Re: NANFA-- Flagfin-Bluehead hybrid fry

Mysteryman (
Sat, 21 Feb 2004 01:15:31 -0800 wrote:
> In September, I received 4 female Bluehead Shiners, Pteronotropis hubbsi,
> from another hobbyist. Since all the Blueheads were females, and males are
> impossible to get in the fall and winter, I looked to hybridize the fish. I got
> Flagfin Shiners from two other hobbyists.
> The fish were in the garage from October to mid December. It got so cold
> that some Flagfins were on the bottom upside-down. Then the fish were put in a
> 55-gallon tank in the basement. After messing with adding rainwater with no
> success, I took time to sex the Flagfins. One Flagfin had a swimbladder problem
> so I sacrificed it - no eggs. Another large Flagfin did have eggs. The fish
> with oval shaped bodies are females. The more diamond shaped bodies are
> males.
> In the 55 are 1 male Flagfin, 1 male Flagfin in a breeder net, and 4 female
> Blueheads. The tank has my plastic grid plastic plants, a garbage bag plant, a
> pile of round rocks, spanish moss, a mound of quartz pool filter gravel, and
> yarn mops on the bottom; a sunken powerhead provides some current; one sponge
> filter; a shop light set for 15 hours per day; and a heater set at 74F.
> Before 1/25/2004 I had 4 Flagfins and 4 Blueheads in the tank; after 1/25
> only 1 Flagfin was free with the 4 Blueheads.
> On 2/11 I collected some eggs and fry by gravel cleaning and siphoning the
> bottom. The next day, most were still in the wall sticking stage. Assuming 2
> to 4 days to hatch, and 2 days sticking on the walls, and 2 days free swimming,
> any Flagfins that spawned on 1/25 would have been caught in 3 earlier
> attempts to collect eggs.
> Unless there is no difference in appearance between year-old, good-sized
> Blueheads, these fry are hybrids. It will be interesting to see what the fish
> look like as adults, especially in the next generation if the hybrids are
> fertile. I hope my account provides one small piece of evidence to the genetic
> closeness of hubbsi and welaka to other Pteronotropis.

Uhh.. Hmmm...
It is my personal opinion that only welaka and hubbsi should belong in
Pteronotropis. Just one look at these two should reveal to even a casual
observer that they are quite different from the other species of this
genus ( signipinnis, grandipinnis, merlini, hypselopterus, stonei,
euryzonus ). The very name Pteronotropis really only best applies to
welaka and hubbsi, I think; those two have finnage really deserving of
the "Ptero" ( = wing ) prefix.
The trouble you have in finding males outside of breeding season is that
the males you do find don't have their terminal finnage. Some of those
females are quite likely males. Also, the terminal finnage tends to grow
AFTER spawning, while the breeder males often don't yet have their
terminal finnage. This runs contrary to what would generally be
expected, and is certainly different from the Sailfins. I forgot where I
read all this, but I remember thinking it a bit odd. At any rate, your
hybrids may not be hybrids at all, but instead pure blueheads, and that
alone is something to be happy about any day. You should be able to tell
within a month or so, and I can hardly wait for the final verdict.
Hybridization between these two groups shouldn't be unexpected. Lots of
fish can hybridize, even if not that closely related. I'm just being my
picky "splitter" self here, but I don't think that any such
hybridization necessarily gives us any reason to associate these two
groups so closely as we currently do.

By the way, if any hybridization is to be done, I should think that a
Bluenose/Bluehead cross would be the most desired. Blueheads are not
dedicated cuckoo spawners like Bluenoses, so maybe some of the cuckoo
habit can be bred out of the Bluenose by crossing with Blueheads. While
it would probably be too much to ask, it would be cool if we could get a
fish with a lot more blue, having blue heads AND noses. I would suspect
that we'd only get a lot of junk fish before finding any such jewels,

Of course, I doubt it will be very long before various posters start
complaining about the very idea of doing any hybridization at all. I
remember the feathers I ruffled just from wanting to cross hypselopterus
and stonei in an attempt to get a red finned, green bodied fish. Still,
I think such crosses would have some merit, if only to figure out if
some of the intermediate species like grandipinnis and merlini are
really only transitional hybrids.
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