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I have a 55 gallon that is currently up and running, and finally settling down after some wild spikes in the waste cycle (Accidental dump of food in the tank that was not cleaned up while I was out of town).

I am considering putting in a small colony of Thorichthys meeki (Firemouth Cichlid), and my experience with cichlids tells me that they will most likely breed at some point.

If I am intending on returning these fish to the commercial cycle (i.e. there is a local store that purchases fry for resale), should I worry about getting the fish from different sources? I'm only concerned that if I get them from the same source at the same time, I run a greater chance of them being from the same batch of fry, and raising the potential for inbreeding.

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Inbreeding and line breeding have a higher chance for producing offspring with genetic deformities, no matter the species. So yes, choosing breeders from different stores should increase your chances of getting unrelated fish who should produce stronger offspring.

People looking to produce a mutation (usually colour, size, or shape) with the above method have very high mortality rates, and/or offspring with shorter life spans, when compared with the normal population for that species. This is due to there being variations with internal organs, bones, joints, etc as well as colour, size, or shape.

Edit: As pointed out, by others, that many local stores may buy from the same wholesale source. However you do what you can. You can also ask the store which wholesaler they buy from.

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    I like this answer, but I wonder if all the pet stores in an area, might use the same wholesale fish supplier. i.e. maybe there is only one place that raises Thorichthys meeki (Firemouth Cichlid) for hundreds of miles, so every one of them for hundreds of miles comes from the same breeder. – James Jenkins Dec 18 '17 at 13:23
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There's a good chance that common stock in local stores all comes from the same place. This is especially true for big box stores like petsmart and petco but there's only so many wholesale fish breeders so it's possible no matter where you get them from.

However, if you aren't deliberately trying to breed fish yourself, I wouldn't worry about it. With the exception of a few species, it's almost impossible to raise from egg to fish in community tanks, assuming you can get anything to breed at all. Firemouths and other cichlids readily breed but with other fish in the tank, their fry usually cannot survive to maturity.

Something else to consider is, if you are able to raise fish to maturity, make sure you are able to sell or rehome them. Common aggressive fish can be extremely difficult to rehome, firemouths are a good example, they're not in high demand and it can be difficult to even give them away. Convict and Severum cichlids are another that I see far too often for free.

If you are looking to deliberately breed cichlids, I recommend peaceful ones that can be in normal community tanks. Apistogrammas and Bolivian rams are great community cichlids that are relatively easy to breed. Due to lifespan and water quality requirements, I'd avoid gold and blue rams. They're beautiful fish but their husbandry requirements are closer to discus, they need pristine water to thrive and they still only live a few years.

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