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Revised July 31, 2015


The purposes of the Potomac Valley Aquarium Society (PVAS) Breeders Award Program (BAP) are:

  1. To promote the keeping and breeding of fishes and other aquatic organisms.

  2. To recognize outstanding achievements in breeding, rearing, and sharing of fishes and other aquatic organisms.

  3. To encourage research into the spawning and rearing of the more difficult species and share successful spawning techniques.

  4. To encourage members to maintain, reproduce, and disseminate at-risk species when compatible with local, national, and international laws and species protections.


Program Eligibility

All members of PVAS in good standing are eligible to participate in the program. Participants whose membership lapses will be ineligible, but shall have their points reinstated upon renewing their membership.

The BAP Committee

The BAP Committee shall consist of five members. The Chairman shall be appointed by the President of PVAS. The remaining four members shall be appointed by the Chairman, with the consent of the Board of Governors. In addition, the President of PVAS is ex officio a member of the Committee.

Function and Authority of the BAP Committee

The Committee shall oversee and enforce all of the rules, regulations, and requirements governing the BAP. They shall maintain a complete and accurate record of the award criteria and point standings, verify and award points to qualifying members, make appropriate awards to qualified members, and review the rules, regulations, and requirements at least once a year for possible improvements.

BAP Chairman

The BAP Chairman is responsible for presiding over the BAP Committee and administering the BAP on a day-to-day basis. All BAP spawning reports, questions, and suggested changes regarding the BAP ultimately come to the Chairman. Therefore, the Chairman may be contacted at, by phone, by personal email, or by personal message through the PVAS forum.

The Program

The BAP recognizes members according to their accomplishments. It is structured to promote collaboration, not competition. Members attain achievement levels and awards based on the number of points earned towards different breeding objectives. Members will be awarded points only once per species, subspecies, or variant. All points earned are cumulative over an indefinite period of time. Points are awarded as described in the Point Schedule for the successful spawning and rearing of species and sub-species based on the level of difficulty.

PVAS supports the CARES (Conservation, Awareness, Recognition, Encouragement, Support) Preservation Program. The PVAS BAP and its associated point and award structures are aligned with CARES objectives and guidance. Fishes on the CARES Priority List earn the greatest number of points.

  • Successful spawning is defined as raising a minimum of 10 healthy fry for a minimum of 30 days. Exceptions are noted for extremely rare or difficult-to-breed species in the Appendix and the Point Schedule.

  • A sub-species, as accepted by the BAP committee, is a naturally occurring population different from another sub-species only in color and geographic location. Sub-species recognized by the BAP program are those found in publications acceptable to the BAP Committee. If the scientific community later recognizes a sub-species to be a species or changes the taxonomic name of an animal, the BAP committee shall reclassify each animal.

  • Color, finnage, shape, and locality variants are separately eligible for points as noted in the Point Schedule for a particular species.

  • Hybrid fish are allowed if already established in the hobby, or if they are naturally occurring. All other hybrids are not allowed.

  • The use of hormones is not allowed. PVAS recognizes that in exceptional cases hormone use has been instrumental in saving certain species from extinction.  However, the BAP seeks to promote experimentation by its members to learn the aquarium conditions under which challenging fish may be successfully spawned and reared without resorting to hormones.

  • Members are responsible for abiding by U.S. federal, state, and local aquaculture, wildlife, and species protections laws as well as copyright restrictions.


Point Categories

The program encompasses 6 categories of species based on the level of difficulty of breeding. See the Appendix for more detailed descriptions. See the Point Schedule for individual species, subspecies, and other variants.

Category 1 (10 points) – Easy to breed, requiring no special conditions or techniques except protection of fry from predators. Most livebearers fall in this category.

Category 2 (15 points) – Somewhat easy to breed, requiring some special conditioning and provision of spawning materials or habitat, such as vegetation, spawning mops, mats, or caves.

Category 3 (20 points) – Somewhat difficult to breed, requiring additional actions such as introduction of target and dither fish, careful introduction and separation of males and females, or stripping of mouthbrooders.

Category 4 (25 points) – Difficult to breed, requiring highly specialized setups, such as riffle tanks, spawning crevices or techniques such as egg stripping, artificial insemination, egg incubation, or an egg dormancy period.

Category 5 (30 points) – Very difficult to breed, requiring elaborate setups and highly specialized conditions such as migration between fresh and brackish water, and for which little or no information on spawning is available.

Category 6 (50 points) – Target List species included on the CARES Priority List or a species that has not or has rarely been bred in the hobbyist aquarium successfully.

Members will be granted 5 points for providing a detailed spawning report in any of the following formats: a Spawning Report Form with all fields (mandatory and optional) completed, an article posted to the forum, or a presentation at a general meeting.

Achievement Levels

The BAP recognizes five levels of achievement. These levels and their requirements are as follows:

Breeder – Attainment of 50 breeding points from any of the categories.

Intermediate Breeder – Attainment of Breeder status and a total of 150 breeding points from any of the categories.

Advanced Breeder – Attainment of Intermediate Breeder status and a total of 300 breeding points, including at least 100 points from Categories 2 or 3.

Master Breeder – Attainment of Advanced Breeder status and a total of 500 breeding points, including at least three species from Categories 5 or 6.

Grand Master Breeder – Attainment of Master Breeder status plus spawning of at least one additional species from Category 6 over and above those spawned for Master Breeder status.

Additional Recognition

In addition, the BAP Committee may bestow the following or other awards:

Breeder of the Year – For earning the most points of any BAP participant over the course of the calendar year.

Rookie of the Year – For the greatest number of successful spawns of any BAP participant in their first year of participation in the program.

Junior Breeder – For earning 50 breeding points in any category by a junior member.

Specialization Breeding – For earning points for breeding and rearing 10 or more different species within a taxonomic family over the calendar year.

Diversification Breeding – For earning points in 10 or more different taxonomic families over the calendar year.

Lifetime Achievement – Awarded for sustained excellence in achieving a breeding objective such as preservation of one or more CARES species, exceptional line breeding, preservation of genetic variability, sharing knowledge, and mentoring others.


CARES Program

The purpose of CARES is to encourage hobbyists to devote tank space to one or more species at risk, offering that species a future of hope. PVAS is a CARES member club and participates in the CARES Preservation Program by offering the CARES Certificate of Recognition with gold, green, blue, and red seals.

Gold Seal – A gold seal is awarded for the achievement of setting aside space in participants’ tanks that is dedicated towards maintaining a CARES conservation priority at risk species and registering that species in your aquarium club's CARES program. The gold seal is automatically awarded with receipt of the CARES Certificate of Recognition.

Green Seal – A green seal is awarded for compiling the notes that participants have entered into their CARES Preservation Program Species Journals and sharing the knowledge gained regarding CARES Species at Risk through informative postings to the PVAS forum.

Blue Seal – A blue seal is awarded for sharing fry of registered CARES Species at Risk with members of the club, and registering the fry in PVAS’s CARES program, or for donating fry of the registered CARES Species to a Species Maintenance Program (SMP).

Red Seal – A red seal is awarded for sharing fry of registered CARES Species at Risk with a hobbyist from another society or educational organization who has instituted the CARES Preservation Program and having those fry registered into that organization's CARES Preservation Program.

For each succeeding year that a participant continues to maintain a species enrolled in CARES, a small red longevity seal is added, forming a line across the CARES Certificate of Recognition.

CARES Member of the Year Award – This achievement is awarded to a member of the program who excels in overall outstanding care for the future of at-risk fish, openly shares knowledge with other hobbyists, and assists fellow hobbyists in their CARES endeavors.


A certificate with four colored seals (gold, green, blue, and red) and a solid row of small red longevity seals is awarded to designate the highest level of CARES Preservation Program membership achievement.



Attainment of achievement levels will be recognized on the club’s website and at each monthly meeting. Awards are presented each December at the annual Christmas meeting.



  1. Breeding points are awarded upon proof of spawning in any of the categories.

  2. Guidelines for determining a spawn are defined as follows:

    • For livebearers, a spawn is birth.

    • For mouthbrooders, a spawn is the maternal release of free swimming fry, or, in the case of incubator reared fry, the time at which the fry become free swimming.

    • For killifish, a spawn is considered the total number of fry hatched in one week for plant spawners or one month for soil spawners from the eggs laid during a single collection period. The spawn is considered to be complete at the end of one week of hatching.

    • For all other fish, a spawn begins with the physical act of mating, and is considered complete when the eggs hatch.

    • If the first indication that a spawn has occurred is the presence of free swimming fry in the tank, this is considered a spawn.

    • For fish bred in a colony or natural setting, a spawn is considered all fry of approximately the same age or size.

  3. In order to be eligible for an award, spawning must take place in the breeder’s tank or pond and not result from eggs or gravid fish obtained from another breeder.

  4. Any fish not included, or not adequately described, in the existing Point Schedule may be assigned points by the BAP Committee upon written request. This request must be made prior to the awarding of points.

  5. After a successful spawning, the breeder is responsible for assuring that his or her points have been properly verified and reported. The breeder must submit a spawning report to receive points. The BAP Spawning Report Form is available on the club’s website.

  6. The requirement for 10 fry may be waived by the BAP committee when a fish is known to generally produce less than that number in an average spawn. Requests for such a waiver must be made to the BAP committee in writing prior to awarding of points.

Proof of Spawning

  1. The first notification of breeding must be performed within 10 days after free swimming fry are detected. Notification may be by a post to the PVAS forum, via email to, or by contacting the BAP Chairman directly. Photographic documentation is strongly encouraged.

  2. Verification and inspection shall be made by a BAP Committee member or a delegate. The fry must be at least 30 days and in the appropriate number (at least 10 unless approved otherwise) at the time of the inspection. The fry may be brought to a general meeting for verification, or the breeder may request that a verifier travel to the breeding site if transporting the fry may harm them.

  3. A BAP Spawning Report must be filled out and submitted online within 4 months of submission of the initial notification to receive credit for the spawn.

  4. Any spawning may be investigated at any time by the BAP Committee.

  5. No members, including BAP Committee members, may check or verify their own spawnings, nor may any member of their household.


Walking through the Process

  1. Spawn your fish.

  2. Start your Spawning Report Form. Also, list any factors or special circumstances the BAP should consider for new species or varieties, for lowering the number of fry required, or for changing point values.

  3. Report your spawn within 10 days of free swimming. Do this even if you don’t see 10 fry – they can surprise you.

  4. Grow out your fry for 30 days.

  5. Either bring the required number of fry to the next meeting or arrange to have them verified in person.

  6. Submit your completed Spawning Report Form and any proposals for changes or special considerations to the BAP Chairman.

  7. Get an email from the BAP Chairman that your points have been awarded.


Changes and Modifications to the Rules

The Committee shall review the rules at least annually. Also, members are encouraged to suggest any rule changes they believe will be helpful. The Committee shall adhere to the following procedures:

  1. The BAP Chairman, Committee member, or the PVAS President may propose a change to the BAP Committee directly. This will be discussed and voted on. The change will be published to take effect immediately, but the General Membership may comment, and the change shall be considered provisional until the second general meeting after it takes effect. Significant negative comment may cause the BAP Committee to roll back the change.

  2. To propose changes to the BAP rules, any General Member may send a written proposal to the BAP Chairman for processing, as above.

  3. Similarly, members may request to add a new category, change a point value, or lower the required number of fry. The BAP Committee will decide upon the request at its next meeting.

  4. Requests for reconsideration of to a BAP Committee ruling must be made within 30 days of the ruling in writing to the PVAS Board of Governors, which will make the final decision. A courtesy copy of the appeal will be made to the BAP Chairman.

  5. Changes to point values shall not lower the point score for spawns already awarded, but may raise them.

Point Category Detailed Descriptions

Category 1 – 10 points

Any species of livebearing fish, except as noted elsewhere

Category 2 – 15 points

Any species of Anabantoid, except as noted elsewhere

Any species of Atheriniformes (Rainbowfishes and Blue-eyes), except as noted elsewhere

Any species of Beloniformes (Ricefishes), except as noted elsewhere

Any species of Cichlidae (Cichlids), except as noted elsewhere

Any species of Cyprinidae (Barbs, Danios, White Clouds, etc.), except as noted elsewhere

Any species of Elassomatidae (pygmy sunfish)

Any species of Eleotridae (Sleeper Gobies) and Gobiidae (Gobies), except as noted elsewhere

Any species of plant or mop spawning Killifish, except as noted elsewhere

Category 3 – 20 points

Any species of Siluriformes (catfish), except as noted elsewhere

Any species of Characiformes (tetras, etc.), except as noted elsewhere

Cichlidae of the genus Etroplus (Chromides)

New World cichlids, except as noted elsewhere

Any species of Centrarchidae, except Elassomatidae

Any species of North American Cyprinidae

Soil spawning African Killifish (see notes on Killifish below)

Category 4 – 25 points

Soil spawning South American Killifish (see notes on Killifish below)

Category 5 – 30 points

Any species of Anablepidae (Anableps)

Any species of Stiphodon (genus of amphidromous Gobies)

Any species of Piranha or Silver Dollar

Any species of Rasbora

Any species of Tetraodontidae (Puffers)

Any species of whiptail catfish

Any species of bristle-nose catfish

Any species of leaffish

Any species of halfbeak

Any species of stickleback

Belonesox belizanus

Geophagus jurapari

Helostoma temminkii (Kissing Gourami)

Chocolate gourami

Neon tetra

Cardinal tetra

Barbus hulstaerti (African Butterfly Barb)

Chilodus punctatus (Spotted Headstander)

Category 6 (Target List) – 50 points

Any species on the CARES Priority List

Any species of Carnegiella (Hatchetfishes)

Any species of Loach

Any species of Loricariidae, except as noted elsewhere

Glass catfish

Any species of Scatophagus

Any species of Anostomidae (Headstanders), except as noted elsewhere

Any species of fish found exclusively in saltwater, except as noted elsewhere

Any species of glassfish


Notes on Killifish

The four different categories into which killifish are divided in this program reflect the varying degrees of difficulty found in spawning these fishes. Category 2 covers all of the plant spawners. They spawn regularly in mops or in a planted tank and the eggs hatch in about two weeks. In general, fry are not difficult to raise. Category 3 covers the African bottom spawners. While they are usually spawned over a peat or fine sand bottom, many of them will spawn on bottom mops. The usual method of hatching involves storing the eggs in peat moss for a period of several weeks or months during which time the eggs may be lost to fungus or bacteria. It is this additional step that gives the added point value to these fishes. Category 4 covers the South American bottom spawners: Cynolebias, Pteolebias, Autrofundulus, Rachovia, Simpsonichthys, etc. These are the true “plowers” who completely bury themselves in the spawning medium (usually peat) before the eggs are released. They have been found to be more difficult to maintain and to spawn than the African bottom spawners, and the fry are generally more difficult to raise.

Species Requiring Less Than 10 Fry

Less than 10 fry will be accepted for Heterandria formosa, Poecilia latipunctata, Cyprichromis nigripinnis, and Lamprologus meeli.

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