Cull cull cull! The amount of rubbish you see in breeders tanks and LFS is astounding. Twisted jaws, beaks, short/deformed dorsal fin, bent tails, poor species specific features/colours, hybrids the list goes on. Either kill the weak stock or feed it to a tankbuster. There should be no excuse for not culling American cichlids when they produce hundreds, if not thousands of fry per spawn, one to two times a month. Raise a batch and let the parents look after the next 4-5 spawns. If the parents eat them well they eat them. What are you, and the market, going to do with 3,000 fry if you can't bring yourself to cull? As Winston said the market gets flooded and everyone loses interest in them because they are everywhere you look. That species then gets put on the backburner for a number of years as the cycle goes through, L number, Tangs, Malawis, Dwarves, Shrimp, Geos etc oh hey we're back to Americans whatever happened to Neetroplus nematopus I haven't seen them in years. You chase up all your leads in the hope that someone somewhere in the country has a pair so you can get some fry going. Sometimes this leads to a species vanishing for good. Quotes from forums over the years...Balzini I used to feed to my cat...Green Chromides I couldn't give away as feeders...Sajica I used to breed like clockwork but sold them on and haven't seen them since. My point is, if you release a small amount of quality fry at semi regular intervals then we have a better chance of species surviving. Flood the market and the attention span of humans wanes.
Lack of education is a tough one though. Double edged sword. There is endless supply of information on the internet. Good, bad and indifferent. Trolling through forums and websites trying to find consistent info on a species is almost laughable. Size, diet, tank size, tank conditions, tank mates, decor, breeding habits, sexing...you can find 6 different sites with species profiles and you get 6 different sets of information. That's just from the tech savvy breeders who even venture onto forums. A vast majority of quality old school breeders I've met over the years don't frequent forums anymore because of the BS that comes with them. Can't blame them really. That's a massive loss when it comes to the education of new aquarists delving into the American cichlid scene. On the flip side of that, plenty of breeders won't even let you in their fishrooms or give up any breeding/keeping information as they see it as a threat to their livelihood. Secret squirrel business! Bit hard to become educated when the information is withheld due to financial reasons. As a result someone jags a spawn and manages to raise some fry, doesn't cull because we need as many as possible to keep the species going. Poor quality stock continues. Ellioti is a prime example of people trying to breed out a genetic deformity. They should've been culled the minute they were introduced imo. Saw them for sale in a LFS the other day. Stunning fish. Vibrant colours. Bit of attitude. Kinked tails. Not just one or two, all of them! Expensive feeders at $25ea.
Not even gonna start on the Vieja and Paraneetroplus genus...
I've got a stunning, in my eyes, female white convict with 80% of her body vibrant orange. Her fins are pointed and flowing almost past her tail. Trying to find a nice bulky male with good size nuchal hump and long flowing fins is proving to be difficult. With selective line breeding I'm pretty confident I could get a completely orange female white convict. She may die of old age if I can't find the qualities in the male I'm after. Personally I would prefer to do that then get a poor quality male and take my chances. To me that just means more work and time. I might get 10% of fry showing potential. That means I have to sift through the 90% of crap to get to something that comes close to what looks promising. Start with a quality male and I might have 50% of fry showing potential. Odds are better already and the quality is solid off the bat.
Sorry for the ranting. I think culling, or lack of, needs to be added to the poll. You can either have 500 duds, which you are forced to sell at $1-$2ea, or 50 studs that you can sell for $5-$10ea. Look at the hype over German bred stock. Says it all really