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Month: January, 2012

Old Town

On my travels to China Outside of Shanghai I visited a city named Xitang, its english translation I was told is Old town. Inside the town, there are many well-preserved architectural groups constructed during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Xitang is level, densely distributed with rivers and has a very quiet natural environment.9 rivers converge in this town, dividing it into 8 sections, but many bridges link this water town together(anciently called as “nine dragon old pearl” and “wind from 8 sides”). This conveniently designed town must have been amazing in its prime. People do still live there but ideally a place for tourists now. There are tons of stone bridges over the canals(reminds me of navigating thru Amsterdam). Crossing one of the bridges I found an old man on a chair with buckets of fish. I was unsure why he was there and what he was doing. He was a street veneering and he was there to help you find luck. If you released a fish into the river (for a fee of course) you would recieve good luck.  If you were more giving(financially) you could release more appealing fish in to the river if you also choose to as well. In the large bucket basically for a $1.00 you could let a goldfish go and for $5.00 you could release a snakehead into the water. I gave the old man money to take pictures of fish but I never released the fish because it was so cold outside I did not want to kill a fish, the pictures were enough for me.

Grass carp drying outside of a home in Xitang

Snook being sold in the market

6 inch snakehead (the big spender fish)

The lucky goldfish


fish in Asia

I was lucky enough to take a trip to China in 2008 and got to see how the fish world runs in Hong Kong. The asian are the masters of  maximizing what little space they  have to sell things. In the stores they were so packed with tanks you could barely get your hand in them. The fronts of the stores had fish individually bagged simply because the stores were so small this is how they sold their fish. Think of the person that has to re bag each fish everyday… man thats a ton of work just to sell a few fish..Some stores produce swelled out of the streets onto the sidewalk such as tubs of fish and boxes of food. I also have a video of this market too. check it here –

Old school Flowerhorns

Back in the day when I was raising and selling flowerhorns my gold mine at the time was a local store called Wongs Aquaruim.  Located in the city of Toronto this family owned store was one of the greatest places for me to find fish. Back then a lot of fish would come through the store and the owners would accept drop offs so it was a get source for young flowerhorns to pick out and raise. Remember back then the flower horns did not look as good as they do today.  The fish would only  start to show good color around 5 inches or so back then. Todays flowerhorns can show more color at 1.5 inches than an old style  flower horn at 8 inches. Here are a few old pictures of what young fish looked like when there were predominately Trimac/red devil based. These were there pre pearl era flowerhorns. You will also notice these were labeled small so  up to 3 inches were selling for only  $3.00. These guys at first glimpse would look very much like young red devil babies.

My parrot tank I kept 2005-2007

Different looking convicts

Ever truly notice the tiny unique differences you may see in stripped cons. Some may seem to to carry more color in the body or fins, some may have bluer or darker eyes,some may have a stronger presence in the color contrast in the stripes and have different body shapes.

I have recently read up on people who have collected cons down south out of the rivers and people have noticed unique genetic traits within species collected in specific areas. It seems over the years certain traits pop out to be dominate or co-recesive for that  matter in a community of fish basically making species in area more unique than their neighboring species.

A problem for the the fish keeper when getting fish locally is there are many factors that can be against you that you may want to consider when picking out a convict. Stripped convicts body color will vary heavily upon their surroundings.  In a darker tank the skin tone can become darker and the stripes will become more present. When in a lighter colored tank cons can sometimes almost loose their stripes and skin tone becomes lighter. The fish could also be very inbred, there are a few things to look for with this. When fish are continuously bred brother sister and there are no new genes adding into the mix you will notice the fins will droop and in one article I had read visually in the forehead of the fish there will be an elongating effect from the result of accesive inbreeding.I did read one article that would challenge this where someone stated online they knew someone that had breed the same specific line of convict for 30 years….Its hard to believe.  Another thing to consider which has really occurred since the dawn of the flowerhorn  fish is hybrids. Fish in the stores may be labeled “convict” but they maybe tainted or mix with other fish.   A good example is the blue convict found on the market which is possibly  a cross of a convict and a honduras red point (possibly).

There is no right or wrong fish to pick , if theres something you find interesting or unique I recommend you grab it if its a con since there usually an inexpensive fish.  Below are a mix of stripped con pictures, some are mine some from the internet just to help show stripe con variations. I also picked grown up males as the examples. There are far more color variations in females and for males their difference show up more  in fins,eyes, body shape and body coloration.

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Flowerhorn x Convict cichlid (flowercon)

This all happened out of an accident where I really lucked out honestly. I was at a local fish store where someone had dropped off a huge batch of flower horn fry and I could see something was different about them. Some had orange color splotches  on them but there were only a few with this and these fish were 2 inches long at the time. They were only $4.00 so I took a chance on one and got a stockier looking one thinking in my head  this one may grow to be a chunky male.

I thought this fish may carry some marble/calico genetics in it but it turned out that it was my first exposer to having a fader fish. The  fish slowly turned pink on me and turned out to be  a female. Big rule of thumb I learned from this – if you see small FH fry its hard to vent when small… but the female are wider in height in the body and carry more color , the males usually more pale/washed out  and  skinner. FH fry are not like mature african cichlids where dominate males carry the color and have the size early on. Once I found this was a girl I was pretty bummed out but knew it was a nice fish because faders have always been rare in the trade especially here in Ontario back then.

I kept this fish in a divided tank with another oddball  on the other side of the divider. I had s a regular stripped male convict  I was keeping the con  until I found another female Jellybean. The stripped con was recessive for short body (reg con x short bodied con).Heres where the fun happened.  I had the female FH on the side with the filter, the water current was drawing in her direction. One day I looked in and saw the female laid eggs and noticed there were fertilized. This was my first divided bred pair I ever had!

The fry all came out stripped and I kept  a few that were showing more color than the others. The fading I concluded was recessive to the cons dominate stripping so i figured no would fade (out of 7 grow outs non did). The fish grew larger than convicts and in a much quicker time period.

The positives of this cross: like having mini flower horns, less aggressive nature/ acted more like a convict only acted threatening,never attacked another fish in a community tank, can be kept in a community tank unlike flowerhorns.

The negative of this cross…convict genetic colors dominated the fish make the fish appear mostly green and stripped, when I paired two offspring they breed more like FH, locking jaws, male would over power the female,beat her up bad ( dislocating her jaw), majority of the fry were very ugly. If I tried this again I would cross with a white convict.. But I’ve been down this road already.

For the pictures below the female (the pinkie flower horn), next is the father con, followed by 5 pictures of the young from fry -young fish – and to adults

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Recessive short bodied genetic idea

While keeping my flower horns I also kept jelly bean parrots to breed. Jellybeans  to me at the time were odd little stumpy looking convicts that were just like parrot fish. There were many rumors for years going around that JB’s( jellybeans) were a hybrid cross between a parrot fish and a white convict cichlids, but from all my research of crossed fish I new there was no possible way. Seeing other post of people luck of crossing species I knew if there was any trace of reddevil in there the outcome out be greater than the size of the parental convict and some devil color should carry over. The only  instances I know of for line breeding or crossing where the spawn grow smaller is in parrots and in line breeding for EBJD’s, so I knew there could be no parrot in them. Looking at A jellybean I knew it was just a regular white convict with a genetic skeletal issue. This body shape is genetical recessive and can only be present providing both parents carry this recessive gene. So with this notion I viewed jellybean cons as a miniature parrot fish that could used in the same fashion as the flowerhorn breeders use alter their  parrots to shorten the bodies of their flowerhorns.  Another plus is both male & female JB’s can reproduce unlike the parrots only the females can breed, the males are mules.

I had an epiphany one day that I you line breed flowerhorns and parrots  a few time to get parrot flowerhorns the same theory could occur if you did an experiment of crossing a jellybean( a short bodied convict) to a stripped convict and after a few crosses it may result in a short bodied  striped convict. I knew it was a fish you could not buy in the store. I had only kept the jelly beans because they were way more convient to keep. They could be kept in a small space, breed easily, ate less food and a huge plus you could keep many in the same tank.

I had done the first stage of the cross successfully much previously twice  and each time this cross occurred and while  raising the young  of the first stage of the cross I had to move and each time I moved I cleared my fish stock so no fish followed me on the move( huge bummer/ I should have made space). SInce starting the jb x stripe con cross I  changed gears the third time and  and crossed a jb and a marble convict. In each of my crosses I have always had the jb as the female. Basically following the concept of the parrot  where male parrots have the inability to reproduce.

The first cross marble male x jb female the fry were a mix of regular bodied marble and white fish. The second cross is where it got interesting. I took a male from the first cross and breed it back to the mother.  Out of the second cross I did get jelly beans but they were all white. The discover i made though was the resulting jellybean curve spine effect was not the same for each jelly bean baby. Individually each fish had its own unique spine curve that was noticeable while the fish were transparent while still young. Each fishes spine went in various directions making them look different in shape. 2 fish actually had extremes where their tails would point in a downward direction. The third cross taking a male from the second batch and crossing it back  to the mother gave me a batch of even more jbs and this time getting 2 marble short bodied. Sadly one did not reach it to maturity but the one who did suffered a very minor short bodied effect. Looking at the male I have the spine from the head actually advances upward giving him an almost high back effect. He has a minimal shorting to his body but looking at the anal fin you will notice his anal fin slitty rests on his tail. Recently I have done a 4th cross with this male and have produced again another short bodied marble convict! I have also kept a couple of white jellybeans and will cross them to see if  the marble will be recessive in them , possibly  white fish could produce marble fry?, we’ll find out.  In this stage all the jbs look the same shape where the spine shape from the parents has now locked  from the line breeding in one specific fashion.  The first picture is my male short body, second image a regular marble con, notice difference in dorsal fin/back shape and length of body in relationship to the tail and anal fin. I also used a picture of a female for the second pic because the females generally are stumpy in physic and thought it would be best to compare.  If anyone else  out there does this please send me your results plz!!

Kamfa the new flowerhorns

my female parrot and flower horn 2005.

One of the popular breeds to come from the early flower horn devolpement was the Red dragon. The red dragon flower  had a lot more color punch especially with red and more dominant looking head  but once reaching maturity its dorsal and anal fin seem to be thin and limp in comparison  to the rest of this bulky fish. A new breed of fish from the far east breeders was to cross  the  flowerhorn with more red devil or midas again to give the new young spawn more fuller and stinger looking fins. This also progressed to crossing the Parrot fish which is part devil/midas and synspilum giving the potential same result but also found the surprise that in doing this would also incorporate some of the characteristics of the parrot fish. Some breeders started to get shorter stumpier fish as a result. The first few flowerhorn parrots were very rare but with line breeding  started to pop up in the market as well.

I myself became inspired to breed a flowerhorn with a parrot  to create one of these creations whited was being dubbed  a Kamfa instead of a flowerhorn, but did not have success and was not patient enough ,scrapped the project after  about  9 months . My female parrot only dropped eggs twice (I think she had an issue laying eggs- after her 2nd batch as she stopped) and no surviving spawn to show for my patience  I had to move on. I was hoping for flowerhorn parrots in my dreams  but at that time was unaware of recessive genetics So I would not have known to cross the spawn back  to another female parrot.

Flowerhorn fish

Originally I was drawn into the hobby keeping cichlids based on the hype of the flower horn cichild. There were some local breeders who were successful at breeding flowerhorns and would drop off unwanted fish at a local fish store  in my  area. I bought my first Flowerhorn with no cichlid experience and only knowing that this fish would get bigger.  With the demand of  of a big fish came the purchase of bigger tanks. The flower horn I received was dull and had no color at all on the body. In 2003 most young flower horns did not show color like they show today.

In keeping my first flower horn I notice the variety in shapes and colors of this fish seeing that no 2 were quite the same. This pushed me into looking constantly of pictures of the flowerhorns posted daily on aquabid. Back then no fish was ever less than $150.00. These fish were limited to find here in ontario but the market was flourishing  in asia.Upon reading articles and researching picture I found there was an array of Central american fish crossed  from breeders to devolpe  their own recipes to come with their own unique “lucky” flower horn fish.

The majority of the  first few flowerhorns were simply Trimacs mixed with Red devils/Midas to create  this new wave of fish of hobby fish.  The first few flower horns were mostly yellow red and green, however  2nd way had much more reds and blues on them,  the introductions appeared on the fish from breeders mixing cichlids like cubans, snyspilums, Texas and other Central Americans. The picture below is of my very first flower horn. I have likely had 30 though out my time and that not including the crosses(hybrid fhI have made).The second picture is a female grow out I raised. Thinking back I never kept any two flower horns at any time to try and breed. I would by them small raise them a couple months and sell them or trade them to the fish stores. They were in such high demand at the time I generally could sell a 4 inch fish for $50 bucks with really no stand out visual attributes.

Hi out there!

For years I have been wanting to document some of personal knowledge on keeping fish into a blog but the big hurdle for me was documenting the fish. I  have generally never had  an available camera to take pictures or  have just been too lazy to take pictures. Hopefully doing this blog I will document more of what I do, my friends do and what I see out there in the hobby thats interesting to me.

Jellybean male x regular white con fry 2005