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The Trewavas Red-Finned Cichlid Labeotropheus trewavasae is probably the most popular and recognized of its genus. There are only two species in the Labeotropheus genus, though each has a number of subspecies. The other species is the Fuelleborn’s Cichlid or Blue Mbuna Labeotropheus fuelleborni. The Trewavas Red-Finned Cichlid can be distinguished from Fuelleborn’s Mbuna by a more slender body shape and is smaller as an adult.
Collectively these two species and all their subspecies are known as Trewavas Cichlids. They have all sorts of interesting colorations and some fascinating habits which can add intrigue and variety to the Malawi cichlid aquarium.
The Labeotropheus genus belongs to a group of cichlids from Lake Malawi, Africa called Mbunas. There are 13 genera full of very active and aggressive personalities of Mbuna cichlids. The name Mbuna comes from the Tonga people of Malawi and means “rockfish” or “rock-dwelling”. This name aptly describes the environment these fish live in as opposed to being open water swimmers like the Utaka cichlids and other “haps”.
The Trewavas Cichlids are rather unique fish. In nature both species are found at the same depths, but the Trewavas is also found in much deeper waters than L. fuelleborni. It has been recorded at depths of 112 feet (34 m). These cichlids have a specialized snout with a protruding, overhanging upper jaw. It is thick and bulbous looking, sometimes described as a ‘hooked’ nose. This adaptation along with chisel-shaped teeth allows these Mbuna type cichlids to scrape algae off of rocks. The waters they inhabit are often turbulent and this specialized snout lets them to remain horizontal in these rough waters while they feed. They also feed on small crustaceans and worms.
These fish were named after Ethelwynn Trewavas, who was a taxonomist at the British Museum and had extensive knowledge of the diversity of this fish. They are found in many differing locations around the lake, which contributes to a wide diversity in color. The standard Trewavas Red-Finned Cichlid male has a blue body with the top dorsal fin being an orange to red. Other common names it is known by are the Scrapermouth Mbuna, Red-finned Cichlid, Redtop Cichlid, Redtop Mbuna, Trewavas’s Cichlid, Utaka (even though this is a Mbuna) and Yellow Tumbi.
Trewavas cichlids are also known by their locations or other colors such as Chilumba, Chlofu, Hongi Island, Maleri, Manda, Mara Rocks, Marmalade Cat, Mpanga Red, Chirwa, Ngkuyo Island, Nkhata Bay, Puulu Island, Thumbi West, and Tumbi Rocks. These variations create a colorful display, especially in a species specific tank. It is always suggested to keep regional Trewavas Cichlids from breeding with others to keep true color strains in existence.
These are great fish for both the intermediate and experienced cichlid keeper. They are truly interesting cichlids, but are considered moderate in care and suggested for an aquarist that has at least 55 gallons to provide. They are very sensitive to poor water quality and need a very clean environment. As with all cichlids, the Trewavas Cichlid can be easy to care for as long as water quality is kept high and appropriate foods are given. These fish need large amounts of vegetable matter and plenty of hiding places.
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Video of Trewavas Red-Finned Cichlid (Labeotropheus trewavasae)
Infographic of Trewavas Red-Finned Cichlid (Labeotropheus trewavasae)
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