Breeding and Showing Guppies
Buying Guppies on the Internet
By Bryan Chin
The Internet has made it possible for hobbyist to buy fish from a wide range of breeders that are located domestically and internationally. The guppy's ability to mutate easily has enabled this fish to be available in many colors, color combinations, and fin shapes which maybe difficult to find. The internet can enable access to these rare types as well as obtaining show quality guppies that are true breeding and healthy. Unless a pet store can provide locally bred guppies there are liabilities with imported or farm raised guppies. These guppies often cannot make the transition from the hatchery to the pet store and become sick and are often low quality which cannot be considered show guppies.
As with any purchases over the internet there are cautions the buyer must be informed of before committing to a purchase. It is tempting to do a spontaneous buy, but it is a good idea to communicate with the breeders first. The buyer should research if the seller does good breeding and raising practices to indicate a reliable source. Show quality guppies are raised in bare bottom tanks with basic filtration such as a box and sponge filters. The absence of gravel enables the breeders to siphon off fish waste and debris with each water change. Common practice is to change 20% to 30% of water weekly or bi-weekly to insure good water quality and to encourage maximum and healthy growth. Newly hatched brine shrimp is usually fed for at least the first 3 months of life to provide essential nutrition for good development and growth. This is fed in conjunction with high protein dry foods. Some breeders may use cultured vinegar eels in place of baby brine which is acceptable. It is advisable to avoid guppies raised with live foods from uncontrolled sources such as outdoor ponds that may carry parasites or diseases.
Avoid the guppy mill breeders to buy quality guppies. On the fish selling websites some sellers will show pictures of guppies that do not represent the guppies you will receive. The pictures may be photographs of guppies that are from other strains or breeders that do not represent the guppies sold. Others take pictures of the guppies they bought from a reputable breeder and claim that subsequent generations are of that quality which is not always true. Purchasing fish from a seller that practices good breeding techniques will ensure a buyer will receive guppies that will give high percentage of quality guppies. Consistent guppy strains are from breeders that separate sexes before they are 2 months and selectively choose the best male and female guppies for future generations. Colony bred methods will deteriorate the guppy strain quickly since the quicker, smaller, and shorter tailed males are first to mature and more likely to pregnant the females. A reliable seller will supply guppies from a tank of selected males and females to give you the best start. It is a good idea to find out if the seller practices the mentioned methods to assure that the guppies purchased are come from quality stock.
In addition to asking about breeding methods, the buyer should ask for several criteria to increase his success. It is best to request for guppies that are 3-4 months old. At this age the fish are at their peak for fertility and health. Ask the seller if the guppies are from a true breeding strain. This means that babies from the guppies will have at least over 70% of the males mature to be the same color type and fin proportions as the picture used for advertisement. A high quality line will be easily over 90% true. A buyer can also request for pre-bred females or virgin females that will be bred by the males sold with them.
One alternative is to seek out the breeders that are International Fancy Guppy Association (IFGA) members and exhibitors. The IFGA web site (www.ifga.org) will indicate the people that are winning at the IFGA sanction shows in the color types the buyer desires. Exhibitors that win over the years indicate that they practice good breeding methods. Most of the people who sell guppies on the internet have derived their guppies from the top winners of IFGA shows. The IFGA website also posts the dates and location of sanctioned shows around the United States which is an ideal place to view show quality guppies and to meet the local breeders in your area. Guppy hobbyists are usually very helpful and can give good advice. The shows often have guppies for auction at reasonable prices. The IFGA web site also has contacts of members offering guppies for sale, but the buyer should not assume instant credibility and practice the same cautions mentioned.
Receiving Your Fish
Once a decision on a purchase is made the following steps are advisable to give the guppies the best transition. A bare bottom established isolation 5 gallon tank should be ready to receive the guppies. Keeping the guppies away from your other fish will reduce the stress and avoid any possible disease transfer.
When the package arrives, open the box immediately and check if the fish has arrived safely. If they arrive dead, take a picture of them in the original bag to report to the seller. Most of the time the fish will be alive and will need the fish and its water poured into a small container and then add a small amount of the aged water (about 25% of the water that was contained in the bag) from the isolation tank every 30 minutes to acclimate the new guppies. As long as the water is slightly warmer than the bag water there is no problem with temperature shock. After adding water for the 4th time the guppies can be added to the isolation tank. If the bag water is cloudy and the fish is struggling to breathe it is best to put the fish directly into the isolation tank. It is recommended that the fish stay in the isolation tank separated from other guppies to avoid contamination breeding from other guppies. Once the females look like they are ready to deliver babies, take the males out and heavily float the tank with artificial plants. Once the babies are born remove the females and plants to raise the babies in the isolation tank. If you want to have more babies the original guppies should be place in a tank by themselves to keep the females from being bred by unrelated male guppies.