Below is a male Melanochromis joanjohnsonae:
A male mbuna from near Likoma Island in Lake Malawi commonly called an exasperatus. There is some feeling that it belongs more in the genus Labidochromis than Melanochromis. (Does have a body shape like a yellow lab.) The female has a silver body with orange speckles almost identical to the Labidochromis textilis. The not-so-common name for this cichlid is the "Pearl of Likoma". This is the only fish I have ever purchased at Petsmart. (I purchased this cichlid about eight years ago and he lived for 5 years, so I guess that all Petsmart fish don't die immediately.) The color was unusually bright and so I just had to take the chance. This is one of the few Melanochromis that I know of in which the male isn't predominantly black. I did have a single female for this cichlid however they never bred. The joanjohnsonae are less aggressive than any Melanochromis I've ever kept but more aggressive than any Labidochromis I've ever kept. Their aggressive behavior is a bit different too. Instead of lip-locking, they tend to do this lightning fast dive-bombing bite. I understand that this is how they feed in the wild.
This has got to be one of the more confusing cichlid classifications to us average hobbiests since the textilis and the female joanjohnsonae are virtually identical in appearance. This is what Konings (ref: Malawi Cichlids in their Natural Habitat 2'nd edition Ad Konings) says:
Johnson called them both Labidochromis joanjohnsonae in 1974
then Oliver renamed one of them Labidochromis fryeri and recognized the other as a different species and called it Labidochromis textilis in 1975
then Burgess renamed it (the fryeri) Melanochromis exasperatus in 1976
then Lewis renamed it (the exasperatus ) Melanochromis joanjohnsonae in 1982
The L. textilis has unicuspid teeth and both the males and the females look very similar. The M. joanjohnsonae has bicuspid teeth and a "normal" shaped dental arc. The males are blue and the females are orange speckled just like the textilis.
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