Steatocranus is a genus of small rheophilic cichlids mostly native to the Congo River Basin in DR Congo/Congo Brazzaville, although one species, S. irvinei, is restricted to the Volta River in Ghana and Burkino Faso,[1] and it belongs in a separate genus.[2] There are also at least c. 10 undescribed species in the Congo River basin awaiting scientific description.[3][4]

S. tinanti
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cichliformes
Family: Cichlidae
Subfamily: Pseudocrenilabrinae
Tribe: Steatocranini
Dunz & Schliewen, 2013
Genus: Steatocranus
Boulenger, 1899
Type species
Steatocranus gibbiceps
Boulenger, 1899

The fish in this genus all have relatively reduced swim bladder function. The name Steatocranus refers to the fatty deposit on the forehead of most species.

Young female Steatocranus casuarius

Two species, S. casuarius (also known as the lionhead or buffalohead cichlid) and S. tinanti are relatively common in the aquarium trade.

As for other cichlids brood care is highly developed and both sexes are involved in raising the young. All Steatocranus species are secretive cave spawners and form monogamous pairs for breeding. The female is more actively involved in fry raising, while the male is primarily concerned with territorial defence.


Young male Steatocranus bleheri

There are currently nine recognized species in this genus,[1] but S. irvinei belongs elsewhere;[2] in 2019 it was proposed to move it to its own genus, Paragobiocichla.[5]


  1. ^ a b Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2017). Species of Steatocranus in FishBase. March 2017 version.
  2. ^ a b Dunz, A.R., and Schliewen, U.K. (2013). Molecular phylogeny and revised classification of the haplotilapiine cichlid fishes formerly referred to as “Tilapia”. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, online 29 March 2013. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2013.03.015
  3. ^ Schwarzer, J.; B. Misof; S.N. Ifuta; U.K. Schliewen (2011). "Time and Origin of Cichlid Colonization of the Lower Congo Rapids". PLOS ONE. 6 (7): e22380. Bibcode:2011PLoSO...622380S. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022380. PMC 3140524. PMID 21799840.
  4. ^ Schwarzer, J.; B. Misof; U.K. Schliewen (2011). "Speciation within genomic networks: a case study based on Steatocranus cichlids of the lower Congo rapids". Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 25 (1): 138–148. doi:10.1111/j.1420-9101.2011.02409.x. PMID 22070232. S2CID 205433610.
  5. ^ Weiss, J.D.; F.D.B. Schedel; A.I. Zamba; E.J.W.M.N. Vreven; U.K. Schliewen (2019). "Paragobiocichla, a new genus name for Gobiochromis irvinei Trewavas, 1943 (Teleostei, Cichlidae)". Spixiana. 42 (1): 133–139.