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Species information

Species: Astatotilapia latifasciata

Synoma: Haplochromis sp. zebra, Haplochromis latifasciatus, Haplochromis sp. zebra obliquidens

Common name: seen in some shops labelled as Crimson Tide cichlid, not widely accepted as a common name though. Also often labelled as Haplochromis obliquidens, however this is an incorrect name, the true H. obliquidens is believed to be extinct

Origin: Africa (Uganda) - Lake Victoria

Localities/Morphs: none reported, although to be more specific about its location it is found in Lake Nawampasa, a small lake narrowly separated from Lake Kyoga just north of Lake Victoria itself

Maximum size: 12cm

Natural habitat: Lake Nawampasa - papyrus shorelines, intermediate zones with mixed sand and rock substrates, fringing swamps. A very shallow lake with quite a lot of aquatic vegetation

Natural foods/prey: insectivorous in the wild

Water chemistry in the wild: pH 7.3-7.5, 11 dKH

Predators: larger fish, birds

Brood size: 10-80, these fish can be very prolific!

Breeding method: maternal mouthbrooder

Husbandry requirements

Minimum tank size: standard 3ft for a small colony with one male

Sex ratio: ideal would be 1m/3-5f, however see notes below

Tolerance of conspecifics: can be agressive towards others at times, particularly males will often fight mouth to mouthhowever in our experience they rarely damage each other. For a Victorian species they are one of the least aggressive

Tolerance of heterospecifics: good - quite peaceful towards other species but at the same time able to stand up for themselves against larger fish

Water chemistry in aquaria: quite tolerant of a range of conditions so long as pH is above neutral. pH 7.0-8.6, carbonate hardness 4-12 dKH

Temperature range: 22-28 degrees Celsius, can tolerate slightly higher temperatures for a short time

Foods accepted: practically anything that will fit in their mouths, they are not fussy! Flake, pellets, live food particularly insects e.g. cockroaches, mealworms. They are greedy and will attempt to eat food that is too large and which has the potential to get stuck in the pharynx so be careful not to feed live food that is too large.

Special requirements: none other than water chemistry

Notes

some interesting points:

- these fish are critically endangered in the wild, so I cannot express strongly enough how important it is for any owner/breeder of these fish to look after them properly. Many lake Victorian fish have a reputation for breeding easily and rapidly and this combined with poor breeding strategies and inbreeding quickly leads to the decline of the species. Choose your breeding stock carefully and try as much as possible to breed from unrelated fish. It is also extremely important that they NOT be kept with other Lake Victorian species as there is a risk of hybridisation occurring - this is unacceptable in a species that is on the verge of extinction. So preferably, keep them in a species tank.

- it is recommended that they be kept in a colony of 1 male to several females, however my colony contains 4 males and 2 females with no serious aggression problems. 2 males are fully coloured up, the other 2 are only slightly duller than the dominant males.

- there is some natural variation in the striping pattern on the fish - this is normal and may include broken bars, uneven bars and an alternate "one up, one down" pattern as can be seen in the male fish in the photos I have posted. Females can be silver with black bars or may also have a gold sheen to their body. I have seen some fish around that have had much reduced bars - to the point of having spots - and while I would not want to see people breeding these fish selectively for straight bars etc (as variation is a natural feature of this species) I am suspicious of the quality of individuals marked in this way as these fish have also appeared to have poor colour. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

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