Diagnosis: 3 rows of scales between anterior parts of upper and lower lateral line; lips fleshy; upper edge of lower jaw horizontal when mouth is closed (Ref. 7378, 52307, 52346, 53405). Lower jaw teeth on a distinctly shelf-like elevated processus on dentary in juveniles and mature females (Ref. 7378).
Description: juveniles slender bodied and gracile, but becoming increasingly robust and deep bodied with size; predorsal profile in adults rises steeply over snout and usually interrupted by a swelling of interorbital region; deepest body depth along back lies well beyond dorsal fin origin, usually around 4th-5th spine (Ref. 52346). Lips fleshy; upper edge of lower jaw horizontal when mouth is closed (Ref. 7378, 52307, 52346, 53405). Lower jaw teeth borne by a distinct process of dentary bone in juveniles and mature females; outer and inner jaw teeth monocuspid; posterior pharyngeal teeth molariform (Ref. 53405). Pharyngeal apophysis of the Tylochromis type (Ref. 53524). Lower pharyngeal jaw relatively short and robust; inferior vertebral apophysis well developed, elongate and vertically oriented; broad crenate gill-rakers along lower limb of first arch; single hypobranchial raker broad and somewhat crenate; epibranchial rakers along short upper limb relatively stout (Ref. 52346). Micro-gillrakers present; scales cycloid (Ref. 53405). 3 rows of scales between anterior parts of upper and lower lateral line (Ref. 7378, 52307, 52346). 37-42 lateral line scales (counted from start of upper lateral line, at end descending to lower lateral line, including intermediate scales, and continuing to end of lower lateral line)(Ref. 7378, 52346). Upper lateral line with 24-35 scales, lower lateral line with 25-36 scales (Ref. 3032). Upper branch of lateral line terminates well in advance of end of dorsal fin, usually below tenth to fifth ray from free end; terminal canal bearing scales usually does not descend a row, but occurs in about 5% of specimens; dorsal, ventral and median branches of lateral line on caudal fin well developed and extend almost to fin periphery; dorsal fin spines increase rapidly to 5th-6th and are then more or less equal in length; anal fin rounded with a relatively high number of soft rays (Ref. 52346). Anal spines very strong (Ref. 3054). Pectoral fins very long and frequently extend beyond level of soft anal fin; first branched pelvic ray filamentous and often produced beyond soft anal rays; caudal fin emarginate and even in largest males only finely scaled; caudal scaling fine and limited to dorsal and ventral fields of fin in juveniles, young males and large females (Ref. 52346).
Coloration: males with some reddish-gold scales on a generaly yellowish background, females greyish-green on a golden background; dorsal fin in both sexes with dark lines forming a net pattern with light meshes; net pattern obvious in females, but interrupted by 2 dark dots in males, which are very clear in sexually mature specimens: one at base of first dorsal fin spines and one at posterior end of dorsal fin (Ref. 7378, 53405), but these spots may be absent (Ref. 52346). Another black spot delimits upper lip of male, while rest of head is less dark (Ref. 7378, 53405). Caudal fin greyish in females, yellowish with a brownish black net pattern in males (Ref. 1989, 7378, 53405). Preserved specimens: light or dark brown; juveniles with transversal bands on sides (juvenile barring) which strongly fade or disappear in mature specimens (Ref. 7378, 53405). In medium sized individuals (ca 16cm SL) faint traces of 5-6 vertical stripes extend almost to midline; nape stripe broad but not particularly strongly differentiated from generally dark dorsum, and not in contact with opercular blotch which is faint and diffuse; anal fin of both sexes smokey grey with numerous pale maculae, but lacking in juveniles (Ref. 52346). Pectoral and pelvic fins yellowish to brownish (Ref. 52307).