Oreochromis shiranus shiranus, photo copyright © 1997 by
M. K. Oliver
A juvenile Oreochromis (Oreochromis) shiranus shiranus. This subspecies is endemic to the Lake Malawi basin, including inflowing rivers and the upper Shiré River. However, the species O. shiranus as a whole is not endemic to the Lake, because it includes another subspecies, O. shiranus chilwae, that is endemic to Lakes Chilwa and Chiuta southeast of Lake Malawi (see image of these lakes from the Space Shuttle Columbia).

O. shiranus is one of the most common fishes of Lake Malawi, particularly in estuaries and reedy lagoons (Trewavas, 1983: 347). It is not a member of L. Malawi's endemic tilapia "Nyasalapia" mini-flock, being classified in a different subgenus. It differs from that species group in almost always having 4 anal fin spines (rarely 3 or 5), instead of 3 as in "Nyasalapia." Also, O. shiranus males lack a genital tassel (Trewavas, 1983: 346). In his checklist, Jackson (1961) records the African names Katakuzi, Fwilili, and Nkututu for this species.

The photo is copyright © 1997 by M. K. Oliver; Trewavas (1983: 346) cited this photo (as published in R. J. Goldstein's Cichlids of the World, T.F.H., 1973) as the basis for her brief description of the life coloration of young of this species in her monumental revision of several tilapiine genera.

The painting below shows the coloration of an adult male. Adults attain 37 cm (14.6 inches) total length. The painting, by Dave Voorvelt, is copyright © by the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (formerly known as the J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology) and is reproduced here from Skelton (1993) with the kind permission of Prof. P.H. Skelton.

Oreochromis shiranus, a cichlid
found in Lake Malawi; illustration from Skelton (1993), used by permission
of P.H. Skelton

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The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa:  MalawiCichlids.com

Last Update: 18 November 2000
Web Author: M. K. Oliver, Ph.D.
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