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Category: Convict cichlids

Costa Rican Convicts

Jumped on kijiji one day and a post was the sale of Costa Rican Convicts. There was no picture and minimal words so I responded how do you know they were from Costa Rica and the response I received was thats where I caught the fish out of the water and brought back to Canada. The Cons are from Coterc’s biological station at Cano Palma ( I wonder if that’s also the name of the river its on?) which is north of Tortuguero on the north east coast of Costa Rica. Since wild type cons at that time were my intrest in reading online I was intrigued to get some of these fish. I met the seller at a local fish store and he also brought me 2 pairs of parents which look to be about 5 years old roughly. These were F1 from the wild caught pair which had passed away from an overfeeding  accident from a fish baby sitter but the fry survived and these have grown up to now reproduce. I just had my first batch of fry from my pair and I honestly have  no idea how many babies there are, maybe over 100? its allot!! Great looking fish  with a story added to them, check them out.

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PJ Pets

I recently went out to look for some new convicts but I first called around to the stores to make sure they had some first. A local PJ’s Pet said they had some up to 2 inches in size. I arrived to the store to find a good variety of fish along with some deformities and hybrids to boot.

The tank had some stripped females,marbles, a disfigured marble some possibly hybrid cons mixed with fire mouth and I’m not sure if the yellow fish is a Cryptoheros septemfasciatus (not sure really). A good mix of fish but I never picked anything up.

convict hybrids

I have noticed allot of the first  few posting from home breeders on the internet (since around 2005) when it came to  creating hybrid Central American crosses always seemed to have convicts in the mix. Convicts always seemed to be known for their willingness to breed but when the hybrid fry grows up I have always really looked at the final product and can’t help but notice the very dominance in the visual characteristics that are from the convict.  Anything half  convict always turns out to be mostly grey/green with washed out stripes. I have noticed  most  fish carry  the wild stripping as the default in the body color if a stripped con is in the mix. The shape of the head is generally very convict looking as well.Convict genetics seem to be very strong and stand out in a genetic mix.  Something to think about when pondering  the cross of 2 species. Remember if the other fish has bright colors that will not follow through on the body if crossed with a stripped con.  Generally your brighter colors have been bred into the genetic line( more recessive and will always be trumped by the look of wild type genetics) . Compare it to having a load of white t-shirts and accidentally throwing a red sock in with them – those shirts will never be the same color- so once you get the con genetics in there its hard to bred out the stripes. Below are a few hybrid pictures from the net just to give you examples how a convict can affect the outcome of  a potential cross.

texas x convict

cuban x convict

blood parrot x convict

spilurus x convict

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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