Green Terrors

Last updated: 2012-05-02 — Created: 2011-09-04

Today we’ll be talking about the green terror. There are actually two species that share the trade name: the false green terror (Andinoacara rivulatus), which is what you will typically find in the stores, and the original/true green terror (Andinoacara stalsbergi), which is much harder to find and may require a special order from Peru to obtain. A third species (Andinoacara aequinoctalis) has been proposed as the goldsaum, suggesting there may be a separation between the orange-tailed and white-tailed varieties of the false green terror.

I’ve read that a shortage of the original several years ago meant the false GT was found to take its place, which has since become what we now see in stores and know as the GT, however incorrect this naming may be. Nowadays, obtaining the true GT is quite a challenge. I’ve been told that an order quantity of 100+ would be required for it to be worth the trip to get some, but I was also warned that “nobody buys these fish”. Now, I’d like to think this has more to do with higher availability of this false species that has stolen the name, but perhaps the gold seam variety is much more attractive to today’s fish hobbyist who prefers the orange, green and brown hues all on the same fish. In my opinion, the iridescent spots on a dull body of the true GT sure do outshine the dull spots on an iridescent body of the false GT, so I’d like to believe that the prettier fish has been shafted because of its lesser availability. Still, having never once seen a true GT in a fish store to date, it is very hard to compare the two just from pictures scattered around the Internet. If I can procure some, I will attempt to settle this argument at a later date. For now, however, I will have to settle with observing just the false GT.

I talked with the proprietor of one of my LFSs about his experiences with breeding GTs. He told me he’d spawned them and observed variety of tail seam colours within the same spawn, ranging from white to yellow to bright orange. Curious to see if there’s any sort of correlation between the tail colours on parents and their offspring, I’d like to mate a pair and see if I can figure out a pattern. Since you don’t as often see the white-tailed variety, I’ve opted to focus on these instead of the orange. I’ve found myself a large male and two females as breeding stock. It could be that these fish breed true (i.e. all of their offspring come out white-tailed), suggesting the white and orange are indeed separate species or that a recessive gene exists within the same species for the less-common white seam. It could also be that the offspring have a variety of colours between individuals, as my fish store friend describes, suggesting a hybrid of two species, incompletely-/co-dominant genes or variable expressivity/penetrance of the genes. For now, I’m just growing out the trio in hopes they mature and two pair up, but I hope my questions will be answered in the coming months.

February 28th, 2012 – There hasn’t been a huge amount of progress with the false GTs. Initially, I had all three cohabiting, but the females fought, so I separated one and put her with other fish. It’s been difficult to accelerate their growth since the remaining female has ceased eating and won’t shake an insidious internal infection, while the male has issues with hole-in-the-head disease. Despite treatment attempts – isolation, medication, salt, increased heat and pristine water – the symptoms persist in both fish. Even with the forehead craters and the occasional trail of white stringy poop, the male’s appetite is still voracious, however, so I decided to reunite him with the other female to see what would happen. This female has a lame right pectoral fin and tattered dorsal and pectoral fins, so I wasn’t sure she’d be accepted, but after a couple of days in the same tank, there were signs of chewed lips and darkened blacks, suggesting the two fish have paired and may spawn presently. As mentioned, I will look to see if this pair produces fry that all have white-seam tails as well.

May 2nd, 2012 – I got the internal infection under control and the two remaining GTs have been steadily packing on weight. It looks like the first round of eggs has been laid by the female. The male shows little interest in guarding the nest and has no sign of having dropped his junk the way the female has, so we’ll see if the eggs were fertilized at all. The first round is usually just a trial run anyway, so no big loss this time.

After some serious issues with hole-in-the-head, I’ve determined I can’t keep this species alive in my tanks, so I will leave this experiment be for now. If someone else feels like taking it on, please do share your results!


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