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Breeding guppies: Selecting color and shape

breeding guppies size and shapeWhen you begin breeding guppies, it is a good idea to decide upon the specific characteristics that you would ultimately like your breeding lines to possess, and tailor your breeding programs to achieve them.

There are various different factors to take into consideration here, including the shape of the tail and fins, the coloration of the fish, and the patterns that your guppies display.

When you a begin breeding guppies with your very first fish, it is a good idea to aim for just one or two specific traits, and as time goes by and your lines become more established and reliably produce good examples of those traits, move on to more complex combinations of details.

In this article we will provide a basic run-down of the different strains of guppy that you can choose between and selectively breed to achieve.

Guppy tail shape

There are a great many different tail shape and size variants in the guppy, and the tail is one of their most defining features.

Selecting a desirable tail shape and sourcing guppies that possess it will ensure that your fry – and subsequent lines of guppies – will stand an excellent chance of displaying that trait. There are twelve main recognized guppy tail shapes:

  • Fan tail
  • Triangle tail
  • Veil tail
  • Flag tail
  • Double sword tail
  • Top sword tail
  • Bottom sword tail
  • Lyre tail
  • Pin tail
  • Spade tail
  • Spear tail
  • Round tail

A handy guide to guppy tail types can be found here.

Guppy coloration

Male guppies are generally much more colorful than females, so picking a male with a good, strong color and appealing appearance is important, but do not overlook your females either!

Remember that the genes present in the female will affect the coloration of the subsequent fry, both male and female, so ensure that both sides of the parentage are good examples of the color variety you hope to achieve.

As coloration is genetically determined, it is also important to take into account the dominant or recessive traits of coloration.

Dominant genes are much more likely to show traits in the offspring than recessive ones. With recessive genes, usually both parent fish must possess the gene in order to provide a reasonable chance of the offspring sharing that trait.

Here is a run-down of some of the basic guppy colors and the gene traits that enable them:

  • Gray: Dominant
  • Bronze: Recessive
  • Blonde: Recessive
  • Albino: Recessive
  • Lutino (a yellow gene mutation): Recessive
  • White: Recessive
  • Silver: Recessive

Reds and blues are commonly seen guppy color schemes, but there is not any one definitive answer as to whether they are dominant or recessive!

This is because there are several different gene combinations that are responsible for producing blue or red colors. The color will depend on which of these combinations are in play- something that you can only find out through trial and error!

The same applies for related colors that contain elements of red or blue, such as green, orange, purple, or pink.

Patterns and markings in guppies

There are seven main pattern styles in the guppy, and most other pattern variations come about as a result of selective breeding to produce a new variant.

  • Snakeskin guppies have a pattern like chain mail across around 85% of their bodies and fins.
  • Lace guppies have a pattern similar to snakeskin, but this is rather fainter and less pronounced.
  • Grass guppies have delicate black dots on their dorsal and caudal fins.
  • Leopard guppies have rosette spots across their tail, body, or both.
  • Mosaic guppies have a tail pattern that forms a random and irregular arrangement of spots or mesh.
  • Moscow guppies are particularly interesting to breed, as their color and pattern intensity changes depending on how they feel! The Moscow guppy is sometimes known as the “chameleon guppy” for this reason.
  • Tuxedo guppies have a graduated body color going from light on the head and chest to dark on the main part of the body.

There are thousands of different guppy color, pattern and tail shape combinations and many more selectively bred mutations and fusions of different types.

It would be impossible to list all of them without writing a book of several hundred pages long, but hopefully this introduction has provide a good base to get you started!

This post is part of our Guppy Breeding series! Read more…

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