As I originally posted nearly a year go, I acquired some juveniles of several Tanganyikan species for my Tang community tank. One of those species was listed as Telmatochromis temporalis by the seller. However, I was convinced that what I received was actually Telmatochromis sp. “temporalis shell,” which is how I’ve mostly referred to them in various posts since then. As frequently happens with cichlid species, especially those not widely distributed and available in the hobby, accurate identification is often iffy, especially as there are variations based on lake locality.
The three that I acquired have grown considerably and have already exceeded the typical maximum size of sp. “temporalis shell”. T. temporalis are sexually dimorphic in size, with males being considerably larger than females. My two males are much larger, at nearly 4″ each, than the maximum size listed in various sources for sp. “temporalis shell” (~2-3″). In fact, I’ve read that sp. “temporalis shell” is considered by Ad Konings to be a dwarf morph of T. temporalis.
I had been suspicious of their true type from the outset because I have seen no characteristic that definitively differentiates the two variants other than size. Though I’ve read that T. temporalis are cave spawners, my bonded pair use shells. However, based on the documented maximum size differential and, lacking any other compelling evidence besides spawn site selection, I’m going to now conclude that what I really have are Telmatochromis temporalis.
In the photo above, you can see the female has emerged from a ceramic cave on the left. I had to brighten the image and increase the exposure a bit to get her to show up better because she is nearly jet black in color. The male’s silhouette can barely be seen in the gap to the right of her. He’s lurking just out of view, but he kept a watchful eye on me. My camera was about 2″ from the front glass and she is about 4″ away from the glass. If you look closely, you can see two fry just inside the aperture of the middle shell. The female appears large and imposing, but she’s only about 2″ long.