Back in the 70s of the last century, among the wide variety of Malawian cichlids was a fish that was considered the pearl of the cichlid. Many aquarists have sought to get this aquatic animal for their home aquariums.
This fish is quite popular so far, although it is gradually losing ground to the more variegated and interesting inhabitants of the aquarium. In particular, today we will talk about Barton’s astattosilapia, which we know as Barton’s haplochromis.
The bright color of the aquatic animal is very similar to the peacock. In males, the body is painted in dark blue iridescent colors with a reddish spot on the gill cover, which passes to the dorsal fin.
The face of the fish is covered with a mask of reticular shades: a pronounced black stripe passes through the eye, which creates the effect of such an aquarium robber. On the sides there is one red spot, behind which dark blue stripes in the form of small strokes pass over the body.
For all unpaired fins and the body of the fish there is a scattering of small ocher spots. In the reflected light the fins shimmer beautifully with neon highlights.
The first few rays of the ventral fins and the bottom of the head are black and blue and shiny. Haplokhromis Barton is famous for his cheerful disposition and all the time “roam” in the aquarium and rarely linger in one place.
The fish feels great in all layers of water and is famous for its solid appetite.
If we study the world literature on the distribution of astatylopyology, then we might be surprised how the fish are strongly settled throughout the African continent. The largest population settled in Lake Chad. In addition, aquatic organisms are found in large quantities in the lakes of Kivu, Edward, Tanganyika.
The fish is not shy to settle in adjacent water bodies and rivers, communicating with these lakes. In general, the hydrochemical parameters of water in lakes and conditions are about the same, although there are some differences in the annual temperature and salt composition.
This is especially true of rivers that are stronger silted and have lower salinity.
In addition to the albino and nominal forms, there are fish in aquariums with:
- greenish color and red spots on the sides and a dark blue mask on the head;
- yellow green with a dark green color of gill covers and red spots on the fins and body;
- dark blue with orange spots near the gill covers;
A strange moment – in the greenish form, very often in the offspring there were fry with red and orange spots, and in the blue form – orange or red spots. Most likely, the presence of red is somehow due to the presence of carotinoids in fish feed.
In addition, the color of the aquarium water and its hardness can affect the color: the fish living in the rivers adjacent to the lakes have lighter spots, as the water in the rivers is much softer.
But females of absolutely all color variations are of the same type. The body is gray-green, in rare cases, the color is diluted with brown tones. On the anal fin can be seen “caviar” spots.
Unlike the males, which are painted in bright red-orange tones with large spots on the body, the “decoration” of the females is much more modest and the spots are much smaller.
For all types of Barton astatholyapia, the contents are almost identical: aquarium water hardness is between 6 and 20, the active response is 5.5 – 9.5 pH, the temperature is 21 – 31 degrees. Most likely, the large plasticity in terms of living conditions of the fish is due to the impressive distribution of the species.
Fish feed on any food of plant and animal origin. Astatotilapia are excellently consumed by bloodworm, tubule, cortex, various planktonic microorganisms, meat, fish, and liver.
Gidrobiont does not even hesitate to eat black bread, scalded lettuce, cabbage and purchased dry food. However, haplochromis were repeatedly seen in eating aquarium plants.
Therefore, if you plan on planting plants with such inhabitants, hydrophytes should have hard leaves and a strong root system. For these purposes, perfect: lemongrass, dwarf anubias (Nana), cryptocoryne pontellioravolist and large species of echinodorus.
To maintain a flock of Bapton haplokhromis, you will need an aquarium with a capacity of 150 liters and a large number of shelters in the form of koryag, flower pots, caves and grottos made of stones and dense thickets of hard-leaved plants. In addition, the aquarium should be powerful filtration and aeration of water.
Sexual maturity astatylopyty reach a body length of about 10 centimeters. The maximum length of adult males in captivity does not exceed 13 centimeters.
Somewhere at the age of 7–8 months a beautiful color appears in the fishes, and the faded gray color goes into oblivion. From 3 to 5 females should fall on one male.
You should not worry that some ladies can be left without attention, the male will be enough for everyone.
A large flat stone is selected for spawning, where the male alternately invites every female to spawn with his outfit. During the mating dance, the color of the male will shimmer with all the colors of the rainbow under artificial light.
If several groups are planted for spawning, the remaining males will sit in a shelter, as they will fear a stronger and larger brother. The only reason other males can leave their shelters is to feed.
During the spawning period, the haplochroms constantly move around the aquarium. By inviting a female to his territory, the male dissolves all his plumage and tries in every way to make a positive impression on the girlfriend.
Fertilization of eggs takes place in the female’s mouth, which collects the milk of the male and the deposited eggs from the stone. When spawning comes to an end, the female leaves the spawning substrate and goes to the shelter.
Incubation of Barton haplokhrom caviar can last from 15 to 20 days at a water temperature of about 27 degrees. When the fry get stronger and grow a little, they leave the mother’s mouth and go to study the aquarium.
The first few days the fry will return to the mother’s mouth at night or in case of danger. Cyclops and Daphnia are the starting food for fry of astatothilapia.
Unlike many species of cichlids from the reservoirs of Africa, Burton’s astattosilapia almost never interbreed with other related species. Accordingly, this fish is an ideal neighbor when sharing fish from the African lakes of Victoria and Malawi.
Haploromis extremely rarely get sick and can live in captivity for more than 10 years while maintaining the ability to reproduce for almost the entire life.
Unfortunately, most species of African cichlids are threatened with complete destruction due to poaching and pollution of the natural water bodies where these fish live. In order to somehow help the fish to keep even the smallest population, aquarists from different countries are breeding certain rare cichlid species on their aqua farms.