In the Trade: Hybrid Haps from Florida Fish Farms

07 May, 2021

A new man-made hybridized Haplochromine cichlid, dubbed the "Tequila Sunrise Hap", showed up in the aquarium trade this week. Image courtesy Nautilus Tropical Fish Wholesale.
A new man-made hybridized Haplochromine cichlid, dubbed the “Tequila Sunrise Hap”, showed up in the aquarium trade this week. Image courtesy Nautilus Tropical Fish Wholesale.

The weekly trade report from Nautilus Tropical Fish Wholesale‘s sales manager, Joe Hiduke, shared some world news that’s affecting the aquarium trade supply chain, and highlighted a group of contentious—but visually stunning—fishes that have become more prevalent in the aquarium trade.

“It’s been a rough week for incoming fish,” said Hiduke. “There is major civil unrest in Colombia, plus significant winter weather. So, we have no new Colombian shipments and we’re very light on South American fish this week. I did get shipments form Indo, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Sri Lanka, plus plenty of Florida fish.”

Florida’s Fancy New Haps

“Got in some great looking new Haps last night. One of them is a new item, a ‘Tequila Sunrise’ Hap. It’s an aquarium strain cross that’s showing lots of orange (hence the name) and lots of blue and some neat stripes.

“I also have some new OB Red Empress that are absolutely gorgeous!”

Hiduke’s message continued, revealing one of the lesser-known facts about the rise of captive-bred man-made OB genetic variants among Peacocks and Haplochromine cichlids of Lake Malawi. “They are another aquarium strain cross—Red Empress don’t come in OB unless you cross that in to them—but bred back to Red Empress enough times that it has the right shape and conformation. The color on these is insane.”

The intense coloration of this hybridized "OB Red Empress" is sure to draw admiration from some aquarists.
The intense coloration of this hybridized “OB Red Empress” is sure to draw admiration from some aquarists. Image courtesy Nautilus Tropical Fish Wholesale.

“Neither of these are cheap, but they’re not easy to make. They’re a nice size and crazy bright so I still expect them to sell fast. I don’t have a lot of them so please don’t build your orders around these,” concluded Hiduke in his message to aquarium retailers.

An excerpt from the September/October 2019 issue of AMAZONAS Magazine, MAN-MADE FISHES. Click to order the back issue!
Man-made Fishes, the September/October 2019 issue of AMAZONAS, can be purchased as a back issue and accessed by subscribers in the digital archives.

Hybrid Fishes

For our part, AMAZONAS covered the issue of hybridization thoroughly in our Man-Made Fishes issue, and we encourage readers to revisit those diverse viewpoints.

While the actual and exact provenance of these hybrid haplochromines is an outward mystery, it’s nice to see that they are being transparently marketed for what they are, allowing retailers and consumers to make their own choices. Remember, perhaps ironically, that essentially all the domesticated strains of platies, swordtails, and mollies, are hybrid conglomerations of multiple species; we are simply seeing that ornamental breeding mindset being applied to other fish groups in more modern times.

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About the author

Matt Pedersen

Matt Pedersen is a Sr. Editor and Associate Publisher with Reef To Rainforest Media, LLC & CORAL Magazines, and is a Sr. Editor and Publishing Partner with Aquatic Media Press, LLC & AMAZONAS Magazine. Matt has kept aquariums for 38 years, has worked in most facets of the aquarium trade, is an active aquarist and fish breeder (both marine and freshwater), and was recognized with the 2009 MASNA Award as the MASNA Aquarist of the Year.

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