Food and Feeding

At the Greater Cincinnati Aquarium Society meeting a few months ago, one member asked me how I was able to get size on my Guppies. I went through my feeding regimen along with what I fed. It got me to thinking about this subject in greater detail.

I’ve used newly hatched brine shrimp for many years as a first food for newborn Gups and catfish alike. Over the last year, however, I have had real problems with the quality of my brine shrimp hatches. So much so that I’ve been decapsulating what I have instead of trying to hatch it out. I have always had Microworms going as a backup source of food, but that was all I used them for, a backup.

My main food is from Ken’s Fish. I buy the Growth Formula #1 because it is the perfect size for my adults and juvies and it is crushed easily to feed to newborns. It’s 55% protein and 17% fats which makes it good for growing the young and increasing the number of fry born to breeding age females. I go though the fishroom feeding this to all of my fish except for newborn to 2 week old fry. I go back a second time and any tank with fish actively begging for more food will be given another half portion. Twenty minutes later, I’ll feed juvies and newborns some BBS. The reason for this is that the “processed” food travels through the gut at a slower rate than live foods. With the live stuff moving through at a slower pace, more nutritional value is derived from the food.

Here’s where things start getting a bit more interesting. I’m also a member of the IFGA and in the April, 2014 eBulletin, Dr. James Alderson, DVM, wrote an article extolling the virtues of adding Spirulina algae to your feeding regimen. Basically, Spirulina contains some essential amino acids that are necessary for growth and a strong immune system. These essential amino acids cannot be synthesized by the fish and have to be ingested. It also contains phytosterols. These are also important for growth and immune system health as well as promoting intense coloration in your fish. Optimal effects are seen when Spirulina makes up about 5% of the diet. That means 2-3 heaping teaspoons of Spirulina powder per pound of fish food. I purchased some Spirulina powder from Jehmco and started adding it to my staple diet. I’ve noticed a definite increase in the growth rate of my fry and juvies. Color in the adult males seems to also be improved.

When I started noticing the decline in my Brine Shrimp hatches, I started investigating alternative foods to use instead of brine shrimp. My wife bought the book, Culturing Live Foods-a Step-by-Step Guide for Culturing One’s Own Food for the Home Aquarium by Michael R. Hellweg. It was my Christmas present. I found this information on Microworms on pages 56 and 57. “The worms are highly nutritious; they have a nutritional profile similar to that of newly hatched brine shrimp, but with nearly a third more of certain lipids than newly hatched brine shrimp. These worms reproduce quickly and can double their population in just a few days. They can be enriched with various nutritional enhancers such as fish emulsion, which will increase their lipid content, and items like carotine and astaxathin to enhance color pigment development in the fish being fed. These enhancer can simply be added directly to the culture medium, and within two or three days all of the nematodes in the culture will be enriched.”

After reading this, I increased the number of my Microworm cultures. They are inexpensive to purchase as well as maintain. I have at least 4 that I can harvest from at any one time. I have completely replaced the BBS and now use nothing but Microworms for the first two weeks of my Guppies’ lives. They are readily and greedily consumed and growth rates seem comparable to that of BBS. At two weeks, I crush the Growth Formula for the first feeding, followed by Microworms on one day and Decapped BS the next. This gives the Microworm cultures some time to rebound before being fed again. I’m also thinking about “gut loading” the worms using Sprulina powder and seeing if that further affects the growth rate of my fry.

I’ve made one other change in the fishroom. With Blackworms becoming so expensive and hard to obtain, I’ve started raising Grindal Worms. My catfish go into a frenzy when I feed the Grindals and my adult Guppies really like them too. Do some research of your own, take a look at your own feeding program, and see if a few small changes can make a big difference for yourself.

Have a good one!

Tony

Update, update, update

I really need to decide what I want to breed in the fishroom. I’m going to have to drop a number of lines since I only have room for six color varietites, seven if I colony breed one. I’ve recently added an x-linked HB AOC and HB Red line to the fishroom. I’ve been trying to create a y-linked HB AOC. I’m F3 with them. Breeding them through the x-linked line will definitely give me a jump in improvement. I haven’t seen a really exceptional HB Red line in at least 25 years. Once I saw them, I had to get them.

I always do outcrosses with new lines. I have no idea when the last one was done and, of most importance to me, I want to know the genetic make-up of the new fish. The breeder of the HB AOC’s told me that the best way to outcross these was to set up multiple lines and breed back and forth. Completely outcrossing results in no spots in the dorsal fin and it takes 6-8 generations to get back to where you started. I have placed a blonde Yellow Bi-color female in with the HB AOC male. This breeding accomplishes a couple of things. Non-HB males with HB females means that the line is x-linked for HB. HB males would mean that this particular line is x- and y-linked for HB. The males from the HB AOC line have just a few spots on the dorsal. That indicates that the dorsal spotting is not necessarily linked to either the x- or y- chromosome. The Bi line is x-linked for spotting in the dorsal fin. If I have males from this cross with an increase in the number of spots in the dorsal, this would confirm my theory and I can breed to improve that feature. Non-HB F1 males can be bred back to the Bi-color line to improve it. If I get HB males, I can use them with my y-linked line to make major improvements there. Adding genes from the new HB AOC would create a cross compatible line and I can then add the x-linked gene for dorsal spotting, if needed.

I got the HB Reds this week. One of the females died. To help alleviate some of the breeding pressure, I put a blonde Fullred female in with the HB Red pair. Again, this breeding gives me a couple of answers. Non-HB males with HB females means an x-linked HB line. HB males means x- and y-linked for HB. If I get HB males, I may change the blonde Fullred to blonde HB Red. This would create a cross compatible line while still keeping it compatible with the albino Fullreds.

As of this writing, I have Blue Grass, Red grass (both lines will have the albino gene incorporated into the genotype), x-linked HB AOC, y-linked HB AOC, blonde Fullred, and albino Fullred. I’m working on an AOC Bi-color and blonde Yellow Grass. If I can get my cross compatible lines created, I’ll probably keep the AOC Bi-colors, x-linked HB AOC, y-linked HB AOC, HB Red, blonde Fullred or HB Red, and albino Fullreds. Reds have always been my faves, but they are a bit difficult to keep a good shade of red. That’s my six lines. I’m enjoying working with my Grass lines and it’s even more enjoyable for me to get this AOC Bi line set. I made the initial outcross, chose the F1 breeders and I’m pleased with the F2 results. The best spotted tailed males will be used for the F3’s unless the non-HB males from the HB/Bi cross are better. I have many ways to go with these, but I have to get fry in the tanks first.

Tony

More new pictures

I really have to be in the mood to take pics of my fish. You just don’t realize how many I delete before I get a decent one. The first one will be a better picture of my blonde Fullreds. It could be better, but I ran out of patience. The next one is of my albino Blue Grass. Again, it’s a bit blurred, but you get the gist. The last one is of my foundation male Multicolor. He is a male that was bred here in the fishroom. I’m hoping to get some nice Yellow Bicolors from him in the very near future. I have other breedings going on right now, but they are at the very beginning of the process. I hope you enjoy what you see.

Tony

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aBG

Multi

Finally, some pictures.

Hello everybody! I finally took some pictures of most of the lines that I’ll be breeding. I’m still learning how to take the best pics with my camera, so bear with me.

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RG (2)

gFR

aBT

Unfortunately, the flash washes out much of the body markings and colors, especially of the Red Grass. You can see some of the reddish tones, but it still doesn’t do this line justice. So, in order we have Blue Grass, Red Grass, blond Fullred, and albino Blue Topaz. I haven’t gotten pics of the HB AOC, albino Fullred, or albino Blue Grass because they still have to grow up and show themselves. I apologize for the darkness of the Fullred pic, but that was the best that I could get for right now. Stay tuned for the addition of the other pictures in the near future. Have a great one.

Tony

Spring is finally here

The early part of this year has been good to me, sort of. Between our fish club’s Swap Meet in February and the Spring Auction in March, I was able to open up some tank space and acquire what I’m calling my Core Strains. Unfortunately, some of the strains I picked up last year only gave me one drop before petering out, so I’ve had to wait for them to grow up and start dropping.

What I’m working with now are the following:

Red Grass- These go back to ATFG with a fine spot pattern on the fins. I’ve outcrossed this male with a Blue Grass female I had that has a course pattern and the Extended dorsal gene. These outcross fry will be bred back to the pure Red Grass line to introduce the Extended dorsal gene and re-establish the fine spot pattern that I have been looking for.

Blue Grass- These also go back to ATFG with a fine spot pattern. The blue in the fins is about as dense as I have seen on any line that carries the Asian Blau gene.

Blonde Fullred- I am currently outcrossing between a line that I’ve bred in the past and a Luke Roebuck line. I’m hoping to have the dense red color of the Roebuck males and overall size of this line combined with the red tails on the females of my line.

Albino Fullred- This line goes back to ATFG and was purchased on Aquabid. These will be outcrossed to the blonde Fullreds in the near future.

Albino Blue Topaz- This line also goes back to ATFG. I am impressed most by the overall size and color of this albino line. These are sold by ATFG as Sky Blue Albinos and purchased from Bruce Yates (bayway on Aquabid). His website is www.gorgeousguppies.com. Take a look.

HB AOC- I’m working on two lines of these right now. I’ll decide which is producing the superior fish and drop one probably sometime next year. The first is Y-linked. This started as a HB Yellow male/Yellow Lace Snakeskin female cross. I took the best HB males from this drop (there shouldn’t have been any) and bred back to YLSS females. I have to wait for the F2 males to grow up to pick my breeders. Instead of breeding back to their sisters, I’m breeding to Red Lace SS females to introduce the red coloration to the fins. These will eventually be bred to Blue Grass females to produce both Red and Blue variants in the strain.

The second line is X-linked. I’ve crossed Blue Grass males and Jadehead (HB Red Mosaic) females. I have 3 drops from these females. The first are pure Jadeheads and the others are from the BG males. I’ll take the best hybrid HB blue males back to the pure Jadehead females and continue to refine the breeding from there.

I have a lot of things going on right now, but I couldn’t be more pleased. Everything I have in the fishroom is cross compatible, so outcrosses are going to be relatively simple to manage. I’ve been tinkering with a pair of Flamenco Dancers and some Multis that I started last year. Only time will tell if I keep these going or not.

There you have it. A late start this winter means very few fish available for this Spring, but this is the most relaxed I’ve been in the fishroom than I have been in a long time.

Tony

The Asian Blau Gene

The Asian Blau Gene

Albino Blue Topaz

Albino Blue Topaz – Photo by Bruce Yates (Bayway). Used with permission.

When trying to create new varieties in your fishroom, it helps to know what genes are there and how they work. The Asian Blau gene is one of those that I have in my line of Albino Blue Topaz. Let’s take a look at this mutation.

I’ve stated before that it’s imortant to know your lines. The Albino Blue Topaz is, at it’s base, a HB Red. These can be X-linked, Y-linked, or both. The albino and Asian Blau gene have been incorporated in the the genotype to produce a new variety. The Neon Blue, a HB Red with the AB gene mutation, was first produced in a Singapore fish farm. From there, the AB gene has been used to create other varieties such as the Albino Blue Topaz and Blue Grass.

Let’s look specifically at what this gene is and how it works. The Asian Blau gene is a modifier that acts differently in it heterozygous and homozygous states. First, the AB gene is dominant. In its heterozygous form, it converts red color cells to an icy, metallic blue. In its homozygous form, the AB gene affects red and yellow color cells, allowing the black pigment in the skin to be seen through the reflective blue color layer. These fish have a gun-metal blue body color and somewhat smaller finnage. They also tend to be smaller and genetically weaker than their siblings. I tend to cull males, but females can be used for outcrosses to Red males to produce 100% Blues in the F1’s. This is a good way to introduce the Asian Blau gene to other Red lines. An interesting note about homozygous albino Asian Blaus. Since there is no black pigment in the albino fish, and the red and yellow color cells have been affected, the body is a transluscent white. Again, they are weaker and smaller, but still nice fish to work with.

You will never produce a true breeding line utilizing the Asian Blau gene. That’s because you won’t produce 80%+ identical males. Mating heterozygous AB fish will produce 25% Reds, 50% Blue Blaus, and 25% Asian Blaus. Knowing how this mutation works will allow you to produce a line that is uniquiely your own. Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you’re not happy with your resulting fish, you can breed the gene out by using only your Red fish. Best of luck!

Tony

[Edit: Since this post was originally written, I've learned that the AB gene does not modify red color cells, they are removed.  I still attest to the rest of what I have observed.]

Moscow Tiger Bronze

Moscow Tiger Bronze

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I had been in search of this particular strain of Guppies for a number of years. The last time I’d seen them for sale was about 6 years ago when I was heavy into breeding Moscow Guppies. I purchased 2 trios from Steve Butcher on Aquabid. These were thrown from a Black Moscow line that he had been working with and would be the perfect outcross for those I had bought from Jerry Reigel, a fellow GCAS member.

The Moscow Guppy originated in Russia in the 1970’s and looked nothing like the modern, solid colored fish of today. Early examples of Moscow Guppies looked like Metal-head Snakeskins. You can see some spotting in the dorsal and caudal fins of the Bronzes that hint of their early ancestry. These early fish were exported to Germany and then to the rest of the world in the mid 1980’s. Hawaiian breeders are credited with producing the large, solid-bodied Guppies that everyone associates with being a Moscow.

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Many of the modern Moscow lines will throw Bronze fry in small numbers. Females show a reticulated scale pattern over a golden colored body. Males will have a dark splotch behind the gill plate. You will also see red pigment on the peduncle. Much of this color is covered by black pigment in this line. An IFGA judge and breeder has line bred this color variety for a number of years. He told me that line breeding stabilizes the color of the males and produces a fish that is showable in the Bronze class at IFGA shows. He also uses these when his Moscow lines need outcrossing.

The importance of Bronze Moscows to your Moscow breeding program is enormous. Numerous conversations with IFGA breeders have helped me with producing large, darkly colored fish that were very hardy, fertile, and long lived. Bronze females are color neutral. Breeding to a Blue Moscow male produces Blues. A Green male will produce Greens, etc. It doesn’t matter what color line the female is from, the male she is bred to determines the color of the fry. One thing to keep in mind, using a Bronze female will darken the base body color of your male offspring. A medium Blue line will become a dark Royal Blue, a light Green becomes a Forest Green. Blacks will continue to be jet Black.

I sold my stock at our recent Swap Meet. I’m taking my Guppy breeding program in a different direction and I need the tank space. To those who purchased this line from me, if you have any questions, feel free to ask. Breeding Moscows was a passion that continues to influence how I approach the other color varieties that I now keep.

Tony

Changes in the Fishroom

Changes in the Fishroom

Well, as I said, the first blog of the new year is about the changes that I have made in the fishroom. On the left side is a wooden stand that I and my youngest son built that houses twelve 5 1/2 gallon tanks on the top and ten 10 gallon tanks on the bottom. The far wall has a 55 gallon grow out tank for catfish and plecos. Above that is a 20L that I’m colony breeding some Panda Guppies. The right side had two metal racks with three 5 1/2’s and four 10’s on top and seven 10’s on the bottom. On top of each section sat an Aquaclear air pump that ran all of the filters in that area through the use of gang valves. Ok, do you have that set in your mind’s eye? Now for the changes.
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As you can see, a second wooden rack has been contructed and a few more tanks added. There are two 10’s, one 20L, and six 5 1/2’s on the top shelf with ten 10’s on the bottom. I added an Ecoplus Commercial 3 air pump to the system. It is suspended from the ceiling to allow for air circulation to help keep it cool. I originally ran a single course of 1 1/4″ PVC pipe around the room with brass air valves installed, but the back pressure was too great even with the valves wide open. The pump would squeal when it got too hot. I tore it down, lubricated the moving parts, and put it back together. I also added two 18″ drop pipes at each end of the racks and connected a 10′ pipe between them. This seems to have dropped the pressure down enough that the pump isn’t getting anywhere near as hot. As I said, I have to run all filters wide open.

I’ve also added a drain system that wraps around the fishroom. It’s, again, 1 1/4″ PVC with T’s added in to allow for places to drop the hoses for my gravel cleaners. The funnel in the bottom picture is used as my target when draining the top tanks. The hoses are put directly into the T to drain the bottom ones. A length of garden hose is screwed on at the end of the piping and drains directly into the floor drain. This has eliminated 1 hour from my water-changing schedule.

As can be seen, my tanks are not pristine by any stretch of the imagination. This is done on purpose. I challenge the immune systems of all of my fish. Any fish, fry or adult, that clamps or breaks down with anything is immediately culled. This definitely helps me to raise healthier fish.

Having the filters run wide open has a couple of benefits. More water through the filters makes them work more effectively, more oxygen dissolved in the water, and a stronger current means more muscle mass in the peduncle allowing for males to carry their finnage much easier.

All of this was done for under $300 and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

Tony

The new year is upon us…

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.  With the new year, I’ll be posting about the changes I’ve made to my fishroom as well as some of the experimental outcrosses I have going on.  I’m still trying to find some of the old blogs so that they can be re-submitted and enjoyed.  Always remember, keep your friends and family close and “Happy New Year” to us all.

Tony

 

We’re back!

Sorry for the long delay, but we are finally back.  Seems the database somehow got corrupted and prevented the website from being uploaded.  We’ve lost all of the previous posts, but I’ll work on getting them back up as quickly as possible.  Keep checking back and we’ll get this thing going again.

Tony