusky submarginal band in the dorsal fin of M. phaeos distinguishes it from all other BB [black-barred blue] members of the genus." It is difficult, however, to reconcile this statement with another in the same paper. Stauffer et al. (1997: 193), in describing the coloration of M. zebra, said: "Dorsal fin uniformly blue gray in most populations, with ... a continuous black horizontal stripe in some northern populations...." Furthermore, Konings (1995: 58-59) illustrates M. zebra-like BB mbuna from a number of widely distributed northern and southern localities (Chitande Island, Katale, Chitimba Bay, Mbowe Island, Sani (Chia Lagoon), Lundu, Hongi Island, and Londo) in which a dark horizontal stripe is evident in at least the anterior half of the dorsal fin and usually throughout the length of at least the spinous part. Thus, the key diagnostic feature Stauffer et al. proposed for recognizing M. phaeos as a distinct species appears to be invalid.

Breeding males of M. phaeos are reported to have a "dark blue ground coloration laterally with 6-8 vertical bars; belly white; head dark blue with iridescent blue interorbital bar [stripe]; gular gray/white; dorsal fin light blue proximally, becoming lighter distally; thin dusky submarginal band and white lappets; rayed portion of the dorsal fin is yellow/white in distal one-third; caudal fin deep blue proximally, light blue distally with trailing yellow edge; anal fin light blue/purple becoming dusky then white in posterior distal portion with 3 yellow ocelli..." (p. 200). Illustration (a photograph retouched by M. Katz) reproduced from fig. 12 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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