With the routine culture of Dottybacks from the Red Sea has come the advent of interspecies hybrids. The first, and most widely available, is the Indigo Dottyback, a hybrid of Pseudochromis (sankeyi X fridmani). There is some coloration variation between individuals of the Indigo Dottyback. This is a primary hybrid (initial hybrid between two species) and one I tend to view as relatively benign – it is readily discernible from the parental species, and highly unlikely to be mistaken for a pure fish when it comes to breeding. The same cannot be said for hybrids between outwardly similar fish species (eg. Ocellarix X Percula clownfish).
Should you desire to breed “Indigo Dottybacks”, the better way is to recreate a pairing of the parental species, and not selecting two Indigos. By selecting to start with the parents, it helps ensure demand for the “building blocks” of the hybrid. Creating back crosses of primary hybrids, that is breeding them back to one of the parental species, is generally a bad idea and not something I would ever encourage. While the Indigo Dottyback is readily discernable, breeding it back to one parent or the other will push the offsprings’ appearance back towards the parental species, creating “more similar” fish that are harder to recognize as hybrids. The more similar a hybrid appears to a pure species, the more likely it will inadvertently be used in “species breeding”, with damaging, irreversible consequences to all subsequent breeding when it comes to species preservation.
Dottybacks’ reputation for aggression is, on the one hand deserved, but on the other hand, often blown out of proportion in my opinion. The species most commonly cultured are on the more passive side, being most aggressive towards other dottybacks. I’ve personally maintained several species of Dottybacks as pairs in tanks as small as 10-20 gallons with great success, and the only real problems of aggression have occurred at the hands of species which are rough on their mates. Of course, there are over 50 species of Pseudochromids; not all are small and many of the larger species are quite malicious; the commonly-offered captive-bred dottybacks, like Pseudochromis Indigo, don’t fit in that category.
Still, some references suggest that all Dottybacks are “evil killing machines” when it comes to invertebrate life in aquariums, and no doubt there’s some truth to that. They are carnivorous micro-predators…they will gladly try to eat something like a hermit crab or small ornamental shrimp when the opportunity presents itself, but again, let’s not blow things out of proportion. I’m very aware of a pair of dottybacks that resides in the same broodstock aquarium along with an adult pair of Blood Red Shrimp, Lysmata debelius. No missing shrimp there.
Savvy breeders of clownfish have realized that they can often house both a pair of clownfish and a pair of dottybacks in the same broodstock aquarium, thus doubling the yield per tank when it comes to fry. Dottybacks are also often quick to spawn, so aspiring breeders won’t be waiting years on a pair like they can be with clownfish.
Regarding my offerings; Small Dottybacks are generally 1-2″ in length, juveniles that have hit salable size; Large are in the 2-3″ range. Offerings for juvenile pairs are made from fish that have been cohabiting without major aggression for at least a couple weeks. All dottybacks may ship with some minor fin damage; this is par for the course when housing multiple dottybacks together, particularly if they are young pairs. Dottybacks can and will kill mates, or proposed mates, suddenly – we make no warranties or guarantees on pair stability nor your attempts to pair these fishes with existing mates.