Join our `Save the Cichlid` Program.

Majestic Aquariums run an extensive program called ‘Save the Cichlid’ which aims to stop Cichlid species being lost to the hobby. To become a part of the Save the Cichlid program simply email your name, phone number and what species you choose to be responsible for to paul@majesticaquariums.com.au. Majestic Aquariums are currently collecting information to post on their website under `Save the Cichlid`. Breeders will soon be able to access a full comprehensive Cichlid list.

A call to all Cichlid Breeders

Australian law allows very few Cichlids to be imported into Australia, this is to allow the authorities an amount of control over this family of fish. The laws are to lessen the potential risk of these fish being released into Australian waterways, which may effect the native fish stocks. It is important that any person keeping any type of aquarium fish is aware that they should never allow any ornamental fish or aquatic plant to be released into an Australian waterway. Any Cichlid which you no longer require should be returned to an aquarium store or destroyed.

As there is only a limited number of Cichlids allowed into the country, it is therefore very important that we need to be doing everything in our power to preserve the other species that we have here by ensuring that we never allow our fish to crossbreed. A crossbred fish is where two different species of fish produce young together. The way that you do this is to make sure you are breeding the right male of a species with the right female of the same species. If you are not sure that you are breeding the right male with the right female then you should not allow the fry to leave your possession.

Any Cichlids bred in a community aquarium should be regarded as crossbred, unless they are grown up to a size in which they are clearly able to be distinguished as a true species. These fish should never be sold as juveniles as many fish are not able to be recognized as crossbred until they mature. Remember that within a batch of fry from one mother, several males may have fertilized the one set of eggs. So within a community aquarium you can never be sure they are all true, even if some clearly are. You must never allow a fish to leave your possession unless you are totally sure it is a true species. The only way that you can ensure this is to have a designated breeding tank in which you keep the parents for any spawning.

The problem with crossbred fish is that if everyone started breeding crossbred fish, it would dilute and eventually destroy the true species we do have by crossing them all together.

Most people start out with a basic community Cichlid aquarium. Once their fish grow and start to breed in their tank, they soon realise the pleasures of Cichlid breeding. They then get another tank to raise young, then another, then another and then another. What started out as a pleasurable hobby soon consumes their life as they develop the idea of becoming a professional breeder.

I believe it is important for most people to understand that this really a hobby, it started out a hobby and is always will be a hobby. The amount of outlay involved in breeding enough fish to make enough money to support a family is immense and almost never achieved in Australia. My advice is to grow slowly as a breeder and never loose sight of the fact that you do this for fun. I have seen too many good breeders come and go because they grow too fast and the house is soon full of fish tanks, which often puts too much stress on their family and their time. They try harder and harder to make it profitable and soon give up altogether with frustration.

Most common Cichlids sell to the shops at about $3 each at 4cm, but rarer Cichlids can sell for up to $20 each. The problem is that all the breeders try to breed the fish which they make the most money on, this is always the very popular rare fish. This means that a lot of the breeder are breeding all the same fish at the same time. When a new or rare fish comes on the market everyone is happy to pay a high price and try to breed them hoping to sell them at a high price. Once the new or rare fish become common and the price then drops, most of the breeders stop breeding them. Once people stop breeding them again they soon become rare again and the price starts to rise again. Once the price starts to rise again everyone wants to start breeding them again and so it goes on.

The problem with people breeding fish for the return value is that many Cichlids that were once common in Australia soon become lost to the hobby because everyone stops breeding them at once. This is because they are not returning the same money and then they are soon all gone. This has happened to countless species over the years.

My request to all breeders to select at least once species for each person, which you will stay responsible for to ensure that these fish keep breeding and surviving in Australia. Not for the money but for the hobby. If everyone tried to pick one species that is at the time not so common, we could ensure that all species will be here for good and we can stop losing so many wonderful diverse Cichlids to this hobby. When picking a Cichlid to be responsible for, communicate with as many people as possible to ensure you don’t pick a fish that a lot of people are breeding already. Various aquarium stores have lists of who breeds which fish to ensure their own supply and that you can access to help you choose which fish to support.

Majestic Aquariums in Taren Point, Sydney run an extensive program called ‘Save the Cichlid’ which aims to stop Cichlid species being lost to the hobby. To become a part of the Save the Cichlid program simply email your name, phone number and what species you choose to be responsible for to paul@majesticaquariums.com.au. Majestic Aquariums are currently collecting information to post on their web site under `Save the Cichlid`. On the website, breeders can access a full comprehensive Cichlid list.

This way anyone can see how many people breed the same fish or which species need to be bred. No private information is accessed by any person except one single staff member who is responsible for updating the list. Majestic Aquariums will be in contact with each person on the list twice a year to ensure the list is valid. Any one registering a fish on the list is to agree to keep breeding that fish unless they find someone else to take over their registry or they contact Majestic Aquariums by email to tell them that they will no longer be breeding this fish. At this point for any rarer species Majestic Aquariums will try to find a new person to register that same fish ensuring they stay strong in the hobby forever.

We must try to support people like Anthony Ramsey and the PIAA that are working to ensure the laws are fair in regards to the importation of Cichlids to Australia. Any new fish that we are able to get on the allowable import list helps to improve and expand our hobby.

Another issue facing availability of Cichlids in Australia is the release of hormone-based colour enhancing food. As many of the Cichlids have beautifully coloured males while the females are quite bland in colour, people are tempted to use hormone-based foods to allow them to have a display tank full of coloured fish. These foods will make the male`s colour look amazing and also make the female colour up as well. As attractive as this sounds, it has massive negative effects on the long-term health of the fish. With extended use of this food, the immune system of the fish will close down and the fish will become impotent, therefore no longer able to reproduce. If everyone used this food, we would be faced with even bigger issues in terms of the availability of non-importable Cichlids.

There has been claim that over 200 species have come and gone from the Australian Cichlid hobby in the last 15 years. I can only imagine the impact those 200 fish would have had on the variety available now if they were all around now because of a program as simple as Save the Cichlid. It is a shame to see so many wonderful Cichlids come and go from this great hobby when with a little dedication and communication we can ensure that they all live on for us all forever.

Please try to educate every Cichlid hobbyist about these issues for the benefit of everyone and make sure that any Cichlid breeding is registered by emailing paul@majesticaquariums.com.au

Good luck and enjoy
Paul Talbot