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How Do You Predict Fry Colors?

Discussion in 'Breeding Fish' started by luckdown, Apr 10, 2018.

  1. luckdown Well Known Member Member

    I'm curious. How do you figure out what colors your pair will produce if they aren't the same colors?

    Not for any species specially but if it's different for certain species I would like to know that too.

    Is there any sort of online color calculator like they have for mammals?

    Do people know specific genes for fish species so you could figure it out that way? I'm big on knowing the genotypes for colors of animals.

  2. Wildside Valued Member Member


    There's no 100% certainty for what you'll end up with. Mutations, etc. make it almost impossible to know for sure.

    I'm going to use the example of bettas as it's the one I'm most familiar with. You can assume that say if you breed two red halfmoon bettas, the chances of you getting a lot of red halfmoon bettas are very high. However, certain traits are dominant and others are not. For instance, breed a halfmoon, delta or crowntail with a regular betta, you'll end up more often than not with regular bettas. There is always the chance however that your regular betta might have some "special" genes which were simply dormant, thus producing "special" offspring. It's very rare however. The same is true with colors, red and blue are dominant so by definition if you're far more likely to end up with a red or blue betta than any other color if you crossbreed colors.

    For this reason, many people chose to inbreed fish to have more predictable results. Whether or not this is a good idea, remains to be seen...

    So to answer your question, there's no 100% sure way of knowing what you'll end up with but as with mammals, you can 'limit your options' by breeding two individuals that are very similar. You can look up breeding fish info online but I don't think there are any simulators or anything out there. I've had experience with both guppies and bettas and found it to be a very unpredictable affair. That being said, I don't inbreed my fish so there's more room for uncertainty and surprises (good and bad).

  3. BananaBetta Valued Member Member

    Once they are a few weeks old you can shine a flashlight on them and you may be able to see their colors.

  4. Mary765 Fishlore VIP Member

    All you can do is wait and hope. Usually what happens when you mix two colours is that you get an explosion of many different colours (even colours not visible in your pair)
  5. lilabug4545 Well Known Member Member

    Are you talking about bettas or guppies (or another species)? I know that betta genetics are fairly straightforward (your common dominant vs. recessive traits), but guppy genetics are super fascinating to me. I'm interested in studying them, and I've worked with a couple different lines and genes including: half-black, all sorts of snakeskin crosses, genetic multicolors and chimeric multicolors, as well as a possible new gene that puts colors in snakeskin patterns.
  6. luckdown Well Known Member Member

    Hmmmm okay, thanks! I read up a bit about bettas and get the gist of it for them but everyone else has very little information. Or most will just say people should breed same colors together and nothing else. I like the idea of experimenting and seeing what happens though.

    Ooo I will try that thank you! So far all my platy fry have shown the same colors since they were born and I'm pretty sure I know what they're gonna look like as adults. And the ones who survived all look like their moms though there were a few odd balls who sadly did not make it because I failed to remove them as I spotted them.

    Well then I hope once I learn enough to start my breeding projects things work out in my favor!

    I have a neat idea in mind for some Platies that I think should be possible with some luck. I'm sure they exist somewhere already though lol
  7. luckdown Well Known Member Member

    Oooo that sounds awesome!

    I'm curious about a fair few species. Bettas, guppies, endlers, Platies, swordtails. I'm sure my quest for knowledge will expand past what I already own though.

    But I guess what I'm most interested in right now are Platies because I already have a breeding project idea in mind for them.

    But really I want to know about a bunch of different species to find one that works best for color projects
  8. Kyleena696 Valued Member Member

    If you have access to and want to read scientific papers John Endler has done some fascinating work with guppies. I just read one of his first articles in a fourth year biology class and it's really interesting.
  9. lilabug4545 Well Known Member Member

    My guppies work well for color projects, but that's probably because I'm focusing in on how one gene affects another. I don't know much about swordtails and platies.
  10. Kyleena696 Valued Member Member

    This is the reference for the article I read.
    Endler JA. 1980. Natural selection on colour pattern in Poecilia reticulata. Evolution 34:76-91
  11. luckdown Well Known Member Member

    Oooo I'll have to do some digging to see if I can get my hands on that. Thank you!

    Guppies look like they have a ton of things going on! I've seen so many drop dead gorgeous ones <333

    Swordtails I don't have any plans for so I just got a marigold pair and a pineapple female.

    Platies my batch of fry have 3 really pretty almost all black ones. I wanna breed them to a blue wag to get a heavily black and blue platy. Then see what happens if I add my tiger into the mix
  12. Kyleena696 Valued Member Member

    You're welcome! You'll have to make a thread to keep us updated with your breeding project! You've definitely got me interested :cat:
  13. luckdown Well Known Member Member

    Will do! Still gotta get my hands on some bluewags. I saw some but they were all male so I decided against it, would rather have too many females than too many males xP

    The fry are growing in nicely. I wish my camera could focus on them to show them off!
  14. Mcasella Fishlore VIP Member

    You would only be able to predict offspring by knowing the genetics of the fish, for example albino is a recessive trait, one of my endler hybrids produced 2% albino fry from the previous male she had been mated with (likely just an albino recessive male, grey bodied male, probably a sibling), after mating with a new male that dropped, so she can produce albino fry because she has the needed recessive gene, but the new male did not have it recessive so no albino fry were produced. Her offspring from any mating will likely have the recessive albino trait (at least half of them), she produces blond and grey bodied offspring, more grey than blond at about a 36% ratio now that she isn't producing albino, so right at 1/3 of her offspring will be blond. She also tends to eat newborns so maybe half make it beyond the first two weeks were she can eat them, she aims for the easier to see ones so the blond are less survivable compared to the others.
    So i can predict what her fry will be from taking date from her last drops and seeing which males attempt to mate with her after she drops them. I have an albino male, two or three blond males, and about five grey males, so the likely father is going to be one of the grey males, her sister (just a little smaller than her) does not produce albino as far as I have seen, this can just mean that she was never mated with an albino male. The albino male is 25% blond, 25% grey, 50% albino, so breeding him to one of the large grey females would be putting 50% grey, 30% blond, and 20% albino into that mix, so it would produce a small number of grey since it is the dominant color, 37.5% grey, 27.5% blond, and 35% albino at least by the math between the two (the albino is likely a smaller number since it is even under blond coloring for recessive on these). If you know the genetics of the parents it makes it much easier because you can make squares and figure out what should happen (sometimes it doesn't work out like that, like stated above mutations can mess stuff up, even if it makes something neat looking).
  15. luckdown Well Known Member Member

    Oooo okay so keeping track of these things is very important
  16. Mcasella Fishlore VIP Member

    If you are trying to set a trait it helps out greatly, I am hoping to produce a few more of the albino to see how well they do (the one i have grew well and is very active, at 5 weeks he was almost full sized for one of the males, which most albino will be weaker because of the needed recessive genes and the effort and breeding to produce albino).
  17. luckdown Well Known Member Member

    Okay thank you for that tip! :3 I will definitely start doing this.

    Ooo hopefully you do! Albinos are lovely
  18. chromedome52 Fishlore VIP Member

    I would recommend keeping records of your phenotypes and counts/ratios from any spawns you get. Eventually you may be able to calculate the probable genotypes given the ratios. I've studied a great deal on the genetics of Swordtails, but it was some years ago, and there are several newer variations that I have not worked with to determine how they are inherited. I've also worked with other species of fish that have color strains, and found a number of general rules for certain colors. Some of these rules are well known, such as the fact that Albinism is almost always a recessive gene. (The one known exception is the common Krib.) Some are less obvious, such as abnormal black pigment, which is often a co-dominant gene with normal but can be a dominant with some other abnormal genes. Solid Red in Xiphophorus species is a pure dominant, and can mask (cover up) certain other color traits.

    I would highly recommend learning about the pigment layers in a fish's skin, as often one color can obscure others, masking the genotype. I always kept a pure strain of Green Swords, the natural color type, to back cross with. This often gave me insight into the genetic makeup of a strain I was working with. Unfortunately this is more difficult with Platies, as some of the natural populations are where certain color varieties came from. However, just having a strain where you know the genotype can help. The problem is, it can be nearly impossible to verify a genotype. It is impossible from most commercially available fish. You need fish from a long established line, from a knowledgeable breeder.

    And always expect surprises. I had a strain of Red Tuxedo Swords. Tuxedo is the heterozygous expression of the Tuxedo gene. The homozygous Tuxedo is fatal, and the one or two fry that actually survived to be born were severely deformed by cancerous growths. This also meant that a certain percentage of the young would be straight Red. Imagine my surprise when I found Gold Swords in the mix as well. Took a while to figure that one out.

    I always intended to build a Swordtail web page with known genes and how they worked. Never got around to it. But if you go to the Angelfish Society, they have a listing of the majority of genes and how they are related, with examples of phenotypes. It gives insight into how these things can work. There are phenotypes that have two or even three different genotypes. It makes for interesting reading.
  19. lilabug4545 Well Known Member Member

    I completely forgot about pigment layers! That's one of the factor that helped me to best understand fish color genetics. Basically, fish have a bunch of different layers under their scales. Light comes in, is reflected by the layer under the pigment layers, and comes off as color (I imagine it like stained glass). If you move or take away one layer, then you end up with a different color. Here's an example:
    Blue layer
    Yellow layer
    Red layer
    If you have one gene to take away the blue layer, then you end up with an orange fish. If you have another gene to take away the yellow layer, you end up with a red fish. Therefore, in this example, a red fish isn't just one gene to make it red, it's two genes to take away the blue and yellow layers. That's not even factoring in the possible switching of layers, and the different genes that control intensity of layers.

    I've also been meaning to work on a webpage like that (actually a couple), but I want to do guppies and bettas. I'll ask around for info for that later. Can't work with every strain, after all.
  20. luckdown Well Known Member Member

    A website for it would be so awesome! I've made genotype breeding generators for horses, dogs, cows, and rabbits before but I know nothing about fish genetics. To even begin to fathom it