This was somewhat of an accidental side project which came into being when my “female” Honduran red point was thrown in my main tank with a bunch of female pink convicts and turned out to be a male instead. It all started when I read a post from Finatics on PriceNetwork that talked about these fish that were similar to, but much nicer than regular convicts. Curious, I had to go see what all the fuss was about. I so I ran out to see them and Mike was able to point out one that was swimming in the midst of a bunch of regular Black convicts. Lo and behold, the fish was much nicer, showing a lovely red hue in its tail and a more pronounced blue around the gills. We both thought it was a female, but it’s possible to make this mistake when they’re young and males show a few iridescent scales that look like the start of a female’s typical orange belly colour. I brought “her” home and “she” ended up making babies with a female pink convict, so definitely a male!
Since the HRP x pink convict pair bred in my main display tank, I wasn’t able to rescue the whole spawn, but did grab a handful of the survivors and grew them out. All fry displayed the darker colour of the HRP, showing that dad did not have any form of leucistic genes present and was therefore a true black HRP. Some were given to some friends, but I saved a few for myself and raised them up. After a few months and them reaching maturity, I found I had only two left, one male and one female. This particular hybridisation is usually given the name “blue convict” owing to the fact that they are much more iridescent from the HRP genes, but still look like regular ol’ convicts. The female in particular had some righteous colouring, stunning blues & yellows and an almost barred orange when ready to breed…
With just one of each gender left, I decided I had to experiment. I back-crossed the female with her father to keep her pretty colours, but breed out the convict resulting in a touch of pink convict added to HRPs. The male was crossed with an unrelated pink convict (one of the marble-less offspring from my light marble pairing) to attempt to produce a “white HRP”. I don’t know if a naturally-occurring leucistic version of the HRP exists, but I’ve heard that those that are floating around have a much paler complexion as compared to pink convict. I’ve also seen some really pale pink convict in a local PJ’s, so I decided I’d try for myself to see what happens when a touch of HRP is added to pink convict.
Experiment 1: HRP x (HRP x Pink Con) Back-Cross
Above you can see the blue “convict” mother and the HRP father tending to their fry, born somewhere around the 20th of December, 2010. Again, these hybrids will be roughly 1/4 pink convict and 3/4 HRP, with the male HRP being the father of both the fry and their mother.
Fry after a couple of weeks are doing well and appear to be all dark in colour, as expected. It will be interesting to see if any of them have any marked differences in colour at all, favouring either their HRP or convict ancestry.
September 5th, 2011 – No survivors remain.
Experiment 2: (HRP x Pink Con) x Pink Con Cross
This experiment will attempt to produce some white “HRPs”, pulling the leucistic genes from the pink convict and the pretty iridescent colours from the HRP. Granted, leucism does reduce the overall colouration of the fish, but we’ll see what happens, as iridescent scales are more about shininess than colour. I’m predicting something similar to what happens with a platinum angelfish, where there is no colour, but more iridescence, leading to a fish that is more white than pink. Following this analogy, pink convict would be the same as blushing angelfish, where less iridescence allows the colour of the underlying organs showing through, giving the fish a pink hue.
Above you can see the difference between a blushing and a platinum angelfish, which are what I’m hypothesising the analogues to pink convict and white “HRPs” are. Also shown are the blue “convict” male and the pink convict female tending to their eggs, which hatched around the 27th of December, 2010.
January 8th, 2011 – Even after only a couple of weeks, some fry are showing a distinct difference in colour. A quick count revealed an interesting discovery; the colours have not be inherited in a completely Mendelian fashion as one might predict. Now, this may be a result of them being too young to accurately separate into the “blue” and “white” buckets properly. However, since hybrids express their genes in uncontrolled and unpredictable ways, the favouring of the more abundant pink convict genes in this case wouldn’t be unusual. Counts were 79 total, 32 blue (40.5%), 47 white (59.5%).
April 5th, 2011 – FAIL! After the (HRP x pink) x pink/”white” batch was allowed to grow out for a few months, I found that the colours came out a complete swampwater mess! Despite the two pink females used to produce these fry being all-pink visually, their offspring inherited marble genes somehow, which supports the variable expressivity of the marble gene theory. Out of the 38 fish counted, 22 were marbled (57.9%) and 16 black (42.1%), with seven of these black appearing really intensely-coloured and the remaining nine being more subdued. Welcome to the world of hybrids! The seven “darkies” have been saved for further observation and the rest released into other tanks as lunch.
September 5th, 2011 – Just one (HRP x pink) x pink dark female remains at this point. I may mate her back to her great-grandfather (the HRP) at some point down the road, but chances are I’ll just pull the plug on this particular experiment. Hope it has been insightful.