Blue acaras (Aequidens pulcher, Cichlidae) were reared for 1 yr in white or monochromatic "red", "green" and "blue" lights to study the function and control mechanisms of horizontal cell (HC) spinules in the synaptic pedicles of cones. Ratios of spinules per synaptic ribbon (S/R) were determined in tangential sections in both single and double cones. We found that the S/R ratios in light adapted retinae decreased with decreasing wavelength of the rearing light in all cone types. Conversely, there was an increasing number of incompletely formed spinules with the highest frequency in the blue light group. Dark adaptation resulted in the complete degradation of mature spinules. However, significant numbers of incompletely degraded spinules were observed in the group reared in blue light. Fish reared in blue light which were transferred to white light formed mature spinules when light adapted and still had vestigial spinules when dark adapted. The mechanisms of spinule formation and degradation and the control of spinule dynamics appear to be fully developed in fish reared in monochromatic light. However, long-term chromatic deprivation seems to induce a compensatory modulation of spinule dynamics. A working hypothesis is formulated that interprets the observed effects as manifestations of differences in the activition of dopaminergic interplexiform cells (light adapted) and the sensitivity to glutamate of HCs (dark adapted). Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that spinules are involved in sign-inverting feedback transmission from HCs to cones.