The name of this species can be broken down into two Latin words. Bucca means mouth or mouthful. Chromis comes from chroma and means color, but in this context actually cichlid or perch. The genus name is a reference to the large mouth that the members of this genus have.
The species in the Buccochromis genus can reach a length of 23 to 41 centimeters. The males are all beautifully colored and the females remain a somewhat dull brown/silver color. The black stripe on the flank runs from above the head, diagonally downwards to the caudal peduncle.
The mouths of species in the Buccochromis genus are full of small, closely spaced teeth. It is striking that juveniles have two dots, adults only have one dot.
All species from the genus Buccochromis can be found throughout Lake Malawi. Most species occur above the sandy parts of the lake where they prey on juvenile fish and sand cichlids. Only Buccochromis heterotaenia lives in the transition zone where they hunt in groups for small or young cichlids.