Name:    Haplochromis sp. "flameback"

Synonym:    Xystichromis sp. "flameback"

Common name:    Flameback

Location:    Lake Victoria

Adult male size:    5 inches (12.5 cm)

Diet:    plants

The pictures below show the Victorian that is generally recognized as the "flameback".  Since there are many Victorians with the red blaze accross the top, there are many cichlids being sold as "flamebacks" that simply are not correctly identified.  I have seen P. nyererei, A. aeneocolor, H. sp "Ruby Green" and others all sold as Flamebacks by experienced breeders who one would think would know better.

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Personal notes:  I bought five (2M:3F) young 1 1/2" Haplochromis sp "flameback" at the local aquarium store in 2005 and placed them in a 55 gallon tank with some similar sized Cynotilapia Lion "Mara Rocks" that I bought at the same time.  Unfortunately, this turned out to be a somewhat tragic purchase.  Apparently one of these two species had a parasitic infection that was quite aggressive.  Even after treatment, a single male flameback was ths sole survivor.  Well, at least the 55 gallon tank acted as a quaranteen tank and the parasitic infection didn't spread to any other tanks.

The Haplochromis sp. "flameback" is one of those Victorians that will change color in an instant.  As a juvenile, his color was always muted and rather dull.  Sometimes my 180 gallon tank acts as a catch-all for cichlids without mates or for fish that are past breeding age.  That's where I placed the lone Flameback.  After a few years and a few inches of growth his color became brilliant for no apparent reason.  There were no female Flamebacks in the tank, he was far from the dominant tank resident and he wasn't fighting or attempting to breed with any other fish that I saw.

Above is my 3 1/2 inch (9 cm) long male Haplochromis (Xystichromis) sp. "flameback".  (And yes, the red is that bright almost all the time now.  Even without a female companion.)  

The above male is the sole survivor.

The above picture shows two of the juvenile females shortly after their purchase.  Unfortunately this is the best picture I have in the short period of time I had them.

My young male survivor shows his stressed colors in the above left picture.  In the above right picture, you can see the horizontal line that often appeared in the juvenile male and still ocasionally makes an appearance.  The stressed coloration of the flameback is very similar to the stressed coloration of the Ruby Green, leading to considerable identification confusion.

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see also:

AfricanCichlids.net

Victoriasee-Cichliden.de

Cichlid-Forum

Ciklid.org

Ciklider.se

Cichliden.net

VictorianCichlids.de

Aquarium-Webzine

Big Sky Cichlids