With more than 1000 species, East African cichlid fishes represent the fastest and most species-rich vertebrate radiation known, providing an ideal model to tackle molecular mechanisms underlying recurrent adaptive diversification. We add high-quality genome reconstructions for two phylogenetic key species of a lineage that diverged about ~ 3-9 million years ago (mya), representing the earliest split of the so-called modern haplochromines that seeded additional radiations such as those in Lake Malawi and Victoria. Along with the annotated genomes we analysed discriminating genomic features of the study species, each representing an extreme trophic morphology, one being an algae browser and the other an algae grazer. The genomes of Tropheus moorii (TM) and Petrochromis trewavasae (PT) comprise 911 and 918 Mbp with 40,300 and 39,600 predicted genes, respectively. Our DNA sequence data are based on 5 and 6 individuals of TM and PT, and the transcriptomic sequences of one individual per species and sex, respectively. Concerning variation, on average we observed 1 variant per 220 bp (interspecific), and 1 variant per 2540 bp (PT vs PT)/1561 bp (TM vs TM) (intraspecific). GO enrichment analysis of gene regions affected by variants revealed several candidates which may influence phenotype modifications related to facial and jaw morphology, such as genes belonging to the Hedgehog pathway (SHH, SMO, WNT9A) and the BMP and GLI families.