The search for the elusive “Marmalade Cat”! That term, “marmalade cat” is applied to several Malawi cichlid species that have special markings: OB (originally “orange blotched” but now, any ‘blotched’ mbuna), an orange dorsal fin, and ‘calico-like’ body colors (i.e. blue or blue hued).
You’ll generally not see two OB fish with similar markings the pattern develops randomly. Other names for OB type markings are piebald, spotted, etc. There are a number of OB species: Labeotropheus fuelleborni & L. trewavasae, Metriaclima (Pseudotropheus) zebra, and the zebra-like ‘estherae‘ are just a few of many species with OB markings.
They are mottled with random black markings. On those fish, the females are more heavily mottled than the males. The males, upon maturing, get lighter in color with the black becoming a lighter bluish-gray and the alpha male will develop an ‘overcast’ of translucent blue as the ‘blotch’ nearly disappears. The blue on the males shows well in the images above.
I’ve raised many Metriaclima lombardi, and their fry are all identical with blue body and black vertical stripes. As the lombardi males mature, their stripes fade and the alpha male turns a bright gold. The subdominant males retain their stripes, and become an off-gold with some blue and stripes remaining. I seen some ‘Holding’ females that get that off-gold cast similar to sub-dominant males.