The evolution of Blues

I will get the hang of making clips… some day… Don’t expect too much from the first one. Still, I think it’s a good way to show the development of strains/breeds.

I’ll update it with the next generations – stay tuned.

Through Muddy Waters to the Blues

Some time ago I acquired a new trait to my fish room, the Singa – and would like to share my limited experience and first results from some experimental crosses. Coincidentally it was also the time when I had some blues around my ears – from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Muddy Waters and other worldwide greats through Polish legends as Nocna Zmiana Bluesa – Nightshift of Blues or Dżem. I somehow can’t escape from the music in my breeding journals. I hope you allow for this small ailment of a middle-aged guy and can get over it while concentrating on The Hobby, as some of us guppy breeders like to call it.

In my Spear Quest I started off from a plain blond Schimmelpfennig Platinum strain originating from Germany (Thanks, Claus Osche!):

Founder Father back from 2011
Founder Father back from 2011

Back then I had quite simple ideas for designing new strains – like changing them into Japan Blue spears, although the results never satisfied me.

Japan Blue spear tail
Japan Blue spear tail

Meanwhile I added Snake Skin genetics, and some “bar” gene, most probably Zebrinus, appearing on and off ever since then. Some test crosses of Japan Blue and Snake Skin may be seen here:

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Japan Blue SnakeSkins – double sword etude
Japan Blue Snake Skins - prelude to top sword
Japan Blue Snake Skins – prelude to top sword

The crosses of original Schim.Plat. line to Snake Skin were much more appealing, especially with some play with the base colours and other modifiers:

Schim. Plat. Snake Skin spears - blond, grey and gold
Schim. Plat. Snake Skin spears – blond, grey and gold

Then I resolved that the Y-linked “block” can be replaced quite easily in further breeding, potentially giving a freedom of keeping several strains in one colourful colony. After a couple of generation of bending Coral Red double swords I ended up with a line of CR spears:

Coral Red SnakeSkin spear tail
Coral Red SnakeSkin spear tail

Enter Singa. I kept Japan Blues ever since I started my guppy adventure, since 2010 and got a bit bored with them. Singa offers quite a new quality and I always liked blues anyhow. Just the first generation shows that my “blocks swap theory” works quite well.

Singa SnakeSkin Bar(Ze?) - first generation towards spear tail
Singa SnakeSkin Bar(Ze?) – first generation towards spear tail

I liked the pattern very much, and the fins shape was not that bad for the first cross. And the result was expected and satisfactory. OK, that’s what I wanted, now I can focus on them… But… There are some other interactions of Singa with variegated pattern which look just as good, or better. Where to put those next tanks…?! This one unfortunately passed away without offsprings:

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Pin tail Singa/SS/Ze

I used various females for the first crosses of one Singa male, which I thought of as “plain and simple” – variegated dorsal fin pattern in X (transparent tail) and Singa in Y. The females came from my spear tail lines – the presented Coral Red spears, some recently acquired Schim Plat. strain and one which I think was the result of most cosmopolitan “genetic accumulation” running around my fish room through a couple generations – this one passed variegation (and lyre-tail “feeling”) on tail and dorsal, but no body pattern. I held her responsible for such outcome:

Scattered Blues - Singa with lyre tail genetics and unique body pattern
Scattered Blues – Singa with lyre tail genetics and unique body pattern

I had two main associations while looking at them colouring up. One is the blues – standardised, repeatable music which will nevertheless regularly surprise me with some spectacular phrase or solo (and the fitting colour name). The second is the misty blackish pattern which resembles to me snow leopard. If I succeed to establish them I’d like to call them Irbis Blues. Still way to go, but that’s what we live for – isn’t it? When ploughing elaborately through the muddy waters of guppy genetics you may only wish for a glimpse of THE FISH – and I think I just caught something that will keep me excited for quite some time.

Father of all my Singas - originating from Austrian breeder Markus Hackl
Father of all Singas – originating from Austrian breeder Markus Hackl

Balloon guppy

In the Guppy Gene Collectors group on Facebook someone recently posted “dwarf guppy” asking others for their experience on such fish. I hope the breeder won’t mind me using his photo, and will remove it if I asked to.

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the upper fish is supposedly a “dwarf guppy”, smaller than the bottom one

I’m not sure what was the origin of those fish, they don’t really look like siblings and both have far from perfect body shape. But it made me curious and I decided to dig a bit in the subject. It is quite obvious to all breeders that the size of guppies is dependant on many factors, external and internal.

Good diet and water quality = bigger fish. This equation is especially important for fry. The fry grows fastest before, and during, developing sex traits (gonopodium, bright coloration…) and poor feeding or conditions can hamper their size in this period, causing damage irreparable later. The size is also inheritable – bigger fish have bigger offsprings. It is probably mostly related to masculine/feminine hormones levels in their organisms – which is also inherited from their parents. Clearly an “internal” factor – but can be influenced, by feeding with food rich in female hormones to slow down the maturation of males and extend their “rapid growth” period, as an example. There are many traps waiting for an inexperience breeder trying to produce XXL guppies. They tend to be not so vividly coloured and less interested in females, up to no interest at all, which means dead end to the line.

All those basic facts and observations are known to most of the guppy keepers, so I thought that there should be something more to the “dwarf guppy” and started to look for other clues. One caught my eye while fishing out females from the grow out tank:

"Balloon" and normal female from HB White/Yellow strain
“Balloon” and normal female from HB White/Yellow strain

I got some fry from a friend who got bored with the line, for another friend, who is interested in them. The upper female from the photo has very short caudal peduncle. I think (but would need to confirm) that there are much less vertebrae on her – rather than that they’re shorter. The spine is also deformed, as visible from the back shape between head and dorsal fin. I’m not sure if the belly is also swollen out of proportion or is she just a bit older/bigger than those pictured with her.

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It actually looks very much like the very popular balloon mollies, bestsellers in many petshops for a couple of years already. I’m not a great fan of such mutations – I spent ~10 years as a “natural biotope purist” keeping South American Dwarf Cichlids in tanks as close to their natural habitat as was possible. But I very much enjoy the tools evolution handed to the breeders. I’ve already drawn some lines and crossed them – to draw new ones. A couple of years ago I would be seriously offended if accused of crossing guppies with Endlers. I don’t mind nor care now – but I still think that we shouldn’t preserve mutations making fish life difficult, painful and short. This is partially the reason why I’m fascinated with spear tails, not the big, impressive deltas, which I saw too many times laying sadly on the contest tank’s bottom, unable to bear the weight of the tail (I exaggerate a bit on purpose here).

Young males from the same line
Young males from the same line

That’s why I have a hard time to decide if I should reserve a tank (or three) for experiments with this female – to see how heritable such trait is and what experience can be gained from this case.

Hardwired to breed

The new Metallica album is pretty cool. I only listened to it once, but I like what I hear. I have yet to find THE song, some are quite catchy and all are well played – you can’t expect anything different from those guys. As with almost everything (guppy breeding included) some patience and time is required to fully appreciate it.

The music brought to my attention some almost forgotten fish – Metarika topswords, originating from Tobi’s stock from Berlin.

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I loved the pattern on their body and the female had a great dorsal – both shape and colour. That’s what I wanted to use in my further breeding experiments. The top sword, really impressive on the male, is actually a nuisance for me, which I’d like to get rid of. Unfortunately it’s hard-set on the Y chromosome, together with the rest of colour pattern.

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This pair was kept with other snakeskin round tail fish and the fry was not pure. They were quite old when I acquired them. I only managed to collect 2 batches of fry and they both went out. After a lot of watching and culling I came up with a couple of youngsters pretty much like the father. The variegated black markings of the peduncle is gone for some reason. So is the shape of dorsal, which is a pity.

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I choose one of their grey sisters and the blond male fur further breeding and left them in a remote tank for a couple of months.

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They are incredibly good parents. Big batches of fry and not one eaten. Kudos to the strain breeders and developers – great job!

As said, I was interested mostly in body pattern to be introduced into my never-ending spear quest. This is maintained – and with a really nice surprise. In the litter of ~60 young fish I found ~5 of those:

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I always loved gold/bronze canvas to work on, although I usually found the fish very difficult to keep in good health and long enough to breed. Those seem to be as lively as the rest of their grey and blond siblings. This persistent white top sword is already appearing, but I hope for one of the males to have it reduced or missing – I’ll then cross such fish to a blond spear tail female and should be back at gold/bronze in two generations. Stay tuned!

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Novi Singas

Once upon a time, when I was young, there was a group called Novi Singers, doing wonderful (and sometimes strange) things with their voices. Urszula Dudziak is still active on stage – jazz fans may recognise the name. She was the first to perform “Papaya”

Just a couple of months ago I finally got the guppy strain called Singa – or Singer (not sure which is correct. It’s just a hobbyist name for a trait/gene, after all). I wanted to upgrade over Japan Blue which I worked with for a long time. Singa is a bit different in appearance, but covers the whole body of the fish, also the front part.

Japan Blue (left) and Singa (right) - notice the difference in body front coloration
Japan Blue (left) and Singa (right) – notice the difference in body front coloration

I obtained 4 males differing by some secondary traits (black marking, fins’ coloration) and kept them separated for over a month to make sure they’re healthy, find suitable females for them and, last but not least, find a spare tank to experiment with them further.

Another phenotype of Singas - transparent fins and black spot on the side
Another phenotype of Singas – transparent fins and black spot on the side

I try not to add fish from unknown source (read: pet shop) to my fish room. I have central filtering system, with water flowing through all tanks, so any disease can spread fast to all my fish. But I tend to keep a lot of odd-balls, fish from previous crosses, genes from fellow breeders to float around and be at hand when needed. I thought those males would look interesting with colourful tail and broad, long dorsal fin. Looking around in my “ladies dormitory” I found some potentially good fits for them:

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Top: long, narrow dorsal, males should have iridescent white on dorsal fin and perhaps sword extension. Bottom: broad, wide dorsal with lace pattern.

I expect first fry in a couple of weeks – and first results to report in 3-4 months. It would be cool to find some to start an attractive, stable strain – perhaps a Papaya guppy…?

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Photo with flash lamp reveals the iridescence better

 

Mystery fish

Nearly 3 months ago I needed some moss for my Blue Velvet shrimp tank. I got small starter-packs of various species of moss from a couple of fishy friends. I didn’t really rush to put them in the tank, sometimes waiting 1-2 days before planting. To my surprise, a week after I added the last part I saw a fish in the tank. A really small fry, which must have get there as an egg with the moss. I suspected black neon tetra, but had really no clue. I have never bred characins, the egg must have been exposed to room temperature (~20ºC), lack of oxygen, some time out of water and quite severe change of water conditions. well… here it is:

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It’s nearly 3cm long (TL), shows two dorsal fins and some red colour on the caudal. I still don’t know what species it is, and I’d rather suspect rainbow fish than tetra. Any advice most welcome.

img_8750It is really like a living lightning whenever I drop some food. Eats everything – but mostly the small shrimps, which is why I decided to relocate it to my guppies. I hope to see how it grows and gains colour to recognise the species.

I want my beginner’s luck back!

A couple of years ago I gave some of my fish to a cousin – casual aquarist with one small tank. He choose at random – some spear tails, some other colourful specimens. I visited him yesterday and look what happened there!

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Schim. Plat. blond spear tail. Tail colouration is interesting and the shape is near perfect.

I took this guy back to my fish room and now look for the best match for him.

Another really interesting fish I took – a wild-type body with nicely coloured fins. I count on both dorsal and tail to be x-linked for colour.  I was looking for lace-only fish for a long time, having only SS body and fins in my fish room.

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wild type with small round tail. caudal and dorsal fins match nicely in colour and pattern.

Of course I did not give away my best breeders – and he did not select fish, just let some of them breed. Was it beginners’ luck that the next to ideal spear tail happened to him…? If so – I want mine back!

Outdoor session – update

A couple of months ago I mentioned this little guy:

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He never grew more than 2,5 cm – but left me a couple of sons:

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Would be nice to play with them – the one right seems the best breeding material at this stage. The top left one has really nice pattern, but I feel I should start with best fins.

Another guppy adventure – I got a couple of HB whites/yellows/greys and mated them to an HB female I somehow found in my cull tank. I later added a female from JB red DS. Effects in F2:

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Pictarium update

Wet my hands a bit to make the pictas’ tank a bit more attractive. Now the most difficult part – waiting for the moss to grow.

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And I caught some interesting Snake Skin guppies in my cull tank – all  swordfish.

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Never had a top sword before, but I like the look of this one It’s Japan Blue with SS. It’s really small.

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I hope the extensions grow, the snake skin pattern is really nice. It lost some black coloration due to stress.

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Again, in normal conditions the SS pattern is visible on whole body of the fish. Not a show quality due to fin deficiencies, but a nice fancy guppy.