Maleri are similar in body and fin shape to some small haps, and were previously part of the pseudotropheus group due to their unusual open water behavior. They were described as cynotilapia due to their size and breeding habits among the rocks. Males have dark blue or jet black bodies, with a white/blue blaze from the top of the face that extends far into the dorsal fin (sometimes seen on tail and anal fin too). This pattern from the face to dorsal fin is similar to that of C. sp. Mbamba. Maleri can also have a yellow highlight on the end of their tail fins. Females of this species are a silvery color.