The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa

Abstract of Publication

Ribbink, A.J., B.A. Marsh, A.C. Marsh, A.C. Ribbink, and B.J. Sharp. 1983. A preliminary survey of the cichlid fishes of rocky habitats in Lake Malawi. South African Journal of Zoology 18: 149-310.  

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.




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