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Cross Breeding Tropical Fish

We want to tackle the often controversial topic of cross breeding tropical fish and look at the pro’s and con’s of this. This is simply our point if views on it and we do not want to get in to a massive debate about it but simply present the facts as we see them.

blood-parrot-cichlidCross breeding is where 2 different species of fish will breed with each other giving you a hybrid or “unnatural fish” which you wouldn’t get in the wild. It could however be argued that there is no such thing as an unnatural fish. If we look at some of the rift valley lakes such as Lake Malawi for example with over 1000 different species of cichlid which, ultimately have all come from 1 cichlid and have evolved to different types of cichlid fish with different colours over many years. Therefore by humans cross breeding fish – yes there is interception with nature but then it could be argued that this in itself is natural.

The main issues one might have with hybrid fish and cross breeding comes down to the health of the fry produced. Due to the unnatural nature of the fry produced, they may have unstable genes and could end up dying quicker than you would expect.

An examples of commonly found hybrid tropical fish are the Flowerhorn Cichlid and the Blood Parrot Cichlid. Both of which are beautiful and rich in colour and it is quite clear why they have been bred like this for the ornamental aquarium trade.

The Flowerhorn was created by breeding two different species –  Red Devil Cichlids (typically Amphilophus labiatus) and Trimac Cichlids (Amphilophus trimaculatus) along with the hybrid Parrot Cichlid.


The IndoMalau Flowerhorn were created by the Indonesian Luohan Club (ILC), using a Golden Monkey (or Malau) female and a Zhen Zhu male. The second generation was spawned from the Elvis selection and a Golden Monkey female. I think everyone would agree that this fish is very beautiful, but it is a good example of a hybrid or cross breed.

While it is true that various species of fish may exist in the wild, they don’t generally cross breed, any more than lions and tigers do. They aren’t equipped biologically to be motivated to mate. The reason is simple, that these are not advantages to the fish in the wild. But since we are keeping the fish for our own entertainment (or some to turn the hobby into a business) then we have a tendency to breed for characteristics we want. You only have to go to your local dog show to see the end result of this type of cross-breeding. But we don’t say that it is wrong with dogs.

Since you can get weak and ineffectual fish from line breeding with same families as much as you can from cross breeding, I would say that it depends on what your objective is. You might find yourself the recipient of a beautiful fish that has no resistance to disease. That seems to be the case with some of these fancy Cichlids I see these days.

So there are some of the facts and a bit of my opinion regarding cross breeding tropical fish, there is no right or wrong conclusion to be made about this subject, it is merely opinion about whether we should be toying with mother natures work or not!