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kasman

Metriaclima estherae

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or Red Zebras.

I have always assumed the brighter orange/red the better. Anything yellow/orange is just bad quality stock.

But have recently discovered this may not be the case after aquiring some.

There may be a legitimate variant out there that is more a yellow/orange, with the males having a blue sheen to the dorsal fin as seen here Cichlid Profiles

Anyone can confirm this? Mine look just like the ones in the link.

Would be nice to think the ones I have are not just bad quality, but are just from a particular region...

or maybe these days they are all mish mashed genes in the hobby? and the red ones have been line bred a little here and there....

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There are several different 'races' naturally occurring in the lake.

I believe the ones we see with the trade name "Red Zebra" are collected from near Pulu Point, and should be a vibrant orange as this is how they are found in the wild.

Other populations exist where colors range from white to powder blue, yellow, orange, soft purple; solid colored, barred and OB.

I kept a variant years ago where the males were a nice mauve color, whilst females were a dull orange. I know some members here have colonies that are throwing back OB females due to a mixing of locales somewhere in their lineage.

But to be technical, the trade name Red Zebra applies to the Pulu Point variant, and the standard required is a vibrant orange. Anything more dull or washed out would be considered poor quality.

However, if you have a different variant of M estherae, the standard changes, as they are not " red zebras."

Without knowing the locale though, they aren't really worth anything IMHO.

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thanks man. thats what I thought just wasnt 100% sure.

I actually read that less than 1% of the male Metriaclima estherae in the lake are actually red/orange. They are mostly as you say a nice mauve/blue. the red have just been line bred in the hobby.

Shame anything less than the vibrant orange (pulu point) is considered poor quality as they actually may not be poor quality but just from another location (minos reef).

Im quite happy with them, no deformities etc, so Im gonna run with them and enjoy them for what they are.

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I probably should clarify a couple of things.

I think when you read about less than 1% of the population being red/orange, that was in regards to the population found around Minos Reef. The population around Pulu Point are 100% red/orange. As to how the population at Pulu Point compares to the entire Lake Malawi population in term of numbers I have no idea.

Now when I hear the trade name "Red Zebra," I think specifically of the Pulu Point variety.

I'm not saying that any M estherae that is not a vibrant orange is poor quality; I am however saying that any M estherae being sold as the Pulu Point variety that is not a vibrant orange is poor quality. This is because there is a "standard" for a Pulu Point M estherae, which in my opinion, is that they should look as good as they do in the wild.

When it comes to other varieties of M estherae, the expected colouring changes and therefore the standard changes. If you know you have the Minos Reef variety, for it to be considered of good quality it should mirror the colours found on wild fish from that location.

I know I am nitpicking, but essentially I am trying to highlight the difference between M estherae in general, versus M estherae "Pulu Point Red Zebra."

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I probably should clarify a couple of things.

I think when you read about less than 1% of the population being red/orange, that was in regards to the population found around Minos Reef. The population around Pulu Point are 100% red/orange. As to how the population at Pulu Point compares to the entire Lake Malawi population in term of numbers I have no idea.

Now when I hear the trade name "Red Zebra," I think specifically of the Pulu Point variety.

I'm not saying that any M estherae that is not a vibrant orange is poor quality; I am however saying that any M estherae being sold as the Pulu Point variety that is not a vibrant orange is poor quality. This is because there is a "standard" for a Pulu Point M estherae, which in my opinion, is that they should look as good as they do in the wild.

When it comes to other varieties of M estherae, the expected colouring changes and therefore the standard changes. If you know you have the Minos Reef variety, for it to be considered of good quality it should mirror the colours found on wild fish from that location.

I know I am nitpicking, but essentially I am trying to highlight the difference between M estherae in general, versus M estherae "Pulu Point Red Zebra."

man that pretty much sums it up.

Nitpicking? no way, its these details that people generally overlook which can essentially be the reason why we lose subtle regional variations in sp.

Do I have minos reef estherae or bad quality pulu point? or are our esterae over here a mix of both and our only judgement is based on colour? no way of knowing I suppose. Mind you just to add further confusion in Konings back to nature on Malawi's there is a pic of a Minos Reef and its bright orange/red, similar to what we see as pulu points over here. :confused:

I'll post some photos of my zebs tomorrow.

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To be brutally honest, if you don't know the heritage of your fish, I dont think you can claim them to be a particular geographical varient.

To claim them to be something in particular when they may in fact not be, is false advertising and can lead to further problems (like we don't have enough already.)

The key outtake from this thread should be, that location information is important and people should pay more attention, especially as our borders are closed to most fish so if we lose what we have we cannot simply import replacements.

A classic example is is Pseudotropheus sp "zebra long pelvic." We were fortunate enough to have two new varieties of these appear a few years ago, and both were sold with the original collection point attached (P sp "Zebra long pelvic" Gallireya Reef, for example.) However, due to the sheer ignorance of fish keepers in Australia, attention was not paid to the collection points and the two varients have been mixed resulting in a mix that can now only be referred as a generic ZLP strain.

To get back on topic, I don't think you can simply say "my fish look kinda like these, so they must be these," however you would be completely entitled to advertise your fish as just "Metriaclima estherae," as that is what they are, even if you don't know their origin.

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agree with you - no way Id claim they were from minos reef, as I said earlier there is no way of knowing that.

But for me personally, if they didnt resemble any regional varient and were 100% poor quality fish then they would more than likely be culled as they would do more harm to the hobby than good if bred.

But the fact that they do resemble a regional varient is enough to hold my interest in them and keep them for now.

Good point with the long pelvic, similar thing that has/is happening to aulonocara sp. from what I hear.

Edited by kasman
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