Species Article: Lake Malawi

Labidochromis lividus

by Greg Steeves

I obtained a dozen young 'lividus' in the summer of '97. Frederic Potvin shipped these beauties to me. He had been working with this fish for a couple years. At the time I had no idea what these critters looked like. He had promised me that I wouldn't be disappointed with them, and was he right! When I got these lividus, they were a little over an inch long and dazzled me with their blue coloration. As they have grown, they have gotten ever more brilliant.

The fry grew quickly. It wasn't long before they were set up in their own 40 gallon tank. The usual slate rock work which I incorporate in most of my tanks gave the lividus a place of refuge. They settled well into this setup and before long breeding began.

Lividus spawn in the typical mbuna manner. First spawns number about 20 eggs. Spawning was frequent. My problem was that I couldn't get these fish to carry to term. The females would always abort their spawn after holding for a week. This drove me nuts. I could not solve it. No matter what I tried, they would not hold. I finally did get some fry by stripping a female. Now I have a tumbler. I'll get around it.

I feed mine in the same manner as my other Labidochromis. A 50/50 mix of TetraMin and spirulina flake. The occasional piece of romaine lettuce and crushed frozen peas is also offered.

When i first got my lividus, I had no idea that these fish are not easy to come by. Apparently they are from the Nkhungu region of Lake Malawi. Most of what is available in the trade as lividus is from a different locale, which sports strong vertical black (or very dark blue) barring. Our fish are a solid blue when in dominant male coloration, with thin black trim on the fins. Females and subdominants are also blue, but will often seem to vary in color from near beige to almost lavender to a near purple with some barring (as seen in the last photograph on the fish in the rear, which is constantly harrassed).

Because this fish doesn't seem to want to hold properly, we suspect it will never become a mainstay in the hobby. If there is another population of these beauties in the hobby, we would sure like to hear about it.


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