Angelfish Breeding Program

Article Index

Our Continued Goal for over 30 years has been to develop and improve the freshwater angel fish. We are working towards the enhancement of present strains and every effort is being made to develop exciting new varieties of angel fish. Any advancement in fin shape, body size shape, color, fecundity and genetic vigor will be passed on to our customers with the sincere hope that they will further the groundwork.

Quality Matters: Our uniquely Quarantined Hatcheries mean that you get healthy angel fish. Our stock is not exposed to any outside fish, plant, etc.. Any new stock we bring in, goes through a three month testing and treatment procedure in a remote location. After proven to be totally safe, we add them to our quarantined breeding room, but they never enter our hatchery. Only "cleaned" eggs enter the main hatchery, meaning no diseases have ever been present.  In almost 25 years we have never had a disease problem in our hatchery. Our Angel Fish Breeding Program: We use a combination of out-crossing and line-breeding to achieve our goals of enhancing desirable traits and eliminating harmful recessive traits, thus maintaining prolific and genetically sound strains of angel fish. The main thrust of our breeding program is to cross wild angel fish into our domestic stock of angel fish. We pioneered the first angel fish breeding program in this country that used wild angel fish to improve domestic strains. The increased vigor, health, improved shape and elimination of deformities is amazing. The success has been so outstanding that now most other angel fish breeders are attempting to copy this breeding technique. This is not an easy process and is very time consuming. The only other angel fish we have brought in, are angel fish from overseas, in an attempt to get stock with a totally different gene pool. We have had some success in locating good angel fish stock from other countries and on occasion have added the genetics of these angel fish to ours. Our fish are the foundation stock of most of the angel fish breeders in this country, and many other countries. If they didn't get their fish from us, then they most likely got them from someone who did. This is why we put such an effort into assuring that we supply healthy, vigorous angel fish across the country. The angel fish we offer, have stood the test of time. As an example, we have a Koi angel fish line that we've had for more than 20 generations and it's more vigorous, more vibrant, colorful and prolific than when we first got i - much more!

Stock selection: We generally raise anywhere from 50 to 100 juvenile angel fish of a strain to adult size to select from for our next generation. It is not uncommon for us to have approximately 300 adult Koi to select from, at any given time. Any angel fish breeding operation that is using only a dozen or so individuals is not going to make much progress (the strain will most likely regress). Almost all angel fish traits that we select for, are undeveloped in the juvenile angel fish. This would include adult coloration, fecundity, body shape, head profile, finnage, aggressiveness, spawn rearing tendencies and maximum size. Again, the only way to select for these traits is to select from a large number of adult angel fish. None of these traits can be reliably selected for, from juveniles and you would have to be extremely lucky to get the best angel fish out of a spawn of 500 by keeping only a dozen juvenile angel fish.

Angelfish Varieties Availability: We seldom work with more than 6-8 different angelfish varieties at one time. There are easily more than a hundred possible angelfish varieties from the color mutations that exist at this time. Our tank space only allows us to work on a few special projects at one time. Each year, we will have some angelfish varieties available that we didn't have in the prior year. We do maintain all the major color mutations, in case we decide to work with those genes.

Proven Angelfish Pairs. All pairs are sold from our "Angelfish Breeding Pairs" page. Each angelfish pair is priced according to variety and quality, and are sold on a "first come, first serve" basis.

Caution When Buying Angelfish! You will find many different common names on a single strain of angelfish. Some of these names are the results of people simply passing the name along from the person they bought their stock from. Others are the result of someone doing a little creative marketing. The following should help you determine if you're getting the strain you think you are. This is a list of all major angelfish color mutations as of this writing. Note there are only eight. They are: Gold, Gold Marble, Marble, Zebra, Smokey, Dark, Half Black, Streaked, and Albino. Add wild type (silver) and you have a total of nine types that make up all angelfish.

There are four other significant genes that have identified that affect (modify) the look of the eight angelfish color mutations. One is Stripeless, another is Pearlscale, Streaked is a third and Blue is the last. These are not color genes but do have an effect on the look of the color genes. The other major gene people are concerned with is Veil, which simply affects the length of the fins on angelfish. There are no other proven angelfish color genes at this time. In order to be proven, there would have to be a study that shows phenotype counts in spawns that are statistically predictable and uniquely identifiable. At this time, there are no other genes that meet this criteria.

All angelfish hybrids are derived from the above listed mutations. Since many people use some pretty weird common angelfish names, the only way you can be sure of what you are getting is to look for angelfish that are identified with genetic notation showing the above angelfish gene names.

By the way, angelfish breeders do not "develop" mutations. Major mutations of a positive nature are freak occurrences of nature. Significant and useful ones happen rarely, with angels less than two or three dozen times in the last 50 years. When selectively breeding to improve a trait, one is hoping to spot minor mutations or unusual gene expressions that when accumulated over time, offer something slightly improved or different in that strain. In our opinion, these minor mutations and gene expressions don't justify giving the strain a new name, unless the phenotypes it produces are statistically predictable and uniquely identifiable. In fact, most variations seen in different lines of angelfish, are due to environmental influences - not genetics.

Angelfish Genetics Research: Dr. Joanne Norton did the only documented research on any angelfish color genetics. She did this over a 20 year period and the research was thorough and correct in every way. It was published in a series of 18 articles in FAMA that started in 1982. Much of her results were also published in Aquariology, a widely distributed book put out by Tetra in 1992. Most of what we know on angelfish genetics came from her research and we will forever be indebted to her decades of work.

© 2006 Angels Plus