Morphology Data of Abactochromis labrosus
Identification keys
Main Ref. Oliver, M.K. and M.E. Arnegard, 2010
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 short and / or deep
Cross section
Dorsal head profile
Type of eyes
Type of mouth/snout
Position of mouth

This species is distinguished from all other mbuna genera by the following characters: strongly hypertrophied , papillose, medially lobate lips; large head at least 40% SL in > 5 cm SL individuals; premaxillary pedicel (ascending process) >35% HL. Other non-mbuna haplochromine species endemic to Lake Malawi resemble this species in having enlarged and often lobate lips, but all can be distinguished as follows: Placidochromis milomo with total vertebrae 30-31 (vs. 28-29 in Abactochromis), segmented anal-fin rays 9-10 (vs. 7-8), broad, black vertical bars below the dorsal-fin base 4 (vs. 6-7 narrow subdorsal bars when distinct), reaches at least 19 cm SL (vs. ca. 12 cm); Otopharynx pachycheilus with longer pectoral fin 38-44% SL (vs. 19-27), shorter premaxillary pedicel 24-35% HL (vs. 36-46), color pattern of three lateral spots (vs. vertical bars with no lateral spots), depth range of 78-135 m (vs. 0-30 m); Cheilochromis euchilus total vertebrae 30-31, head and jaws not laterally compressed (vs. distinctly compressed), 2-3- horizontal stripes (vs. narrow bars with no horizontal stripes); Chilotilapia rhoadesii total vertebrae 31, thickened lips with no median lobes (vs. strongly lobate medially), adult teeth for crushing gastropod molluscs - robust with crowns shaped like grains of wheat, blunt, recurved and grooved on the outer surface (vs. oral dentition not similarly specialized), head and jaws not laterally compressed (vs. compressed), 2-3 horizontal stripes (vs. narrow bars with no horizontal stripes); Eclectochromis spp. with total vertebrae 30, segmented dorsal-fin rays 10-11 (vs. 7-9), thickened lips with no median lobes, some submolariform posteromedian pharyngeal teeth (vs. posteromedian teeth slightly enlarged by their crowns laterally compressed), color pattern of vertical bars alternating with dark spots along dorsum (vs. bars only); Lichnochromis acuticeps total vertebrae 32, thickened lips with no median lobes, with oblique stripe from nape to base of caudal fin (vs. no oblique stripe) (Ref. 85491).

Ease of Identification

Meristic characteristics of Abactochromis labrosus

Lateral Lines Interrupted: No
Scales on lateral line 30 - 32
Pored lateral line scales
Scales in lateral series
Scale rows above lateral line 18 - 22
Scale rows below lateral line 7 - 12
Scales around caudal peduncle
Gill clefts (sharks/rays only)
Gill rakers
on lower limb
on upper limb
preanal 13 - 14
total 28 - 29


Dorsal fin(s)

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

Caudal fin


Anal fin(s)

Fins number
Spines total 3 - 3
Soft-rays total

Paired fins

Pectoral Attributes  
Soft-rays   14 - 15
Pelvics Attributes  
Main Ref. (e.g. 9948)
Glossary ( e.g. cephalopods )
Entered by Capuli, Estelita Emily
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