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The hybrid cichlid... pet or problem?
by Damian B. Jones (number6)


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These specialized, often unique aspects of each cichlid can easily be lost to more dominant traits after hybridization. Often, the hybridization can go undetected for quite some time and multiple generations until something very unwanted starts to appear in a generation. Bars on the side of the fish that shouldn't be there, or some red on a fish that should be blue or deformed offspring can often be traced back to an outcross or hybridization event that brought in an undesirable allele to the captive bloodline. This unpleasant surprise has happened to so many hobbyists that a backlash against hybridization has grown. As mentioned previously, the F1 hybrids of Labeotropheus and Metriaclima show a tendency towards less specialized features in hybrid offspring. If a rather unique trait is the desirable aspect of a particular cichlid, and easily lost through hybridization, this threat elicits an emotional reaction. Many of these features in cichlids exist only at the variant level. Cyprichromis, for example show a huge range of color, size and behaviour. Although these variants are often considered one species, that does not make these characteristics worthless or unimportant. In fact, very recent studies are moving towards identifying new species out of the single described species of Cyprichromis Leptosoma.(6)

Fin Fish Underwater Ray-finned fish Electric blue


Even the stable, true breeding cichlids can pose a minor threat to the commercial aspect of cichlids. If a true breeding hybrid is too similar to a less available pure breed cichlid, it can be far harder to locate a desired cichlid as retailers opt for the more readily available fish.

With all of this in mind, it should be understood that intentional hybridization should not be undertaken lightly. Those breeders who felt that they could breed a domestic hybrid pet like the Flowerhorn poured a great deal of time energy and money into creating a true breeding fish. Many generations of Flowerhorns have come and gone to arrive at the relatively stable bloodline we have today. Great care should be taken to not distribute early generation number hybrids such as 1st, or even 10th generation hybrids. It is generally accepted that it takes between 10 and 20 generations of a bloodline to establish significant fixed traits to be "true breeding" and not pose a threat to the desirable traits of pure species or variants.

Water Marine biology Fish Underwater Fin


Until a hybrid is true breeding, it's not a new fish, and certainly not deserving of any name or being given, sold, or traded. While it poses any kind of threat to one of the parental species, that is all that it is... a humble hybrid.
Eye Plant Petal Tints and shades Font


1) Divergent selection during speciation of Lake Malawi cichlid fishes inferred from parallel radiations in nuptial coloration Charlotte J. Allender, Ole Seehausen, Mairi E. Knight, George F. Turner, and Norman Maclean PNAS 2003;100;14074-14079; originally published online Nov 12, 2003

2) Assessing Morphological Differences in an Adaptive Trait: A Landmark-Based Morphometric Approach R. Craig Albertson and Thomas D. Kocher Journal of Experimental Zoology 289:385?403 (2001)

3) Schliewen UK, Klee B (2004) - Reticulate sympatric speciation in Cameroonian crater lake cichlids. Front Zool. 2004 Oct 26; 1(1): 5

4) The State of Confusion in Discus Taxonomy by Anthony Inder Mazeroll | Cichlid Room Companion and Phylogeography and population genetic structure of Symphysodon Heckel, 1840, and the validity of the species S. discus Heckel, 1840 and S. aequifasciatus Pellegrin, 1904 currently in progress and funded by DCG and IFS.

5) Divergent selection during speciation of Lake Malawi cichlid fishes inferred from parallel radiations in nuptial coloration Charlotte J. Allender, Ole Seehausen, Mairi E. Knight, George F. Turner, and Norman Maclean PNAS 2003;100;14074-14079; originally published online Nov 12, 2003

6) Mitochondrial phylogeny of the Cyprichromini, a lineage of open-water cichlid Wshes endemic to Lake Tanganyika, East Africa Anita Brandst?ttera, Walter Salzburgerb, Christian Sturmbauerc, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 34 (2005) 382-391
 
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