We investigate the processing of chromatic information in the outer retina of a cichlid fish, Aequidens pulcher. The colour opponent response characteristics of some classes of cone-specific horizontal cells in the fish retina are the result of feedforward-feedback loops with cone photoreceptors. To interfere with the reciprocal transmissions of signals, animals were reared in monochromatic lights which preferentially stimulated the spectrally different cone types. Here we report the effects on the cones. Their absorbance spectra were largely unaffected, indicating no change in photopigment gene expression. Significant changes were observed in the cone outer segment lengths and the frequencies of spectral cone types. Quantum catch efficiency and survival of cones appear to be controlled in a spectrally selective way. Our results suggest that the retina responds to spectral deprivation in a compensatory fashion aimed at balancing the input from the different cone types to second order neurons.