oa African Zoology - A preliminary survey of the cichlid fishes of rocky habitats in Lake Malawi: results - The Mbuna - Melanochromis

Volume 18, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X



Most aquarium fishes exported from Lake Malawi are cichlids of 10 rock-frequenting genera collectively referred to by their Chitonga name, Mbuna. These fishes provide a classical example of intralacustrine allopatric speciation. The distribution of 196 species is given with notes on habitat preferenda, depth distribution and behaviour. Considerable emphasis is placed on coloration and markings for identification and it is argued that they are important for mate recognition. Brief notes are given on some of the other rocky shore fishes particularly in the genus Cyrtocara. The value of the aquarium fish resource resides principally in its species richness. Most Mbuna species are geographically restricted and stenotopic. The majority occur in the upper 20 m. Mbuna are trophic specialists, but have the ability to feed opportunistically on a variety of food resources. Resource partitioning is effected by different trophic groups. Evidence suggests that species within a particular trophic group which feed upon apparently identical food material, collect it from different microhabitats.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error