Dedicated to Fancy Guppy breeding in the UK
|Coral Red Doubleswords © Håkan Turesson
Here I have summarized eight years of doublesword breeding, resulting in a strain of coral red or bluegreen doublesword guppies which were bred in the base colors of gray, albino and blond (American gold). A few years ago they could have simply been called coral red albino doubleswords, but I will explain the history from the beginning.
I received my first doubleswords in 1997 from Olof Boberg from Sweden. The strain was Viennese emerald which originated directly from Robert Kratochwil from Vienna. The strain was of very good shape. For many years Robert Kratochwil has been a top breeder of the Viennese Emeralds, which is the most true-breeding doublesword strain available. I was not new to breeding guppies at the time, since I had bred pet shop guppies and later triangle tail, show guppies in small scale for years. The vitality and beauty of the Kratochwil doubleswords made me discard my triangle strains within months and I still have not kept any triangles other than for the occasional outcrossings described here.
At the Swedish Guppy Club's show in Stockholm in April 1998, Ömer Gulmez from Germany showed a trio of coral red albino doubleswords. These males got rather low points because they were small and had small and almost uncolored dorsal fins. They were, however, a new variant and caught the eye of both the general public and my fellow Swedish guppy hobbyists. The males were extremely lively and vital and had a striking orange body color (the coral red in albino version) and red, rather short swords. In Europe it is not common to return the fish to the owner after a show, therefore the fish were the club's property to give away to members or to be auctioned out.
We were three members of the guppy club that agreed to share the trio and get one each, while many of the winning trios attracted little interest. My chosen male was the only one of the three to have a tiny little red spot in the dorsal. It also had an extra fin ray sticking out between the swords, glowing orange. According to later communication with Ömer, the fish was a result of a cross he had made between coral red doublesword males from Hans Luckmann from Germany, and red albino triangle females originating from Ed Richmond from the United States.
I bred the male with two young virgin Viennese Emerald females (base color gray). The choice of Viennese Emerald was not well planned, it just happened to be the DS strain I had at hand at that time, although it was not a bad solution as a first step. The two females got one small drop of just nine fry each within a month and I did not take any more fry from them. The F1 generation of course had a base color of gray and the males were coral red doubleswords with fair shape. They had colored yellow dorsal and had a blue-green spot at the caudal peduncle.
I bred four males to thirteen sisters in one breeding group (September 1998). Since the males were young and all quite uniform, there was no reason to use only a single male at this stage. In F2 the albino share was about 25% at birth, but albinos were lacking in some litters because some gray females selectively cannibalize albino fry. All gray fry were discarded from the F2 drops. The adult F2-males were all Albino Coral Red doubleswords, but of two different colors variants. Albino Coral Red could be changed to albino coral red because I do not capitalise these words in the rest of the article.. not an important detail.
The variant I chose to continue with had the X-linked yellow dorsal and the blue-green colors from the Viennese emerald strain. The other type had a colorless dorsal fin and few other colors than the orange from the original male, furthermore, they had less good shape. I never used the second type for breeding, but the strain still sometimes produces some males with colorless dorsal fins.
The shape in F2 was not as nice as the original Viennese Emeralds, but it was easily improved by selection for a few generations. See pictures 1 and 4 for males of this type. With F2-fish I used some albino males and females for an all albino breeding group. Another group of females was back-crossed to the two best gray males from the F1-generation. These two males were clearly better than the brothers when they were older.
The red dorsal fin of all F2-males confirmed that the red dorsal was Y-linked. More interesting was that also one albino F2-female had a colored dorsal and red upper and lower caudal fin edges. Double swordtail females from my strain always had clear fins before, so I suspected this got some color genes from the father. I mated this female with the albino coral red DS males (second back cross). The results were 50 % almost full red coral red albino DS males with somewhat better shape (Picture 5).
These males now carried the originally Y-linked red dorsal as X-linked. Clearly, the red dorsal was now linked to double swordtail in these fish and this was a result of one single cross over. The variant had, and still has, shape problems compared to the original Viennese emeralds or to the multicolored coral reds, but this can be improved by continuous selection of the best fish. Another persisting problem in the strain is to keep the intensity of the red color. Few fish today are as good in color as the male in picture 3. Shape of the dorsal fin was a problem that has now improved a great deal.
The red albinos somewhat improved in shape and size by selective breeding; picture 5 shows some males from year 2003. By this time, as a side project, I had introduced the gene "Asian blue", also called base color blue 2 or r2, into the strain.
Annett Wolf from Sweden had experimented with the gene, by crossing a neon blue triangle male, into her strain of Japan blue DS. From her F2 back-cross (to DS) I received a female that carried the gene in heterozygous form (r2R2). This female crossed with a red male of the type from picture 3 (bottom) gave the very badly shaped F1-son shown in picture 6. This badly shaped male was of course also heterozygous for Asian blue (r2R2), but he carried coral red and other Y-linked genes for red.
The results confirmed that the Asian blue inhibits the red in one way or another, replacing it with blue or green, just as it does in blue grass and blue neon triangle strains. The details of how this works are not known. What we know is that it works and the trait is dominant in this respect (and recessive when it comes to "base color").
This F1-male was back-crossed to a red albino female and produced the albino male in picture 6 (middle). This male theoretically had both X and Y chromosomes from the red DS-strain and all their genes for red (and Asian blue, r2R2). As seen in picture 6, he still had terrible shape. The male also had very little red color, but interestingly, the red stripe on the body was not red, but instead was black on the base color gray of the father (Picture 6, top).
Because the shape was still so bad, I did not use the male or his equally bad brothers for the next backcross, but instead used his sisters with better shaped fullred DS males. This gave the fish in picture 6 (bottom). He does not display very good shape, but it was a clear improvement. After this I did one or two further backcrosses to the red fish and now regard the variants as one strain. The r2 gene was (almost) always kept in heterozygous form, and therefore, I got 50% red fish in each generation, ever since the F1-cross. To avoid the homozygous, swordless and relatively colorless Asian blue fish (e.g. r2r2, Picture 7), I usually breed bluegreen males (r2R2) to red females (R2R2) or red males (R2R2) to bluegreen females (r2R2). The r2R2 females can be identified because they lack the red color.
Parallel to the development of the bluegreen variant, I also introduced base color blond (American gold) into the strain. This was done based on a blond red male from Hans Rillnert from Sweden. Also, I decided to keep the base color gray in the strain. The introduction of blond was slightly more time consuming because it takes two generations for a cross to recessive base color and I backcrossed two times as not to loose too much of the shape. Thus it took six generations to introduce blond (2002 until recently) and I now breed albino, blond and gray as one strain.
The three base colors come as either red or bluegreen, thus I have six variants (Picture 8). The different base colors make the breeding more interesting if breeding only one strain. In addition, I am still not sure that the fertility of albinos is comparable to grey and blond, therefore, it is also safer to breed these base colors. Of course, the strain can be kept in one or two base colors; it can be kept as only red, but not as only bluegreen due to the Asian blue genetics.
I am grateful to all the generous people that I recived the founding fish from. From my efforts, the strain has now been fairly well spread (other than the blond variant). Daniel Schröder from Germany has shown the albino and gray red DS in Europe. Enrique Patino has spread the same variants in USA. Benny Trustrup was the first to show the bluegreen albino DS in 2004 with good results. He has also shown the bluegreen gray variant. Günter Kother got the albino variants, via Benny (bluegreen) and Daniel (red), and has shown both red and bluegreen albinos with excellent results in 2005.
I am well aware of that the strain still has some problems, but it can all be improved in the hands of good breeders and I hope the strain will continue to attract interest. A typical problem is that relatively few males have an acceptable shape (especially the dorsal and tail fin). Also, the intensity of the red is hard to maintain and without selection for color intensity, the red tend to become diluted. For that reason I prefer to use red males to bluegreen females. I then have a better chance to select the most intensely colored males.
I also struggle to keep the strain as genetically variable as possible at my limited circumstances. That way the strain can give different and interesting fish, as for example, the recent male shown in picture 9. The male has some flaws but also good qualities he has been used for breeding (as one of a number of males in that generation).
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