Central American Cichlids • Why do my rainbow cichlids have different coloured eyes?

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Why do my rainbow cichlids have different coloured eyes?

Postby Beo » Wed Aug 11, 2010 6:48 am

Fellow cichlidophiles

A couple of months or so ago I added four rainbow cichlids to my 450 litre bow-fronted aquarium, which they share happily with a pair of adult Jack Dempseys and a female adult Convict cichlid. They make tremendous community residents and I am delighted with them in every respect. I was wondering, however, whether anyone knows why two have pale amber eyes and two have bright orange/red eyes?

When I bought them, I thought it might have something to do with breeding dress, in much the same way that Sajicas change eye colour, but there has been no breeding activity and their eyes never change tint or hue.

Is it just natural variation?

The four together
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Up close
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Any ideas?
If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got.
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Postby hollyfish2000 » Wed Aug 11, 2010 9:01 am

I loooooove my rainbow cichlids. I was told by the breeder where I got my pair that the color of the eyes was related to the color of the fish in breeding dress . . . the eyes do not change color, just the body.

My pair has spawned repeatedly but don't quite get the co-parenting thing (one does all the work and chases the other away from the babies) and they generally lose interest after one or two weeks of free-swimming fry. Right now I'm raising about 20 fry in a small grow-out tank while the boy is doing his happy dance over their favorite rock again and trying to get yet another brood going.
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Postby Chromedome52 » Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:02 pm

When the fish first came into the hobby back in the late 1960s, the common name was not Rainbow Cichlid, but Golden Red-Eye Cichlid. The eye color may indicate more or less recent wild blood introduced into the line. Most of the long term domestic lines I've seen don't seem to get the red eyes very often.
Whenever something seems too good to be true I find it's best to shoot it, just in case. - Fiona Glenanne on Burn Notice
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Postby hollyfish2000 » Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:12 pm

Chromedome -- do you breed rainbows cichlids? (I wish they hadn't changed the name. Whenever I say rainbows, people think rainbow fish, not rainbow cichlid.) I'd love to hear your breeding stories. As you read, mine are somewhat dysfunctional parents . . .
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Postby Chromedome52 » Thu Aug 12, 2010 1:05 am

I've bred them a few times over the years. It was actually the first cichlid I ever had spawn, way back in 1968. Only the second fish I'd ever spawned. They were still pretty new then, and I was able to trade the young to the fish store for some Kribs, which I also spawned not long after that.

Last time I had some that bred was about 4 years ago. They were not the great parents that my first pair was, but they did OK for the first week or so. Then the disagreement happened over who was going to take care of them and who was going to eat them. One ripped up female and one wife beater were removed, the fry grew up fairly quick and I got rid of all but a couple, which I gave to my great niece. Unfortunately, she did not have any breeding happen. Guess history doesn't always repeat! :(
Whenever something seems too good to be true I find it's best to shoot it, just in case. - Fiona Glenanne on Burn Notice
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Postby Beo » Thu Aug 12, 2010 3:39 am

Thanks for your observations Hollyfish2000 and Chromedome52. It seems that my mystery has been cleared up! :thumb:

They really are super fish in their own right; always foraging throughout the tank, either along the base or amongst the rocks and plants without any apparent fear. The breeding Jack Demspeys who share the tank ignore them almost entirely (except when caring for free swimming fry, of course).

I initially got the rainbows as dithers, since the Dempseys invariably eat anything non-cichlid that I add to the tank to do the same job, but I have quickly become a big rainbow fan and would recommend them to anyone with a small/medium cichlid community.

Any tips on sexing them?
If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got.
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Postby hollyfish2000 » Thu Aug 12, 2010 9:35 am

Interesting -- so dysfunctional parenting is not all that unusual!

Sexing when they are more mature is pretty easy. The males are noticeably bigger (almost twice as large) as the females and in breeding colors are magnificent. Their finnage also seems much longer than the females, who, while they will color up for breeding, too, are not nearly as vibrant. My males gets a brilliant orange color with bluish fins while the female gets a mustard yellow color with much more black.

I've recently found two babies that survived a transfer to a 30-gallon grow-out tank and then were ignored for a month after I thought they had all died!!! yeah, I feel like an idot. I only found them again when I transfered some other fish into the tank and started feeding in the morning. Imagine my surprise! It makes me wonder if any of the "disappeared" fry in the main tank have managed to survive. It is a very heavily planted tank with many places to hide. I'd assumed the cories and the BN plecos would have done them all in when mom and dad abandoned guard duty, but maybe not . . .
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Postby TheFishGuy » Thu Aug 12, 2010 7:55 pm

hollyfish2000, a while back we had a Christmas tree, a live one and I was feeding it water from my fish tanks, the bucket of water sat in the corner of the living room for over two weeks... When I went to dump it out there were two convict fry in the bucket! They were almost 3/8" at that point! LOL Funny thing is all of the convicts in my fish room now are decendants of those two... :)

I would love to do rainbows again... Haven't for almost 20 years... Any chance I could talk you into shipping me six of your fry? Just can't find em around here... I'd gladly talk you through how to do it....
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Postby PfunMo » Thu Aug 12, 2010 11:11 pm

Fish Guy-- You might check around Lancaster, Ohio for Rainbows. Just before Christmas, I ordered off Aquabid from a fellow there. Through no fault of the seller they all arrived DOA. Priority mail took six days. Nice fish otherwise and reasonable price. I no longer have the name, though, sorry.
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Re: Why do my rainbow cichlids have different coloured eyes?

Postby slava2929 » Thu Aug 23, 2018 9:03 am

I was going to ask the exact same question, until I saw this thread. My LFS has new rainbows in and they all have red eyes and yet the last batch they had (of which I purchased two), had black eyes. Glad this was here.
29 - Convict, 2 Zebra Danios
40B - 2 Rainbow Cic's + 25 fry, Panda Garra
20 - juvenile Angelfish, Ember Tetra, Rummynose Tetra, 2 Rosy Tetras
20L - Jewel Cic., 2 Panda Corys, 3 Axelrod Corys, 3 Sterba's Corys, 3 Denison's Barbs
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Re: Why do my rainbow cichlids have different coloured eyes?

Postby slava2929 » Mon Sep 10, 2018 12:52 am

I'm am also now the owner of both a red eyed rainbow and my older, more mature black eyed rainbow. They are my favourite breed and I couldn't resist buying another one when the red eyed ones came in.
29 - Convict, 2 Zebra Danios
40B - 2 Rainbow Cic's + 25 fry, Panda Garra
20 - juvenile Angelfish, Ember Tetra, Rummynose Tetra, 2 Rosy Tetras
20L - Jewel Cic., 2 Panda Corys, 3 Axelrod Corys, 3 Sterba's Corys, 3 Denison's Barbs
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Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2017 6:53 am
Location: Ontario, Canada


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