About Me

Hi Everybodeeeeee,

Feeling like the Web could use a little more well-documented and researched information, I had a desire to share some of my adventures in fish keeping and breeding with my fellow aquarists. Thanks to some nudging from friends, this WordPress blog was born.

Let me start by saying I have absolutely no formal background in biology, genetics, statistics or research methods and have learnt all that was necessary through books and Internet resources. In school, I studied computer engineering, where the endless slew of classes involved a sampling of pretty much “everything science” except biology. With an almost hyperactive need to learn new things though, my down-time was spent escaping into the underwater world of my aquaria…and loving every second of it.

I’m a resident of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, (eh!) and am currently maintaining about 1500 1000 litres spanning twelve six freshwater aquaria, with a focus on New World cichlids and observing genetic traits between generations. I got into the hobby around 2004, when my brother wanted to dispose of his floundering Betta fish, which I adopted. Things snowballed from there as I began expanding and collecting my friends’ unwanted tanks and equipment and  getting started in the hobby (I guess there were childhood goldfish, but those don’t really count). The past several years has seen that one fish (may she rest in peace) turn into hundreds with all the fry that are swimming through at any given time.

I hope you will find this blog useful and educational. Please drop me a line (no pun intended) with any comments, suggestions, finding of spelling mistakes or broken links, kudos or questions!



Some notes and guidelines for this blog:

–> Posts will be brought to the top of the feed whenever they are updated with new information, so re-read old posts if you see them jump the queue. I’m working on adding updated & created dates to each entry.
–> Some of my pre-formatted text sections seem to be magically losing their line breaks, so please let me know if you find one of these sections in a post and I will fix it.
–> Fish are friends, not food!
–> Fries are chips, not fish! (Baby fish are fry, plural)
–> Common names of species are printed in lowercase, unless they incorporate a proper noun, in which case only the proper noun is capitalised. (NOTE: Older posts are still being revised to fix this. Thanks Zed!)
–> Scientific/Latin names are italicised with a capital on the genus and lowercase for the species name. Genus names can be reduced to just their first letter if they have been spelt out in full once already.
–> I identify as a purist as far as fish breeding goes. I believe in admiring beauty as nature intended, not in creating cross-breeds. This is not the forum for posting stories or questions about creating hybrids.
–> This blog does its best to conform to the rules of the international flavour of English that is used in English-speaking countries other than the United States. All posts are written in international/UK/non-US/the Queen’s English. I’m Canadian; that’s how I roll.
–> Plurals of Latin loanwords have been preserved: medium becomes media, not mediums; aquarium becomes aquaria, not aquariums; data is treated as the plural of datum; et cetera.
–> Apostrophes should never, ever, ever (EVER!) be used to indicate plural, so EBJDs, not EBJD’s.
–> The contents of this blog represent original work. All pictures were photographed personally (or used with permission of their respective owners and cited appropriately), while the text represents many months of personal research, experience, and chatting with other aquarists. Everything is happily shared with you, but is here for informational and educational purposes only. Please do use, link to and learn from the this blog, and share it with your friends, however, stealing or reposting is just not good karma, and I will be forced  to hunt you if you do! Just sayin’.
–> Found something helpful? Have a story to share? Disagree with everything I’ve written? I’d love to hear from you. Please comment, comment, comment!
–> …However, if you’re posting comments for the world to see, please try to do so using full sentences and proper punctuation. It’s science!


33 Responses to About Me

  1. Hello, I came across your site during a search and I’m very impressed by what you have going on. I’m also a major cichlid collector, not so much into breeding but I have had an endless supply of firemouths and hondouran red points against my will. Luckily we have many lfs’s to take them. I have tried to breed a female pink convict and a male hondouran but someone must have been sterile. Tons of eggs, all turned white. I have a cross in mind that I’m hoping you can give some advice on. I have a female blood parrot who constantly has her egg tube out. She has shown lots of interest in a large male chanchito but he has no interest in her. She also likes a smaller young male hondouran too. So I’ve isolated the female and the hondouran in a 29 to see what happens. Gave them caves and wood and flat stones to choose from. Its only been a few days so nothing yet. Do you think it is possible they could mix? I really hope so because I’m not anti hybrid. Atleast not when it comes to species in no danger of extinction or concern. I will keep you posted if the pair succesfully spawns. If I end up with a good supply would you like some? I’m in central pa, not sure where you are but can ship if need be. Thanks for your time.

    • greg says:

      Hi Christal!

      That’s a neat idea I’ve wondered about myself! I think it’s quite likely they can mix, especially since the blood parrot is already a mix of 2 or 3 different Central American species already, what’s one more! The rumour I’ve always heard regarding the fish used in making those horribly-dyed “bubblegum parrots” you sometimes see, is that they are actually a pink convict male crossed with a female blood parrot so that they end up a paler shade and are easier to colour. However, I’ve never actually heard of anyone who’s done the cross at home, so I remains a rumour as far as I’m concerned.

      When a female looks to be coming into breeding condition, I usually find a few good meaty meals will get her really ready, so if you have some frozen bloodworms or live earthworms (probably not the season, I know) you could feed her, that may help the process along. If you manage to do it, I’d love to hear your results and I’ll post them in with the experiment, if you’d be willing to send pictures of the parents and offspring. My tanks are exploding with stock right now, so let’s revisit the option when and if it happens. You’re probably looking at minimum 6 months before they’re ready to transport anyway, and first spawns are often less fruitful. I’m actually just north of you in Toronto, which is probably a 6 hour drive or so, but not impossibly far if one of us feels like a weekend adventure. Perhaps I could visit some of these LFSs you mentioned.

      Thanks for your offer! 🙂

    Mrs. Arlanna Alie
    P.S. The dog-training universe can definitely learn some pointers from our FISH FAMILY! We have so much in common! Excellent research!

  3. Toulong yang says:

    Hello! this is a beginner cichlid lover. I really enjoyed reading your article and I’m hoping I can start breeding pink and zebra convicts also. It has been a major plan of mine. I’ve searched many times on how to breed or is it possible to breed pink and zebra and if its possible to receive offspring of white and black stripes. I would really appreciate if you can help me on how to start off. I was wondering maybe just start off with a pair of pink and zebra, was that how you started? plz get back to me.

    • greg says:

      Hi beginner cichlid lover!

      As far as convicts go, they are pretty simple to breed once they reach maturity at 6 months of age or so – just add water and away you go! If you want to encourage them to breed, feed them conditioning foods such as blood worms. You can tell that the females are ready to lay eggs when their bellies turn bright orange. This will fade significantly as soon as they lay their eggs, so if you see the colour disappear, it’s time to start looking for eggs in the tank. Typically, the female will guard/fan the eggs and the male will patrol and fend off intruders, so you won’t have to look too far. The nest can be anything from a piece of slate or a rock to a flower pot or ornament. Eggs will hatch in about 3 days and wrigglers will be free-swimming within a week.

      Pink convicts are the result of a recessive genetic mutation, known as leucism, in which the colours are dialed down so the normal striped appearance of the fish doesn’t show. A fish is either leucistic or not, pink or black – It is not possible to somehow combine these traits for a striped, pink fish, however, if you choose a few light-coloured specimens and selectively-breed your black convicts, it may be possible to develop a strain over several generations that shows a lighter body colour underneath the black stripes.

      If you mate a true black/zebra convict with a pink convict, all of the offspring will look black (but will carry the gene for pink). Mating one of these offspring to a pink convict will result in a 3rd generation of offspring that is 50% Black (carrying the Pink gene) and 50% pink. Alternatively, mating two of the offspring together, results in 25% pink convicts.

      true black (BB) x pink (bb)
       x  | B  | B  |
       b  | Bb | Bb |
       b  | Bb | Bb |
      = 100% black (but carrying a pink gene)
      black, carrying a pink gene (Bb) x pink (bb)
       x  |  B |  b |
       b  | Bb | bb |
       b  | Bb | bb |
      = 50% black (but carrying a pink gene)
      = 50% pink
      two blacks, both carrying a pink gene (Bb)
       x  |  B |  b |
       B  | BB | Bb |
       b  | Bb | bb |
      = 75% black (25% true black, 50% carrying a pink gene)
      = 25% pink

      Good luck!

      • Toulong yang says:

        Oh wow! this is great, these tips are going to benefit me for a lifetime! I will keep in touch with your site and as soon as i begin the process of trying to breed the pink and zebra convicts ill post up pictures. I am very thankful and delighted to have stumbled across your site. Keep up the updates and keep uploading pictures!

  4. jillfishie says:

    Hi Greg,
    I love your website ^_^
    It’s been so helpful to me. I’m new to the hobby (3 weeks) and after reading all the info you have on dempseys It was easy for me to decide on my fish. I have 3 regular JDs & 3 EBJDs 1″ – 3″ all introduced at same time & doing well. The regular JDs are outgrowing the EBJDs by about 20 – 30 %. They are my new babies & I love them. They do fight for food, but in the end they share. I have a friend that is giving me some blue gene/gold gene fry & a mated pair (Gold Male & Blue Gene Female).
    I want to try your project & get a Green JD… it’s great seeing someone like you sharing information & experience with fish.
    Thank You

    • greg says:


      Thanks! Always great to hear that someone finds this information useful. I’m still struggling to produce some blue-gene fry, but I’m persevering. My blue males keep dying off, so I’ve rebooted the experiment several times. I’m looking into a UV steriliser to help nuke some of the nasties in the water in hopes that my next attempt is not a bust. The females are now pretty big, so I’m hoping they’ll take to a smaller male. Do let me know if you’re successful with the “green” JDs. Some of the info I’ve read on the topic suggests that they may not look much/any different from EBJDs, and a double double-dose of recessive genes usually means über-weak fish (example: “purple” angelfish D/D S/S are apparently non-viable), but it’s worth a try, right?

      Good luck!

  5. jillfishie says:


    I’m sorry to hear about your blue males. I’m not sure if any or all of my JDs are male/female. maybe if I send you some pics on Email you could tell me. I’d like to keep in touch regarding my progress & EBJDs are sensitive, but in right conditions can thrive as I’ve seen mine do. I got mine between 1″ & 2″s & they are growing beautifully. Not as fast as my regular JDs, but healthy & strong. ^_^

    • greg says:

      Hey Jill,

      Yeah, I’ve sure had some bad luck. The last one got an eye infection and his eyeball basically exploded…yuck! That’s why I think a UV unit might help…to reduce whatever parasites or whatever might be lurking in the water. I try to keep up with a strict water-changing regimen, but sometimes it’s not enough, sadly.

      I’ll have a look at some photos if you’d like, sure. Did you see the post on sexing JDs? You’re basically looking for fin pointedness to distinguish the males from females. I should probably update the photos now that the females are a little older. Anyway, here’s the link: https://gregthecrazyfishguy.wordpress.com/2011/01/02/venting-jack-dempseys/

  6. jillfishie says:


    Thanks for the reply. ^_^ I have read your post on sexing them & me personally can’t see the difference in mine, so if it’s OK I’ll send you pics of my babies. I’ve had these guys for about 4 weeks, just a little over 3 & the only time they were stressed was when I first got them. I have them in a 55 gallon tank right now to try & keep good relations with their tankmates. Seemed to work out great ^_^ They do a little chasing around sometimes usually at feedings, but none of them team up or gang up on any of themselves. I use aquarium salt in the tank to keep it as clean & safe as I can for my babies. It help keep fish that are prone to disease like EBJD’s healthy. I’m getting some blue gene JD’s in a week or two & I have another tank I will grow them out in. I’m so excited to get this project going. I’ll keep you posted.


  7. christal musser says:

    Hello, its christal musser again. I didnt mark your page in my favorites then I just ended up forgetting. So to update whats gone on since my last post here. Female blood parrot is very large and very rich deep orange, nice shape, best parrot I’ve ever had. She’s about 6 inches and VERY thick and stocky. We’ve had an explosion of hondurans here and I’ve finally got it down to a handful of nice grow outs looking for a new home. Now that I have the tank room available I’ve taken my largest honduran male who is gorgeous btw and secluded him with lady parrot in their own lovenest. Just today actually. I spotted him and his honduran lady friend fanning some eggs on a smooth round stone, so I removed the stone and then took him out as well. Its usually murder trying to catch him but was easier today since he was hanging out by the egg rock. The parrot and him arent strangers, they have lived together in the past. She chased him around a bit and finally they are just hanging out doing their own thing. He has turned on his breeding colors and her tubes out as usual. Hopefully something good comes of this. If not atleast they look nice together.

    • greg says:

      Hey Christal,

      Nice to hear from you again. Thanks for the update. I’ve been meaning to get some photos of my devil parrots’ progress up to show how much they’ve grown. I really should find the males and isolate them with the blood parrot females in order to try the next step of the experiment. Soon!

      I am on Facebook. I’ve been meaning to retool my profile a bit for “pet” people, and isolate all the important content so that they don’t have to wade through all the irrelevant stuff. Will add you once I’ve gone through and done that, k?

  8. Yea, feel free to add me whenever you get around to it. My parrot did lay eggs recently. She was isolated with my biggest HRP male and a day later she laid 400plus eggs. He just wanted to eat them so that bums me out. They turned white and fuzzy and now I have to get brave enough to reach in and get that rock out lol. She’s a monster about them. So for now whatever. I did today though meet 3 ppl from local classifieds and got the rest of my hrp babies in good homes, 100, 115 and 125 gallon tanks to experienced cichlid owners. Nice. So one of the ppl I met had some young texas convicts that she was sharing with the group too. I only took one nice larger dark pearly one with an interesting shape. I’m assuming since it was larger than the rest, almost 3 inches at 5 months old, that it would be male. Maybe once its a little bigger I wil isolate it with the parrot and see what happens. I have a VERY large red tex hybrid that never went very red, he’s mainly aqua, silver, teal with red trim on fins, tons of pearls and a deep purple undertone when mad, he is flowerhorn ish with a big hump etc. So I’m hoping alot of his texas beauty but maybe stay a smaller size like the convict. I’ve seen some pix of that mix that I loved, but then also some that I didnt like much. So far I like what mine looks like. Anway, I’d love to see some update pix. Theres not much info on hybrids out there so please keep at it. Especially to see generations and grow stages of an idividual fish. I like seeing fish at 1 inch, then at a year old, then 2 years, then 5, its amazing the color and body changes you see. I cant find much of that out there. I have tooo much other stuff going on or I would maybe keep an updated blog strictly for fish….I should. I might think about it. I’m just opening my own tattoo shop at some point soon so I’m occupied. Anyway. ttyl

  9. Toulong Yang says:

    Hey Greg! It has been a while. Well if you can view this video, it is a video of my pink male convict cichlid and female zebras off spring. I actually was successful breeding the two, but was not with the offspring. As soon as they were free swimming i did not have the proper feeding diet they required and was feeding them flakes till they were a few months old, i had not brine shrimps or first bite items from the local pet store. They are still alive but are not growing as quick as i expected! Oh forgot to mention to! It is winter here and they are suffering pretty harshly! I am trying hard to get them a heater! I stumbled across a marble convict at a local pet store and bought it right away, it has only a few dot of black but i assume it carries the marble genes.


    • greg says:

      Hi Toulong! Mr. & Mrs. Gumba look to be doing really well. Good work!

      Here’s a tip I’ve heard: Fish excrete hormones that build up in the water and stunt growth, which is a natural defence for keeping fish small in crowded spaces. A friend of mine did an experiment where he had two identical tanks. He changed the water of one tank really often, but barely fed the fish, and did the opposite on the other tank, fed the fish often, but barely changed the water. The result: frequent water changes resulted in much bigger fish than frequent feeding did! Interesting, isn’t it? You may also find that proper heating will increase the metabolic rate of the fish, so they will grow faster as a result of that too.

      Thanks for the update! Would love to see what happens with that marble convict you got!

  10. Orlando says:

    Hey Greg,

    Its been a WHILE 😛 hows it going? i lost your email so i couldn’t contact you :/ just wanted to know if you were doing OK 😀

    Orlando, aka Big O 🙂

  11. Karnam Lodi says:

    Greetings! Quick question that’s completely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My weblog looks weird when browsing from my iphone. I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to fix this issue.
    If you have any suggestions, please share. Cheers!

  12. jillfishie says:

    Hi Greg,
    Check your Email accounts. I sent you an Email to both your Email accounts.
    I hope everything is going well for you.
    – Jill 🙂

  13. jillfishie says:

    Glad to hear it didn’t go into the spam folder, or maybe it did again o.o.
    But I’m glad you finally got it.
    – Jill 🙂

  14. jillfishie says:

    Alright Greg
    I got your reply & I sent you one in return.
    – Jill 🙂

  15. sarah says:

    Hi Greg,

    My name is Sarah and I am from Chatham, Ont. I happen to have (I believe) a breeding pair of BP’S, which I wasn’t expecting. I wanted 1 bp, and when he didn’t seem to be doing well I bought him a friend. Now I have about 30 fry. I imagine my male has some genetics of another fish to make this possible however he does have the physical characteristics of a blood parrot. My question is my fry are about 5 and 4 months old and have the proper markings of BP fry however have the body shape of a standard convict. They are starting to turn orange and look like some of your photos. Will their body shape ever become that of a BP? Would be happy to send pics videos if you are interested.


  16. Minolin says:

    Hi Greg
    I found your page by chance while searching for articles on breeding and crossing breeding cichlid fish. I have successfully breed African Jewels and Convicts as a hobby just to get different colors out. so that my main tank look good.

    You have a great page going here and it is very informative for beginners and novice like myself.
    Keep up the good work as i will be following you closely.

    I was wondering if you have ever tried to cross breed a Convict with a Jewel, from all the posts that i have read is that they will never breed but nothing suggests that people have tied breeding them before. I am sure that given the right amount of time together they will mate.

    Please let me know if you have tried breedind these two cichilids. Jewel cichlid with Convict cichlid can just imagine the colors.

    hope to hear from you soon.


    • Greg says:

      Hi Minolin,
      Thanks for the kudos. 🙂
      I don’t actively breed hybrids. If memory serves, however, I’ve tried keeping these species in the same tank without much luck. Jewels are punchy cichlids from west Africa, while convicts hail from Central America and are known to take on fish many times their size. Might be OK in bigger setups. Try and see!

  17. John says:

    Hey Greg,
    I’ve been in the hobby for a few decades. I do like trying to breed rare and special fish to me. The EBJD is one of them. I had tried it a few years ago it didn’t go as planned like yourself, I kept losing the males EBJDs and I continued with my other projects which were the African cichlids. So I went to my LPS a month ago and found some new EBJDs. I bought one to see if he would survive and take it from there. The only question I have is if I do get a female regular JD and breed her with my male how will I ever know which ones will be the BGJDs? That’s why I’m trying to find a female with the blue gene already. It should makes things more quicker.

    • Greg says:

      Hey, John!
      Thanks for your comment. To your question, any fish that displays a recessive gene (like the electric blue gene) will carry two copies of that gene. Therefore, _all_ of his offspring will inherit one copy or the other of this gene and will be blue-gene carriers. The mother will contribute the other to this gene. If she is a regular ol’ JD, she will contribute the wild type gene, but if she happens to be a BGJD, you’ll get a 50/50 split of EBJDs and BGJDs in the offspring. Back-crossing daughter to father will give the same results if you can’t get a known BGJD female. Crossing two of the BGJD siblings will give a 25/50/25 EBJD/BGJD/JD mix.

      Hope that helps!


      • John says:

        Hi Greg,
        So in your opinion would it be easier at this moment for me to get a regular female JD and breed her to the EBJD and then back-cross with one of his daughter female fry? Will she have that Blue gene for sure? Might be my only option as no one is breeding them that I know.

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