Lake Malawi Species • Albino yellow labs

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Albino yellow labs

Postby Sinister-Kisses » Sun Oct 11, 2020 6:57 pm

...are they hybrids? I bought a group a couple of months ago for my mbuna tank. It's the albino yellow labs, and white top haras. I never thought much of it when buying them, but after seeing them in the tank (I've only ever had regular old labs, this is my first time having the albino variant) I've started to wonder if they're hybridized to get albino into the mix? They're aggressive! Yeah, of course, all mbuna are aggressive, but anyone who knows mbuna knows that labs are generally fairly mild-mannered for mbuna. These guys are freaking monsters. I have no aggression issues with the group of hara, even with about 5-6 males in a group of 11 fish from what I can tell...they bicker and chase a bit of course, but it's pretty low key for mbuna everyone is generally pretty happy. But the albino labs are brutal. Two of them seem to have taken over the entire tank, claiming one end of the rockwork each, and they're pretty horrid to the others. Most of the the others are hiding in corners, under the filter out pour, behind the intake tube, etc. They leave the haras to do their own thing but these two dominant labs are terrorizing the other poor labs. I'm thinking I'm going to have to pull them out and maybe swap to regular Lions Cove labs to get my yellow fix in the tank, which is a pain.
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Re: Albino yellow labs

Postby sir_keith » Sun Oct 11, 2020 7:13 pm

Are they really albinos, or just white Labidochromis caeruleus? Pics would help. Either way, the behavior certainly does not sound like Labidochromis.
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Re: Albino yellow labs

Postby DJRansome » Sun Oct 11, 2020 8:06 pm

Because albinos are so rare and tend to have health issues, it is generally believed that many albino variants in the hobby are hybridized.
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Re: Albino yellow labs

Postby sir_keith » Sun Oct 11, 2020 8:28 pm

DJRansome wrote:Because albinos are so rare and tend to have health issues, it is generally believed that many albino variants in the hobby are hybridized.


This makes no sense. The albino mutation in all vertebrate species is an autosomal recessive, which means that both parents must harbor one albino allele in order for progeny to show the albino phenotype. This is true whether the parents are he same species or not, which is to say, the issue of hybridization is irrelevant.
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Re: Albino yellow labs

Postby Sinister-Kisses » Sun Oct 11, 2020 8:55 pm

sir_keith wrote:Are they really albinos, or just white Labidochromis caeruleus? Pics would help. Either way, the behavior certainly does not sound like Labidochromis.


They're not white labs. I swiped a pic from the site I bought them from rather than trying to get one myself, but this is exactly what they look like.
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Re: Albino yellow labs

Postby sir_keith » Sun Oct 11, 2020 9:18 pm

Sinister-Kisses wrote:They're not white labs. I swiped a pic from the site I bought them from rather than trying to get one myself, but this is exactly what they look like.


Ah. Those are not albinos. What they do carry is the ocular albinism mutation, which is X-linked. This results in the phenotype you see here, which is commonly called 'pink eye.' Other than that, they look like perfectly good examples of Labidochromis caeruleus, and I see no reason to suspect that they are hybrids. That said, I am at a loss to explain why they are so aggressive. How many other Labs do you have in this tank, and what are the tank dimension?
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Re: Albino yellow labs

Postby Sinister-Kisses » Sun Oct 11, 2020 9:32 pm

They have no black. The areas that are normally black on a lab are white on these.

There are 10 labs in a 48" x 13" tank. They're subadults growing out...largest currently is about 3", smallest is about 2".
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Re: Albino yellow labs

Postby sir_keith » Sun Oct 11, 2020 10:31 pm

Black pigment can vary considerably in this species, but to your original question, I see no reason to assume that these fishes are hybrids.
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Re: Albino yellow labs

Postby DJRansome » Sat Oct 17, 2020 8:49 am

Not related to labs, but Aulonocara "albinos". sir_keith, what is your reaction?
https://www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/ ... acocks.php
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Re: Albino yellow labs

Postby sir_keith » Sat Oct 17, 2020 7:11 pm

DJRansome wrote:Not related to labs, but Aulonocara "albinos". sir_keith, what is your reaction?
https://www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/ ... acocks.php


Albinism and interspecific hybridization have absolutely nothing to do with each other, and to suggest that they are related in some way is simply incorrect. Consider the following.

First, as a point of clarification, the peacocks in the referenced link are not true albinos, which lack all pigment, they are an amelanotic strain that lacks black pigment, as occurs in fishes carrying the ocular albinism mutation (as noted above, L. caeruleus with this mutation lack black pigment not only in their eyes, but also in their fins, and anywhere else that melanin pigment is expressed).

Second, it doesn't matter whether the mutation is autosomal recessive (as in albino) or X-linked (as in ocular albinism), the genetics are the same whether the cross is between conspecifics or between two different species. The so-called 'Eureka' peacock is apparently a hybrid between A. jacobfreibergi "Otter Point" and a Sunshine Peacock, and the amelanotic derivative of this strain (incorrectly called an albino in the link) is simply a derivative of that interspecific hybrid. So while it may be true that many 'albino' peacocks are interspecific hybrids, that is simply a reflection of the sad fact that many peacocks in the hobby today are themselves interspecific hybrids, and most 'albino' strains have been derived from them. The fact that these strains are 'albinos' has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that they are interspecific hybrids, except as a consequence of (deliberate) historical accident.

That said, your comment that...

'Because albinos are so rare and tend to have health issues, it is generally believed that many albino variants in the hobby are hybridized.'

... is at best half true.

Yes, many 'albinos' in the hobby are interspecific hybrids. No, that has nothing to do with the rarity or viability of 'albino' variants in interspecific hybrids vs. true species. Albinism and interspecific hybridization are totally unrelated phenomena, one does not follow from the other, and to suggest that they are somehow related is misleading.
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Re: Albino yellow labs

Postby DJRansome » Sat Oct 17, 2020 10:28 pm

I think I got about 1/3 of that. So many of the fish marketed as albinos are hybrids. When breeders create these fish, do they have to start with a fish that has a mutation that causes a lack of pigment? As opposed to starting with a true albino? Because any cross between a true albino and a normal fish will not show any albino characteristics because the albino genes are recessive?
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Re: Albino yellow labs

Postby noki » Sat Oct 17, 2020 11:44 pm

I'm not sure if these are pure Yellow Labs or not, they seem to have been around for 10 years or so.

I think that it is true with Malawi cichlids that it is just easier for the breeders to mix an established albino with another species, selectively breed for a few generations, and see if they look cool. They don't care if they are pure, they just want something that will sell. I don't think albino Socolofi are pure Socolofi. Of course, not all albinos are hybrids.They spread the OB gene through hybridization also, though I don't know how to predict when it will show up in hybrids. There are no OB Yellow Lab hybrids for sale, I'm sure someone has tried mixing a Zebra OB, and not been very successful.
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Re: Albino yellow labs

Postby sir_keith » Sun Oct 18, 2020 1:14 am

DJRansome wrote:I think I got about 1/3 of that. So many of the fish marketed as albinos are hybrids. When breeders create these fish, do they have to start with a fish that has a mutation that causes a lack of pigment? As opposed to starting with a true albino? Because any cross between a true albino and a normal fish will not show any albino characteristics because the albino genes are recessive?


I seem to have done more to confuse the situation than to clarify it, which was not my intent. There are several issues here; so let's try to parse them out.

First, let's clear up the confusion regarding true albino fishes and amelanotic fishes. Both of these seem to be called 'albinos' in the aquarium hobby.

A true albino cannot make any pigment. There are several genes that can result in this phenotype, and they are all inherited as autosomal recessives. Albino fishes tend to look like this; that is, they have no pigment-

ab__06610.1451818563.1280.1280.jpg


Fishes with ocular albinism are amelanotic, that is, they cannot make black (melanin) pigment. Thus, they have pink eyes, and lack melanin pigment elsewhere in the body as well. Such a fish may look like this-

8e96d93eabf600cb89d580edfcaa5bbb.jpg


Clearly this fish has lots of (yellow) pigment; it is just lacking black pigment. The genes causing ocular albinism are X-linked, and are inherited differently from those encoding true albinism. Or to put it another way, albinism and ocular albinism are two completely different phenotypes that are completely independent of each other. That said, for the sake of this discussion, let's just use the term 'albino' to refer to either phenotype, as this is how the term is used in the hobby.

So to your questions, a bit out-of-order.

(1) 'When breeders create these fish, do they have to start with a fish that has a mutation that causes a lack of pigment? As opposed to starting with a true albino?' No. As I tried to explain above, true albinism and lack of melanin pigment are two different phenotypes. What the breeder will do is look for fishes that are different among the many thousands that they raise every year. Some of these may be true albinos, some may be amelanotic; either are easy to spot amongst a group of wild-type fishes. Those 'sports' are then set aside, crossed to normal fishes, and their progeny are backcrossed using standard genetic strategies to get pure albino or amelanotic strains.

(2) 'So many of the fish marketed as albinos are hybrids.' That may be true for Malawians, because they hybridize so readily. Thus, if you have an albino of Species A (something that occurs only rarely), you might try to get the albino gene into a new genetic background by making an interspecific hybrid between Species A and Species B. This seems to be a common practice among peacocks, which hybridize readily and look very similar anyway. As noted by noki, some albino Mbuna may also be interspecific hybrids. But that has nothing to due with whether pure abinos are healthy or not; it's just a shortcut to move albino alleles between species.

(3) 'Because any cross between a true albino and a normal fish will not show any albino characteristics because the albino genes are recessive?' Yes, just that. It is only in the second generation that albino fishes start to appear; in the previous generation all the fishes appear wild-type,although some of them are 'carriers' of the albino gene.

I hope that helps!
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