A species not commonly found in Malawi tanks, this Buccochromis species (according to M.K.Oliver it could be a spectabilis, lepturus or nototaenia) is every inch a really big Malawi cichlid. Its colors are the usual blue / green / yellow combination found in many Haplochromine species of the Lake and its behavior is the normal behavior expected from a piscivore. It's display colors are not the vivid kind seen on most common haps but rather a "pastel" hue as in Lethrinops species. Grows fairly large by African cichlid standards (more than 35 cm for the adult male; 24 cm for the female). Not very aggressive or territorial (at the size of 12 cm) it has no problem in an African tank, mainly because of its speed. A really fast swimmer, it usually occupies the upper half of the water column. Its main characteristic is a black band along its body which is not horizontal as in many protomelas species but diagonal. Its shape is rather unique for an African and discriminates it easily.
Will eat shrimps, pellets and sinking flakes (as well as any fry it can get). It prefers to eat from mid-water so it very rarely reaches the surface for food. It is a really voracious eater, the first to start feeding and the last to stop. Very little information is available on this species. This is more profound in the web where very few sites list this fish and the available information and photos are very rare. I will add info on its spawning habits once I get the chance to see it (soon I hope). The hobbyist should know that males of this species - as with many other Malawi Haps - takes a very long time to reach sexual maturity, final size and develop its magnificent coloration. In view of that, the hobbyist should either wait patiently until this happens or buy already adult fish, which do not come cheap.
Minimum tank size : 200 cm / 750 liters with a lot of swimming place. Doesn't care about hiding places, it always escapes by swimming away.
The male has gained 10 cm in just two months which is typical of fishes attending a great final size. Many thanks to Dr. Michael K. Oliver, owner of the "The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa" for his precious help in identifying this fish which was sold to me as Maravichromis melanonotus. His best guess (unfortunately based on photos I sent him) is that it is a Buccochromis nototaenia.