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Sleeper cichlids
Adult male livingstonii.png
Adult male Livingston's Cichlid (N. livingstonii)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Cichlidae
Subfamily: Pseudocrenilabrinae
Tribe: Haplochromini
Genus: Nimbochromis
Eccles & Trewavas, 1989
Type species
Hemichromis livingstonii
Günther, 1894

Nimbochromis is a small genus of haplochromine cichlids mostly endemic to Lake Malawi in East Africa. They are known as sleeper cichlids or (in Chichewa) kaligono ("sleepers"), due to their unique hunting behaviour.

These piscivorous species are often seen lying motionless on the lake bottom near rocks where mbuna live, even adopting an unusual sideways position rarely seen in living fish. If smaller fishes approach, the Nimbochromis will "wake up" and try to seize them. Their coloration has an irregular dark cloudy pattern on lighter background; for one thing, this provides camouflage, but it is also suspected that it is – at least in some – evolving into aggressive mimicry by imitating a rotting fish carcass and thus luring scavengers to their demise.


There are currently five recognized species in this genus:[1]


  1. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2013). Species of Nimbochromis in FishBase. April 2013 version.

Media related to Nimbochromis at Wikimedia Commons