Name:   Labidochromis joanjohnsonae

Synonym:   Melanochromis joanjohnsonae

Common name:   Exasperatus (or the Pearl of Likoma)

Location:    Near Likoma Island, Lake Malawi

Adult size:    5 inches (13 cm)

Diet:    omnivore

Since this cichlid has some characteristics of both Labidochromis and Melanochromis it is commonly called by either name.

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Personal notes:  This is an mbuna from near Likoma Island in Lake Malawi commonly called an exasperatus.  Both males and females are nearly identical when young.  They have silver bodies with orange speckles.  But as juveniles, you can start to see the blue hue starting in the males.  This is the only fish I have ever purchased at Petsmart.  I purchased this single male as a full grown aduly in 1998.  The color was unusually bright and so I just had to take the chance.  I kept him for five years and then sold him at a club auction in 2003.  So contrary to internet knowledge, not all Petsmart fish die immediately.  Their aggressive behavior is a bit different from what I've observed in other mbuna.  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.

 

There is also a similar species called Labidochromis textiles.  They are very rare in the hobby, yet many hobbyests incorrectly believe they have L. textiles when they actually have L. joanjohnsonae.  That's simply because they are nearly indistinguisable as juveniles.  The Labidochromis textiles look identical as adults while the Labidochromis joanjohnsonae turn completely blue.  According to Ad Konings, the Labidochromis textiles has unicuspid teeth and the Labidochromis joanjohnsonae has bicuspid teeth and a "normal" shaped dental arc.

 

Above is my male Labidochromis joanjohnsonae:

 

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

And now I understand that the name has reverted back to Labidochromis joanjohnsonae (as recommended by Konings & Stauffer in 2012)

 

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see also:

Cichlid-Forum

Sam Bornsteins Cichlids

Malawi Cichlids.com

Malawi Dream

Malawi Mayhem