Hybridization and Line Breeding of African Cichlids
...F0s and F1s ...Let's Unravel the Mysteries
...And Settle the Controversies!
By Ken Armke and Keegan Armke (5-02)

         At Armke's Rare Aquarium Fish, all of the species/varieties found at the bottom of this article were offered on our web site as this was written. What prompted this dissertation was an exchange of e-mails with one of our customers who maintains his own informational cichlid web site. The exchange, which included a number of quotes from guests to his site, indicated there is a basic misunderstanding of what constitutes a "hybrid" in our hobby and what constitutes a "line-bred" variety. To a lesser extent there remains confusion about the meaning of the F0, F1, etc., designation of fish.
         Before going any further—and since we have the floor—let's establish some basic premises here:

WHAT WE DO AND DO NOT CONDONE.....

         1. Armke's Rare Aquarium Fish does NOT condone or support the hybridization of cichlid species.
         2. Armke's Rare Aquarium Fish does NOT use or condone the use of hormones or carotene-laced foods to achieve artificially bright colors in any of the fish it sells. (Note: One of the quotes indicates that "super red" Labidochromis, Protomelas, etc. and "iceberg" Sciaenochromis have been artificially colored in this manner. In fact, the "iceberg" is found in nature, and the "super red" has been aquarium line-bred.)
         3. Armke's Rare Aquarium Fish DOES and has earned a widespread reputation for making every effort possible to correctly identify each variety it sells, often going to great extremes to determine the exact location within the lakes where the variety was found (originated).
         4. Armke's Rare Aquarium Fish DOES exercise great care in giving F0 or F1 designations to the fish it offers. The F0 fish (wild-caught in Africa) are obtained by direct importation by ourselves or by purchases from other highly reliable professional importers. The F1 fish are bred ourselves from wild-caught stock or are obtained from breeders known to use wild-caught stock, some of whom breed the fish especially for us. We seldom use designations below F1 (F2, F3, etc.) because these are too difficult to substantiate.

REPUTATION IS EVERYTHING.....

         Can we make a mistake? Sure. But we try awfully hard not to, because we know that most of our customers rely on the information we give them. And because we want to maintain the reputation we've earned for integrity and honesty in the business. We take great pride in the fact that Armke's is often recommended and used as a "mail-order" source for fine cichlids by some of the leading authorities, breeders, scientists, researchers, writers and personalities in the hobby. We have supplied fish to several public aquariums in the United States and Canada. We have also supplied fish to specialized research facilities, and we have supplied fish for the Lake Victoria Species Survival Program.

RED PARROTS, GUPPIES, AND ALBINOS.....

         Back to hybridization, which seems to be terribly confused with line breeding... What is hybridization? What is line-breeding?
         Have you seen the "red parrot cichlids" offered in some pet shops? It's a hybrid, CREATED BY CROSS-BREEDING TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SPECIES OF CICHLIDS. Some people really seem to like this fish. We think it is ghastly. In any case, hybridization is easy to define. If one successfully breeds one species of cichlid with a completely different species of cichlid, he gets "hybrids".
         To explain line breeding, we'll direct your attention to guppies, or bettas, or discus. Guppies with extra bright colors and exceedingly long finnage do not occur in nature. Neither do long-finned bright red, or bright blue, or purple bettas. Neither do the bright red, or green, or blue, or polka-dotted discus. These varieties were line bred to achieve certain desirable characteristics. Most likely nearly every winner at the last Westminster Dog Show was line bred for certain show-quality characteristics.
         Get the picture? An aquarist raises a group of Aulonocara fry together and perhaps notices that one of the emerging males seems to have more and brighter red than the other little males. Perhaps there is a female that hints at more than normal female coloration. "Let's see what happens if I breed that male to that female," he might think. If the resulting fry look promising, the best of the them may again be bred for enhanced red coloration. If this "line breeding" is successfully, the aquarist might say, "wow, I've just developed the first 'super red' peacock." Okay, that was a little silly. But do you see the distinction: NO HYBRIDIZATION occurred. All the work was with one species.
         By the way, to the best of our knowledge, all albino forms of African cichlid species in quantity are the result of line breeding. Obviously, individual albinos can and do occur in nature. And the "albino" gene is required for the production of the line-bred specimens. We continue to see albinos called "hybrids" by the uninformed. Sometimes we are chastised for selling these "hybrids".
         There's no doubt that we deserve to be chastised from time to time. But not for selling hybrids!

SOME EXAMPLES OF EXPLANATIONS OF WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT.....

         Altolamprologus calvus Kipili “Zebra”—S F1.....(F1 means these fish are the offspring of fish which were actually captured in Lake Tanganyika. The variety occurs in the area of Kipili. It's been called "zebra" due to its striped markings.)
         Cyprichromis leptosoma Congo “Speckleback Rainbow”—ML-L F0.....
(F0 means these fish were captured in Lake Tanganyika and have been imported into the U.S. The variety occurs off the coastline of Congo, formerly Zaire. It's been called "speckleback rainbow" by African Diving Ltd., which disovered the fish, due to the distinctive coloration of this geographical variety.)
         Paracyprichromis nigripinnis “Albino Blue Neon”—M.....
(This albino variety has been produced in domestic aquariums by selective line breeding for albino genes. It does not occur naturally in nature, though latent albino genes were needed to produce the variety.)
         Paracyprichromis nigripinnis “Blue Neon”—L F0.....
(The F0, wild-caught form of the albino variety above. It is called "blue neon" due to its distinctive coloration in the wild.)
         Lamprologus ocellatus “Gold"—S.....
(This is the variety of L. ocellatus called the "gold", as opposed to the "black" form or the "yellow" form collected in other areas. The lack of an F1 designation indicates that these fish are at least two generations removed from wild-caught parentage.)
         Eretmodus cyanostictus Mtoto “Blue Dot Yellow"—L F0.....
(F0 means these fish were captured in Lake Tanganyika and have been imported into the U.S. The variety occurs near the Mtoto area of Congo, formerly Zaire. It's been called "blue dot yellow" due to the distinctive coloration of this geographical variety.)
         Neolamprologus crassus Kekese—L F0.....
(The F0, wild-caught form of the fish. The location by itself, Kekese, you may note, gives no hint of the coloration of the fish.)
         Neolamprologus leleupi “Super Orange"—S.....
(This is the variety of N. leleupi called the "super orange". It could be line bred or a naturally occurring color form of the N. leleupi.)
         Neolamprologus pulcher “Daffodil”—L F0.....
(The F0, wild-caught fish as imported from Lake Tanganyika. Long ago it was dubbed "daffodil" due to its distinctive coloration, and the name has stuck.)
         Xenotilapia flavipinnis Katoto “Bright Yellow”—L F0.....
(The F0, wild-caught fish as imported from the Katoto area of Lake Tanganyika. One might think that "bright yellow" would indicate a "line-bred" form. Not so.)
         Tropheus moorii Ikola “Kaiser Yellow”—S F1.....
(F1 means these fish are the offspring of fish which were actually captured in Lake Tanganyika. The variety occurs in the area of Ikola. It was long ago given the name "kaiser yellow" due to its special markings.)
         Aulonocara jacobfreibergi “Albino Eureka Red”—S.....
(This albino variety has been produced in domestic aquariums by selective line breeding for albino genes. It does not occur naturally in nature, though latent albino genes were needed to produce the variety.)
         Aulonocara saulosi “Green Face”—MS F1.....
(F1 means these fish are the offspring of fish which were actually captured in Lake Malawi. The descriptive name "green face" does not indicate line breeding.)
         Aulonocara sp. “German Red”—ML.....
(This variety was developed via line breeding darker specimens of Aulonocara sp. Chipoka in Germany, where much of the line breeding with African cichlids seems to originate. By comparing "german red" here with the "green face" above, one can see that the common name itself offers little clue to the origin. On the other hand, the F0 and F1 designation by reliable sources is telling.)
         Aulonocara sp. “Rubescens”—MS (Europe,Real).....
(This variety was developed via line breeding Aulonocara sp. Maleri in Germany, where much of the line breeding with African cichlids seems to originate.)
         Aulonocara sp. “Turkis”—ML (Europe).....
(The story--personally told to us in Germany by a respected authority and colleague of Ad Konings and the source of our original specimens--is that this form was produced in Germany from an actual "mutant" specimen of a wild-caught Aulonocara stuartgranti Chilumba. Mutant forms can be produced in nature, and they need not be hybrids.)
         Aulonocara stuartgranti Maulana “Bi-Color 500”—ML F0.....
(Though the "bi-color 500" name might lead one to believe otherwise, this variety does occur naturally in Lake Malawi. The F0 designation here indicates imported, wild-caught specimens.)
         Copadichromis sp. “Mloto Fluorescent”—L F0.....
(Though the "mloto fluorescent" name might lead one to believe otherwise, this variety does occur naturally in Lake Malawi. The F0 designation here indicates imported, wild-caught specimens.)
         Labeotropheus trewavasae “Albino Red”—M.....
(Though albino fish have been found in nature, they certainly do not occur in quantity. The fish offered here have been line bred in an aquarium environment. Note the absence of an F0 or F1 designation.)
         Labidochromis caeruleus Lion's Cove “Yellow”—M.....
(This fish is found naturally in Lake Malawi, but because of the restricted area where the fish occurs, adult wild-caught specimens are relatively nonexistent in the hobby. There is a report of young specimens being produced from wild-caught stock in Africa, however.)
         Labidochromis sp. Red Top Kimpuma “Super Red”—M.....
(The "super red" form of this fish is reportedly line bred by selectively breeding to achieve the superior coloration.)
         Sciaenochromis fryeri Maleri "Iceberg”—ML.....
(The "iceberg" form of this fish, contrary to some bad information, does occur naturally in Lake Malawi in the area of Maleri Island. It has a more prominent white blaze than the "normal" S. fryeri.)
         Haplochromis sp. “Salmon” Hippo Point—M.....
(This fish occurs naturally in Lake Victoria. Hippo Point is the general location of the Lake where the yet-unnamed species was found.)
         Haplochromis sp. “Albino Ruby Green”—M(-).....
(Another albino form. Another fish produced in the aquarium by selective breeding, or line breeding.)

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