The genus name Lethrinops can be broken into two parts. ‘Ops’ means ‘appearance’ and Lethrinus is a reference to the marine fish genus Lethrinus (Lethrinidae) which they somewhat resemble. Together they give the meaning that these species have the appearance of the genus Lethrinus.
All Lethrinops species have a silver colored body. Only during the breeding period do the dominant males get a little more colour.
The reason for this monotonous color is their living environment. They inhabit the sandy plains of Lake Malawi where they mainly live in groups. A predatory fish is confused by a group that prevents it from focusing on one specimen. The monotony is therefore almost a condition for survival. If you deviate from the group, you are easier prey.
In the aquarium, Lethrinops are gentle fish. With other busy or hunting species, they often do not come to color. However, under the right circumstances, the males can show great color.
In the wild, most Lethrinops breed only during a certain breeding season. With a few exceptions, they build a burrow in the sand. This is fiercely defended against other Lethrinops males during the day. At night the burrow is abandoned and they join the foraging females. They are thought to do this to avoid being eaten by catfish at night.
During this breeding period, the males develop a species-specific pattern. This allows them to lure Lethrinops females of their own species to their burrows to spawn.
The genus Lethrinops has about 24 officially described species. However, there are many more species still awaiting their description.