Creating a Strain of Vienna Emerald Swords
© Alan S. Bias
Permission granted for nonprofit reproduction or duplication of photos and text with proper credit for learning purposes only.
|2011 Gold (Blond) Vienna Emerald Lower Swordtail at 3 months of age|
Shortly after relocating to
in late 2002 I procured a line of Lace Snakeskin Doubles from Enrique Patino, who in turn had acquired them a couple years earlier from European breeder Anette Wulff. The strain was very active and hardy. It produced fair sized litters on a regular basis. If I remember correctly they were all grey body and never dropped a gold (blond) during the time I worked with them. Montana
From the start my interest in them was a bit one sided. While the snakeskin pattern in Double Sword was interesting to work with and pleasing to the eye, it masked traits that interested me the most. Around this time I had started a site for Swordtail breeders. Even though it had over 100 individuals subscribed, and included many of the worlds better known breeders of Swordtails, activity sputtered to a halt. Behind the scenes correspondence was much better and this allowed me to discuss strains with their creators.
It is pretty common knowledge that beneath all those circular swirls and spots comprising a lace snakeskin, or filigran as it is commonly known in
|F1 Vienna Type Lower Swordtail|
|F1 Vienna Type Lower Swordtail|
With these two “
type” lower males in hand, I now had the basis for creating not only a true Vienna Emerald Swordtail, but a whole host of related phenotypes. While my new males had Emerald Green peduncles, they did not come close to meeting the standard for a true Vienna Emerald. Hence, I refer to this phenotype as a "Vienna Type" and not a "Vienna Emerald" which has Zibrinus barring and alot of reticulation . This would come in several more generations. For the next generation I sib bred, along with the addition of grey and gold (blond) females from Penchoff Full Red Double Swords. The latter would reinforce the very long flowing & blunt tipped dorsal predominant in my lines. Vienna
|F2 Vienna Type Double Swordtail|
If you notice the dorsal / caudal color in the first two lower males it is white. In the following generations recessive yellow dorsals and caudals started to appear, although not always in a match. While this is common in European Vienna lines, I believe I enhanced the color in my stocks from an infusion of Tomoko Young’s Yellow Albino Lower Swords. She had kindly sent me several trios from
about the time she shut down her breeding program. I eagerly incorporated their traits into my newly evolving lines. Hawaii
By the F5 I had a recognizable strain. I have not deliberately introduced any IFGA stocks to this effort, although it is likely their genes existed in those stocks I infused. When possible I always select for matching yellow caudal / dorsal, or at least a solid, dark yellow dorsal. During this process I produced some super looking gold (blond) fish with matching white dorsal / caudal that did very well on the show bench. They were very clean with little spotting in the fins. If I had any sense I would have pursued this route instead of yellow, but the latter just appeals to my eye.
|Purple Base Body Color|
1. Both grey and gold (blond) body color -b
2. RREA Albino - a
Emerald Pattern Vienna
4. Purple & green base body color
5. Emerald Green Iridescent – SmIr
6. Zebrinus –Ze
7. Partial Snakeskin – Ssb (limited to shoulders only)
8. Several other genes identified by Winge in 1927
|Long Flowing Caudal|
|Lower Male - Emerald Green Iridescent|
As of 2011 my Vienna Emerald Strain is generation F20 or more from its appearance out of Lace Snakeskin Doubles going on eight years ago. In part I owe its continuance to Gabriel Niculescu of VA. I had sent him a box of fish just prior to leaving MT. He was kind enough to return the favor 18 months later. Plans for this line? In the early years I bred 3-4 generations a year. These days the pace has slowed to 2-3. I am looking more at traits that express themselves later in life and not just sexual maturity. Increased caudal / dorsal length, certain color patterns, retention of color intensity and length of roundtail (area between colored rays), late age vigor and robustness to name a few.
Few, if any, strains can survive harsh selection without suffering the effects of lethal mutations that arise via a heterozygote in dominant form or homozygote in recessive. In the wild nature will circumvent genetic bottlenecks resulting from "small island populations", as your fishroom, through mutation by genetic drift. Many breeders attempt this by obtaining similar genotype from outside their fishroom. Even when from "co-operator" programs this approach can throw your strain into turmoil in subsequent generations with recombination of genes and alleles.
Strive to identify and preserve the genotype found within the strain by expression of diverse phenotypes. At times these are very subtle and long hours of observation help identify them. Many guppy traits, especially in Swordtails, are Y-linked, still don't forget to pay attention to your females. I rely on the use of a magnifying glass more often than not. While a common practice with many show circuit breeders, I find it a waste of time & space to artificially prop up a strain with lines of genetic dead-ends, i.e. "hybrid crosses", which will never be bred Each drop of each line is evaluated and has the opportunity to contribute to the next generation of offspring.
The strain seems hardier than ever from a breeding program based not on trying to split off each phenotype into independent homozygous lines of their own, but rather on identifying compatible gene complexes. Yes, they are maintained in several lines within the strain in homozygous and heterozygous form. I can outsource from within.
In a nut shell, "I breed by eye", not to be confused with being "a sight breeder". Is there a difference? The latter tends to try and do things strictly from memory without written or photographic records. I collect & record knowledge from a variety of sources. Spend long hours observing my stock and then make breeder selection by eye and not solely based on an artificial standard.
Balance your breeding with a combination of breeding trios and breeding groups across the lines. Outsource for a reason - Boredom should not be one of them.