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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Creating a Strain of Vienna Emerald Swords

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 Montana 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.

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 Europe, is a hidden jewel in its own right -  The Vienna Emerald Swordtail.  So my dilemma was how to retrieve this hidden phenotype from within the existing genotype and not outcross?  With some serious back crossing and a lot of luck.  The luck would come in the form crossover to over power the X – linked snakeskin.  To start I took the original P generation lace male and bred him to several related females.  I again used him the next generation on his F1 daughters, and again on his F2 granddaughters.

F1 Vienna Type Lower Swordtail
Their was nothing unusual as the young F3 males started to color up.  That is until about 2/3’s of them were clearly showing filigran and the start of double swords.  At this point I noticed two youngsters clearly were not only multi colored, but lower swords.

F1 Vienna Type Lower Swordtail
These two males above are for all intent and purpose the start of my strain of my Vienna swords and its multiple lines I have raised and shown for the last 7-8 years.  Why go through all the trouble when one could have purchased a good line of Vienna’s?  To me the fun & excite of guppy breeding goes beyond the incredible aesthetic value of eye appeal.  While I enjoy reading up on genetic research and principles, knowledge acquired from first hand experience or breeder exchange is what has held my interest.  Like many breeders, I find satisfaction in creating distinct phenotypes.

With these two “Vienna 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.

F2 Vienna Type Double Swordtail
In the F2 resulted the one and only true double sword produced with this strain.  While of Vienna type, he was not a Vienna Emerald.  I showed him in most shows that year.  He would take first place in one show and drop down a place or two being faulted for caudal /dorsal match the next.  If ever there was a true Y – link double sword he appeared to be, from the start both top and lower rays tailed out at a matching rate.  He never produced a double sword offspring.  Yet, to this day several of my lower lines produce to varying degrees Lower Sword males with very small colored top swords.  These I rarely breed, and will often cull all sibling females from a drop with this trait, on the assumption Vienna Doubles are a combination of Y- link lower sword and X – link top sword.

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 Hawaii about the time she shut down her breeding program.  I eagerly incorporated their traits into my newly evolving lines.

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
Another notable that occurred around this time was the expression of either green or purple as a base body color.  This has been easily maintained by routinely using 3-5 females in breeding groups.  In grey bodies it expresses more as lavender and in gold (blond) more pink.  Back in the early mid 1980’s I ran a line of Multi Deltas with similar base colors.  Though clear tailed, when females were colored tested with hormone laced food, they easily expressed either color.  I have never felt a need to test my sword females, and assume results would be similar.  They often pass an X-link for yellow dorsal color.

Between the F5-10 I had managed to establish several distinct phenotypes in my Vienna strain that included:
1.  Both grey and gold (blond) body color -b
2.  RREA Albino - a
3.  Vienna Emerald Pattern
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 
Fin length by this time was becoming exceptionally long from selection of mature males as breeders.  Vienna type on average were much longer than true Vienna Emerald’s.

Lower Male - Emerald Green Iridescent
 (Smaragd Iridenscens)
Outside of extra long yellow finnage, my single most selected trait is Emerald Green Iridescent (Smaragd Iridenscens).  I should expand upon this and say I select for SmIr expressed in the entire body and not just in the peduncle as a green spot.  The effect is very intense and dramatic vs. siblings without.  I’ll trade off on a lot of other traits, but this is normally not one of them.  While fish exhibiting this phenotype are not always the largest in a litter, this is not a concern as I’m not interested in breeding large fish to begin with.  I’ve never quite understood North Americans fixation on producing excessively large bodies in stock.  Be it cattle, sheep or fish.  


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.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hatching Brine Shrimp Consistently and Made Easy

Hatching Brine Shrimp Consistently and Made Easy

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

I'm not sure about you, but I just don't care to raise most live foods?  I'd bet your spouse thinks even less of the idea.  Like most breeders, over the years, I've tried numerous numerous types of feeds from vinegar eels to micro worms.  Three things are for sure more often than not:  they take up quite a bit of space to culture v. what is produced, there's not enough to go around most days and they smell bad when gone sour.  With a few tanks of sparsely populated killifish or wild-type livebearers it may be justified.  In a moderate sized guppy breeding program with heavily packed tanks, it's really just not worth it.

New research seems to support what many of us have known for years.  Outside of fresh earthworms, nothing beats the benefits of newly hatched Baby Brine Shrimp (BBS) for promoting fertility, grow, vigor and health.  Factor in ease and consistency in an indoor setting and and the choice should be obvious.  

Now the the first thing some of you will say to yourself is "ease & consistency?"  Yes, it is easy to raise BBS, and yes it can be done so with consistency.  The trick?  For the Artemia provide a similar environment in which they evolved with high temperature & PH.   For the breeder - a simple solution in ease and maintenance.  In the photo you will see my hatching station.  It consists of a well lit, homemade box set up for two simultaneous batches.

Consistency for me comes from hatching in clean bottles, good eggs, high even temperature and even air flow.  The number one reason breeder have poor hatches?  They don't buy good eggs from a reliable source and then freeze them to keep out humidity.  You should have near 100% hatches every day and so few unhatched eggs as to be unnoticeable. 

Living in limestone Karst country my water comes out of the tap at a PH of 8.0 - 8.2,  KH of < 17.9ppm and  DH over 200ppm.  Just right for hatching BBS.  Even so, I add a shot of Stress Coat at the start of each hatch - little Aloe Vera never seems to hurt.  Some breeders like to add a drop of bleach if their water is naturally soft & acidic.   

A 40 watt utility bulb provides both ample light and a stable heat source of 86-88* within the station.  Hatchery's are inverted 1 liter pop bottles.   With the bottom of the bottles removed they still hold about 2/3 of liter of water.  Fill your bottles with cold water just prior to setting up a hatch.  Doesn't seem to increase hatch time and reduces slimy buildup.  Too this I add 3-4 teaspoons of non-iodized table salt using a little measuring cup from a Pepto bottle or similar.  It's quicker than a spoon and spills less.  Why table salt?  It's cheap, 2 pounds for under a dollar.  Add one heaping teaspoon of Grade A eggs rated for a 90% hatch rate.  Your hatch is ready to pull in 16-18 hours.

Now here's where the best part of my setup comes into play.  When you are ready to harvest turn of the air supply and let the BBS settle.  They quickly use up all the available oxygen and settle to the bottom in 15-20 minutes depending on size of hatch.  A good brine shrimp net with thick mesh has not been produced in many years, so discard them.   I have not used brine shrimp nets for many years.   How?   Replace the normal bottle tops with one that slides open.  After the shrimp have settled simply hold a small container of choice under the nozzle and open.   

As the shrimp have all collected at the bottom, they quickly drain into your container with minimal hatch water.  In my case with about a quarter cup.  At this point I quickly add cold tap water straight from the tap.  In my world I want the shrimp too quickly succumb to oxygen depletion & cold storage.  In this manner near full value found in their yolk is retained.  All BBS retain excellent color, and will be fed by the next day prior to pulling another hatch.  If you are worried about possibility of bacteria let the shrimp resettle in your container and pour off the excess water.  Repeat several times if you feel a need.  My bottles are thoroughly rinsed daily after each use, and I feel safe omitting this step.  

I feed with a standard baster and store excess in the refrigerator.  From a single hatch I can feed more than amply a 40-60 tank room 2-3 times.  This being dependent on how many tanks of fry & youngsters are on hand.  Rarely does the need for more than one hatchery going on any given day exist.

~~ In Summary, here is why this design works for me ~~

*   Excess salt spray is contained within the hatching station.
*   Entire station is easily wiped down or taken outside and rinsed if need.
*   Light and heat come from a single, standard 40 watt utility bulb.
*   Box & light keep water at 86-88* degrees year round with no fluctuations.
*  Air is controlled by brass valves mounted in front of the box.
*   Hatches are cultured in one liter plastic pop bottles with the bottom cut off.
*  Air is fed from the top through standard airline tubing & a section of rigid tube.
*  Top fed air allows for easy removal & cleaning of hatchery.
*  Bottles are self supporting, they sit in holes cut in the base of the station.
*  To clean simply lift out after each use, no base to disconnect bottle from.
*  No large / odd shaped container to clean.  Being round they are easy to wash.

Cheap, clean, reliable & easily replaced parts.  What could be better?


Monday, February 14, 2011

Can You Successfully Re-breed Females To A Different Male?

Can You Successfully Re-breed Females To A Different Male?

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

In my world many breeders are just too hung up on the use of "Virgin Females" to propagate successive generations.  Even though I work with breeding trios much of the time, I also rely on breeding groups just as often.  With the latter you are trying to incorporate, if not maintain existing phenotype or diversity of genotype in your strains.  From this perspective it is not as important who actually sires offspring as is what is the result.  When working with compatible genetics I commonly use related females on multiple phenotypes.

We don't have the luxury of gene banking semen and embryos for later use in the guppy world, but you can take a similar approach by recycling visible & proven older genetics.  On occasion I will use the same female in multiple matings in a line or even multiple strains.  My reasoning is very simple, if an older female has left positive results on a strain, then why not use her again within the same strain or even another?  Don't get hung up on progressing by F1, F2, F3 and so on.  Sometimes working within a generation with multiple breedings, or back breeding, over an extended time can produce very positive results.

I adhere to an old principle handed down to me by several guppies breeders of old.  That being, "If you put a new male in with a female who has just given birth a certain percentage of offspring will be his".  I've always heard a 10% reduction in his offspring for each passing hour.  Is this true?  Possibly, although it just might sound good as a sales pitch.  Are the percentages affected by different strains?  Possibly.  Are the results also affected by different strains?  I would suspect so.  Can the time frame be increased?  Again possibly, with varying strains.

Why such vague response on my part?  I have never put this theory to test using methodical scientific standards and valid evaluation of results.  None the less, results do stand with tests in my fishroom.  If you have a basic understanding of genetics and know the makeup of your fish it can be a simple process.  The easiest test would be the use of pure grey (no gold recessive) males on gold females already bred gold.  Results are visible in the F1.  With the use of double or even triple recessives it may take another generation or two disseminate.

In example, such a opportunity presented itself last summer when  Gabriel Niculescu of VA sent me several trios of Grey & Gold (Blond) Vienna Lowers and Schimmelpennig Platinums from my old lines.  While he was critical of his efforts over the last two years and the specimens received, I was not.  The females particularly stood out.  I selected one gold (blond) who was very large, deep bodied, thick in the peduncle and beautifully shaped.  Typical of my lines she showed very little age being well over a year old, and her litters were bound to be large for a swordtail.  Just what I needed to jump start my newly established fish room.   Though I did not photograph the initial P female, here is a picture of a 3 month old daughter, who is also a sibling of the males below.

1st Breeding
F1 Gold Vienna Emerald Lower * Gold Vienna Lower
So I set out to see what I could accomplish with this grand old dam.  The first litter was the result of Gold Vienna Emerald Lower * Gold Vienna Lower breeding. She dropped on 9.3.10.  All offspring were gold and lowers.  The sire was an Emerald with a base color of green.  You will notice in the photo that the F1 offspring are also emeralds in both green and purple base body color.  They grew fast and large.  (Note of Interest:  I have since taken sibling sisters from this litter and used them in at least 5-6 other breedings with different strains and lines.  At this time 40% or more of my fishroom descend from the P generation female)

2nd Breeding
F1 Grey Schimmlepennig Platinum * Gold Vienna Lower
For the next breeding I took things a little different.    It would be a Grey Schimmlepennig Platinum * Gold Vienna Lower mating.  As soon as the female finished dropping her litter on 9.3.10 a new was put in with her.  The second sire was from my old lines, though grey, had a gold gene.  His offspring dropped on 9.29.10 and where all grey & gold (blond) Schimmelpennig Double swords.  Being from a line often breed to Vienna,  the resulting platinum is a very diluted version in multiple shoulder colors.  The males are able to turn color off and on at will.

Again, as soon as she dropped I bred the girl to a 3rd different male.  This breeding would also be Grey Schimmlepennig Platinum * Gold Vienna Lower.  Except this time I selected a mature male from a Darryl Tsutsui line.  The particular line he sent me were all grey body and have to date only produced grey bodied offspring.  The resulting F1 offspring were also all grey body and of the same phenotype as the sire.  This particular Schim. phenotype is very distinct, limited to dark yellow color in the metal shoulders.  A second litter from this mating dropped on 11.22.10 is identical.
3rd Breeding
F1 Grey Schimmlepennig Platinum * Gold Vienna Lower

So, is it possible to successfully use non virgin females in a controlled manner within your breeding program on the same strain or another?

I think so...


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Moscow & Japan Blue Swordtails

Moscow  & Japan Blue Swordtails

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

What is the value of maintaining your swordtail females as tail neutral you may ask?  Compatibility, not only for use with multiple Swordtail strains maintained in your fishroom, but also for out crossing with other tail shapes in creation of new swordtail phenotypes.  From a simple perspective, they can be used with just about any Y - linked gene complex to guaranty similar expression in the F1 generation.

Around 2005 I acquired some super Purple Moscow Deltas from Marty Lawson in Virginia.  This line was truly purple in color.  Not a dark black with hints of purple color, or a shade of blue that appeared purple in certain lighting.  Just Deep Purple ~ OK, couldn't resist that one. I ran them for several generations before lack of space came into question.  By that time my newly expanded  fishroom was again filled to with Swordtails.  What to do with a line of deltas?  Well if I turned them into Swordtails they would not be just taking up space.

F1 Purple Moscow Delta * Lace Snakeskin
F1 Purple Moscow Delta * Lace Snakeskin
Assuming most of the Moscow genetics involved being Y-linked, in my mind, it was a simple process of selecting the best neutral females available.  So I began by breeding Purple Moscow * Lace Snakeskin & Vienna Lower females.  As a rule my Vienna females will pass extension & outcrosses result in some sort of lower sword.  The Lace Snakeskins seemed like most European lines with swords resulting from a combination of  X - link for top & Y - link for lower.  So the resulting F1 really suprised me.  Nearly all the males exhibited a colored caudal with moderate length double swords. Evidently, the females used in the cross had passed on X-linked genetics for double swords.  The base body color in the F1 was either blue or purple with matching caudal & dorsal color.    

F1 Purple Moscow Delta * Lace Snakeskin
What was even more suprising was how much X-link color was passed to the F1 daughters by the sire.  At the time I  knew very little about the makeup of a female Moscow.  It quickly became apparent X-linked Moscow traits from this line were not only influencing caudal / dorsal color, but also body color from the dorsal to peduncle.  This would provide some interesting results down the line in 2 or 3 generations.  From this point forward I basically sib bred these fish for several generations  to see how things would recombine.  The blue phenotype would prove much easier to maintain vs. the purple.  While metal clearly showed in the shoulders, it was not matching the body color.  Even so, the Moscow had passed on at least partially as evidenced by this.  You can see in the caudal & dorsal a similar shade of color .   F1 males had full color between the rays with this phenotype.  None were clear, except at the very trailing edge of the roundtail.

F2 Purple Moscow Delta * Lace Snakeskin
Now for the fun part.  Earlier I mentioned that the Moscow females were having  a strong impact on pattern, similar to half blacks,  in combination with how the colors recombined in the later generations. The result  in the F2 was as close to a true half black swordtail as I have ever come across.  Attempts to fix this phenotype met with mixed success.  While I could produce them with regularity each generation, using this type of male did not fix to type.  So I figured it was random recombination, more than my use of this phenotype to sire the next generation.  Another interesting observation is the length of the swords and dorsal.  Males were near identical and always had a defined "clear" area between the swords.

F3 Purple Moscow Delta * Lace Snakeskin
While some males still had the original caudal shape, by the F2 / F3 I had succeeded in producing a nice thick double sword, as seen in the top male on the left.  Some had a clear area between the rays, but many did not.  A caudal shape very similar to H Turrason's Coral Red Albino Double Swords.  In fact, this may have resulted from use of coral red, which I then maintained, but without my notes I unable to substantiate at this time.

F2  JB * Lace Snakeskin
Parallel to the above crosses I also did a JB * Lace Snakeskin cross.  This met with great success from the start.  By the F2 I had a nice looking lines of double swords.  As expected the JB overshadowed the Snakeskin in the body, but left visible expression in the caudal and dorsal.  This was a very nice looking line of doubles with a caudal shape and color reminiscent of their European Lace Snakeskin ancestry. 
F1 JB * Vienna 

Another little project I had going at the time also involved Japan Blue.  The original males were pretty much wildtype JB with short clear round caudals and  with no colored rays or extension.  Multiple attempts at creating a lower sword via   JB * Vienna matings produced to little avail.  It seemed the JB gene complex would suppress extension in my Vienna line females.  Dorsal Color was easily influenced.  If I bred the same females to a non JB wildtype male with any type of short sword, upper or lower, it resulted in an F1 with extension on a regular basis.   I probably gave up on this project too quickly considering how many nice lines of JB Lowers have been developed by Asian and European breeders since.  Yet, sensing this was a long-term project that would need the commitment of many tanks I ceased my efforts after two or three generations.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Penchoff Full Red Double Swords

Penchoff Full Red Double Swords

© Alan S. Bias
Permission granted for nonprofit reproduction or duplication of photos and text with proper credit for learning purposes only.
ca 2005/6 Penchoff Full Red Double Swords
 bred by A. S. Bias

As I mentioned in an earlier post one of the nicest Double Sword lines created in North American results from the efforts of John Penchoff.  John is a non showing breeder who resides in Palentine, IL.  He and I have been trading stock, and routinely corresponding for nearly a decade now.  His primary interest is in planted tanks up to 125 gallons with tons of intensely colored Cherry Shrimp and Double Swords.


HISTORY of Penchoff Full Red Double Swords
 -  According to John Penchoff 2.7.11...
As for the reds, many strains were used. Mostly my reds originated from a single Coral Red Double / Lyre Tail I collected from my German Metallic Yellow Doubles / Lyre tails.  I bred him with the female doubles to get more of the red ones and utilized those with some Red Delta males to get red in their bellies. I also was introducing them to my Half Black AOC Longfin females to get ribbon fins.  Most of the fish used came from a single North American source.  

They progressed in both delta and double longfins, I then introduced Don Sauers Gold Bodied Red Doubles from S. Kwartler in Florida.  His fish only lasted a week or two but passed along their genes which improved some of the offspring.  (Editors Note:  John does the bulk of his breeding in an assortment of smaller planted tanks and grow out in several large display tanks, with a consistent PH, and moderate water changes.  It can take a couple generations for many new lines to acclimate to his conditions).  If I would have had more of those and back crossed I believe this project would been completed.  Anyway, full reds in delta were developed around this time, by Ed Chaisson, and I accquired some from Doug Bertrand, a breeder with awesome fish who I believe has since gotten out of the hobby.  In the F1 I received full red deltas and some very poor short swords.  I have added other fish to the mix along the way, including stock from Aquabid, that needed work, but helped tremendously.

Lastly I had gotten some albino coral red longfins from Taiwan (these were poorly sworded and lacked body color coverage, but I took a shot), also some much better fish from Enrique Patino and better fish from Alan Bias which I believe originated from from Tomoko Young and HÃ¥kan Turrason.  Most of the albino fish acquired never lasted very long (in my tanks) and I decided not to deal with them.   These days I am working with albino red doubles collected from my current stock.

The gray bodied finnage showed more promise.  The gray bodied full reds also retained the full body color coverage better than the golds, but were smaller and had some black dots.  I reintroduced these to my larger gold bodies to maintain color and vigor in them.  It seemed the older the fish got the more the caudal filled in.  This could be influenced from some of the swallow tail fish I had in the mix. 

However, the better the fins the worse the body coverage or this or that.  While trying to improve the fins to IFGA standards I had lost much body color and matching fins.  All females looked the same, colorless and very easy to choose the wrong female, as I often did.   


In 2004/5 John Penchoff sent me several trios of newly released strain.  I ran these fish for several years and about 5-6 generations, always using males with full Moscow traits apparent, in both grey and gold (blond).  My emphasis was on body color and not IFGA conforming dorsal / caudal shape. 

ca 2005/6 Penchoff Full Red Double Sword
 bred by A. S. Bias
Evidence of their Vienna Emerald ancestry is found on the ever present  green spot on the peduncle.  While John always considered this a flaw, I viewed it as a base color.  Part of an intrinsic gene complex, similar to the two orange body found spots on most solid IFGA color strains.  On occasion it was possible to mask it on individual males, but it seemed to routinely reappear in subsequent generations. 

Same with the black spotting that appeared in the body and finnage of a portion of the males.  It appeared related to red striping on finnage found in Vienna Emerald complex, though black from effects of Moscow.  The black was missing in the golds, yet the pattern was still clearly visible, just clear.  While I did show a couple males with a bare minimum of clear caudal on occasion, most were DQ'd by antiquated IFGA standards for swordtails.

ca. 2004/5 F1 Grey
 Vienna Lower Sword
As a rule red finned swordtails do not hold my interest for very long, yellow or white being by preference.  I did work the full red genetics into a line of Gold (Blond) Full Red Lower Swords in several generations.  This line did not originate from the existing  Sauers type IFGA Gold Bodied Sword that has been around for decades.  I started this line with Vienna type females out of Lace Snakeskin Doubles originating from Anette Wulff - that is another story.

ca. 2005/6 Blond (Gold) Full Red Lower Swords
bred by A. S. Bias
The emerald is still present in the peduncle of the Full Red Lowers, and the dorsal is very long and flowing.  While it does not taper to a point and meet IFGA standards, it is my personal preference and I strive for super long dorsals that extend  well into the caudal.   These showed fairly well, though faulted for dorsal shape.

At the time I still had around a line of small  Snakeskin Rountails.  I had started this line from a little non descript snakeskin male picked out of a pet shop tank of feeder guppies and IFGA tail neutral sword females.  Even though the snakeskin was initially Y-linked, it crossed over to X-link, on some of the females.  One generation they would be lace (filigran) with a beautiful chain link pattern and the next more cobra.

I crossed the Penchoff Full Red Doubles with several females from this strain and produced a  nice little Blond (Gold) Full Red Roundtail.  Notice that this male lacks extension in the dorsal and caudal.  Very similar to the effect of Moscow found in "Pandas", which resulted from a Moscow * Pink mating.  All his siblings and subsequent generations exhibited the same phenotype.  They bred true for several more generations, so the female must of lacked X-link snakeskin.   

The results of this same mating to a 2nd female, who carried an X-link for snakeskin, were entirely different.  By the F2 the Moscow and snakeskin had recombined to produce a very pretty phenotype.  Some of the males were roundtail and others more of tiny delta with an indent in the center hinting at swordtail ancestry.  The dorsal was also shaped similar to a Panda Moscow.  In both cases they lacked any extension.  The male on top is grey bodied and the lower blond (gold).


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Click on blog photos to enlarge