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Lethrinops oculatus


Article by Travis Bransgrove

Species information

Species: Lethrinops oculatus (Trewavas 1931)

Synoma: none?

Common name: none?

Origin: Endemic to Lake Malawi, Africa. Found in southern portion of the lake


Maximum size: Around 15cm for males, females less

Natural habitat: Sandy shorelines

Natural foods/prey: Invertebrates

Water chemistry in the wild: Generally between pH 7.5 - 8.0 in shallower regions where this species is found. Up to 20dH.

Predators: In adult form, possibly no piscivorous fish. Perhaps birds as they are a shallow-water species.

Brood size: 40+, does not breed all year round

Breeding method: Maternal mouthbrooder, egg-dummy method

Husbandry requirements

Minimum tank size: 4 foot tank for colony

Sex ratio: Ideally 1M several F, however a pair may be kept in a community setting

Tolerance of conspecifics: Males probably do not tolerate each other

Tolerance of heterospecifics: Similar looking/coloured/sized males of other species may not be tolerated

Water chemistry in aquaria: pH 7.6 - 8.0

Temperature range: 25-28degC

Foods accepted: Pellets, flakes, bloodworms, especially likes live/frozen brine shrimp.

Special requirements: These fish like to have hiding places. They can be fairly skittish and will readily dive into the sand when scared, surfacing up to 10 minutes later. For this reason, and the fact that they sift/forage constantly, rounded sand substrate is best, (as opposed to sharper). I have read that if the male L. oculatus doesn't dominate the tank he does not cope well.


  • Lethrinops oculatus is an underrated gem;
  • An excellent addition to a Malawi tank (except with other similar looking fish eg Protomelas species).
  • The green body coloration and apricot-coloured fin trimmings are a welcome change to the standard blue and yellow found in many Malawi species. (Dominant) males are not overly aggressive towards dissimilar tankmates, nor hard on their females.
  • To my knowledge there haven't been many L. oculatus around in recent times.


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