Cyathochromis obliquidens,
photo copyright © by M. K. Oliver Above: A breeding male Cyathochromis obliquidens, collected 7 August 1980 by M. K. Oliver, T. D. Kocher, and K. R. McKaye; photo copyright © by M. K. Oliver. Anal fin of male Cyathochromis obliquidens, photo copyright © by M. K. Oliver On this occasion, using SCUBA, we chased this and other fishes into a gill net with ½-inch mesh set in a Potamogeton bed in 3-4.5 m (10-15 feet) depth on the sandy beach at Cape Maclear, Nankumba Peninsula, southern Lake Malawi. At right: Enlargement of anal fin, showing the prominent yellow egg-dummies; more about the eggspots of Lake Malawi cichlids can be found here. Photo copyright © by M. K. Oliver.

C. obliquidens, which is rarely exported for the aquarium trade, has attractive subtle coloration but is not one of the more colorful mbuna. Its color pattern of narrow, faint vertical bars and two thin horizontal stripes closely resembles that of the nonendemic haplochromine Astatotilapia calliptera as well as the hypothesized primitive color pattern of the endemic "hap" flock (as seen in, e.g., Protomelas virgatus). C. obliquidens may be a plesiomorphic (phylogenetically primitive) species close to the primitive mbuna. It is widely distributed around the shores of the lake.

Cyathochromis obliquidens, photo from Ribbink et al. (1983) At left: Cyathochromis obliquidens, photographed underwater on rocky shore at Monkey Bay, Malawi. This species occurs principally on intermediate sandy/rocky shores in shallow water (to about 5 m or 16 feet). It feeds on loose algae (Aufwuchs) and associated small organisms, brushed both from rocks and from the leaves of Vallisneria and Potamogeton plants, which grow on sand.

According to Ribbink et al. (1983):

"Males are aggressively territorial chasing conspecifics and other Mbuna species with which it shares the intermediate habitat, but other cichlids are attacked less often. Spawning sites are excavated either among the V. aethiopica or beneath rocks. In dense V. aethiopica beds some plants may be uprooted to accommodate the spawning site. Females, juveniles and non-territorial males occur singly or in small groups."

Below: A C. obliquidens specimen (102 mm SL) also from Monkey Bay; (at right in drawing): left premaxilla (lateral view) and anterior outer row tooth of C. obliquidens (drawings by Elizabeth M. Tarr). Notice the slender outer jaw teeth, which lean obliquely toward the middle of the jaw (hence the specific name obliquidens). Small photo from Plate 11i and drawing from Fig. 20 of Ribbink et al. (1983); reproduced by permission of the Zoological Society of Southern Africa.

Cyathochromis obliquidens, drawings from Ribbink et al. (1983)

 

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

Last Update: 1 June 2008
Web Author: M. K. Oliver, Ph.D.
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