Most chilumba feature a chunky body and most males will have long pointed dorsals and caudal fins. Males are predominantly blue with black barring along their body. Two or three similar bars along the face/nose. They are BB zebra, which is in reference to their blue/black barring. Depending on locale (origin in lake) some zebra chilumba will have a black stripe along the dorsal fin (such as luwino reef or katale). Locale differences can also include the addition of yellow chins (luwino reef) and an orange highlight on the tail (Chitande). Most males have black caudal fins.
Females are normally a muted version of the males. They lack the strong barring that males exhibit but when no male is present they can take on colors very close to males. Depending on locale females can range from light blue to dark blue. Some females can also be brown/beige.