Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Perciformes
(Perch-likes) > Cichlidae
(Cichlids) > Pseudocrenilabrinae
Etymology: Protomelas: Greek, protos = the first + Greek, melas, melanos = black (Ref. 45335).
Environment / Climate / Range
Freshwater; benthopelagic. Tropical; 24°C - 26°C (Ref. 2059); 9°S - 15°S
Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 11.3 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 4996)
(total): 16 - 17;
soft rays: 9 - 10;
Vertebrae: 31. Resembles P. fenestratus in form and in ecology, but differs from it in having a larger eye and consequently narrower preorbital, in the more numerous teeth in the upper jaw and on the lower pharyngeal, the higher number of gill rakers, the anterior of which, although short, are acute and well defined and in the higher modal number of dorsal spines. Differs from P. virgatus in the absence of enlarged pharyngeal teeth.
Africa: Endemic to Lake Malawi where it is widely distributed.
Inhabits shallow, rocky sediment-free habitat. Feeds on 'aufwuchs' attached to rocks, but also takes small invertebrates, including zooplankton when this is abundant (Ref. 267).
Life cycle and mating behavior
Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae
Parents practice co-operative care of young by grouping together and setting up protective stations close to one another; releasing their young and embarking upon parental care. Every protective mantle is very close to the next in such a way that young can move from one parent to the next.
Maréchal, C., 1991. Protomelas. p. 387-393. In J. Daget, J.-P. Gosse, G.G. Teugels and D.F.E. Thys van den Audenaerde (eds.) Check-list of the freshwater fishes of Africa (CLOFFA). ISNB, Brussels; MRAC, Tervuren; and ORSTOM, Paris. Vol. 4. (Ref. 4996)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 96402)
CITES (Ref. 94142)
Threat to humans
ReferencesAquacultureAquaculture profileStrainsGeneticsAllele frequenciesHeritabilityDiseasesProcessingMass conversion
Estimates of some properties based on models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.5000 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.01514 (0.00709 - 0.03231), b=2.97 (2.80 - 3.14), based on LWR estimates for this Subfamily-body shape (Ref. 93245
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278
): 3.2 ±0.37 se; Based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 69278
): High, minimum population doubling time less than 15 months (Preliminary K or Fecundity.).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Low vulnerability (10 of 100) .