Ptychochromis insolitus Stiassny & Sparks, 2006:32

Mangarahara cichlid, joba mena (malagasy)



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Ptychochromis sp. nov. 'Joba mena'; Ptychochromis spp. Sofia; Ptychochromis spp. Amboaboa


Conservation Status

Rediscovered in 2013

IUCN RedList status: Critically Endangered


Following a survey of predominantly European institutions with holdings of Madagascan freshwater fish it was realised that there were only four known Ptychochromis insolitus individuals, 3 males and a female (Zimmerman, 2014). In an attempt to breed the male and female in the Berlin Zoo, these individuals were separated (Ibid.). However, the male killed the female and the species was sadly reduced to three known individuals, all male. (Ibid.). Following an appeal for females of the species, Brian Zimmerman was contacted about a possible wild caught P. insolitus. Following a trip to Madagascar, Zimmerman and his team were able to record Mangarahara cichlids (P. insolitus) at 3 of 6 potential sites near the Mangarahara River, from which the species derives its common name. In all they collected 20 individuals*, one of which died during the 30 hour trip to the ponds of Guy Tam Hyock, who originally contacted Zimmerman. Breeding has subsequently been recorded and the species has likely been saved from extinction, at least for the moment.

There were presumably still some wild P. insolitus left as collecting was not exhaustive (Zimmerman, 2014), however it appears that more recent efforts to relocate the wild population, or find any new ones, has completely failed and the species might now be extinct in the wild (Máiz-Tomé et al., 2018).

* According to Zimmerman (2014). This conflicts with a press release by the Zoological Society of London, which claims that Zimmerman and team collected 18 individuals.



Amboboa & Mangarahara Rivers, Madagascar


Biology & Ecology










Original scientific description:

Stiassny, Melanie L. J. and Sparks, John S. (2006). Phylogeny and Taxonomic Revision of the Endemic Malagasy Genus Ptychochromis (Teleostei: Cichlidae), with the Description of Five New Species and a Diagnosis for Katria, New Genus. American Museum Novitates, Number 3535, 55 pp., 26 figures, 2 plates, 11 tables.


Other references:

Loiselle, P. & participants of the CBSG/ANGAP CAMP "Faune de Madagascar" workshop, Mantasoa, Madagascar 2001 2004. Ptychochromis sp. nov. 'Joba mena'. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. ( Downloaded on 17 May 2013.

Máiz-Tomé, L., Sayer, C. and Darwall, W. (eds.). (2018). The status and distribution of freshwater biodiversity in Madagascar and the Indian Ocean islands hotspot. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. viii + 128 pp.

Sparks, John S. (2008). Phylogeny of the cichlid subfamily Etroplinae and taxonomic revision of the Malagasy cichlid genus Paretroplus (Teleostei, Cichlidae). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, Number 314, 151 pp., 60 figures, 1 plate, 13 tables. [WARNING: 42.31 MB file]

Zimmerman, Brian. (2014). In search of the Mangarahara cichlid. Saving Freshwater Fishes and Habitats 4: 17-22.


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