Foods and Feeding

Aside

FOODS (Author Unknown)

There are a number of excellent dry foods in the market that have a high degree of protein, fiber and vitamins essential for the growth of young guppies. One of the best dry foods I have used is a special blend used by a local fish farmer who breeds guppies and other small fish as feeders. His growth rate is unbelievable. After using his food for two months, I have found a remarkable difference in my young guppies. After many favors and some coaxing I was able to get the ingredients for his recipe with the promise that I will only buy his flake foods by the pound and not try to copy it.

  • Spirulina
  • Carrots
  • Dried Kelp
  • Yellow Sweet Potato
  • Fish Meal
  • Dhapnia
  • Bone Meal
  • Fish Liver Oil
  • Plankton
  • Vitamins A, B, B 1, B2, & D3
  • Yeast
  • Wheat
  • Soybean Flour

Foods and Feeding by Tom Allen

As a guppy breeder, whether you consider yourself a beginner or a master breeder, you should try to adopt two specific goals into your breeding program. First, breed for consistency. Uniformity in breeding will come with understanding simple genetics, knowing your strain’s dominant and recessive traits, keeping records of past breeding successes and failures and being shrewd enough to know which breeding technique (inbreeding, linebreeding, outcrossing) will provide you with the very best offspring from a mating. Secondly, work out a feeding program that will help to improve the size of your fish. We all know that, all other things (color, etc.) being equal, in competition, the IFGA point system rewards larger fish (more points for body size, caudal size and dorsal size) over their smaller cousins. Tell me, who could resist spending more time in the fishroom when tank after tank in front of you contains 15 super BIG males/females each a clone of every other…this is what consistency and proper feeding can give us…this is what each of us should strive for in our breeding program.

Lets start by discussing foods and feeding. There are three ways to improve your gups size: (1) feeding, (2) genetics and (3) mechanics. Taking them in reverse order, “mechanics” refers to the system of tank maintenance, water changes, etc. that you use. We tend to discuss topics like these more in a negative way…that is, if you neglect taking care of your fish by not making appropriate and frequent water changes or by over-crowding, their size will surely suffer. One of the most common “old wives tales” heard from time to time in relation to guppy size is that putting small fish into a very large tank will advance their growth because they need room to grow. Truly the opposite is the rule…they will remain small because they cannot readily find the food and there is no tendency on their part to “frenzy feed.”

Genetics also plays an important role in the size potential that a fish carries. If your strain is genetically small (generally due to an overzealous inbreeding program), no amount of food will ever make them larger. Your best bet would be to locate an unrelated but compatible strain for an outcross. Generally, the F-1 hybrids produced by such an outcross are larger than the parent strains. Many experienced breeders will introduce the F-1 hybrids produced by an outcross back into their parent strains hoping to pick up the added size and vitality the hybrids are noted for.

It has been proven through experimentation that a guppy can digest its food completely in about 45 minutes. If you do the arithmetic, this means that in a 24 hour day, we could feed our fish 32 times. Obviously, nobody is able and/or willing to stay awake to see that their fish are fed 32 times each day. Many of us are converts from the Aquarium Society ranks where we may have a few tanks and fish are typically fed once per day…whether they need it or not. When we realize that our future lies in the guppy hobby and make the transition to specialize, we often carry the A/S habits along. When we finally realize how small our gups really are, we tend to move to the other extreme…we feed far too many times per day which results in dirty and polluted tanks and little overall effect on the size of the fish. What each of us needs to do is to adopt a reasonable feeding regimen… not too few meals so that the fish remain small and not too many meals so the tanks get dirty. When I started in the hobby and my children were small (mom was home to take care of them), my wife was able to feed every 1 1/2 hours allowing for 10-12 meals per day. I found that I had to spend additional time siphoning and changing water to keep the tanks somewhat clean and the fish somewhat healthy. Gradually, we’ve accepted the fact that we cannot reasonably feed 12 meals each day and have reduced our feeding schedule to 3-5 quality meals. I’m sure the fish are a bit smaller than those I bred in the 70′s but as long as they are of a representative size for their strain, I have no complaints.

Let me digress for a moment and touch on the “growing” aspects of guppy breeding. If we were to plot the guppy’s growth cycle on a graph, it might look like this:

You can see from the graph that the major growth for the guppy occurs within the first 4-5 months of age and then tails (no pun intended) off as the fish reaches maturity. Putting this into perspective, we would want to feed our younger fish the maximum number of times and our mature fish only once or twice a day. Feeding fewer meals to adult fish keeps the water cleaner, eliminates the need for frequent and heavy water changes and reduces the possibility of tail burn to those fish ready for show.

I like to think of foods in the following categories based on the payback you get from feeding them: (1) live food (baby brine, daphnia, worms, etc.), (2) prepared food (frozen beef heart, liver paste, etc.), (3) freeze-dried foods (brine shrimp, daphnia, tubifex, etc.) and (4) flakes and blends (Earthworm flake, Shubel Master Blend, etc.). Of course, no food by itself will provide all the nutrients needed for proper growth. Therefore, you need to incorporate feeding a variety of foods to your guppies. However, there is no question in my mind that the very best, #1 food for young gups is newly hatched baby brine shrimp. Conservatively, my fish increased 25% in size when I began feeding baby brine. Following, in second place, is frozen beef heart (a recipe follows this article) which can be fed every day and should be fed at least every other day. There are no better foods to build body size than the two listed above. If you truly believe that it is a good practice to feed baby brine daily, then, believe me, it is a better practice to feed baby brine twice a day. Since the brine eggs now on the market hatch in 24 hours, you can set up dual hatchers and harvest one hatch in the morning and the other at night. Another way to do this is to hatch an extra amount from your normal feeding and place the leftover shrimp in brine solution with an airstone to feed later in the day.

Its easy for us to make excuses as to why we can’t feed…we’re too busy with work, we’re too busy with play, we’re just too busy. The excuse most often given is that my work schedule doesn’t allow me to feed more than once a day. Actually, the 45 minute digestion cycle of the guppy makes it even easier to feed around your work schedule. Sure, you might have to awake 15 minutes earlier but irs a small price to pay for BIGGER fish. Here’s a sample feeding (5 meals) schedule below:

5:30 AM – Baby Brine/Flake Meal (*)
6:30 AM – Freeze-dried (*)
Away at work
4:00 PM – Beef-heart/Blend (*)
5:00 PM – Blend (*)
7:00 PM – Flake (*)
Lights Out
(*) vary by day

First, this feeding schedule has only one meal of baby brine which, in my estimation, is the minimum that anyone in our hobby should consider. By way of explanation for the 1st and 3rd meals, the baby brine and beef-heart would be fed only to our young fish (up to 6 months old) while the adult fish would get only a low-protein flake/blend.

Finally, it is important that everyone who exhibits his/her fish, visit one of the sanctioned IFGA shows to see how your fish “measure up!”

(Authors Note: Many of these ideas were presented as part of the Foods and Feeding program at the recent St. Louis Annual Show)

Beef heart “Supreme”

Ingredients

10-12 pounds of Beefheart
2 jars strained carrots (baby food)
2 jars strained green beans (baby food)
2 hard-boiled egg yolks
1 tbls. Ensure Nutrition Booster Powder
2 tbls. Spirulina Powder
1 small can of shrimp pieces
1 8 oz. syring of Safe-guard Horse Dewormer

Instructions for Preparation

1. Remove all fat and sinew from beefheart
2. Cut clean beefheart into 1/2 inch cubes
3. Blend 1 cup of cubed heart with 1-1 1/2 cups of water until syrup consistency
4. Strain mixture through a colander disposing of all remaining fat and sinew (you may end up disposing of 40% of what you start with)
5. Mix in other ingredients after thinning with water (you can add any other supplements you wish at this time)
6. Freeze in freezer bags removing all captured air (you can lay them fiat on large cookie tins)
7. Before feeding, allow to melt slightly to facilitate breakup (another choice would be to use a ginger grater to grate the frozen heart directly into the tanks)

Other than uneaten residue, there should not be any problem with feeding frozen beefheart once a day. Coupled with newly-hatched baby brine shrimp, it is an excellent way to put SIZE on your fish.

Secrets – by Tom Allen

Aside

Secrets by Tom Allen

When I think back to that cold November back in 1970 when I attended my first Annual in St. Louis, I can easily remember the thoughts that crossed my mind as I proudly accepted my two third place award cards… how do these breeders get all that size on their fish? How many of you can also think back to your start in the hobby and will admit to having parallel thoughts’? I’ve spent the last 40+ years trying to answer that one big question. Admittedly, back in 1970, I was a complete novice in the hobby but I always tried to learn from others and made it a point to listen whenever one of the “big names” in the hobby was talking.

Here are some “big name” secrets that you probably already know:

1) Size is as much a result of genetics as it is of feeding. if you are working with a strain of fish which has been inbred to the point where generation after generation, you breed small fish, nothing short of an outcross to a compatible strain will make bigger fish. Consider the opposite as well… you can disguise poor feeding habits if you have a strain which is genetically “big.”

2) Males reach 90% of their final body size within 4-6 months of birth. Does it pay to continue to feed baby brine, etc. for the ‘ remaining 10%? Wouldn’t you be better served by giving this extra boost to younger fry?

3) Two feedings of baby brine each day are 10 times better than one feeding. Hatch more than you need for your main meal and keep the remainder in some brine solution with an airstone. Don’t forget to rinse before you feed. Feed only to “growing” (see above) fish.

4) You don’t have to feed 12 times per day to get big fish. Four to six quality meals will do just as well. Twelve meals, most times, gets you dirty and polluted tanks and stressed and diseased fish.

5) Work is not an excuse for not feeding. You can easily develop a feeding program which takes advantage of the time you are at home. Make it convenient for yourself… fit meals in during commercials. Feed before work, feed after work… just feed!

6) Newly hatched baby brine shrimp is the “A #1″ food that you can give your fish. Following right behind is frozen beef heart. There’s no question that there are a lot of more exotic blends and mixes with expensive ingredients, but the above 2 foods coupled with 2-4 feedings of quality food each day, should give your fish the size you want. One word of caution – the smallest of babies may not recognize frozen beefheart for its food value and it may go uneaten.

7) Don’t skimp on portions. So what if there is live-brine swimming around in the tank while you are away at work. Isn’t this ideal… the very best food in front of your fish all day long. Try to feed more than you think the fish will eat. Yes, your water may get a little cloudy, but what are you shooting for, big fish or clear water? As long as the fish are healthy, who cares?

8) Don’t put little fish in big tanks. How do you expect them to grow if they cannot find the food?

9) When good shrimp eggs are available, take advantage of the situation and stock up. I’ve gone through two (or three, I can’t remember) periods when good hatching eggs were impossible to get. Spend the extra money now… who knows how long the good eggs will be available. Also, strip the inedible shells off any poorly hatching eggs to take full advantage of their food value. Your fish will eat these shell-stripped eggs and, as long as you rinse thoroughly with clean water, there will not be any adverse reaction to this food.

10) Look for compatible lines/strains for outcrosses. Pass your quality line(s) to other members in your club to insure having a

Well, there it is in a nutshell… now there are no more secrets in our hobby

New to the Hobby, Getting Started, Guppy Tips

Aside

New to the hobby? By David Macaluso

It has been a year since I have purchased my first trio of guppies and reflecting back I realize just how much I learned in such a short time. I’m not exactly sure why I started searching Google for “show guppy” but I did. I came across the IFGA and began reading everything I could and checking out breeders and clubs. As a young boy in the 70’s I raised many types of animals, all for the purpose of showing. Guess I’m back or reliving my childhood, maybe it just because I turned 50, who knows – but it’s fun.

For those of you who are new to the hobby I hope you find some value in reading this article, and for those who have been doing this for many, many years I hope this brings back memories and a smile.

The first month, not always that easy.

So like I mentioned I started looking on the internet, researching articles and trying to learn all I could about getting into this hobby. I must have read the IFGA “Beginners Guide” a million times. With my son, it was time to get started. We made a trip to the closest big box pet store and got two ten gallon tanks. Then went to Home Depot and got two 2×6 eight foot boards. I thought I was set, I knew exactly what I was doing, thought boy this was going to be easy, not. I took my saw horses from the garage and brought them down to the basement, laid the boards on those, painted the bottoms of the tanks black and placed them on the boards. Now I needed box filters. In today’s mega pet shops I found that no one, I mean no one sells the good inexpensive box filter. I visited place after place only to find one pet shop who sold me some weird air filters that hang on the side, tubing, nets, thermometer, heaters, and a costly air pump that could barely push enough air for two tanks. Ninety bucks later I’m back in the basement with my son filling two tanks with water only to find myself rigging up a most unsafe electrical outlet contraption with extension cords and all, but we are now on our way and moving forward. 

After two weeks I placed my first order for two trios from a very well known father and son team in Michigan. And months later a few trios from another well known breeder in Michigan.

Month two and beyond.

After receiving my first fish, I quickly realized that I’m going to need more tanks and fast. Also realized two boards won’t do the trick. Not that I’m lazy or anything but I did not feel like building racks and instead bought a metal one that holds 2000lb per shelf. I placed six 5 gallon tanks on the top shelf about eye level and four 10 gallons on another, this gave me nine tanks to start with. Since I could not find a box filter, I was able to find a local place on the internet who sold sponge filters and started using those. Plus they also sold Baby brine shrimp eggs at which time I came across how to hatch using 2 plastic soda bottles, salt and light bulb.

Now the fun begins, after a month the females look ready to drop and I placed each in separate tanks. One  evening I witnessed a female giving birth, it was cool, and ran upstairs t get my son. By the time we got down the stairs the fry were gone and I then realized I did something wrong once again. So the following day I looked for plastic pot scrubbers and found them at a local grocery store. Cut and unrolled a few of them and placed in the tank of the other female who was ready to drop. Three nights later I witnessed fry beginning to drop from another female and could not believe my eyes when I saw this female chasing and trying to eat these little guys. She managed to get a few, and there I was with nets and a turkey baster trying to catch as many as possible. Other things went wrong the second month, such as loosing another female jumping out of a small breeder trap, the kind you would get from petsmart and I lost another to over feeding.

 It has now been 12 months in the hobby and I am at 60+ tanks, four varieties, have built a room in the basement, have a self priming water pump with 25 foot hose to siphon and change the water weekly, tripled my BBS hatchery, pvc piping for air, great air pumps, box filters, excellent breeder traps, a space heater, dehumidifier, a wife who thinks I am totally nuts, a son who thinks I’m totally cool and a boat load of knowledge that I’m sure is just the tip of the iceberg. I want to thank the IFGA and the breeders who I have emailed countless times with questions. Below are some of the tips I have picked up from club articles, the ifga forum and from others which may help those who are also just starting on the path. Oh buy the way, I just went on vacation for 7 days, I turned off my lights/timers and went on the family vacation. I had no dead fish when I returned.

  1. Join your local club and the IFGA and our GAIC, too!
  2. Purchase top quality breeding stock from breeders who show their stains. They are always willing to give great advice too. You can see show results and past winners at www.ifga.com
  3. Use bare bottom tanks, 10 gals. for guppies over 2 months 5 1/2 gals. for babies. Paint the outside bottoms of the tanks black. This helps in many ways and keeps your show fish calmer at the shows.
  4. Use box filters in your tanks, marbles and filter floss. Sponge filters can also be used. A great source for these and other supplies is.  www.jehmco.com
  5. Change about 20 percent of your water each week, siphoning the debris from the bottom of the tank. The water should be aged or treated with a chlorine/chloramines remover if you have these chemical in your water supply. If you have a large number of tanks a 1/12hp self priming portable utility pump with a garden hose works very well.
  6. Clean the sides and bottom of the tank every two weeks; this will help prevent tail rot and other diseases.
  7. The pH of the water should be in the range of 6.8–7.6 (7.0-7.2 is preferable). It is more important not to swing from one side of the range to the other. Mine happens to be 7.8
  8. The temperature should be between 72–80 degrees. Keep this at a constant temperature without much fluctuation.
  9. Your guppies should enjoy about 12-16 hours of light a day. An automatic timer should be used to turn your lights on and off.
  10. Newborn guppies as well as your older ones should be fed newly hatched brine shrimp twice a day. A variety of flake food should be fed as well.
  11. Your male guppies should be separated from the females at about 4 weeks of age. This must be done as the worst male of the lot can fertilize the females and ruin your stock.
  12. Don’t overcrowd your guppies, twenty guppies per ten gallons (fish that are 5-7 months).
  13. Always cull, cull, cull – pet shops will always be happy to take your culls.
  14. Ask questions, this is a fantastic club with very helpful members.
  15. Most importantly HAVE FUN!

 This hobby does grow on you in many ways. You will have ups and downs, left and rights but as I have found out, you will always have others in this hobby willing to help.