How Do I Know When To Cull Angelfish Fry?

Discussion in 'Breeding Fish' started by bizaliz3, Aug 1, 2017.

  1. bizaliz3Fishlore LegendMember

    I want to start by saying this is an advanced question. I have been breeding angels for over 2 years and raised many successful spawns from numerous different pairs for multiple generations. So I know all the basics and then some......

    The culling topic is something I have always struggled with though. But the larger my spawns have gotten....I can't keep trying to "save them all". And bringing them to the LFS with cosmetic flaws is embarrassing and it is considered a disservice to the species in general. I have done a lot of research on the topic. And I read on the angelfish society website, which "traits" are genetic and constitute culling. They list four things: Gill plate deformities, deformed or missing ventrals, Anal fins bent rearward, and belly sliders.

    The issue I am dealing with is none of those 4 things. I have about 150 blue pearlscale angel babies right now. All of which are at least dime sized or larger. There are just a few with severely bent ventrals or missing ventrals, I don't see any gill plate issues, or belly sliders. So that is all good!!! BUT about 10-20% of them are having their dorsal fins get droopy bends at the tips of them. Some of them have the anal fin bent as well. I guess that fits into the "bent anal fin" category. But the angelfish society didn't mention the dorsal fins bending. And that is where my main issue lies. Many of them have perfectly normal anal fins, but the dorsal has the bend.

    Whats frustrating is that everything I have read suggests this would only be caused by overcrowding and poor water quality. (Free Willy anyone? lol) Neither of which am I guilty of though!! My fry tanks get water changes daily, or every other day at the least. The tanks are appropriately stocked and the water quality is perfect. question is, could this be a genetic thing and there is nothing I can do about it? I had the same thing happen with previous batches of babies too. Different parents. But again, I take immaculate care of my fry. So I just can't believe that I am causing it somehow. And it is usually just a small % of them that get the bent fins. The majority develop wonderfully. I would think it would affect the MAJORITY of them if it were something I was doing wrong. Rather than the minority....

    With that being said, if it is genetic, I assume then, that I need to cull that 15-ish% that are developing those bent fins? Its so hard to consider because they are so beautiful and healthy despite the imperfect fins.

    I have larger cichlids that I can feed the culled fry to. But at dime size, that will be hard to watch!!! And if I have to cull like 20 or more....I will just be very sad about that. I've got approx. 150, like I said, so the majority are looking excellent. But I refuse to bring fish with bent fins to the LFS. I did it a couple times, just a few of them, and it was genuinely embarrassing! lol Everone's first assumption would be that I am caring for them poorly, and that just isn't the case!

    So with all of that being said....could the bent dorsal fins on 15% of my fry be genetic and require being culled? Or is there something I need to be doing differently? I have raised many stunning angels into adulthood....and brought tons of gorgeous fry to the LFS...but I am afraid I need to cull these bent dorsals and that really stinks.

    @chromedome52 @AlyeskaGirl
    I don't know who to "mention" so if anyone knows any other members who may have some insight, please mention them for me! Thanks!!!

    wow.....that got really long. Sorry.

    Last edited: Aug 1, 2017
  2. McasellaFishlore VIPMember

    I would look into culling those with bent fins, some of those with missing ventrals produce perfectly healthy fry when bred. But if it is embarrassing to take them in and you have few other options, calling them would be best before they get adopted into too small of a tank or remain at the store. We all know how well your fish are cared for so the only other option is genetic.

  3. tunafaxWell Known MemberMember

    The only input I have is that I 100% agree that putting out defective fish to lfs is a disservice to the species and a bit embarrassing for larger breeders. On a small scale and will small spawns a few minor things isn't all that bad.

    But here's the thing, there are like 10 PetSmarts where I live, if not more. Their supplier produced several huge batches of calico goldfish.
    With missing gill plates.
    Not upturned, missing.
    Every single one of them, in every PetSmart, and differently aged spawns at that, for 6 months now. This is in Vancouver BC.

    Now that's disgraceful.

    So thanks on behalf of squimmish people like me for doing the unpleasant work. >:/

  4. NavigatorBlackFishlore VIPMember

    I have seen a lot of wild angels arrive in Canada, and when you check the bags, a certain percentage have anal and dorsal fins that are short and/or hooked in. It isn't shipping damage, it's shape. The great majority have beautiful tall dorsals and symmetrical fins. Sound familiar?

    Remember, breeding standards are to our eyes and tastes.

    Here's the cruel fact. Once you start breeding "fancies" you are breeding to the market. What you raise is what you will be able to easily sell while maintaining a good reputation with the stores you sell to. If you sell fish seen as unmarketable or deformed, then you won't be able to sell again. Any breed standards you find are purely artificial - pearlscale could be argued to be a bad mutation - but people like it a lot.

    It leaves you with a bind. When I bred angels, and had limited space, my harsh decision was only to raise young that showed tall fins early. I could take bags of what I saw as my ideal to auctions, and they sold well. And since I'm a softie, I had a few less than stellar angels in my 75, as non breeders. I culled early, and missed sometimes...
  5. KinsKicksFishlore VIPMember

    Hello biz!

    As far as I know with the angels, the bent dorsal fin is genetic (unless they accidentally get caught in something for example); my breeding koi female has a bent dorsal fin that only started developing when her body was about 1.5-2in or so and I know my water conditions have been kept extremely pristine since I have gotten her (almost 6 years now); her other breeding sister has a very straight, almost picture perfect, dorsal.

    From her offspring, about 10% (somewhat close to your statistic, but I haven't had as many fry as I think you have, so my statistics may be a bit skewed) had those bent dorsal fins into about dime sized-as well. I began culling them (which does stink) because I did notice that (from a quick experiment) that their broods, while small in the number of bent dorsals had very bent dorsals instead (to the point where I believed they kinda swam funny because there is this large flap, almost half the dorsal would bend, above their bodies).

    The ones what began exhibiting the bent dorsals when they were larger (like my breeding koi, or about quarter size) would produce fewer bent dorsals or none at all (like my original)

    Therefore, from that, I think (and it really is sad) is to cull the ones that develop the bent fin when they are quite small as, at least in my experience, increased the number of bent fins that would worsen then they were older and affect their health. Unless they have some beautiful coloring/patterning (in which that may offset the shape of their fin), it is probably best to cull them.

    For the ones that did get the bent fins later in life, I did cull them in order to help keep the lines clean (in all honesty, it may have developed from being a species bred together for decades) , but only if they didn't display a quality I wasn't convinced to keep as I know they will have "healthy" fry as well. The cosmetic issue can be hard to sell in general on the LFS end, as well as embarrassing for you as well. And if by chance you do sell a "deformed" one, what's to stop an inexperienced person from buying a mate and continuing the genetics and make it worse? :(. It really does make it a vicious cycle :/

    I am a softie tho; I will keep the ones that I really like, even if they aren't perfect
  6. bizaliz3Fishlore LegendMember

    Thank you so much guys! I really appreciate the input!!

    @NavigatorBlack very well said, thank you! It's nice to hear that even the wild caught ones experience the imperfections like this. And you are exactly right, I will not be able to keep selling if I hand over less than perfect fry to the LFS. And I am truly doing a disservice to the species if I do anyway! I just really wanted to make sure there isn't something I could be doing differently. But I guess the only thing I can do differently here is start culling more :-(

    @tunafax That is just awful that a "professional" breeder would hand out that many genetically deformed fish to the stores! And yes, this is definitely an unpleasant spot to be in. I really REALLY struggle with culling fish whose ONLY issue is COSEMTIC. Because that is all this is! These are healthy angels, with nice solid bodies and coloring.....they are perfectly healthy in every way. Other than their bent fins. Some of them are not very severly bent, so I might give them a chance...but the more severe ones, I will have to suck it up and cull them :-( Booo

    @KinsKicks Thank you as well for sharing your experience with this. I really appreciate it. I am also a softy....and in the beginning, I tried to keep the ones that should have been culled, but I just can't do that anymore! Especially with these large spawns. I am just going to have to throw them into the cichlid tank and run away and not watch :-( They are such pretty healthy angels though! it feels so WRONG!!!!!!!!!

    @Mcasella thank you :) I appreciate it. I just hate thinking that I might be doing something wrong. But you all know how hard I work for my angels....and I appreciate the encouragement. I guess I will have to cull healthy angels :-( It's heartbreaking really.
  7. chromedome52Fishlore VIPMember

    I believe the bent dorsal/anal fins are damage that occurs at a very, very early stage - and cannot really be avoided. Consider if you piled 150 infants on top of one another, some would certainly get hurt. And that's what is happening when the larvae are all lumped together. Could even be poor parental handling.

    Gill covers are definitely from overcrowding; made that mistake once, and had to destroy almost the entire spawn of about 200+. Ventrals I am uncertain about, but I had a pair that produced a large percentage with one ventral missing, and usually the same side on all of them. That appears to me to be genetic.
  8. bizaliz3Fishlore LegendMember

    Thanks @chromedome52 ! I appreciate the input.

    To give you guys a visual....
    Approx 15% develop this bend at the tip of their dorsal. As you can see it's a beautiful healthy Angel otherwise!

    The other 85% are stunning perfection! Like this guy...
  9. Cricket lynn mcleanWell Known MemberMember

    This was interesting to read. I wondered if culling really works. I just always go back to the fact that for 500,000 years 10% of the population has been left handed. That's a long time for a genetic abnormality to remain unchanged. Especially through difficulty and prejudice. But if y'all see the difference then I gotta believe your eyes :hilarious:
  10. chromedome52Fishlore VIPMember

    Being left handed isn't abnormal, it's the rest of you who are messed up. :p
  11. JeffKWell Known MemberMember

    This lefty seconds that!
  12. Cricket lynn mcleanWell Known MemberMember

    Quite right :joyful:
  13. clk89Fishlore VIPMember

    I will fourth that. ;)
  14. McasellaFishlore VIPMember

    Do they count ambidextrous people as left or right handed? (i mean i'm considered a lefty since I don't do very much writing with the right, but I am right handed in sports because it is easier - but i can write legibly with both hands, you might have to squint with the right-hand's writing, but you can read it..). Neither of my sisters are left handed, but i am, it just seems to be a mental connection for you to right or left, so you wouldn't be able to run it completely out of a gene pool even if it used to be called sinestry (sp?).
  15. clk89Fishlore VIPMember

    I think when being left-handed was seen as bad those who were ambidextrious just said they were right handed. In reality they simply use both hands, and are in a category all their own. I'm the youngest of five, three are left-handed, and two use both hands equally. I'm not actually sure if being left or right handed is completely genetic or not. I know when my oldest sister was in Kindergarten the teacher asked my Mom if she could tie her left-hand behind her back to train her to use only her right hand the entire school day. This was really common in my sister's era it could be trained out of someone. Most genetic mutations can't be trained out of an animal such as a fish as far as I know. My Mom said no by the way.
  16. Cricket lynn mcleanWell Known MemberMember

    Hey @bizaliz3 I was hoping I could ask you about this. My fry were laid on July 23 free swimming about the 30th can't recall exactly and just yesterday I noticed some of their dorsal fins turning down. Or bending. (So about 8 weeks old) They are behind my couch so I watch them all the time. So I noticed exactly when it began. Which was yesterday lol. Did you determine if anything could be causing it or if it's genetic? Mine moved to a 120 gallon maybe 2 weeks ago or so. So I'm worried that Maybe the current caused by the canister could be causing it. Am I nuts? Some of their dorsal fins are getting fatter at the top. Which is like their mother. The one on the far right 5e14ea212ea5d2682c6cf821b156a359.jpg And some of them are angling off at the top, Which is like their father. f0eb4f352b44579e5e7c697ae787ee7c.jpg But some are just hardcore bent like the one you posted above. c1cb02fe89b253cd374265b38802107b.jpg
    I agree with what you said about them being too big (old) to watch getting eaten. That's hard :( what did you decide to do? I think I gotta harden up my heart for this
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2017
  17. bizaliz3Fishlore LegendMember

    I've wondered about the current myself. Because it doesn't happen until they get upgraded to a bigger tank with more flow. But that timing could be a coincidence grow out tanks can get a teeny bit crowded at times. So I've chalked it up to the crowd more than the current. But if it started happening to yours in a giant 120 gallon grow out tank....then it can't be crowding. Maybe there is something to be said about the current!!!! Hmmmmmm

    I do Notice as they get bigger that the ones with that tiny bend end up having the tallest widest fins.....So maybe they proved to be too heavy in the current???
    Or is it simply genetic? I honestly haven't made that conclusion yet.....But if it's happening to yours I'm gonna rule out the crowd as the culprit....

    I culled a few....but it was just too hard for me. I can handle it when they are teeny tiny...but these ones are too big and too healthy to cull for my taste.

    I have chosen to try and grow out those ones with bent dorsals longer than normal in hopes that the Fins will improve. And I do find that for most of them, the Fins improve sifnificantly when they get bigger.....this is one reason why I think it's probably not a genetic thing.....And also a reason why they should NOT be culled!!
  18. david1978Fishlore LegendMember

    As a rookie with angel fish i dont see anything wrong with any of the angelfish pictured. So im not much help. Lol
  19. bizaliz3Fishlore LegendMember

    That's because they're beautiful regardless :)
  20. david1978Fishlore LegendMember

    I guess its just any animal that is bred. To have a true 100% whatever the breeder needs to keep a tight hold on perfection. Just like dogs ive always had mutts not pure bred ones. Lol

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