BAP Tutorial: The Ornamental Rules

Discussion in 'BAP question and answer' started by tjudy, Jan 24, 2017.

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  1. tjudy

    tjudy Advisory Board Staff Member

    The rules regarding ornamental and hybrid strains of fish can be read in the MAAH BAP Rules . Ornamental fish breeding and genetics is incredibly complex, and the rules cannot possibly account for every different situation that could occur. There are parts of the rules that may seem vague or inadequate for some scenarios, leaving them open to different interpretation.

    The purpose of this tutorial is to outline the rules and state, as clearly as possible, the way that the BAP committee interprets them.

    The sections of this tutorial are:
    1. New Hybrid Strains
    2. Deformity
    3. Established in the Hobby
    4. A Strain That Breeds True
    5. Ethics and Preserving Genetic Integrity of a Strain
    6. Wild Type Crosses
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2017
  2. tjudy

    tjudy Advisory Board Staff Member

    Lesson 1: New Hybrid Strains

    From the MAAH BAP Rules:
    This statement is vague, and will most likely be addressed in the next rules change. The BAP Rules do not prohibit the crossing of species to create a new hybrid strain, but other rules in place do give the BAP the power to not accept new hybrids into the program. It will be very difficult to convince the BAP committee to accept a hybrid cross that is not in line with the other rules.

    What to Expect:
    The BAP committee will not accept a spawn from a species x species cross that produces a new hybrid, because we do not want to encourage those experiments and the resulting offspring are not established pure-breeding strains that are generally recognized in the hobby.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2017
  3. tjudy

    tjudy Advisory Board Staff Member

    Lesson 2: Deformity

    From the MAAH BAP Rules:
    Section on Ornamental Fish and Hybrids
    Section on Point Values, Special Point Awards, Species Classes, and Multiple Spawns of the Same Species
    A deformity is any change from the natural body shape and structure of the fish. The only deformity that is accepted in the BAP program is long finnage.

    What to Expect:
    The deformities of standard, recognized and established goldfish strains will be accepted (fan tail, wen, telescope eyes, bubble eyes, missing dorsal (lionhead breed), pearlscale, egg body, etc...).

    Established strains of fish that are deformed will not be accepted. Examples include (but are not limited to)
    • balloon body fish
    • fish with pinched faces (parrot cichlid hybrid)
    • strains with missing fins
    • strains with club shaped or otherwise deformed heads
    • strains with deformed 'kissing' faces
    Individual offspring that are deformed will not be accepted.

    Fin shape and length deformities will generally be accepted so long as
    • the trait breeds true
    • the trait is not the result of missing or additional structural parts of a fin
    Examples of fin deformity what will be accepted:
    • veil fin angels
    • long fin Ancistrus sp. catfish
    • long fin Corydoras sp. catfish
    • delta, sword and comet tail guppies
    • plume tail platies
    • lyretail livebearers
    • long fin white cloud
  4. tjudy

    tjudy Advisory Board Staff Member

    Lesson 3: Established in the Hobby

    From the MAAH BAP Rules:
    New ornamental strains of fish regularly appear in the hobby, and the BAP committee encourages obtaining new strains and bringing them into the club BAP program. An established and recognized strain is one that will be available from multiple sources (stores, wholesalers, fish farms, private breeders) with little phenotypic difference between them.

    What to Expect:
    When you submit any fish that the BAP committee does not immediately recognize there will be a detailed process of verifying the authenticity of the fish. That process will not take place at the meeting when the spawn is turned in. If there is a question about the fish you will be contacted to let you know that the committee is verifying the spawn, and you may be asked some questions about the fish. The biggest concern in this situation is that the fish is actually a strain that will breed true (see next section of the tutorial). We cannot verify that from looking at fish in the bag. The first thing we can do is search to find where the fish are available from and whether or not the fish are the same from all the sources. This process takes time, and your spawn may not appear in the point totals right away. You will be informed of the committee's progress in verifying the spawn, and your help in this process is appreciated.
  5. tjudy

    tjudy Advisory Board Staff Member

    Lesson 4: A Strain that Breeds True

    From the MAAH BAP Rules:
    Ornamental fish genetics can be incredibly complex or amazingly simple, but the important factor to consider is that the offspring from pairs with good genetics can be predicted accurately. That is the key fact that determines whether or not the fish will 'breed true'. The breeder should be able to predict the outcome of a cross in order for the spawn to be accepted into the program.

    What to Expect:
    The BAP cannot verify the purity of a strain's genetics by looking at a few offspring in a bag. That can only be determined by inspecting the parents AND observing the results of a cross between the offspring, neither of which are practical. We have to depend upon the knowledge and integrity of the breeder (see the next lesson in this tutorial). The spawn will be accepted if the fry are phenotypically consistent with the strain they are being submitted as.
  6. tjudy

    tjudy Advisory Board Staff Member

    Lesson 5: Ethics and Preserving Genetic Integrity of a Strain

    The previous section of this tutorial pointed out that there is no quick and easy way to verify that the fish submitted to BAP will breed true for the strain that they were submitted as, and that we have to depend upon the integrity and knowledge of the breeder to ensure that the rules are being followed. There is not much to be done to affect integrity, but we can try to impart the appropriate knowledge.

    Understanding the intent of the rules is important. An ornamental strain that breeds true generation after generation is not easy to create, but it is really easy to mess up. The genetic purity of a strain is valuable and should be protected. We want the fish in the MAAH BAP to be as high a quality as possible, so that club members who buy fish in our auctions are getting what they expect. We also want to ensure that the valuable strains in our club remain purebred.

    Crossing Two Purebred Strains Does Not Reset the Genetics to Wild Type
    A common misconception in fish breeding is that crossing two different strains of fish will somehow reset the genetics back to wild type. The result is usually a fish that has some features of both the parent types, or in some cases one parent type will be dominant and mask the features of the other. Regardless of the result, the genes from both parents are going to land in all the offspring and destroy the purity that was in the parents. These fish should NOT be submitted to BAP. Here is an example of how this mistake can cause problems:

    The Bad Cross and Submission Mistake
    Breeder Bob crosses Poecilia reticulata
    'blue mosaic' x Poecilia reticulata 'albino' guppies, which should result in 100% of the offspring looking like blue mosaic guppies, because the albino genes are recessive to the colors of the blue mosaic parent. Breeder Bob grows some guppies out and submits them to BAP as P. reticulata 'blue mosaic', even though they are not pure bred blue mosaic guppies. The BAP committee accepts the spawn at face value, because the fish are phenotypically blue mosaic.

    The First Bad Result and Second Submission Mistake
    Breeder Betty buys the fish at auction, grows them out and breeds them, only to find that 25% of the offspring are albino and all the colorful fish are a muddy mish mash that might look a little like a blue mosaic. Breeder Betty is unhappy because the fish are not pure breeding, but submits the fry to BAP anyway so that she earns points from the spawn. Breeder Betty submits a bag of albino fry as Poecilia reticulata 'albino' and a bag of colorful ones as just Poecilia reticulata without a strain listed. Breeder Betty broke a rule by submitting two different color varieties from one spawn. The BAP committee rejects the Poecilia reticulata submission without a strain designation because the fish are not wild type. Breeder Betty gets angry and quickly jots 'blue mosaic' on the form, even the though the fish do not look all that much like blue mosaic guppies. When asked by the BAP verifier why Betty thinks the guppies are blue mosaic she responds, 'That is what I bought them as in the club auction five months ago.'

    Don't be like Breeder Bob... crossing two purebred strains is rarely a good idea. Don't be like Breeder Betty... just because she is a victim does not give her the right to perpetuate the problem. The ultimate cause of this problem is ETHICS... neither Breeder Bob nor Breeder Betty were exercising good judgement.

    Multiple Phenotypes from a Single Cross
    When ornamental strains are crossed the phenotypes of the offspring should be numerically predictable if the genotypes of the parents are known correctly. In most cases the result will be that 100% of the offspring will look like the parents, because the strain is breeding true eery generation. There are some situations, however, where the genotypes of the parents are not the same on purpose, and there will be multiple phenotypes in the offspring. These types of spawns are used when there is an inherent problem with a homozygous genotype and creating the established color form is impossible or hard to do without producing some fry of different colors. The offspring from these PLANNED and PREDICTABLE spawns are accepted by the BAP committee, because the resulting offspring are known to be what they are and no buyer will be getting a nasty surprise. Here is an example...

    The Necessary Cross and Correct Submission
    Breeder Bob wants to breed black angelfish, does some good research an discovers that the dominant black gene is semi-lethal when in the homozygous condition (meaning that there are very few fish with two dominant black genes, and they are not very healthy). The recessive color is gold, and breeders use a cross between a heterozygous black angel (one black gene and one gold gene) to get black angel fish. Breeder Bob buys a pair with a black male and a gold female. The spawn produces, as expected, 50% black fry and 50% gold fry. All of the black fry are heterozygous like the father, and all the gold fry are homozygous recessive like the mother. From the first spawn, Breeder Bob submits black fry to BAP. From the second spawn, he submits gold fry to BAP. Breeder Bob did everything correctly with regards to BAP.

    Here is another example of multiple phenotypes from a single cross...

    Unpredictible, but Acceptible Because of the Species Involved
    Breeder Betty buys a bag of regular fin brown bristlenose plecos (Ancistrus sp. 'brown') from an auction in Illinois. The fish grow up and spawn, and the offspring have four different phenotypes: brown, albino, brown longfin, and albino longfin. Breeder Betty has hit the jack pot!!! One pair of fish that produce four different varieties. She spawns the pair four different times and submits a different form from each spawn. This is acceptable in BAP because the species involved, the common bristlenose pleco (Ancistrus sp.) has well documented and established phenotypes that are hard to predict. When Breeder Betty puts the fish into an auction, she would be helpful if she wrote something on the bag that indicates that the parents were both brown regular fin bristlenose. This is totally different from Breeder Bob's guppies because the guppy strains he messed up were purebred lines and the resulting generations had messed up genetics. That is not going to happen with Breeder Betty's bristlenose plecos, so she is good with the BAP committee.

    Prioritize the value of an ornamental strain's genetic purity. Experimenting with strains and cross breeding is fine if you are trying to establish something new, but the fry produced in those experimental crosses should be be submitted for BAP. Once your new strain is breeding true, make an argument to the BAP to accept it. And follow the golden rule... you would not want to buy someone else's mistakes, so do not put your mistakes into BAP.
  7. tjudy

    tjudy Advisory Board Staff Member

    Lesson 6: Wild Type Crosses

    The wild type phenotype is one that appears to be the natural color form of the fish in the wild. That does not mean that the fish are wild caught, or even that the fish have genetics close to what would be found in the wild. Any tank strain fish that does not have an ornamental phenotype (a form that differs from wild type) is wild type. When breeding species with ornamental strains and wild type strain, it is important to remember that the wild type genetics will mess up the purity of an ornamental strain just as thoroughly as anther purebred ornamental strain will. Here is an example...

    The Wild Type Cross and Submission
    Breeder Bob spawns a wild type dwarf gouramie (Trichogaster lalius) male to a powder blue dwarf gouramie female. All of the offspring are wild type, so he submits the fry as Trichogaster lalius without any form or type designation.

    The Result, Second Submission and Continuance
    Breeder Betty buys the gouramies at auction, grows them up, a pair spawns and all the offspring look wild type, but maybe they are a little more blue than normal. She submits them to BAP as Trichogaster lalius. Another member buys these, grows them up, spawns them, submits them... rinse, wash, repeat, over and over and over.

    Ethically, the only thing done wrong in this case was Breeder Bob's initial cross, which ruined the integrity of the powder blue female's genetic line. The BAP committee is not going to see that mistake in the offspring. The wild color form is variable, so seeing a fish with a little more or less blue would not raise any red flags. The only negative to this scenario is that we end up with a population of dwarf gouramies in the club that is not as genetically clean as it could be.

    No harm, no foul... right? WRONG!!!! A wild type strain is just as genetically valuable as an ornamental strain. Some people will say it is more valuable. 'Wild type' is not a catch-all designation for anything that does not conform to an established ornamental strain. Breeder Bob can do all the crossing of the different color forms that he wants to, but he should not submit them to BAP.

    Outcross to Wild Caught or Wild Type to Improve an Ornamental Strain
    The hobby gets new and interesting color forms of fish through the process of experimental crosses and selective breeding to isolate pure-breeding strains. Crossing a tank strain to a wild fish is a common practice to correct a fault. For example, angelfish strains have been crossed back to wild fish to improve body shape and fin length, but once the initial cross has happened it may take many generations to get the color form to breed true again. MAAH applauds the dedication that a breeder is making when trying to find, isolate and establish a new tank strain. But the offspring of those experimental crosses are not acceptable in the BAP program.

    Keep pure-bred strains clean by not crossing them to other pure-bred strain or wild type fish. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You would not want to buy fry at auction and get surprised by bad genetics after growing them up and spawning them. BAP is more than just a game to see who can breed the most fish in a year. The program exists to encourage ethical fish keeping and to make high-quality livestock available to other members of the club.
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