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Lionhead/ranchu Breeding...


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Okay...I have a question that's been on my mind for quite some time. Everyone knows my spastic questions on goldfish genetics, ...so this is just more of the same.

Let's say that breeder A wants to breed the PERFECT ranchu specimen. Would breeder A EVER consider using a lionhead in the line? And let's say breeder B wants to breed the PERFECT lionhead speciment, would B ever consider using a ranchu in the line? ...

...I suppose what I'm asking is, while I appreciate the fact that the ranchu diverged long ago from the lionhead, I'm confused as to how far apart they could be used as interchangeable. I was thinking if breeder A saw a beautiful lionhead at a show, or if breeder B saw a beautiful ranchu, if ever would consider adding them to their lines for whatever end product they were trying to produce. Would it be a great big step-back? Would the presence of tail-tuck, smooth-back genes totally take a few years for the breeder to review and correct?... OR...

On a totally different train of thought, are lionhead and ranchu stock today somewhat so interbred with each other that you stand a 75/25 or 50/50 chance of getting either/or from a brood? Say if two non line-bred lionheads fell in love and had lots of babies, is there a chance that the black sheep of their family had a smooth back and an angled tail tuck? ...The same being true for ranchu?

...And lastly, is an edonishiki nothing more than a calico ranchu, or is there some special quirk that makes this a distinct sub-family of the ''hooded-eggfish'' type goldfish?

...Back to Human Anatomy and Physiology homework!



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I don't have a clue Allen. BUT I would think as you mentioned above that it would really mess up the tail tuck of the ranchu.

I see a lot of "lionchu" advertised especially on ebay lately. I don't want a lionchu I want a ranchu or I want a lionhead, but not a cross between the 2!

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I am just going to toss a few observations out there......

Frist and foremost - there never has been, nor will there ever be a "PERFECT" fish of any breed. Just like you can never be the "fastest" or the "smartest" or the "prettiest" or the whatever-ist for more than a brief moment - for no sooner than you are declared to be one of the something-est, someone or something will come along and be better. That is the nature of life.

There will never be the perfect fish, for you can always improve.

Now....as far as genetics. From my understanding and experience the genetics of goldfish are, truly, one of the more complicated set in the world. Goldfish have been "adjusted" for soooo many years - far more than practically any other creature alive today. And records have not been kept for 99.99999999999999999999% of them.

You can take two absolutely stunning examples of perfectly "Red" fish and cross them together. In, say, 1000 fry, you will have an entire scale of fish from that cross that are all the way from white, through pink, orange to red. You will even get some red/white ones, some pink/white ones and ones that are kinda brown-ish and muddy. That is the nature of the beast . (I made up the color thing - it is not real - It could be Ranchu/Lionhead characteristics or Broadtail finnage or whatever).

Some magnificent fish, when crossed together, have what is ofen deemed as an "unsuccessful" cross. This means that their particular genetic makeup is simply not compatible. Whatever is going on with their genetics, all the subsequent fry will not exhibit any of the desireable genetic traits that so made the parents magnificent. Sometimes, you can cross two fish together that you would not expect to get a good combination from - and have amazingly good results. Sometimes you get such bad combinations that you will get a great number of fry that have what is commonly called "fatal" genes. The most often expression of "fatal genetic combinations" are seen when you have a set of fry that die off at intervals - usually 5 weeks/8 weeks/12 weeks of age. It is thought that their bodies simply outgrow their ability to survive - to process food or to resist water aberations or whatever.

Goldfish genetics have few traits that are "tied together". And there are very very few simply dominant/recessive combos, too. Instead, you get hundreds of independant combinations that can be combined in infinate combinations. Since the simple dominant/recessive rules do not work, either, you can get a sliding scale. A "partial expression" of a trait is seen - expresed in a more or less visible fashion. Spawn mates may show an expression of a trait all the way from extremely visible to not visible at all - and every expression in between. So you see - by putting together almost infinate combinations, with each trait also having the ability to be expressed all the way from 100% expression all the way down to 0% expression and every thing inbetween, you see the difficulty at even getting two fish that look alike, grow alike, etc. - even in the same spawn with the same parents and being raised in the same tub.

In carefully created "lines" of fish - where offspring are crossed back to a successful parent, and then various lines are created with closely related fish, you can create lines or families of fish that have a greater number of successful, close to identical, good-looking fish. But within a spawning of even GREAT lines, you will still see a tremendous variation along the lines of expression. Even the best lines do not produce show fish every time. It is said that it takes 1000 to find one suitable to grow out - and 1 in 1000 of those is a show winner. From average lines of fish - I really believe this. I also think that, with careful line breeding and crossing, more percentage of success is possible - but it is still not going to be a large percentage.

Now - crossing out. In recent years, the standards for the various breeds - Lionhead and Ranchu have become somewhat blurred - particularly in some countries. What is exported right now - even the "high quality" fish - is often a cross made to accentuate features that, not too many years ago, would not have been deemed acceptable. These days, a flatter-backed Classical Chinese Lionhead (one of my personal favorites) is not even given a second look in a show by some judges. They are looking for what I would call a Lionchu - a more curved, smooth-backed fish with a full lionhead wen. The exporters are both creating and fullfilling the demand for such fish. Standard SVR are dinged for not carrying a lionhead.

The best brood stock you can buy - even expressing the true Classical Chinese Lionhead features - may have the genetic makeup of a Lionchu. When bred, you will find a scale fry that express the Chinese Lionhead look, fish that express good SVRanchu look (not very likely) and those that are inbetween - the majority which I deem to be LionChu. With careful selection and line breeding, you CAN take your stock back to one presentation or the other, but it will take many generations, much careful selection, a lot of luck and a whole lotta work.

I could go on and on and on. But what I guess it boils down to is that many who have NOT bred do not realize that you cannot get fish like the parents by simply breeding them together. The genetics are too skewed. HAving 1000 - 5000 fry in a spawning allows you to see 1000s of genetic combinations - and select that which you hope/think will give you what you want as it grows and in the future, when it breeds. Breeding is not easy. Even with the best of the best, you still get a whole lot of..... nothing. Crossing back and forth has already been done, and done so much that it would be virtually impossible to get a "clean" line of Classical Lionhead or SVR. (Even with the 4000 + fry I had last year, I have a frightfully small number of fry to work with. I got 4 worth growing out - but one may or may not ever do much of anything. Breeders that are more serious breed literally 10s of thousands of fry a year.)

Now, we can look at TVR - from what I understand, some of the better lines have been kept quite separate - at least in some places in the world. That is why we, in the States, cannot necessarily get a hold of them. What is seen here is a mish-mosh of crossed breeds. (I think TVRs are as close to a different breed from SVR, Lionhead and Lionchu and you can get). Those are clean lines - but it is not necessarily something you can get.

One last comment. It is great to be excited about a huge spawning. But you need to realize that in that spawning will exist a great number of fish that require culling. They simply do not exhibit any features that are desired. These will be present even in the best of the best of the best crosses. It is sad feature of goldfish genetics. JMO

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