Hormone Injected Fish
There seems to be a lot of information and misinformation being circulated on the internet regarding hormone injected fish. Many breeders on the internet are advertising their fish as “hormone free” as if this was the exception to the rule. Some breeders will even state or imply that any fish with exceptional coloring has to be hormone injected. This just simply is not true.
Injecting breeding hormones into fish to induce them to spawn was developed for the propagation of commercial food fish such as Pacific Salmon and Tuna, or endangered species such as Paddlefish, Sawfish and Sturgeon. Since wild/endangered fish will not readily reproduce in captivity in the numbers necessary to make any impact, the practice of injecting them with breeding hormones was developed to produce the largest amount of food-fish possible with the least amount of down-time. The process requires literally using a hypodermic syringe to inject a hormone into the potential fish to induce them to spawn. The fish must be sedated, removed from the tank, injected, and placed in a recovery tank. Breeding hormones are carefullycontrolled by the FDA, and one needs a license in the US to obtain breeding hormones. While it may make sense to treat commercial food fish, such as salmon, with hormones, I really don’t believe that it makes much sense to inject a fish as small as a Ram with hormones, especially when Rams only sell for a few dollars at retail. The investment of time and money just doesn’t make sense. Obviously, we have never used any type of hormones to treat any of the fish we breed and raise. It just isn’t necessary. And, in all of the years we have been breeding fish, we have never known any other breeder in the US to treat their fish with hormones. The beautiful colors of our Rams are the result of careful selective breeding, excellent water conditions, and using the highest quality foods. Even with just a steady diet of live baby brine shrimp, our German Blue Rams will begin showing their colors when they are just two months old!
Having said that however, it is certainly possible for some breeders to treat fish with hormones, especially more valuable aquarium fish such as Discus. There is some evidence to suggest that breeders in the Philippines and Malaysia do use hormone therapy to treat their Discus, not only to promote spawning, but also to intensify their colors. Many of the hormones used to treat fish are being produced in China. Since these drugs are not as tightly controlled overseas as they are in the US, they are more easily obtained by breeders in these countries. This is not to imply that all Discus, or any other fish that are imported from overseas have been treated with hormones, but it is something to aware of. Coupled with the fact that you will not know what the water parameters the fish were bred and raised in, should cause you to look towards local breeders that have an established reputation for raising quality fish. A huge number of the fish are imported annually to the US for distribution and sale in local pet shops. Many local pet shops do buy their fish from local breeders, so it really never hurts to ask your pet shop where they purchase their fish from.
To be clear, hormone injections should not be confused with color injected fish. A good example of this was the “painted” tetras that began showing up in pet shops a number of years ago. These fish were literally injected with a dye. Their colors looked “splotchy” at best, and the colors would fade as the fish grew. These fish should not be confused with the Glo-Fish, which have genetically modified DNA to produce the neon red, blue, purple, yellow, and green colors that surfaced in the past few years. With the latter fish, the original fish’s DNA was modified using jellyfish DNA to produce the bright, permanent neon colors that are available today.
If you are interested in learning more about hormone injected fish, just do a Google search on the subject. There is no shortage of material on the subject. There is also a great article on the subject written by Florida State University on this topic. You can read it at: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fa161