Protomelas sp. "steveni taiwan"

No scientific description.

Known in trade, and in the hobby, as "Steveni taiwan", but is also referred to, as "Protomelas Taiwan-type".

 Last update: 8/2 2007

Protomelas sp. "steveni taiwan"
(Higga reef) male.

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Distribution and variants: Lake Malawi at Mbamba bay, Higga reef and Taiwan reef. There are some differences between the variants at the 3 habitats; The Taiwan Reef variant is generally more golden brown on the flanks than the Higga Reef variant, which is more blue (this distinction is practically impossible to make, as the variation on any given specimen, is larger, depending on mood and form, than it is between the variants). The Mbamba bay variant, however, is easy to spot, since it has a yellow anal fin. This fin is red on the 2 other variants.

 Male app. 16cm  Female app. 14cm.

Sex differences: Male: Light golden-brown, with metallic blue head and back. Caudal- and tailfin is blue with white edges. Anal fin is red or yellow.

Female: Metallic grey with black stripes.
Natural diet: Omnivore, but primarily loose or drifting pieces of aufwuchs.
Biotopes and general behavior: Found in the deeper parts of the sediment-rich rocky coast zone, where they roam around, searching for food. Their technique for biting off loose algae, often result in a clearly audible "snap". There is no territorial behavior, except immediately before mating.
Breeding behavior: Maternal mouth brooder. The male fertilizes the eggs before they are picked up by the female, suggesting an old species, since this technique is regarded as primitive, compared to fertilization after pickup, which has the benefit of shorter exposure of the egg, to the surrounding environment.  The female carries the brood for 20-23 days, and tend to them for about a week after their firs release. A typical brood is 50-80.
Temperatures and water:

23-26 deg. C. PH 7-8,5/DH 12-30.


Dry food with a mixed content, shrimp mix, frozen artemia/mysis etc. Can be a bit difficult to keep in good condition, so watch out for this.

Tank size: 325L/130cm.
Best kept as: Pair or 1 male and several females. In tanks larger than 1.5m in length, it is possible to keep 2 males.
Tank decoration and behavior:

The tank, which ideally is 500L or more, should have a couple of good places to hide, but also plenty of free space. Good  water circulation (4-5 times the tank-volume) id necessary for the well-being of the fish. Most of the time, the fish is just roaming all around the tank, acknowledging each other with short burst of chase, but rarely with any real determination, except immediately prior to spawning (aggression may vary from male to male though), when a regular territorial behavior is exhibited by the dominant male. Steveni taiwan is, generally speaking, one of the most peaceful Haplochromines, and will unfortunately be easily bullied by more boisterous tank mates, resulting in very subdued colouring. It is therefore necessary to ensure their dominance in the tank, if the full potential of this magnificent fish, is to be experienced. Kept in tanks with a length of 2 meter or more, it is a good idea to hold 3-4 males. The colouration is incredible, and, due to their relatively peaceful temper, it is only rarely cause for serious strife. They should not be kept with other Protomelas species, as these will almost always suppress them.

It should be mentioned here, that the general rules, considering temperament, mentioned above, is not without exception. I have personally, as has a few others I know of, seen males with an uncharacteristically high level of aggression.

Suggested tankmates: Suitable company in a 500L tank, could be an Aulonocare species, one of the smaller Copadichromis species, a Lethrinops, a small Placidochromis or something like that. In a smaller tank, very peaceful tank mates are required, like e.g. small Lethrinops or Aulonocare maylandi.
Breeding: Breeds more or less automatically, if the fish are doing well. Brooding females must be moved to a separate tank, if any surviving fry is desired. That is best done 18-20 days after breeding, as this ensures that the fry are ready to leave their mother, if they are accidentally released in the net. Raising the fry is simple, since the fry will eat anything not larger than cyclops from day one, but it is best to use high-energy foods.

Female with eggs and fry
Extra information

Some wild caught individuals, have some growths, which can most easily be described as "warts", various places on their body and/or fins. It is unclear what the cause for this is, but it is presumably a bacteria or parasite, brought in from Lake Malawi, since tank-bred individuals, to My knowledge, never have them. It doesn`t seem to bother the victim, and often it is best left alone, but in some instances, the attack can be so violent or be so unfortunately placed, that action has to be taken; I have tried to cut away the "wart", but with no other treatment, it simply grows back. I am currently (January 2007) awaiting the effect of a treatment with Iodine on the wound, after having cut the Wart off again.

Update February 8 2007: The treatment had no effect! Update July 23 2007: A sudden blooming in the growth of the warts over the last couple of months, has unfortunately made it necessary to put the fish down today. The conclusion must be, that these "warts" are best left alone, since it would seem, that tampering with them, only speeds up their growth.

Close up of the mentioned "wart"

The wart is removed, and the resulting wound is treated with Iodine.

Unfortunately the treatment had no effect.