Original description as Trematocara variabile:
- Poll, Max. 1952. "Quatrième série de Cichlidae nouveaux recueillis par la mission hydrobiologique belge au lac Tanganika (1946-1947)". Bulletin de l'Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique. 28(49):1-20 (crc00044)
Conservation: Trematocara variabile is evaluated by the international union for the conservation of nature in the iucn red list of threatened species as (LC) least concern (2006). A species that has never been observed by SCUBA divers in shallow water during the day, a place where they were present 80 years ago, it probably means that T. variabile has been extirpated wherever beach seines could reach for them. It is possible that the species survived in deeper water near river outlets but no reports of its presence have been available. Although it is presently listed as Least Concern because of misidentifications, it would be better listed as Data Deficient.