Classification / Names
Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes(genus, species) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa
Teleostei (teleosts) > Cichliformes
(Cichlids, convict blennies) > Cichlidae
(Cichlids) > Pseudocrenilabrinae
Etymology: Melanochromis: Greek, melas, melanos = black + Greek, chromis = a fish, perhaps a perch (Ref. 45335); mpoto: The specific epithet, a noun in apposition, is derived from ChiTumbuka, the language spoken along the northwestern lake shore, and means “northern,” referring to the distribution pattern of this species (Ref. 89864).
Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range
Freshwater; benthopelagic; depth range 20 - 40 m (Ref. 89864). Tropical
Africa: endemic to Lake Malawi, in the northern part of the lake in Malawi and Tanzania (Ref. 89864).
Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 9.1 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 89864)
Morphology | Morphometrics
(total): 17 - 18;
soft rays: 7 - 8. Diagnosis: Females and non-breeding males of Melanochromis mpoto are distinguished from all congeners, except M. melanopterus, M. vermivorus, and M. baliodigma, by a dark brown body and a melanin pattern, when discernible, consisting of two dark horizontal stripes combined with dark vertical bars; the only other Melanochromis species with such a pattern is M. baliodigma, but M. mpoto differs from the latter species by having vertical bars that are narrower than either horizontal stripe; in M. baliodigma the vertical bars are much wider than the horizontal stripes; mouthbrooding females of M. robustus can exhibit vertical bars as well, but this species has a greater interorbital width compared to that of M. mpoto, 26.1-29.6% of head length vs. 14.8-21.8% in M. mpoto (Ref. 89864). Melanochromis mpoto differs from M. melanopterus and M. vermivorus by a shallower cheek depth, 15.4-21.7% of head length vs. 22.9-31.7% of head length in M. melanopterus and 28.2-36.2% of head length in M. vermivorus (Ref. 89864). Male M. mpoto in breeding colouration are light blue/blue without any bars or stripes visible on the flank; and Melanochromis mpoto males are thus distinguished from those of most other Melanochromis species except M. lepidiadaptes, M. kaskazini, and M. wochepa; Melanochromis mpoto differs from M. wochepa males and females by its longer lower jaw, 38.1-42.4% of head length vs. 26.7-32.5% in M. wochepa); it differs from M. lepidiadaptes males by the black submarginal band in its anal fin, which is entirely light blue in fully coloured males of M. lepidiadaptes; in partially coloured males of the latter species the black horizontal stripes are visible, but no vertical bars are present, as is the case in M. mpoto (Ref. 89864). Males of M. mpoto differ from those of M. kaskazini by possessing more teeth in the lower jaw, 18-23 vs. 10-16 in M. kaskazini; by having a shallower preorbital depth, 15.4-20.4% of head length vs. 19.3-26.9% in M. kaskazini; and by possessing a shallower cheek, 15.4-21.7% of head length vs. 19.8-28.0% in M. kaskazini; fully coloured males of M. mpoto and M. kaskazini are indistinguishable on the basis of colouration alone, but the basic melanin patterns of the two species, as seen in juveniles and adult females, differ dramatically (Ref. 89864).
Melanochromis mpoto is a non-specialized, non-territorial cichlid, which lives in rocky and intermediate habitats; often seen at depths of 20-40 m (Ref. 89864). It lives a predatory life but has also been seen feeding on plankton; larger specimens appear to be mainly opportunistic piscivores (Ref. 89864). Adults are usually solitary but quick to form small 'packs' of up to a dozen individuals when hunting opportunities arise; such packs can contain more than a single male in breeding colouration; these small packs move quickly through the habitat, apparently causing commotion among small prey fishes and invertebrates, and scavenging on anything that seems worth consuming (Ref. 89864). Mouthbrooding females are solitary and sometimes found in water shallower than 10 m (Ref. 89864).
Life cycle and mating behavior
Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae
Konings, A.F. and J.R. Stauffer Jr., 2012. Review of the Lake Malawi genus Melanochromis (Teleostei: Cichlidae) with a description of a new species. Zootaxa 3258:1-27. (Ref. 89864)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 126983)
Threat to humans
Common namesSynonymsMetabolismPredatorsEcotoxicologyReproductionMaturitySpawningSpawning aggregationFecundityEggsEgg development
ReferencesAquacultureAquaculture profileStrainsGeneticsAllele frequenciesHeritabilityDiseasesProcessingNutrientsMass conversion
Estimates based on models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82804
= 0.5000 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.01479 (0.00684 - 0.03200), b=2.98 (2.80 - 3.16), in cm total length, based on LWR estimates for this (Sub)family-body shape (Ref. 93245
Trophic level (Ref. 69278
): 3.3 ±0.5 se; based on size and trophs of closest relatives
Fishing Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Low vulnerability (10 of 100).