Mpibia lutea (Seehausen & Bouton, 1998)

Synonyms: Haplochromis sp. "carp", Haplochromis porthole, Haplochromis sp. "porthole", Haplochromis sp. "spotbar", Haplochromis sp. "crossbar"

Common Names: Spotbar, Porthole, Crossbar

Family: Cichlidae

Original description: Seehausen, Ole & E. Lippitsch, N. Bouton and H. Zwennes; 1998; "Mbipi, the rock-dwelling cichlids of Lake Victoria: description of three new genera and fifteen new species"; Ichthyological Explorations of Freshwaters; pp. 129-228.

Habitat: Lake Victora (Yala Swamp) - Makobe Island, Mponze Point, Ndura Point, Bwiru Island, Chamagati Island and Mafwinki. They are found among the rocks and in shallow water in fairly steep slopes on the edges of the lake (the riparian area) at depths of about 6 feet. They are not found in the surf zone.

Size: 4"

Sexing: Males tend to get larger and have eggspots. They will also have a red caudal. Females tend to have  yellow tails and anal fins. They can be sometimes confused with Haplochromis sp. "Thick Skin". Mbipia lutea has a more rounded head with a blue-gray color on the top part of the body and head, while H.sp. "Thick Skin" has a blue head with a bright yellow color and red fins.

Food: In the wild, they tend to eat green and bluish green thread algae and insect larvae. They scrape these off the rocks. In the aquarium these fish should be fed a vegetable based diet.

Breeding: These fish are typical mouthbrooders.

Care in aquarium: Temperature of 75-82°F (24-28°C). A pH of 7.5-8.5 is recommended.  This species can be highly aggressive so a large tank is suggested.

I received these fish as small fry from a friend in Texas (Greg Steeves). He’d sent them to me with a friend of his who was driving up our way. He sent us several species of Victorians at the time, as well as a few Neolamprologus multifasciatus. The fish all survived the trip except for a few of the multies as they were pretty small when they came. These fish were started off in a small 10 gallon tank as that was the only space I had available for them when they arrived. The tank was a bare bottom tank filtered with a sponge filter. They got weekly water changes and were fed an assortment of flake and pellet food.   After they started getting some size, and after our local club had an auction where I got rid of some fish to make some room, they were given a 50 gallon tub to live in. This tub is filtered by an Aquaclear 300 and a sponge filter. They were also given a few Labidochromis caeruleus to live with as I needed to grow both of these species and was running out of room for fry. The temperature in the tub is kept on the low end of their needs. I keep the tub running at about 74-75°F.  I’ve never actually kept these guys in an aquarium where I could see them from the side after they started getting their colour, so it’s actually very hard for me to describe them.

Once they reached about 3” TL for the females and larger for the males, I was looking in the tub one day and thought I’d noticed a fish with a larger mouth than the others. I wasn’t entirely sure, but I did go get my net and catch the fish out. It turned out to be a female holding fry. I got about 15 fry from her. Before I placed her back in the tub, I looked to see if there were any more ‘big mouthed’ females. There was! So, I promptly caught that female as well, and stripped a bunch of eggs from her. They were tumbled until they were freeswimming. I did not lose any of the fry or the eggs from either female. Those fry are in a tank together and being fed tetrabits, assorted flakes and other pellets.

These fish are very colourful. You can tell even from looking at them from above only. I can only imagine what they’d look like side-on. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find a spot for them that will allow me to do that.

© Copyright 1999-2009 Lisa Boorman
All Rights Reserved

Suggested Reading:

The Cichlid Aquarium by Dr. Paul Loiselle

Baensch Aquarium Atlas: Photo Index 1-5 by Hans A. Baensch, Gero W. Fischer

Lake Victoria Rock Cichlids - taxonomy, ecology, and distribution by Ole Seehausen

African Cichlids II : Cichlids from Eastern Africa : A Handbook for Their Identification, Care and Breeding by Wolfgang, Dr. Staeck, Horst Linke

Darwin's Dreampond : Drama in Lake Victoria by Tijs Goldschmidt

To see more references on cichlids:

Cichlid Book List

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