5: which species could it be? (Austrian population)

by Paul Veenvliet
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5: which species could it be? (Austrian population)

Post by illustrator » Wed Nov 05, 2008 3:26 am

In the past it was easy, we had one convict cichlid species. Now we have four, and there are probably some undescribed ones as well. This raises the question which species is/are kept in aquaria. My feeling is that, in Europe, there is one long-kept species and some recently imported other species. I am most interested in the long-kept one, because this is the one I have at the moment. Here's a recent photograph of my »Austrian female«:
eye.jpg

Only part of the characters from the Schmitter-Soto article are useful when it comes to living aquarium fish: it's difficult to count scales on a living fish, body height might be changed by diet and cutting open a fish is also not practical if you want to keep it alive …

The character that stands out most (in my view) is eye colour. In fact, only one Amatitlania species has an eye colour which matches more or less with my fish: A. kanna (Schmitter-Soto: blue with a golden rim / my impression: dark grey with a golden rim and some golden patches), in all other species the eye colour is described as bluish in one way or another, without any golden colour. By looking at other characters, it is possible to exclude the other species as well:

A. siquia (large oval dark patch on caudal peduncle)

A. coatepeque (broader dark bars; larger dark patch on gill cover; Y-shaped, joined 4th and 5th bar)

A. nigrofasciata (white pectoral fin base versus whitish – my fish doesn't have a distinctly different coloured pectoral fin base, if anything it is whitish, and not white; more slender, but that's difficult to use in aquarium fish … )


This leaves the following possibilities:

1. My fish is A. kanna and this is the most commonly kept taxon in Europe. This seems even more likely when I consider the amazing similarity between my current fish and the ones I kept in the past (and many fish I saw in trade)

2. My fish and the aquarium strains are hybrids: this is of course possible, but in this case I would expect much more variation, especially in eye colour and body shape. I found photographs of imported A. coatepeque in an ancient American aquarium book (an old version of the Innes' Exotic Aquarium Fishes), so this species has been in trade as well (at least in the US). Quite possible that both got mixed in the US, but again, no trace of this in the »old European aquarium strain« as far as I see it.

3. My fish and the aquarium strains belong to an -as yet- undescribed species. Actually, I have no reasons to believe this at this moment, but who knows?

Still, something bugs me: both the Austrian stream fish and the offspring of my fish shows variation in the 4th/5th bar. In some I would describe this as I' (a long I-shaped 4th bar and a short '-shaped 5th). In others both are connected with a narrow dark line. These could be described as I' as well as Y. And some even have one pattern on the left side and another on the right side of the body. However, this is not the same as the clear, boldly connected Y-shaped bars in A. coatepeque.

So: what we have always called C. (Cichlasoma, Cryptoheros ...) nigrofasciatus in Europe, should now be called Amatitlania kanna. But please note that various other populations and species have been imported in the last years and in fact all four are now present in European aquaria, as well as HRP (still unclear what that is) and, probably, at least some hybrids.

To distinguish A. kanna in everyday language use I propose the English name “goldeneye convict cichlid” for this species.
Last edited by illustrator on Wed Mar 18, 2009 12:06 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: 6: goldeneye

Post by Lisachromis » Wed Nov 05, 2008 8:42 am

I would be wary of calling this fish a different species name just going on a description without actually knowing where the originals were collected from. This is a dangerous practice (especially if the fish in question could be a cross, or even several other species). If it is kanna, then it's ok (but we don't really know that). If it's only a look-alike, then if someone does bring in kanna, the possibility exists of crossing these with the real kanna.

I think, honestly, that erring on the side of caution is better.

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Re: 6: goldeneye

Post by Bas Pels » Wed Nov 05, 2008 9:30 am

Personally I'd rather call any zebra from a petshop A domesticus

These fishes from an Austrian creek are most certainly a problem:

Firstly, we can not know what decendents they are. I think some aquarium strain
Secondly, we may not assume the fishes remained unchanched - in fact we can be sure they adapted themselves

What the adaptations were all about, we will not know, but the bodyproportions will have a good change of being involved

Perhaps for these fishes it would be better te refer to 'Cichlasoma nigrofascitus' or amatitlania species

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Re: 6: goldeneye

Post by illustrator » Thu Nov 06, 2008 2:46 am

well, the nice thing about internet is that you can start a discussion immediately! :D

"Cichlasoma nigrofasciatus" = ignoring the recent developments in cichlid systematics

"Amatitlania domestica"= stating that it is a different species, for wich you just made a name unavailable (scientific name used before the species is described), I don't think that this is your intention :lol:

Amatitlania sp. is, of course, correct, but it implies that you think that all aquarium strains are by definition hybrids. I think that this is a dangerous thing itself, because it als means that anyone could do "whatever" with them, crossbreeding with any strain or species is OK, because it's a mess already. This was done with a bird, the domestic bengalese finch. Everyone assumed that they were hybrids, so they were "further" crossbred with all kinds of related species. Only later it was discovered that it was a nearly or completely pure domestic strain of a particular wild bird subspecies. We lost it as pure strain because it was assumed to be a hybrid. So, as long as there is no clear proof that the Austrian fish are hybrids, I rather assume that they are not hybrids, but an aquarium strain of unclear origin.

Regardless of wich name we give it, we should anyway keep strains of known origin "pure". Such strains should be given on to other aquarists only with a collection locality mentioned! But I really wonder if we have sufficient fish to keep any pure strains free of inbreeding effects without setting up an elaborate studbook. This is, in my view, hardly realistic for cons of any species/strain. So I actually think that most of our pure strains are doomed without frequent re-imports or occasional hybridisation.

I think that there's a deeper philosophy beind this as well: What do you prefer: an inbred strain of something "pure"or a not-so-inbred strain of something not-known-if-pure? Or would you count on the fact that regular imports keep being possible? Or would you just keep wild caught fish for 1-3 generations and then lose interest in them, and in that case you do not have to care what kind of fish are kept in some years from now?

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Re: 6: goldeneye

Post by Bas Pels » Thu Nov 06, 2008 3:38 am

Hi Illustrator, nice to be understood correctly

I did, however, know what I did when I wrote Amatitlania domestica. However, I think no one would name a fish domestica - pet fish, so no one will really bother. I intended to say 'per convict' no more

Funny how we feel different but still agree: you say - treat them as pure, until you know they are not, I sa - assume they are not pure, until you are certain. But I did not intend to say - hybridize them away - here we do agree

In fact I think it would be nice to know more about this strain, how long it survives in Austria, and so on. After all, not that much about mediate term evolution - 10 - 50 generations - is known

You do know about the guppys in Burgers Bush? They found significant changes in say 20 generations.

The point about whether one prefers an inbred pure strain or an hybrid is a good one. Especially as all populations of cichlids in captivity are too small to be viable. I'm not giving an answer, becasue I still have not found one

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Re: 6: goldeneye

Post by illustrator » Thu Nov 06, 2008 7:02 am

Yes, I know about the guppies in Burgers' (that's a ZOO, for those who don't follow us here - there's a really large greenhouse-like construction with large ponds in it). What's even more interesting: there's also a population of convicts in one of the ponds there (under the waterfall)! btw: those guppies still look a bit like a mix, many are wildtype but some have strange long tails. There are actually two populations of guppies in the same greenhouse, in different ponds, and both have different behaviour!

I don't know when convicts were first seen in the Austrian stream. They are common now, but abviously not very common some 10 years ago (that was the criterium used by Freyhof for including exotic fish in his handbook on European fish: they should have a stable population for at least 10 years - Freyhof knows the population, but decided to not mention them in his book). So I would say less than 10 generations of fish. Also, there are additional introductions from time to time. There's certainly a lot of selection (mainly by Hemichromis!) in the stream, but they are not many generations removed from aquarium strains.

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Re: 6: goldeneye

Post by Bas Pels » Thu Nov 06, 2008 8:37 am

For info about this Zoo (thanks for explaining what I left out) see http://burgerszoo.nl.colo2.netmasters06 ... rubriek=63

as far as I'm aware, the burgers guppys were fram an aquarium strain, and thus show what happens without humane selection for colors - the fishes relapsed to a wildform.

One population is with crocodiles, which keep fish eating birds out. These are large, colorful and rather solitary. The other are with see cows (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sirenia ) which do not scare these. The guppys in this pond are small, less colorfull and group together much more.

These behavioural habits have both been prooven to breed quite true in laboratoty for at least 3 generations.

Too bad about reintroducing convicts in the stream - this will nullify a lot of selection, and thus the use of these fishes to explain evolution for us

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Re: 5: which species could it be? (Austrian population)

Post by Ken Davis » Wed Mar 18, 2009 8:36 pm

I have F1 A. kanna and they do not look like your fish, mine are a slender species, but with yellow fins and the females do not have the red belly. Ken
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Re: 5: which species could it be? (Austrian population)

Post by illustrator » Tue Nov 17, 2009 10:17 am

Even after stopping to keep the species (due to a combination of disease problems - partly solved by keeping only a single pair - and extreme shyness- caused by keeping only a single pair), i still like to add some notes here and there.

In the aquarium the male became very difficult to photograph, so here's a photo in a portable aquarium. His adult colouration was very dark, and with very little green in the fins. In the Austrian stream I have seen several similarly coloured males. Interpretation ... ??? I really don't know.
conmale.jpg
adult colouration of the male

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Re: 5: which species could it be? (Austrian population)

Post by Ctrl_Alt_Dlt » Thu Dec 17, 2009 4:01 pm

wow. thats a neat convict. Any more pics of better yet, whats the story behind this fish?


Thanks!

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