Astatotilapia sp. "tomato"
Synonyms: Haplochromis sp. "35", Haplochromis sp. "tomato"
Above: A group of Haplochromis sp. "44". Photo by Sue Ewald.
Genus- Astato= unstable (Greek), tilapia= fish (Native African).
Astatotilapia sp. "tomato" is an undescribed Victorian Cichlid. Astatotilapia sp."tomato" is also known as Haplochromis sp. "35" because the male has a tomato red hue to his sides. The numbering system was created by the Germans and this fish is most commonly encountered in the United States as Astatotilapia sp. "tomato"
Astatotilapia sp. "tomato" is found at Kome Island in Lake Victoria. It is typically found over sand.
Size, Maturity, and Sexual Dimorphism:
Size: Males- 5 inches, Females- 3.5 inches
Maturity: 2 inches
Sexual Dimorphism: Males are larger and have color compared to the brown/silver females.
This fish was easy to care for. The only problem I had was that males are very aggressive towards females and other fish. They beat up many mbuna that I kept them with. For an adult trio, I would recommend a mixed tank no smaller than a 55 gallon.
As far as tankmates are concerned, I recommend some of the more robust mbuna and Malawi Haps. You can keep them with other Vics, just be mindful of what species you keep them with as they can hybridize easily.
This fish was easy to spawn once the females were conditioned. Conditioning the females was tough and took a while. You don't need to do anything special, but it takes about a month. During conditioning, check on how aggressive your male is. I think the males constant harasing only delayed the conditioning process.
Spawning takes place typical of Victorian cichlids. I've found males to be relentless towards any other fish in the spawning territory, more so than other Vics.
Females held for around three weeks. At this point the small fry are released. The fry are easy to raise, and were plentiful, about 35-50 per spawn.
Conclusion:Astatotilapia sp. "tomato" is very similar to most Victorians in looks, but in behavior it was one of the more aggressive Victorians I've kept. This fish is not one you would see at a pet shop and will probably have trouble finding among hobbyists.