Ad Konings, 2012
Cichlid Room Companion

The demise of a Tanganyika cichlid

By , 2014. image
Last updated on 01-Dec-2014

Classification: Distribution and exploration, Lake Tanganyika.

" The recent discovery by a commercial exporter of the locality where the Tanzania Murago variant of Tropheus moorii inhabits had brought a precipitous decline in the population of such a wonderful fish. Immediate action by all aquarists is necessary to stop its extinction "

Tanzania Murago male Male of Tropheus moorii 'Tanzania Murago' photographed in an undisclosed locality in Lake Tanganyika. Photo by Ad Konings. (2013-10-06). determiner Ad Konings

The cichlids of Lake Tanganyika are one of the most fascinating animals on earth and most of them can be comfortably kept and observed in a home aquarium. The well-being of our pets has always been a priority for the conscious aquarium hobbyist, and most that are successful in keeping their fish under semi-natural circumstances are usually rewarded with the natural behavior of their fishes and usually also with offspring. In recent times it became obvious that not only the well-being of the fishes in our aquariums plays an important role in our hobby, but also the sustainable extraction of some of these species from the wild. When hobbyists learned of the plight of some of their favorite fishes in their natural environment, e.g. Pseudotropheus saulosi or Tropheus duboisi, they were ready to help to try to correct the wrongdoing caused by the ornamental fish industry’s over-fishing. The responsible hobbyist understands that these fishes were extracted from the wild to supply his/her demand. For the majority of the species, this is a sustainable process in which the fishes caught are replaced through the vitality of the natural population. Only for a very few cichlid species has the balance of extraction and replenishing been upset by over-fishing. This typically happens when a popular species occurs only in a small population.

About six years ago the brothers Magnus and Mikael Karlsson, who thoroughly surveyed the Tanzanian shores of Lake Tanganyika, discovered a tiny population of an attractive variant of Tropheus moorii which they named “Tanzania Murago”, alluding to the fact that the variant has a similar spotting pattern on the head as that was known from the so-called “Murago Moorii” from the Congolese part of the lake. Here is a fantastic video clip of their endeavors:

Since they estimated that this population contained about 500-1000 individuals and that it would not sustain even a very restrictive extraction scheme, they kept the locality a secret, justly fearing that the entire population could be wiped out by two or three collections by the ornamental fish industry. Unfortunately, a fish collector found the location of the variant and has extracted already more than 200 individuals that have already been exported and distributed in Europe and the US. The unscrupulous extractor may already have denuded the site and the variant may now only exist in a few aquariums. We are in the process of breeding and re-stocking this variant in its home waters, but we may be too late. Of course, the responsible fish keepers are highly upset about the blatant over-fishing of a single collector who could only think of his own gain. Please don’t support this sort of self-aggrandizement and do not purchase wild Tanzania Murago. Do you want to be responsible for the extinction of a cichlid?

The beautiful footage of the Tanzania Murago was produced by Magnus and Mikael Karlsson of African Diving Ltd. It relates the story of this cichlid’s discovery and its current predicament related to over-fishing by the ornamental fish trade.


Konings, Ad. (Dec 01, 2014). "The demise of a Tanganyika cichlid". Cichlid Room Companion. Retrieved on Jun 22, 2024, from: