Dorsal spines (total): 17-18; Dorsal soft rays (total): 7-10; Anal spines: 3-3; Anal soft rays: 6-9. Diagnosis: This species of Microchromis is characterized by a blue pattern with dark vertical bars on body, enhanced in dominant specimens, and usually extending onto the dorsal fin; similar to Maylandia zebra and other species in that complex with which it shares the same overall colouration, namely blue ground colour with strengthening melanic pattern in dominant males, extending onto the head, but it differs from these mainly by dentition: teeth on outer rows short and conical, regularly decreasing in size from symphysis to corner, vs. bicuspid in Maylandia (Ref. 88848). It differs from Microchromis aurifrons by its less heavily black pattern and vertical stripes on head, joining on brow (Ref. 88848).
Description: Small to medium sized mbuna; body moderately deep; dorsal profile slightly rounded, ventral profile straight; dorsal fin high, in adults soft portion of this fin more pronounced in males than in females; caudal fin with two rounded lobes separated by a shallow notch; head rounded, slightly concave between eye and upper jaw, especially in big specimens; snout short, more prominent in adults, especially males; mouth slightly prognathous and upturned (Ref. 88848). Teeth: 2-3 rows in both jaw, curved inward, short and conical in most outer row, decreasing in size from symphysis to corner of mouth; teeth of inner rows more sparse, smaller in size than in most outer row (Ref. 88848). Scales cycloid, 2-3 scale rows on cheek (Ref. 88848).
Colouration: live colouration of dominant males: body intense light blue, usually 8-9 vertical dark stripes on sides of the body, with first immediately behind operculum, slightly sloping anteriorly; its top usually joining its counterpart on other side before first dorsal fin ray; six vertical bars under dorsal fin, decreasing in thickness posteriorly; 1-2 indistinct bars on caudal peduncle, fading almost completely; body stripes extending onto dorsal fin, joining to a black submarginal band in most specimens; one black bar on head strongly sloping anteriorly, joining on brow with its counterpart, and two horizontal interorbital bars, all included in a black cephalic mask in dominant males, so head appears mainly black with two interorbital blue bars; upper blue 'inter-bar' extending behind eye; posterior edge of opercle with brilliant blue-green spot (Ref. 88848). Overall colouration of dorsal fin blue, with yellowish orange band above black submarginal band and whitish lappets; soft dorsal fin parts speckled with ocelli-like yellow spots, smaller than anal fin ocelli; anal fin blue, with black marking at base of the spinous portion; 3-6 anal ocelli of yellow colouration, surrounded by transparent area, well delimitated, increasing in number with size and age, usually extending from soft parts to third spine of this fin; pelvic fin black, with a thin blue-white marginal stripe; caudal fin blue, with thin black stripes along rays and along upper and lower edges of this fin (Ref. 88848). Female colouration: main colour brown, tinted by a blue hue in some specimens, with a melanic pattern more pale than in males; yellow colouration of dorsal fin as in males; a yellow tinge also present on caudal and anal fin; melanic marking same as in males, but weaker, sometimes not visible; anal ocelli present, but smaller as in males (Ref. 88848). Melanic pattern strengthens in most dominant males, with some individual variation; intermediate males or dominant females with less visible stripes; in females, melanic pattern follows same variation according to aggressivity as in males, more visible in dominant females; subordinate males are uniformly pale blue, subordinate females and juveniles are pale, without black margins (Ref. 88848).