Half Breeds

December 18, 2013

No, this isn’t a racist rant against human beings of different races propagating, but about tropical fish doing so.  I decided to use this particular title just to catch reader’s attention, purely for shock value.  In nature, I know very well that a male dog will attempt to breed with any female.  A miniature male Chihuahua would try to breed with a Great Dane bitch, even if he needed a stepladder to do so, however, it seems that for the most part, the animal kingdom usually stick with their own kind, much to my amazement.  How, for instance, do birds recognize their own?  How do they know what they themselves look like, in order to breed with a similar looking mate?

Earlier this summer, I restocked one of my fifty-five gallon fish tanks with several different varieties of American Cichlids, such as Red Devils, Texas Cichlids, Black Convicts, Jack Dempseys and Green Severums.  About a month ago, maybe two, I noticed that a pair of Cichlids had bred, as there were maybe 30-40 very small fry swimming madly among the rocks at the bottom of the tank.  However, much to my amazement, the two Cichlids that had produced the fry were a Texas Cichlid (probably the male, as it is the larger of the two) and a Black Convict.

As a serious tropical fish hobbyist, I bought my first fifty-five gallon tank in 1982, after first buying a ten-gallon tank maybe a year earlier.  I know people think I’m nuts when I tell them I communicate with my fish, especially the Red Devils, however I am serious about doing so.  Red Devils have such a personality!  I had one who lived to be almost fifteen years old.  They are such a large, aggressive fish, that once they get so big, I end up keeping just one by itself in a fifty-five gallon tank.  I tell people who get up close to the tank that he isn’t mad at them for looking at him, he is mad at me for letting them do so.

Over the years, I have had several breeding pairs of fish, although only once did the fry survive long enough to grow large enough to avoid becoming dinner to the other fish in the tanks.  I currently have two fifty-five gallon tanks and a one hundred and twenty-five gallon tank.  Living in a very small apartment, my neighbors and friends were always amazed that at one time I had another fifty-five gallon tank and a thirty-gallon tank, three of which were given to me over the years.

As the fish in my largest tank are getting somewhat old, hopefully all of the young fry survive, as they would save me a lot of money when the time comes to restock that tank.  With a little bit of luck, the breeding pair of Cichlids will do their thing several more times in the coming years.

Steven H. Spring

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