Guppies

I remember when I was very young someone gave us some guppies. From what I rememeber they were most likely the wild type guppies and we kept them in a gallon type goldfish bowl. I remember my sister waking me up and telling me there are wiggly things and the mother is eating them. So I woke my mother up and told her what was happening.

She jumped out of bed and proceeded to separate the parents from the babies. Soon we had all types of canning jars full of baby guppies. It didn’t take long before my mom didn’t care if the mother guppy ate a few of her babies if it meant my mom got a bit more sleep. Anyone that came over to the house left with a jar of guppies and some food. I didn’t know it then but that is probably why I have an obsession(as my wife describes it) with keeping tropical fish. I believe that once you have kept guppies and raised the babies, you will always have a soft spot for them and eventually will keep them again even if you have decided to specialize in a different type of fish…I know I did.

This is an article I found on www.aquaticcommunity.com

Breeding Guppy (selective guppy breeding)

The Guppy is one of the most popular livebearers and it is often found in beginner aquariums. Many aquarists loose interest in the Guppy as they move on to more delicate fish species, but quite a few are instead mesmerized by this charming fellow and decide to keep and breed high-quality guppies. Some aquarists even start to produce show guppies for Guppy competitions. These Guppies are very far from the sturdy, no-nonsense Guppy sold to beginner aquarists under the name “Common Guppy” most fish shops.

Through many generations of selective breeding, the wild Guppies developed into what we now refer to as “fancy guppy”. Guppies happily reproduce in captivity, but if your want to create a strain of high-quality guppies you have to devote plenty of time and effort to the project.

Preparations
To begin with, make sure that you have high quality fish to start with. If you walk down to your local fish shop and purchase a few of the fairly inexpensive guppies that they offer beginner aquarists you will most likely end up with not-sogood guppies. These guppies can serve as excellent pets for novice fish keepers, but they are not a good foundation for a strain of high-quality guppies. It should also be noted that many fish shops sell “Guppy couples” where the fishes come from completely different strains. The best way of getting high quality Guppy suitable for breeding purposes is to contact a reputable breeder and purchase high quality specimens from him or her. This will save you a lot of time and effort since you will have prime specimens right from the start. If you fail to locate a good local auction there are several reputable guppy breeders to be found online that will deliver fish by mail order.

Once you have found a reputable breeder, purchase a young couple. The risk of deformities will increase if you let old Guppies breed. Old male Guppies are also known to have trouble breeding.

Planning
Before you engage in selective breeding, it is important to develop a plan. A lot of breeding programs have gone astray in the hands of indecisive aquarists. Set goals to begin with, such as increasing the size and adding color. Then decide to breed a certain number of generations focusing on size, before shifting over to focusing on color. If you have decided to focus on size, do not suddenly pick a small fish as parent fish simply because it shows nice colors. If you absolutely can’t stand the idea of not breeding the colorful fish, it is advisable to set up a separate breeding aquarium where you can focus on perfecting that color without interfering with your first breeding program.

Housing
Crowding can lead to stunted growth. Never keep more than 8-12 guppies in a 10 gallon (roughly 40 L) aquarium. Unless you have a lot of friends to unload guppies on, you will be forced to cull each batch to keep the number of fish down.

Water quality
Ideally carry out a small water change once a day, rather than a big weekly one. Keeping the water quality up and simultaneously avoiding rapid changes is desirable.

Temperature
The standard recommendation for Guppies is 65-68 degrees F (18-20 degrees C), but in a breeding aquarium you should increase the temperature to 74-78 degrees F (23-25 degrees F).

Feeding
Really young Guppies can be fed microworms and newly hatched brine shrimp. Juveniles will appreciate larger brine shrimp and live food.
It is better to give your fish several small servings per day than one or two big ones. If you want your Guppies to grow as large as possible, it is important to feed them a lot during the first few months of their life since this is when they go through a period of very rapid growth.

Select parents wisely for each generation
Do not let your Guppies breed randomly. Select your best males and females and only allow them to breed. Harem breeding is not recommended. Collect the best specimens from 1-2 batches, and then move on to the next generation.

Selecting the right male Guppy
Some Guppy breeders automatically allow the first male that matures to breed, but this is not advisable. The first male might not be the best one, and it is also true that the first Guppy that reaches sexual maturity rarely grow as big as the more slowly maturing males.

Selecting the right female Guppy
The right female is not necessarily the best looking female, since you need a female that will produce great offspring

Fundulopanchax gardneri N’sukka…They spawned???

“Fundulopanchax gardneri N’sukka…They spawned???” or “The Algae In My Turtle Tank Is Pearling”

Aquarticles Well, for those of you who are killie keepers, I can’t promise that you won’t cringe while reading this article, but hang on…it has a good ending.
This story begins with a tank, a turtle, some guppies, and a trio of Fundulopanchax gardneri N’sukka. The turtle, a Ouachita
(pronounced: watch-it-tah) Map Turtle came into my possession about 4 years ago. There is one very important thing you have to know about this turtle, no matter how hungry he got in the 4 years I had him, he never ate any fish in his tank. Actually, I had bought the guppies at about the same time that I got the turtle, and placed them in his tank so that he would have some food if, on a busy day, I forgot to feed him. But he never ate any. In the 4 years I had him, many generations of guppies lived and died in that tank, and had babies, but none were ever eaten. It is for that reason that I knew when I got the Fundulopanchax that they would be safe in his tank. It wasn’t that I wanted to put the killies in a turtle tank, it was just that I didn’t have any room for them in any other tank. So when I got them, in they went.

Now I have to tell you about the water quality in the turtle tank. You may think from the title of this article that I didn’t take good care of my charges. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m not saying that the water was changed twice daily and three times on Saturday, but the water, for a turtle tank, was pretty clean. Initially I kept an airstone in the turtle tank water and changed 100% of the water as needed. There was little algae in the tank on the glass, and a little in the gravel, but that was mostly picked-clean by the guppies. Eventually, filtration was added to the tank. This came at a time when a friend of mine was taking care of the turtle and guppies for me. I think that he may have been putting a little too much food in the tank because he was changing 100% of the water every day and still couldn’t keep the water clean. He tried a number of different filters and eventually stumbled upon the Duetto Multi Filter by Aquarium Systems. Man, did that puppy work! Kept the water in the turtle tank spit-polished clean for more than long-enough for my friend to catch his breath. He only had to change the water about once a week then. Well, when I got my turtle and guppies back from my friend he let me keep the filter. I was happy about that after hearing all of the problems he had. So at that time, I had a clean tank with a turtle and guppies.

Back to the killifish. The killifish went into the turtle tank without much fanfare. As I mentioned, they went in the turtle tank out of necessity. As I am a darter person, I can’t really say that I really gave them as much attention as I would a new pair of Rainbow Darters or Cherry Darters or the like. They were just another trio of fish to me. In fact, for a while, I forgot about them. I continued to feed the turtle and guppies, and change their water, but didn’t give a moment’s thought to the killifish. In fact, I am not sure how they survived that time of forgetfulness. At feeding time, the turtle got turtle sticks, and the guppies got flake food and that was it. On to the next tank. But one day I noticed something different. One of the guppies was a little redder than all the rest and had a little different shape. It was eating flake food but was clearly not a guppy. Then I remembered that I had put some killifish in there. In fact, I had left the empty fish bag with their name on it next to the turtle tank. “Hmmm. Fundulopanchax gardneri N’sukka, interesting!”, I said. As I looked closer in the tank, I found the other two N’sukka. They were still alive! This after months of flake food alone. I quickly got some blackworms and put them in the tank near the killies. They hesitated at first, maybe they forgot what blackworms were? But soon all of the wriggling enticed them to bite. Soon they were eating blackworms regularly at feeding time. Sounds great, right? Well, one more thing had to happen before they spawned.

Up to this point, I have left one thing out about my turtle…He was a biter. Every time I took him out of the tank to check up on him and make sure that he was OK, he would bite me. Now this wasn’t a huge turtle, we’re not talking Alligator Snapper here, but the turtle’s biting was just enough to irritate me. I am a very hands-on type of person and the fact that my turtle would bite me every time I checked on him really started to get to me. So, after months of deliberation I decided to get rid of the turtle. A friend, who promised not to pick up the turtle much, was soon the recipient of my Ouachita Map Turtle. This left only the guppies and the N’sukka in the tank. Well, for the person who bought 20 guppies in a bag at the MAS spring auction, you got my guppies. This left only the N’sukka in the tank. At this time I increased the water level in the tank and continued to feed the killies a steady diet of blackworms and flake food. Although the water was crystal-clear, there must have been some nutrients left in the gravel because after a few days of guppyless-ness, a thin mat of algae began to form on the gravel. It was inoffensive at first, but after about 7 days there really was a thick mat of it going. It even started to “pearl”. (For those of you who don’t know what that term means in relation to aquarium husbandry, it means that the algae was creating so much oxygen that visible bubbles formed on the surface of the algae.). Also on that seventh day I noticed something else in the tank. I saw a little fish, about a quarter inch in length, swimming among the algae’s oxygen bubbles.

At first I thought I had missed one of the guppies when I cleared them out of the tank. Upon further examination I noticed that this little fish was red and not guppy-shaped at all. Could it be? Had the N’sukka actually spawned? I looked harder. There were more of these little wonders swimming among the fake plants and algae. I wondered if I had enough for the BAP requirements. Sure enough, there were at least 5.

Wow, I finally did it! Fundulopanchax gardneri N’sukka…They Spawned!!! And the algae in the tank pearls a little brighter now.

Source:First published in Splash, Milwaukee Aquarium Society, and Wisconsin Area Killifish Organization newsletter.
See also Brian’s website about North American native fish: www.btdarters.com

Emperor power filter media tricks and tips

The Emperor series of hang on back filters are an excellent choice for most aquariums. There is plenty of room for extra media and the spraybars help keep the biowheels in motion, a problem that the spraybar-less Penguins have. There are a few issues with the Emperor, however. One, the cost of media replacement is a bit on the silly side. It’s not that expensive, but there’s no need to pay for a whole new set of cartridges when only the carbon needs replacing. Then there’s the issue of how to get the carbon out when medicating the tank becomes necessary. Removal of the cartriges could spell disaster for the cycled tank that has taken so long to stablish. Finally, the fact that a lot of good bacteria grow on the filter cartridges is also a problem because the carbon must be replaced relatively frequently, thus destroying all the wonderful bacteria. With all this in mind, here are some solutions to these problems, solutions that could easily be adapted to other filters of similar design.

First, purchase your favorite brand of carbon. I prefer Diamond carbon, in the handy jar. If you want something other than carbon or a carbon mix, that’s fine as well. Taking a razor blade, make a slit through the blue floss material at the top of the cartridge. Best way is same-direction strokes to avoid too much ripping of the material.

Now, get a plastic bag, preferably in a garbage can, and shake carbon contents out. You will need to reach in with a spoon or your hand to dig out the carbon as well as tap the cartridge to loosen the granules. Eventually, most will come out. No need to remove all, it takes long enough just to get the majority out! Now, take a few spoonfuls of the carbon/chemical resin and pour it into the cartridge through the slit. Shake to distribute evenly.

Rinse out, IN DECHLORINATED WATER (otherwise the existing beneficial bacteria could be killed), and replace in tank. If slit is high enough, carbon will remain in cartridge until it’s time for another change. Now you can save all those beneficial bacteria until the cartridge is too beaten up to use After a few months, it will show wear and tear, the plastic may start to break as mine is, but so long as it’s intact and doing it’s job keep using it. A replacement will only be needed when the cartridge is damaged beyond usability. Carbon replacement can be done every month to two months, though your mileage may vary.

No need to change a cartridge if it’s clogged with fish wastes. Simply fill a large bowl with either tank water or dechlorinated tap water at a temperature near the tank’s temperature and swish the cartridge in the bowl, rubbing lightly to remove all extra particles. Filter will look much better and most of the bacteria will be intact.

The Emperors come with filter media baskets. USE THEM! You may stuff these with anything you desire, and it’s in your best interests to place anything you can in these baskets. In my Emp 400 baskets, I have ceramic biomedia in one and crushed coral in the other (not only does it provide a good surface for bacteria, but it raises pH and hardens my water which I need for the cichlids). This way, a good source of bacteria will build up on those cartridges. Keep them carbon-free! If the need to medicate the whole tank arises, remove the cartridges that contain carbon and leave the filter media baskets in place. These will maintain biological filtration. For mechanical filtration, floss can easily be stuffed in the place of the cartridges that were removed. When the treatment is finished, replace with NEW cartridges, as the bacteria would likely be dead by this point.

Rather than use the suggested Emperor filter cartridges, filter floss may be used as the mechanical filtration. One media basket can hold a fine mesh bag of carbon and the other basket can hold media of choice. This way, when medicating is required, all that’s required to remove is the basket containing the carbon.

These money- and bacteria- saving tips should definitely help out anyone who owns an Emperor or similar filter.

Decapsulating Brine Shrimp Eggs

Introduction
Brine shrimp eggs are used throughout the world as a food for small fish in hatcheries. These eggs are really cysts which, if they are kept dry, can remain dormant for years before hatching. As soon as the eggs are exposed to water, the hatching process begins. When hatching brine shrimp eggs, we not only produce baby brine shrimp, but also the empty shells out of which they came, along with unhatched eggs. These are mixed in the hatching jar. The unhatched eggs and shells from the hatched eggs, must be separated from the baby brine shrimp since they are not digestible if eaten by small fish. If a small fish eats just a few of these shells or unhatched eggs, its intestinal tract may be blocked causing death. The process of separating the shells and unhatched eggs from the baby brine shrimp is quite time consuming, and sometimes hard to do effectively.

A process that is used in many hatcheries involves removing the outer layer (shell) of the eggs (decapsulating) with chlorine (household bleach), leaving the unhatched baby brine shrimp protected in a membrane. Besides making the harvest of the hatched brine shrimp easier, this process also:

  • Essentially sterilizes the eggs which may have disease organisms on the outer layer of the egg.
  • Can produce a higher percentage of hatching, since the brine shrimp no longer have to break through the hard outer layer of the egg. Allows you to feed even the unhatched eggs to fish, since the undigestible outer layer of the egg is no longer present.

Decapsulated eggs can be hatched immediately after treating them with chlorine, or can be stored in a saturated brine solution in the refrigerator for up to two months before hatching. This allows you to decapsulate large quantities of eggs, store them, and use small portions as needed. The brine solution dehydrates the eggs, effectively stopping the hatching process. The eggs will hatch normally when placed in a hatching solution of lower salinity water.

Procedure
Note: The following is the procedure for decapsulating one pound of eggs. The amounts of water and Household bleach (chlorine) can be changed accordingly if you are working with more or less eggs.

You will need the following items:

  • A 3-gallon container with clear sides
  • 1 pound of brine shrimp eggs
  • 1 gallon of non-fragranced household bleach (5% chlorine)
  • Brine shrimp net or filter
  • Saturated brine solution*
    • * In 1 gallon of water, dissolve salt until no more can be dissolved and salt remains in the bottom of the container.

Steps in Process

  1. Soak 1 pound of eggs in 1 gallon of fresh water for 1 hour. Gently aerate the eggs. Periodically check to make sure that the eggs are not sticking to the sides of the container, above the water line.
  2. After the eggs have soaked in fresh water for 1 hour, add 1 gallon of non-fragranced liquid household beach (5% chlorine). Decrease the aeration to avoid foaming, while still mixing the eggs in solution.
  3. The eggs will turn white and then orange, and start to settle to the bottom. As soon as all of the eggs are orange, pour the contents through a brine shrimp net (or filter), and rinse in fresh water. Continue to rinse until all traces of bleach odor are gone. The time it takes for all the eggs to be decapsulated will vary with the type of eggs being used, so it is more important to observe the color change than to watch a clock.

Decapsulated eggs can be fed directly to fish that will eat them, or they can be hatched before feeding them to fish. Any eggs that you wish to store should be covered with the saturated brine solution, and stored in a refrigerator until needed.

Hatching Decapsulated Eggs
By removing the outer layer of the eggs, you will reduce their buoyancy, causing them to sink in water. This is important since a hatching system that works well for eggs with their capsules on, may not work for decapsulated eggs. Hatching containers should have steep sides to avoid the eggs settling on the sides, and aeration should come from the extreme bottom of the container. Cylindrical tanks with a steep cone in the bottom are ideal hatching containers.

Salinity for hatching should be around 20 parts per thousand which is equal to 1 pound of salt for each 6 gallons of water. Using a strong light over the top of the tank also helps the hatching process.

Decapsulated eggs hatch in 24-48 hours. The entire contents of the hatching container can then be drained through a brine shrimp net or filter and fed to your fish.

Special Note
Brine shrimp eggs come from many different sources. Some will react differently to this treatment, with some eggs taking longer than others to turn orange in the chlorine solution. However, the basics described above will work for any type of brine shrimp eggs.

You never know what you will find..

While I have been on Unemployment, I have had many hours to surf the net. Therefore, I have been using my time to find lots of useful information and goodies. You know me I love goodies. A very useful website is craigslist.com, to find fish tanks and aquarium items. Go to their main website, and them look under aquarium and also fish tank, as, people cannot spell aquarium. I have found many larger fish tanks and aquarium items for sale. Even Salt-water items are for sale. I found a person who has rocks and slate for sale. Please, Be cautious when using any website.

I was able to get a free 29 gallon set up and stand free, as the family just did not want it any more. I had to go and disassemble the tank. Which I did in an hour, I was also given the fish and food. The family was happy to get rid of the tank. I also belong to Freecycle, they are found within Yahoo groups. I found it is a great place to give and get items including free fish items.

Another activity I have done is to join the Erie Aquarium Society and CNYAS, Central New York Aquarium Society groups, they are also found within yahoo groups. This way I can keep informed on current events. I like the yahoo groups as you can email various members to get information. When you have time, check out the websites and see what you can find.