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
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
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,
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.