Lake Malawi Mbuna

Mbuna (pronounced um-boo-nah) is the common name for a large group of African haplochromine cichlids from Lake Malawi. The name mbuna means "rockfish" in the language of the Tonga people of Malawi. As the name implies, most mbuna are cichlids that live among the piles of rocks and along the rocky shores of Lake Malawi, as opposed to the Utaka and other "haps", cichlids that live in the open water or on sandy shores or soft substrates. Some species of mbuna are highly sexually dimorphic, although many are not. Among biologists, almost all of the haplochromine cichlid species of Lake Malawi, including mbuna and non-mbuna such as the Utaka, are believed to have descended from one or a very few species that became isolated in the lake. With rising water levels, new habitats could be colonized and the many isolated rocky outcrops allowed new mbuna species to form. Their striking colors, intriguing behavioral characteristics, and relative hardiness make them very popular despite their unique demands for the home aquarist.


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