Collecting Nothobranchius in Malawi.

John Vermaak

Compiled for the BKA Website by Tim Addis. This article originally appeared in Killi-News 226 (June 1984). Photo's by John Vermaak unless otherwise stated.

I would like to thank Ruud Wildekamp & Karl Doering for permission to use photographs of fish from this collection.


Click above links to open relevant collection locations.


The collecting of Nothobranchius is probably the most frustrating pastime anyone could ever have. There is always too much water or too little water. It was with these thoughts in mind that my wife and I set up two tanks and prepared to leave for Malawi, hoping to collect one species.

On our arrival in Malawi we were met by my very good friend Stuart Grant. Stuart is a collector of Malawi Cichlids and also has a soft spot for Nothobranchius having collected many over the years.

Our first night was spent pondering over maps, discussing strategy, but mainly consuming a vast quantity of 'Chivas Regal'. Any would-be Nothobranchius collectors must understand that without a great amount of local help, Government permits and translatots, an already difficult job would be completely impossible.

Stuart Grant was accompanied by his fish warehouse manager (a local lad by the name of Steven) who would be responsible for setting up holding tanks and looking after any fish we caught. His chief diver (Shaulos) also accompanied us and he would act as translator, guide, chief collector and friend on our hunt for Nothobranchius.

After settling into our magnificent lakeside hotel and sorting out all our equipment, we were ready to set out on the serious business of collecting. At this stage we were confident of getting a few specimens of one species, little did we know that this was going to be my best ever collecting trip and it would surely rate as one of the most successful ever Nothobranchius collecting trips in this part of Africa.

Basic Map of Malawi Showing Collecting Locations

References - Jubb R.A. - Nothobranchius (TFH Publications - 1981).