Cheilochromis euchilus – Malawi Thick Lip

Cheilochromis euchilus previously called Chilotilapia euchilus is mostly known because of their thick padded lips.

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Cheilochromis euchilus – Malawi Thick Lip

Cheilochromis euchilus has the common name Malawi Thick Lip. The scientific name partly comes from the Greek: cheilos means lip, euchilus comes from the Greek eugenus = well created. Tilapia is a latinised word from Tswana, thiape means fish. Combined the name means something like Fish with the well-created lips. The species was first described by Trewavas in 1935 as Haplochromis euchilus.

Over time this species has been redescribed a couple of time giving it several synonyms: Chilotilapia euchilus, Pseudohaplochromis euchilus, Cyrtocara euchilus, Cyrtocara euchila, Haplochromis euchilus.


This species has a fairly high body which is somewhat compressed laterally. The wild-caught specimens from rocky areas are characterized by their clearly visible thickened lips. In aquarium bred specimens or specimens from sandy areas, these thickenings are often missing due to the different way of foraging.

Adult males color blue with yellow accents on the scales. The throat gets an iridescent green above the blue. The dorsal fin shows a white stripe at the top with yellow dots. The anal fin shows a red color with blue dots. The females are gray / silver in color with 3 dark stripes on their flanks. One runs just below the dorsal fin, one at the height of the eye and the last one is lighter in color that runs low on their flank.

They are peaceful towards other species, but they can display some aggression towards conspecifics.


Cheilochromis euchilus is found throughout Lake Malawi, mostly in the transitional biotopes of sandy plains to rocks. Some of them can only be found above sandy substrates.


Cheilochromis euchilus searches for invertebrates between the rocks and aufwuchs. They seal off a piece of rock with their lips and the invertebrates are sucked in. Due to the many contacts with the rocks, their lips grow into thick pads. The fish that only occur above the sandy substrate therefore miss the thick lips (just like aquarium bred specimens). In the aquarium they must be fed with a variety of frozen food and vegetables such as spirulina flakes. Just like other Malawi cichlids, they should not be fed tubifex or red mosquito.



John de Lange

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