Placidochromis sp. “Phenochilus Tanzania”

3. September 2010

The generic placement of the Malawian cichlids formerly lumped in the genus Haplochromis depend on their melanin pattern, eg the black markings in the basic coloration. Sadly the melanin pattern is not recognisable in the only existing type specimen of Haplochromis phenochilus, which was described in 1935; thus its correct generic placement remains unknown until today.

The extremely beautiful German bred fish we can offer now undoubtely belong to the genus Placidochromis and it is very likely that they belong to the species phenochilus. However, until this question is answered by a scientist it is better to use the term Placidochromis sp. “Phenochilus Tanzania” to put a name on the species.

Placidochromis sp. “Phenochilus Tanzania” is one of the most peaceful Malawian cichlids. It becomes about 17 cm long (males, females stay smaller). In the wild, this species belongs to the “followers”. This means, it swims along with very large, burrowing cichlids like Fossochromis or Taeniolethrinops and feeds on the small animals or other food items uncovered by the work of the large cousins. As this behaviour does not make it necessary to defend a territory it is possible for Placidochromis to live in harmony with congeneers and other fish.

One of the special features of the “Phenochilus Tanzania” is that males begin at an age of 1-2 year to develope withe scales. 4 year old males can be considered to be fully grown and coloured. They develope a small hump, similar to that found in Cyrtaca morii, but by far not as impressive as in this species.

Even the youngsters are extremely attractive as can be seen on the pictures. Due to the peaceful temper of these cichlids they must never be accompanied by mbuna-like fish, but only with other peaceful utaka or Aulonocara, for example.

For our customers: the fish have code 564701 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.

Lexicon: Placidochromis: Latin, means “calm Chromis”, referring to the swimming behaviour. The suffix -chromis is widely used for African perch-like fishes. It is an old fish name which is used in a scientific way nowadays for the damselfish, Chromis chromis from the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic. phenochilus: ancient Greek, means “with shining lips”. Fossochromis: ancient Greek, means “burrowing Chromis”. Taeniolethrinops: ancient Greek, means “striped Lethrinops”. Lethrinops is another genus of cichlid. Haplochromis: ancient Greek, means “simple Chromis”.

Text: Frank Schäfer, photos: Frank Schäfer & Erwin Schraml