Aulonocara sp. `stuartgranti maleri,' photo by Larry Johnson used by permission
 

The stunningly colored male cichlid above is Aulonocara sp. "stuartgranti maleri," photographed underwater at Nakantenga Island in the Maleri Islands, off the southwestern shore of Lake Malawi. (Photo copyright © by Larry Johnson of Mount Hope, Ontario, Canada; many thanks to Larry for permission to use his fine image.)

When I first saw the photo above, I was sure the fish depicted was Aulonocara baenschi, because its unusual yellow coloration is virtually identical with that of the actual A. baenschi. Upon checking Konings's book (1995c: 196-198), however, I learned that the snout shape is distinctly different. The snout profile has a definite convex curve or bump over the eye in A. baenschi but is virtually straight in Aulonocara sp. "stuartgranti maleri" (which is considered to be an undescribed species still without a formal scientific name).  

Aulonocara stuartgranti `maleri`, photographed at Nankoma Island in the Maleri Islands, © by Larry Johnson border="15" height="450" width="800">
Above: The undescribed species known by the provisional name Aulonocara "stuartgranti maleri," photographed in 2009 at Nankoma Island in the Maleri Islands. Photo © by Larry Johnson, used with his kind permission.

More recently (March 2010), Larry Johnson generously sent me a newer, even better photo (at left) of this species that he took in 2009 at another island in the Maleri group, Nankoma Island.

A. sp. "stuartgranti maleri" inhabits intermediate-zone shoreline (rocks together with sand) in the southwest arm of the lake. Among other localities, it has been recorded at Mumbo Island, the Maleri Islands (Maleri, Nankoma, and Nakantenga), and also Namalenje Island at the lake's "bottleneck" (the narrowing just north of the two southern arms).

Konings (1995c) reports that the population(s) on the Maleris have been exported to the aquarium trade as "Yellow Regal" peacocks; the one at Chidunga Rocks (off the town of Chipoka) has been called the "Sunshine Peacock" or "Orange Peacock."

There are at least three putative species considered to comprise a "stuartgranti group" within Aulonocara, the other two being A. sp. "stuartgranti mbenji" (also scientifically undescribed and unnamed), and the widespread and variable A. stuartgranti itself. Konings (1995c: 198) provides the following behavioral notes:

All forms of the Stuartgranti group behave in a similar manner. They are rather common in the intermediate habitat where females and juveniles are found in small groups (or singly) feeding from the sandy patches between the rocks. They are most numerous on gently sloping coasts where many rocks lie scattered on the sandy floor. Males excavate nests between rocks and territories are marked with a shallow rim of sand at the entrance of the spawning-cave. Digging is rarely observed in Aulonocara, although males of several species have tunnel-nests between stones.
Like all members of its genus, A. sp. "stuartgranti maleri" should thrive in a properly appointed aquarium of adequate size, if given compatible tank mates and fed with appropriate foods (including live or frozen daphnia, bloodworms, and brine shrimp, and dry flake or pellet food of good quality).
 
 

 

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

Last Update: 27 March 2010
Web Author: M. K. Oliver, Ph.D.
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