<i>Pseudochromis cyanotaenia</i> Breeding Log

<i>Pseudochromis cyanotaenia</i> Breeding Log

Postby mpedersen » Sun Dec 02, 2007 8:24 pm

12-2-07

Well, I finally bit it. For a couple months I've been watching a few Blue-Bar Dottybacks at an area LFS. Witt calls them Yellowhead or Yellow Flame Dottybacks. Pseudochromis cyanotaenia is the scientific name. They have a maximum length of only 2.3".

So I was out making my rounds, and I finally succumbed to temptation. The fish looked really good, and I did my best to get a male/female, although the "female" looks like it's 50% into a male transition (all these dottybacks were in seperate tanks and didn't have visual interaction with each other either). Thankfully, according to Witt, this species is capable of bi-directional sex changes, so even if the "female" is actually a "male" already, it'll take longer but one of the two should change back!

So they're going into the 24 gallon cube that houses my old CB Bangaii Pair, my Fire Clown Pair, a spare Centropyge argi, my lone female Barbouri Seahorse, and my pair of Synchiropus picturatus. It's anyone's guess as to how they'll interact, but right now they are just about the smallest fish in the tank, and the Bangaiis are even aggressive enough to keep the FIRE CLOWNS at bay! Everyone ignores the mandarins (probably due to their toxic slime coat) so hopefully this pair won't become troublesome when they start spawning...

Anyway, they're floating...I'll get pictures when I can. The two I picked happened to be very inquisitive at the shop...not hiding, but spending most of their time right at the front glass begging for food. I hope they'll continue this here at home!

I welcome anyone's thoughts and ideas on this crazy undertaking!

FWIW,

Matt
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Postby mpedersen » Sun Dec 02, 2007 8:37 pm

So they're in the bucket, drip acclimating right now, and ALREADY going at each other! It's VERY CLEAR who is who, or at least who will likely become who. The "50% female" went straight into pale flank coloration, while the known male intensified in color. The male flairs his fins, comes up close to the "50% female", doesn't actually strike but lunges towards her. Or he'll position himself parallell, head to tail or head to head, and tailbeat.

The "50% female" is pretty much on the run, and already in the bucket I've seen clamped fins and something like an "S" curve, basically remeniscent of what male clownfish will do to appease the female. I should add that the main difference in the sexes at the shop was that the male had definite blue bars on a deeper blue flank, blue tail, and a nice yellow-green "blaze". The "50% female" was pretty much just dusky blue-black, and while there is blue in the tail, there is still yellow at the top and bottom of the tail. We'll see how they look in the tank...

Pictures of acclimation soon!

Matt
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Postby DrHsu » Sun Dec 02, 2007 9:50 pm

Hi Matt,

No....you're not mad...unless I'm mad as well :D

Have had a pair of cyanotenia for some time now in my display nano.

Bought 2 pairs and ended up with only one pair and a lone female. Have to say that these guys are really aggressive towards conspecifics! Even in the FW dip bucket, they were out to get each other! :shock:

In general, they are more aggressive towards similar sexed fish, but that doesn't always hold true - I had to re-match the pairs after one female almost killed the male I put her with. Re-pairing helped to some extent - established a pair, but the male of the other pairing got bullied by the female till he died :roll:

I did not really understand what Witt meant by having high hiding places for females of some dottyback species till I got these guys - the male is definately the king, and he keeps the female out of most of the bottom structures. Now she mostly hides under the overflow lip of my HOB filter.

I would say he mostly tolerates her and doesn't really beat her up but on occasion she will have a bit of fin torn off...Maybe they're breeding?? :?:

Fortunately, the aggression is mostly towards conspecifics and they will leave the other fish pretty much alone - have the pair with juve black ocellaris, neon gobies and mollies that I introduced in an attempt (failed) to control some bryopsis :evil: They don't like the yashas, tho...and the male will often hassle them back into their holes....

I often wonder why I'm trying them, with their aggression and all that......

BTW, the females are totally a different color, so your 50-50 female is probably already a male and he/she better change fast if it doesn't want to be killed!
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Postby mpedersen » Mon Dec 03, 2007 12:41 am

Li Chen, thanks so much for sharing your experiences. So far, I've only caught glimpses of the two in the tank. Witt's book shows the dimorphism very clearly, and your comments pretty much mirror that, so I'm probably in posession of 2 males...or maybe one was 100% male and 1 was 95%. All the ones at the shop were at least "kinda" male in coloration..I had 4 to pick from.

Here's a couple pics of them in the acclimation bucket. The air tubing being used for the drip acclimation is just a touch bigger than what you usually see, but it's still a pretty fair indication for scale.

Image

Image

So far, as mentioned earlier, I haven't caught more than a glimpse of either fish. It's hard to tell for sure which is which. They haven't eaten yet - mostly when I've seen them they've been checking out the nooks and crannies in the live rock or running from the Fire Clowns (Amphiprion ephippium)!

FWIW,

Matt
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Postby DrHsu » Mon Dec 03, 2007 1:23 am

Matt,

Looking at your pics, I would say that you have 2 males. They both seem to have the horizontal yellowish stripe and are generally blue in color. Apparently the bright yellow coloration varies alot with locality variants and some can be almost non-existent (or at least so dull that is doesn't look like it's there). Have seen one or two with good yellow coloration but usually they are lone males.....My male is not as bright as I would like him to be :( but at least there were many pairs to choose from....
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Re:

Postby mpedersen » Mon Dec 03, 2007 1:44 am

DrHsu wrote:Matt,

Looking at your pics, I would say that you have 2 males.


On the surface, I'd 100% agree with you. I want to point out the subtle differences so you know which one I'm calling the "50% male" :)

The biggest thing that caught my attention right away when looking at the pictures (but no the fish themselves) is the eye color as well as the color of the "snout". In the "100% male", they're gold. In the "50% male", they're olive/grayish.

Also note the lighter color to the flank on the "50% male", as well as the more prominant vertical barring in the "100% male".

Behaviorly, it took less than a minute for the "50% male" to assume the submissive role in the bucket. Meanwhile, the "100% male" seemed interested both in "impressing" with flaired fins as well as "intimidating" with short strikes. It would seem that IF the fish are both sexually mature males, within 90 days I should have a functional male/female pair if they don't kill each other first.

It's my hope that the presense of other potentially more dominant fish will keep them on their toes. If they're just as preoccupied about avoiding the Fire clowns as they are with killing each other, hopefully the interspecific aggression will be kept to a minimum...the "50% male" certainly seems to have the appeasing behavior down, if not yet having the "appeasing" coloration. I think having these pair up in a community setting will have the same basic affect as putting "dither fish" in with a monogamous pair of African Cichlids...the "dither fish" basically being the distraction that keeps the pair from completely beating on each other 24/7. One other interesting note..at the LFS where I picked these up, the "50% male" was actually housed with a Rainfordi Goby about the same size...there wasn't a scratch on the Goby, which happened to be one of the healthier Rainfordi's I've seen.

Of course, it might be worth considering the size of these guys...they're both "small", so perhaps they are sexually indeterminant at this point. Perhaps a great question for those who've reared the fish would be what coloration do juveniles show...the "male" coloration or the "female" coloration???

If all fails, I do know that there is at least one other Blue Bar in town right now that I could use to reattempt a pairing...

Matt
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Re:

Postby FuEl » Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:53 am

DrHsu wrote:I often wonder why I'm trying them, with their aggression and all that......


Reminds me of why I tried the Steeneis. Anyway they both killed each other. :roll:
I love Artemac!
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Postby mpedersen » Mon Dec 03, 2007 11:16 am

12-3-07

Well, this morning I found one of them sitting in the caulerpa, breathing heavily, looking ragged....gee I wonder what was going on overnight. I netted the "50% male" out and put it into a breeder net. The fish was VERY easy to catch, but didn't look to be so badly beat up that it won't fully recover. I think I may have walked up on the tank to find this situation just as the lights had turned on...the fish seemd disoriented and all too happy to swim into the black net!

No sooner had I netted the the 50% male out than the 100% male came out to look around and basically just show off its stunning coloration.

I may be in the market for a "100% female" unless someone can give me some advice on how to get these two to settle into their male/female roles! The tank is jammed full of live rock; despite that it seems like I need to do more to ensure I don't end up with a lone male ;)

Matt
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Postby Witt » Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:40 pm

Hey Matt,

It sounds as though you have seen first hand just out just how tenacious these little fellas can be. I have yet to find a 'compatible' pair of this species and it seems they will fight no matter what 2 are paired. I have had a few pairs in which the females dominated the pair and terrorized the male. My usual approach to pairing the nasty species, especially Pictichromis, is through the use of a hanging basket. Usually, in dichromatic species the male is allowed free roam on the bottom to defend his spawning shelter and the female is held within a floating basket. After a few weeks of conditioning a small hole is cut in the basket to allow her free access to her mate. In this way she seems to know where the safe retreat is and if enough time was given for her to acclimate in the basket she will often defend this area from the male. I formed a pair of neon dotties a few months ago using this technique as the male was unusually aggressive. Once the hole was cut in the basket the male took over the basket and spawning occurred there, while the female had the run of the main tank.

Though Bi-directional sex change has been observed in this species, the trick seems to be keeping them alive long enough in a confined space for this change to occur. Physical interaction is quite important to stimulate sex change, but the basket technique works well, assuming the mesh is somewhat transparent.

A few random thoughts. Though they are nasty, stick with it, definitely a worthy species.

Matt
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Re:

Postby mpedersen » Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:15 pm

Hey Matt, thanks for your followup and sharing your experiences with them. I have some followup questions and comments myself.

Witt wrote:Hey Matt,

It sounds as though you have seen first hand just out just how tenacious these little fellas can be. I have yet to find a 'compatible' pair of this species and it seems they will fight no matter what 2 are paired.


Would you say that the level of ongoing aggression in pairs of P. cyanotaenia is on par with what occurs in a small harem of Centropyge angelfish (i.e. constant bickering, but damage is usually limited to a nicked fin or missing scale...nothing serious or fatal)?

I have had a few pairs in which the females dominated the pair and terrorized the male. My usual approach to pairing the nasty species, especially Pictichromis, is through the use of a hanging basket.


For the moment, the "50% male" is in a breeder net. The net has a fairly heavy growth of algae on it, so I'm not even sure our "100% male" knows that the "50% male" is still there.

The 50% male has fully recovered, so I'm not so sure I didn't just stumble on the fish while it was still sleeping and perhaps make some incorrect assumptions?

Though Bi-directional sex change has been observed in this species, the trick seems to be keeping them alive long enough in a confined space for this change to occur. Physical interaction is quite important to stimulate sex change, but the basket technique works well, assuming the mesh is somewhat transparent.


Got it! I might be looking for a different breeder box, or perhaps I'll at least start by simply replacing the net with a new one.

12-4-07

So as I stated above, the "50% male" is in the breeder net, eating and active, I may have overreacted yesterday morning and perhaps just caught the fish while it was still asleep (and thus disoriented)...

FWIW,

Matt
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Postby Witt » Tue Dec 04, 2007 3:25 pm

In my experiences P. cyanotaenia is very aggressive, and I would say that this aggression is constant. In many groups of fishes like sex changing pomacentrids (like D. reticulatus, D. aruanus and trimaculatus), and the Centropyge spp., anthias and many more, sex change is regulated by social structure and establishing a dominance hierarchy is very important in maintaining the social unit. So, angelfish display constant aggression, but as you stated, it never really leads to harm. It is more or less a way to keep the social unit in check and make sure no one is going to change sex and skew the hierarchy. The vast majority of pseudochromids exhibit a promiscuous mating system and do not exhibit these same social hierachies. In captivity they do fight to see who is male and who is female, but the fighting is grounded more in a territorial nature that in many species leads to the death. The window of compatibility in some species, but more some individuals, is often very short and lasting only the direct length of the reproductive phase, perhaps an hour or two. Generalities are difficult as I have had pairs of neon dottybacks that maintained an almost monogamous relationship with both members residing in the same pipe, even when a spawn was present. Lined dottybacks and a few others have been known to form harems and in these social structures there are certainly complicated regulating behaviours.
So in the end, a quick way to keep the 'pair' going is to use the hole in the box method or just the let the female out to play every week. She will get her butt kicked, but if we use what we know about sex change to our benefit we can manipulate what we need. This will work, eventually, for two males as well, at least in P. cyanotaenia.
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Re:

Postby mpedersen » Tue Dec 04, 2007 3:50 pm

Witt wrote:
So in the end, a quick way to keep the 'pair' going is to use the hole in the box method or just the let the female out to play every week.


Interesting...I like the idea of letting the female out to play!!! Seems like a safe route to go and you KNOW when the fish spawn, so you KNOW when to expect a hatch. Unfortunately, my pair are in a reef, which means recapture of the female may be difficult!

The hole in the box method - I'm not sure it'll work for my Blue-Bars - they're both almost exactly the same size...there's no real way to form a "refuge" based on a smaller fish being able to escape the larger, or am I missing something? I would've gone for a size difference but all the Blue-Bars at the shop were probalby within 1/8" of each other in size.

She will get her butt kicked, but if we use what we know about sex change to our benefit we can manipulate what we need. This will work, eventually, for two males as well, at least in P. cyanotaenia.


With the sex change, does a coloration change come as well? What color are "juvenile" P. cyanotaenia?

Matt
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Postby Witt » Tue Dec 04, 2007 5:34 pm

The basket or box method doesn't necessarily require that a size difference exist. As long as enough time is allowed for the female or the otherwise submissive fish to establish this nook as their territory and acknowledge this as a safe retreat it usually works quite well. The key is to leave the fish in the basket for several weeks and then let her swim out so she knows where the entrance is. In this way the smaller fish has a small territory that is usually defended. Generally, the male won't follow into the basket, BUT it does happen. And when it does happen there is no safe retreat. Coloration definitely accompanies sex change. You will see the 'males' turning murky and loosing color as the gonads differentiate.
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Re:

Postby mpedersen » Thu Dec 06, 2007 1:58 am

Witt wrote:The basket or box method doesn't necessarily require that a size difference exist. As long as enough time is allowed for the female or the otherwise submissive fish to establish this nook as their territory and acknowledge this as a safe retreat it usually works quite well.


Thanks for that insight Matt!

Coloration definitely accompanies sex change. You will see the 'males' turning murky and loosing color as the gonads differentiate.


Do they get the orange back in the tail?

12-5-07

Tomorrow I'll try to get some pictures of the fish in the tank / breeder net. This evening I swapped out the existing breeder net housing the "50% male", aka. "Female To Be...". The new net has no algae growth so it's actually somewhat transluscent - should allow for visual interaction between the two fish (whereas the old net was so enrcusted with Valonia, Caulerpa and other algaes that it was mostly opaque).

Both fish are active and have settled in nicely. For the time being, it seems like mysis / brine shrimp are the only foods they are interested in, but time should allow for menu "expansion". The "50% male" is EXTREMELY fat, but not in an unhealthy way. Certainly looks like it could be "gravid" despite still having male coloration (although as mentioned, when I picked this fish out there was still tinges of yellow at the top and bottom of the caudal fin, and the overall "male" coloration was not nearly as pronounced). Maybe things will go better than that first night had me thinking!!!

That's the update! I'm staying optimistic!

Matt
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Postby mpedersen » Thu Dec 06, 2007 3:01 pm

12-6-07

Today our "male" is zipping around the tank, out and about most all the time. Barely giving me enough time to get a decent picture. To be fair, the pictures aren't that great - the flash washes out the really deep royal blue that is the "real" coloration of the male.

Image

Image

The "50% male" is in the breeder net, coexisting rather peacefully with an Allardi and 2 baby onyx percs that are 1/4 it's length! I cannot say that the male has noticed the "50% male", but I have seen the male up and swimming around the breeder nets, apparently oblivious that there are fish inside them!

The other news - the "50% male" is now taking down pellet food. I don't htink we're gonna hvae any problems getting this fish into "condition" in a net!

Pictures of the "girl" when I can get them!

Matt
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The 50% Male Blue Bar Dottyback

Postby mpedersen » Thu Dec 06, 2007 3:33 pm

I got some pictures of the "Female"...or rather the "50% male", or the "girl" as no doubt we'll someday call her. But for now, she, or he, is probably an "it".

What does it for me is the tail coloration - this is the difference I was mentioning earlier on and now I can actually show it...

Image

Image

FWIW,

Matt
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Postby mpedersen » Thu Dec 06, 2007 3:46 pm

Well...they just noticed each other, or at the very least the "50% male" noticed the "male" swimming around outside the net....

HMM.

Matt
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Postby Witt » Fri Dec 07, 2007 11:37 am

They definitely look healthy! I would say your assumptions are correct, but a side shot of the 'female' would help a bit. Remember sexual dimorphism in jawfish? The body cavity is sometimes a clue as to the sexual function of a fish. Males take on a somewhat triangular shape, while females resemble a jelly bean with a more rounded appearance from developing ovaries. This sometimes works in dottybacks, and tracking these changes over time helps solidify other observations. Your fish are very healthy and fat so this might be difficult to see. Don't be alarmed if it takes a wile for this change to occur. You can of course speed it up with play time. It's pretty cool though. This is what is so fascinating about marine fishes and our knowledge that allows us to manipulate a pair. Can you imagine if this was a rare species worth $300 and the only 2 fish available in the world were males?
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Re:

Postby mpedersen » Fri Dec 07, 2007 2:10 pm

Witt wrote:They definitely look healthy!


Very active too. Not what I would have originally expected for a "dottyback". The male is literally all over the place in the tank...almost never hiding.

I would say your assumptions are correct, but a side shot of the 'female' would help a bit.


I'll see what I can do!

Remember sexual dimorphism in jawfish? The body cavity is sometimes a clue as to the sexual function of a fish. Males take on a somewhat triangular shape, while females resemble a jelly bean with a more rounded appearance from developing ovaries. This sometimes works in dottybacks, and tracking these changes over time helps solidify other observations.


Unless I find some miracle method of shooting through the mesh, I'm not sure I'd be able to get something useful. A different type of container might be more appropriate for that...I'll keep an eye out for something while I'm out galavanting around the LFS's this evening :)

I've never really been able to see the buccal cavity dimorphism in jawfish, at least not in the pair (or pairs) I've had. Although an interesting side note, I've saved every Dr. Foster's & Smith Diver's Den picture of Opistignathos rosenblatti for the last year. I think I have like 30+ pictures of the species, all shot in profile. I've been wondering if, when enough pictures are amassed, measurements might be taken and perhaps side-by-side comparisons could be made from that!

Your fish are very healthy and fat so this might be difficult to see. Don't be alarmed if it takes a wile for this change to occur. You can of course speed it up with play time.


I shot some video today, as the male now definitely knows where the "female" is....

This is what is so fascinating about marine fishes and our knowledge that allows us to manipulate a pair. Can you imagine if this was a rare species worth $300 and the only 2 fish available in the world were males?


I can!

------------

12-7-07

While sitting here working today, I'e been noticing the male make regular and frequent visits up to the breeder net to check out the female. He even did some sort of "fin waggle" display to her which I happened to catch in this video (which I've posted to Youtube). You'll see the "Waggle" happen right as I'm moving in to get a better angle on it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Md0eqPwcyk0

Both are now eating pellets like pigs!

Matt
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Postby Iris » Sun Dec 09, 2007 2:22 pm

Hello Matt, the Larvae 5 days from Januar2007
Image

6 days
Image

10 days
Image

and 02.02.2007


Image

and then i lost :twisted:
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Re:

Postby mpedersen » Sun Dec 09, 2007 6:11 pm

Iris wrote:Hello Matt, the Larvae 5 days from Januar2007


Iris, you always give me something to look forward to :)

Tell us, how did you form your pair, and how do they behave towards one another? Any pictures of the broodstock? Any other special observations of the breeding behavior?

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Postby Iris » Sun Dec 09, 2007 6:34 pm

Hello Matt, i give a pair in my tank but the male are verry aggressiv. perhaps the female was not so god in form and they die! 2 month later i start a new test with another female, the men was crazy for 2-3 days. 6 weeks later i have the first Larva. I feed them with small enrichment brachionus and copepods. The Larvae a little bit bigger then fridmani but they goes more slowly larger then.
I will make Pictures for you from my Tank they have a lot of holes there
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Postby DrHsu » Tue Dec 11, 2007 1:27 pm

Iris....as usual you just slip in here and suprise everyone with you nice pics of your larvae! Good job on getting these guys to spawn, and not only once but twice!! :shock:

Matt, here are some pics of my pair for comparison. My male does not have that nice bright yellow highlights and head :cry: As you can see, the females are very different in coloration.....

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image
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Postby mpedersen » Sun Dec 16, 2007 9:11 pm

Iris, Li Chen, both of your contributions are wonderful! I look forward to seeing your setup Iris. To both of you, how large are the tanks housing your broodstock pairs?

12-16-07

Just a quick update - the breeder net has gotten pretty heavily algae covered, but the male and "female" still know that the other is present. I noticed today that the "female" has lightened in color substantially - maybe actual female coloration isn't that far off???

I may be transferring her into a better net box soon, this one being made out of a thick nylon screening with holes around 2mm, which will allow for better visual interaction between the two fish.

We'll see....

Matt
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Postby mpedersen » Thu Dec 20, 2007 6:00 pm

12-20-07

I moved the female from a "Breeder net" into a "Breeder box" of sorts..it's the Lustar box that has a clear viewing pane and the rest of the box is plastic screening, kindof like what is used for knitting / sewing / embroidery. The upshot to this move is that the male and female can see each other better and interact.

Oh, and yes, you'll see I started calling our "50% male" a "female"...well I'm not sure that he/she/it has quite decided what to be yet, but I have noticed that there is now a very distinct coloration difference between the male that's running around the tank and the "female" that's in the box. How much of this color difference is due to being in the box vs. an actual coloration shift remains to be seen. The most interesting observation thus far has been some of the "suggestive" almost "serpentine" displays that the female has made in the presence of the male. One thing is clear, they each know the other is there and the MALE is very interested in what's inside the box!

---------------------------------

On a related note, I noticed something interesting - Witt if you read this I hope you can comment. In Witt's book, he mentions that female P. cyanotaenia were labeled P. tapeinosoma. I found that there is an actual species of P. tapeinosoma, and according to what is shown on Fishbase, it looks awefully similar to P. cyanotaenia.

To further complicate the whole naming confusion, I looked in my Burgess Atlas (an older one I've probably had 10-15 years) and P. tapeinosoma looks like a female P. cyanotaenia, but there's also P. flammicauda which looks very similar to the female coloration suggested for this fish....

And there's still more to this, but the jist of what I'm wondering is are these all truly distinct valid species, or perhaps just one big continuum (it doesn't help that all their distirbutions overlap).
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