GFSA Rare Breeds Initiatives

Why are some goldfish breeds rare? There are many reasons, but the two most common are fashion and difficulty in producing significant numbers of good fish of a variety. Fashion plays a role, because once a breed loses its following, it is hard to keep enough breeders interested to maintain a supply. Some varieties are just plain difficult to propagate; the fish may be delicate or may produce very few good fish in spawns. Such varieties are not attractive to commercial breeders and rely strictly on hobbyists to keep them going.

The members of the GFSA who breed goldfish are often attracted to these rare fish. Breeding unusual varieties allows a goldfish keeper to have a direct and meaningful impact on the availability of these fish. These interests have led goldfish keepers with common interests to band together into the "Breeders' Circle", a loose-knit coalition of breeders who share expertise and fish.

What is the origin of the Breeders' Circle? Somewhere near 1982, Al Thomma made an outcross of an uncolored (chocolate) Philadelphia Veiltail to a US-bred blue Oranda called a "Blue-Jay Oranda". Blue-Jay Orandas were typified by the Oranda form but little or no headgrowth. The eggs were mailed to Bob Mertlich in Utah. Bob raised the drab, uncolored fry until it was obvious that no blue offspring were present. Some of the youngsters were shipped to Al Foster and after a few more years a blue fish appeared. Al perfected the Blue Philadelphia Veiltail about 1986. At that point, the two Alís decided to try to keep this fledgling breed alive. The concept of the Breeders' Circle was born! Initially Al Thomma, Carlos Perez, Al Foster, John Och and a few additional Minnesotans bonded, vowing to the keep the breed alive. The concept was simple; breed the fish, share the fry, and if you lost your adults, the other members would send you more or at least some fry.

By the mid-nineties the Breeders' Circle definition began to change. The circle was widened to fit all interesting breeds. The rules today are general and still changing but the concepts are still similar. Breed a fish of interest to the informal group, share the fry through the mail or at a Breeders' Social. If you have a line that was created by someone else and their line crashes, it is your responsibility to offer fish back to the original owner.

Members of the Breeders Circle generally trade for the cost of postage or find an excuse like a business trip to drop some fish off and visit. Over the last four years eight to twelve breeders have gotten together each year for a long weekend to share theories, fry, and lies about their efforts. Out of this meeting-of-the-minds several projects have now evolved (some largely theoretical), including:

Presently this informal group shares the following fish types:

You might ask, "how do I become part of the Breeders' Circle?" The answer is relatively simple: either contribute some desirable fry to some of the members or acquire some fry from one of the members. Why fry? The fish of interest are generally extremely difficult to raise and the numbers of adults in existence are few, often less than two dozen in the entire United States. 

For the most part this is a very informal activity. Typically the members talk every week to some subset of the group and get together once a year for the Breeders' Social. Particularly notable achievements appear as articles in The Goldfish Report.

For more information on the Breeders' Circle, contact .