Morphology Data of Pelmatolapia mariae
Identification keys
Main Ref. Teugels, G.G. and D.F.E. Thys van den Audenaerde, 2003
Appearance refers to
Bones in OsteoBase

Sex attributes

Specialized organs
Different appearance
Different colors

Descriptive characteristics of juvenile and adult

Striking features
Body shape lateral fusiform / normal
Cross section
Dorsal head profile
Type of eyes
Type of mouth/snout
Position of mouth
Type of scales

Diagnosis: body rather elevated (body depth 46.9-51.6% SL) (Ref. 53405). Head profile rounded (Ref. 81260). Outer teeth on jaws bicuspid (Ref. 53405), gracile (Ref. 81260) and spatulated (Ref. 53405, 81260). Lower pharyngeal jaw teeth relatively small and narrow near posterior border of bone, forming an almost felt-like covering (Ref. 81260). Micro-gillrakers present; adults (> 150 mm) with a series of dark blotches in the middle of the flanks (sometimes body entirely blackish) (Ref. 53405, 81260). Juveniles with 7-9 large vertical bands (Ref. 53405). Ventral scales with central red spot; 12 or more rakers on lower limb of first gill arch (Ref. 81260).

Description: head length 29.7-34.7% SL; 3-6 rows of teeth on both oral jaws, outer row teeth bicuspid and spatulate (Ref. 81260). Lower pharyngeal bone as long as broad, length of toothed part 46.9-55.7% of total bone length (Ref. 53405). Anterior pharyngeal teeth tricuspid (Ref. 53405, 81260) and strongly recurved (Ref. 81260), posterior pharyngeal teeth bicuspid (Ref. 53405, 81260) and straight (Ref. 81260), not broadened (Ref. 53405). Scales cycloid (Ref. 53405). Eyes located in a very anterior position; frontal profile concave; caudal fin slightly rounded, with a small notch (Ref. 52307).

Coloration: in life: juveniles: ground colour yellowish; belly whitish, sometimes reddish, back and top of head brownish-yellow (Ref. 53405, 81260). Sides and caudal peduncle with 7-9 (Ref. 52307, 53405, 81260) broad, brownish-black cross bars (Ref. 53405, 81260). Dark bar on occiput and gill cover and another one between eyes and on cheek; dorsal, anal and caudal fins yellow-brown, showing same pattern of bars as on body, anal fin darker distally; pelvic fins yellowish, their anterior margins brownish (Ref. 53405, 81260). Adults have 2 different colour patterns: 1) back, sides and fins entirely black, with very narrow red edge along upper margins of dorsal and caudal fins 2) spotted pattern consisting of yellow ground colour becoming greenish on back and olive-green on top of head (Ref. 53405). In both forms, belly white; sides and caudal peduncle with 5-6 distinct mid-lateral black spots, more close-set on caudal peduncle; scales on sides below midline often with central red spot; unpaired fins greenish, with numerous light red spots between soft rays (Ref. 53405, 81260). Blue fringe, edged by narrow red band on distal margins of dorsal and caudal fins (Ref. 53405, 81260), and occasionally all around caudal fin (Ref. 53405). Pelvic fins greenish, darker on anterior margin (Ref. 53405, 81260).

Ease of Identification

Meristic characteristics of Pelmatolapia mariae

Lateral Lines Interrupted: No
Scales on lateral line 29 - 31
Pored lateral line scales
Scales in lateral series
Scale rows above lateral line
Scale rows below lateral line
Scales around caudal peduncle
Gill clefts (sharks/rays only)
Gill rakers
on lower limb 12 - 16
on upper limb


Dorsal fin(s)

Fins number 1
Finlets No. Dorsal   0
Ventral  0
Spines total 15 - 17
Soft-rays total 13 - 15
Adipose fin absent

Caudal fin


Anal fin(s)

Fins number 1
Spines total 3 - 3
Soft-rays total 10 - 11

Paired fins

Pectoral Attributes  
Pelvics Attributes  
Main Ref. (e.g. 9948)
Glossary ( e.g. cephalopods )
Entered by Musschoot, Tobias
Modified by Musschoot, Tobias
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