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Astatotilapia flaviijosephi
The only Non-African Haplochromine
by Greg Steeves
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As with all haplochromines (with the possible exception of evolving biparental brooding) A. flaviijosephi is a maternal mouth brooder with the female gestating her developing young for 17 days at 82 F. The courting male excavates a pit at the base of a rock and it is here that the act of spawning occurs. He entices a ripe female with a series of "shimmies" and eventually, the circling spawning procedure takes place. After spawning, the male has nothing else to do with the female and she is on her own. The female will try to find a calm spot which to brood and tumble her developing young. For two days post release, the mother will continue to allow the free swimming fry into her buccal cavity. After this time, the female will continue to protect the area around her fry but will not allow, despite her fry's best attempts, them back into her mouth. Brood care and fry size is typical of other haplochromine cichlids. In its native waters, A. flaviijosephi is a seasonal spawning species with a breeding period lasting April to July.

Based on the most recent assessment by the IUCN, Astatotilapia flaviijosephi is regarded as endangered citing a restricted range and population decline due to pollution and drought. This is especially prevalent in riverine populations while drought induced lake level fluctuations are the largest threat to lacustrine habitat.

What a shame it has been for the cichlid hobby that this fish has yet to find a home in our tanks. It is highly attractive species and easily adaptable to our artificial environments. Astatotilapia flaviijosephi has quickly become one of my favorite cichlid species. I hope to someday acquire a different population for comparison reasons but in the meantime, with a little bit of luck, young from my small group will be distributed to other hobbyists in an attempt to establish healthy groups of this rare cichlid in our aquariums.

References:
Krupp, F. and W. Schneider 1989 The fishes of the Jordan River drainage basin and Azraq Oasis. p. 347 416. In Fauna of Saudi Arabia. vol. 10.

Werner, N. Y. and O Mokady Swimming out of Africa: mitochondrial DNA evidence for late Pliocene dispersal of a cichlid from Central Africa to the Levant. The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2004, 82, 103-109.

Crivelli, A.J. 2006. Haplochromis flaviijosephi. In: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red

Goren, M. & Ortal, R. 1999. Biogeography, diversity and conservation of the inland water fish communities in Israel. Biological Conservation, 89, 1-9.

Kaufman, L. Personal communication, 2009.
Loiselle, P.V. Personal communication, 2009.
Lamboj, A. Personal communication, 2009.

Originally published in The Lateral Line, the official publication of the Hill Country Cichlid Club.

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