PROMOTE THE HOBBY THROUGH OPEN MINDED EXCHANGE OF KNOWLEDGE AND IDEAS - Share your experiences as a breeder or novice both good and bad. Pass on your experiences and share results with the next generation. A successful breeder will be remembered for such efforts...
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Last Decade With Swordtail Guppies

The Last Decade With Swordtail Guppies



© Alan S. Bias
Permission granted for nonprofit reproduction or duplication of photos and text with proper credit for learning purposes only.


ca. 2003/4 fishroom
Shortly after relocating to Montana in Nov. 2002 the guppy bug bit me again.  Initially I set up a small 30 tank fishroom, which I expanded to nearly 60 tanks a couple years later.  Considering how unstable and acidic the water in the Bitterroot Valley is, I did fairly well.  PH shock was a constant battle when doing water changes or even moving fish from tank to tank.


It took 2-3 generations to acclimate new fish to this water.  It was that unstable and I am too stubborn to age water before changes.  The only good thing seemed to be once a tank clamped up and were successfully treated, it rarely happened to these individuals again.  Frequent midnight runs to the main Post Office in Missoula, MT with my son Kyle to pick up fish in below zero temperatures became the norm for several years.


ca. 2003/4 fishroom
While Double & Top Sword Guppies would fill my tanks, Vienna type Lower Swords would still be my primary focus.  Of notable mention, I would initially secure stock from the following breeders to fashion my lines.  The influence of many are still the basis of my strains today:


1.  Tomoko Young (HI) - Grey Bodied Lower Swords & Albino Lowers Swords.  I would incorporate the not only the albino trait, but also their X-linked yellow finnage into my lines.
2.  Darryl Tsutsui - (HI) - Schimmelpennig Platinum Double Swords.  From this line I would select for long flowing double swords / dorsals and a minimal clear area between the swords to meet IFGA standards,culling all lyretails.  They would serve as my primary show line in IFGA double sword classes.  Eventually placing a tank entry in Best of Show.
F3 Penchoff Full Red Double Swords
ca. 2005/6
3.  John Penchoff - (IL) - Gold & Grey Bodied Penchoff Full Red Double Swords.  These were a recent creation by Johns efforts as a breeder.  They are probably the most striking and beautiful Double Sword created in North America in the last 25 years.  They met with marginal results in shows with the IFGA's long standing bias for clear caudal swords.
4.  Late Dick Johnson - (AZ) - IFGA type Grey Bodied Lower & Double Swordtials.  While our idea of a "perfect swordtail" differed , Dick and I would regularly correspond, swap and show against each other for the remainder of his life.
5.  Marty Lawson - (VA) - IFGA type Gold Body Double Swords & Purple Moscow Deltas.  The latter of which would produce some very interesting crosses with swordtails.
6.  Enrique Patino - (WA) - Anette Wulff's Lace Snakeskin Double Swords & late Håkan Turesson's Coral Red Albino Double Swords. From these double snakeskins I would develop my show line of Vienna Lower Swords, which did well in IFGA shows.


ca. 2005/6 Gold (Blond) Vienna Lower Sword
From this broad selection of genetics, in conjunction with some IFGA type lowers and a couple non-descript common type guppies found at local pet shops I would develop a series of strains over the next several years that would occupy my interests in both maintaining fixed strains and test crosses.  While fixed strains always take up 80-90% percent of my tank space, I always allow the remainder for experimenting with available genotype found in my fishroom.  The results can be quite rewarding with planning and a little bit of luck...    


     







Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pingu Strain


Pingu Strain


© Alan S. Bias
Permission granted for nonprofit reproduction or duplication of photos and text with proper credit for learning purposes only.


One of the small active strains I picked up from Don Sauers in the early mid 1980's were Pingus.  By this time interest in the phenotype had fallen to near non-existent in IFGA circles.  They failed to meet standards for any IFGA classes.  Don and I could not seem to put a conforming swordtail on them.  We managed lower swords of various configurations & length, but all lacked a defined "clear caudal" required by IFGA.  I tried a couple times in "AOC" if I remember correctly at an Annual Show to the amusement of several senior judges.




ca. 1985 Pingu Strain (XNi YMw pkpk)
 This strain was maintained in my fishroom for nearly a decade in two phenotypes.  The first had more typical yellow color finnage, carried on the "X" with small lower swords.  We just could not get the right combination of color & sword genetics with our limited knowledge at the time. The second was very bright pink in body,  almost iridescent, and the "pink" color bled into the finnage.  In the photo above you can see not only the original "pink" spot at the base of the peduncle, but also the 1/2 body pattern colored iridescent pink.  Males also had silver shoulders with black edges scales on the topline and behind the shoulders, especially those with yellow finnage.  In either case I think the basic genetics of either phenotype was still XNi Y pkpk


Sometime around 1990 I sent a large box of guppies to Derek Lambert in the UK.  It included a selection of all my Swordtails, a few delta lines, and the Pingus.  I was told years later by a breeder in the UK that descendants of Pingus from this shipment were sent to Asia and may have formed a basis for many of the pink strains available today.  Nice to think that knowledgeable breeders not under the confines of a rigid solid color class system found so many uses for the genotype.  Striving for solid color fish is an admireable goal, too bad it often comes with the loss of many gene complexes from a lack of knowledge when they are viewed as a flaw in ones program.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Early Years With Swordtail Guppies



ca. 1984 Fish Room

My Early Years With Swordtail Guppies


© Alan S. Bias
Permission granted for nonprofit reproduction or duplication of photos and text with proper credit for learning purposes only.


Hello all,  I've been breeding guppies in some form or fashion since I was eight years old.  For those of you that might know me, that means this little fish has occupied my interests for  over 40 years.  I blame in part my father who had 1/2 a dozen tanks in front of me as an infant.   For the first 10-12 years I bred any strain I could get my hands on.  For the most part being those available in the Pet Shop trade mostly originating on Florida Farms.  From these delta and wild-type stocks I would create a myriad of roundtails, scarftails, ribbon tails and such.




ca. 1984 Fish Room
Around 1982 my involvement with the IGFA and breeding & showing guppies began.  I attended my first show with the late Elvin "Old Man" Cooney shortly after he retired from Florida and moved to Virginia.  Not only was he generous with his fish, but also stories of his youth.  He remained a close friend for many years.  After several years of dabbling around with various delta strains and 90 tanks, I became intrigued with the world of Swordtail Guppies after finding most deltas just too large, short lived and sluggish at maturity.


I formed a long lasting friendship with the late Don Sauers, a breeder who dedicated most of his years in the hobby to promoting and showing the Swordtail Guppy.  On my first visit to his home in Columbus, Ohio he pointed out the fish he wished to keep and handed me a net.  For the next several years, in conjunction with Fred Roll, we would show fish against each other one week, and swap stock the next. 


 ca. 1986 IFGA Double Sword

Swordtail Guppies have captivated me ever since with their variety, longevity and hardiness.  In the mid 1980's it became apparent to some of us the rigid restrictions imposed upon Swordtail breeders by the IFGA standards for clear caudal, dorsal & caudal shape, body:caudal ratios, and color were not only outdated, but severely limited potential.  Standards were, and still are for the most part, based on a 1960's / 1970's understanding of genetics and a desire to foster solid colored fish.  As such, it curtailed improvement in North American Swordtail color, pattern & shape.  In the end it limited our understanding of alleles & gene complexes. 


 ca. 1986 IFGA Top Sword
Few if any crosses with existing delta strains resulted in improvement to lines.  Most IFGA swords are traditionally Y-linked for both color and swords, with a neutral "X" for color and tailshape.  Any improvement in color / pattern from outcrosses to delta lines came with degradation in swords.  The only notable crosses were with IFGA Green Delta females, which we know are tail & color neutral.  While several delta breeders, including Mike Lastella, produced a "large" swordtail via this route, few if any had the iridescence possible in Vienna Emerald genotype.





ca. 1986 IFGA Gold "Blond" Lower Sword
In conversation with Don Sauers he indicated, "very few infusions of European Swordtail genetics had taken place."  Normally, this happened on the few occurrences when Vienna males were shown at IFGA annuals.  He stated "red dorsals" in his strains resulted from use of Vienna Emerald in the late 1970's or early 1980's.  This apparently crossed over and became X-linked, making it nearly impossible to match caudal / dorsal color.  Around this time I made my initial attempts at contact with breeders in the UK and Europe.  Keep in mind this was in the days before email and internet.  Correspondence was slow and results sometime disappointing. 





ca. 1985 Lower Swords w/Vienna infusion
In the mid 1980's I was able to procure and infuse Vienna genetics into my lines, and partially eliminate red dorsals. Most noticeably in lowers, which have always been my primary focus.  Further evidence of the Vienna influence is visible in the yellow coloration of the sword itself.  At the time my my fish room consisted of around 40 tanks of Swordtails.  After this initial experience with Vienna genetics I knew it would compose a major part of my future breedings.  One notable shipment around 1990 would come from from Dr. Walter Schuster in Austria.  I quickly passed these stocks to breeders, in addition to further incorporating the genetics.  From this time up until the mid 1990's my fish room was dedicated to understanding and improving these lines.   


By this time most breeders, including myself, were in a constant struggle with what was then known as "Wasting Disease" and found it nearly impossible to keep fish alive, much less accomplish any progress.  While suggested treatments were many, results were few.  One day fish would be healthy and thriving, the next hollow bellied and not eating.  Today we know this was caused by various worms and have effective treatments to combat them.  After 3-4 years of this endless cycle I would shut down my fish, room for nearly a decade, but always kept several tanks of guppies...
ca. 1985 Lower Swords w/Vienna infusion