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Hybrid Cichlids

The flowerhorn cichlid, a well-known hybrid cichlid, is ubiquitous in pet shops and fish stores around the country. These fecund fish pose a potential threat to both wild and captive natural cichlid species.

construct any number of patterns, J«luding not only words and phrases Ppninese characters are quite popular), but also ^tripes, d^s and "artistic" scenes, such as flowers, hearts and more. This is done to fish other than parrot cichlids. Various corydoras catfish, livebearers, oscars (Astronotus ocellatus), kissing gouramis (Helostoma temminckii) and others now sport applications of dye.

Dying Versus Tattooing

Solidly dyed fish are often hailed as being more humanely treated during the dying process. Rumor has it that the fish are placed in a slightly acidic solution to remove their slime coat, then dropped into a tank with dye or dimply reared in dye.

However, newer evidence suggests that this is not the case at all. Instead, the fish are injected multiple times with food coloring, which gradually spreads over the entire body of the fish. A recent article published in Fish Love magazine, a Singapore aquarium magazine, gave vivid, graphic instructions for the ultimate do-it-yourself fish-dye project.

The same article also provided instructions for amputating the tail on various cichlids, meaning that the "tailless" variety of cichlids that appear on the market are not natural mutations but rather the result of gruesome surgery. Under a lack of anesthetic, fish are removed from the water and have their tails simply "snipped" off with a pair of scissors, including a piece of the caudal peduncle (the part of the body that the tail attaches to) to prevent any chance of the tail returning. Oh, and to be fair, the article was considerate enough to make the recommendation of adding some antibiotic to prevent infection in these new-and-improved fish.

As Seen in Your LFS

Solidly dyed fish are common in the United States, with perhaps the best-known example being the various "berry" tetras, which are dyed forms of the black skirt tetra (Gymnocorymbus ternetzi). Using the xanthic form of the black skirt (sold as the white skirt), all of these berry tetras are identical, except for the various colors.

Also extremely popular, ironically, are the jelly bean parrots — parrotfish that have been dipped in dye to increase their color. Like their possible parent cichlids, the parrots are often plain colored when young and only some develop the bright orange or purple coloration when they mature. This raises the question of whether


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