Faders - explained


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MFK Member
May 9, 2007
Northwest Canada
I thought that I would compile some info in regards to FH faders, where the fader gene originates from, and why it only surfaces in some fish.

Amelanism is a pigmentation abnormality characterized by the lack of pigments called melanins (black pigment) and can affect reptiles, fish, amphibians, etc. The appearance of an amelanistic fish (such as a fader) depends entirely on the remaining non-melanin pigments. In some cases where a fish does not completely fade or finish peeling, with some black pigment remaining, the condition is known as hypomelanism.

You can read more about these various color morphs in great detail in the following link.


Oddball has a very good list of terms in the link below as well.

Both A. labiatus & A. citrinellus are the species involved that introduced this "fader" gene into the flowerhorn mix. Faders are simply a genetic throw back to some of the amphilophus that have been used to create certain flowerhorn strains. There has been a lot of work done with the Amphilophus genus by George Barlow & others, and in the wild these genes only express themselves in approx 10% of the population.

"Most Midas cichlids are of the normal cryptic coloration, but about 7 to 10% are brilliantly colored. These bright morphs lack the species-typical markings and have lost the ability to change their patterns; they range in hues smoothly from white through yellow, orange and red, though yellow through orange prevail. All start life normal in color, but at highly variable ages they lose most or all of their melanin, revealing the bright hues that most of them possess. The degree of development of this xanthomorphism varies among the lakes and appears to be positively correlated with turbidity of the water."

The actual timing of de-pigmentation is determined by a different set of genes hence the reason why some fish seem to peel very early in life, while others are almost adult size before they begin to fade/peel. And of course in the wild fading/peeling at too early of an age/size makes the fish a much easier target for prey, so many wild morphs are late bloomers.

According to some of the earlier work peformed by George Barlow, gold morphs are most abundant at deeper depths, and in more turbid water. Lake Masaya has very turbid water, and gold morphs are very abundant in this body of water. Lake Apoyo has quite clear water, and while the gold morph genes are present in the fish, no true gold morphs are found. The fish in this lake have the typical spotted & barred patterns.

Hopefully the above info helps explain how & why the fader gene expresses itself within flowerhorns.


MFK Member
Jul 3, 2009
New Mexico
Are you sure this is normal amelanism? Or even hypomelanism? Amelanistic is like the albino of snakes, fish, amphibians. If it were true amelanism they would be born without melanin(black pigment). They would also have red pupils. And hypomelanistic is just reduced melanin. This is just to my knowledge of hypomelanism and amelanism.

Could you site your sources?
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