By Jon Power
Imagine not only being able to create your own personal guppy, but then being able to send it to a show and possibly win a first place trophy to boot! That is the goal for all show guppy breeders.
But before you start clearing off that shelf for all your trophies, you're going to need a basic breeder setup. A thirty gallon community tank isn't going to produce you any "Best Of Show" guppies. You're going to have to dedicate at least four to five tanks for each strain you plan on working with.
I'm going to describe to you a basic, three tank, breeder setup. This setup will allow you to maintain a strain and is for those of you who are just getting started in the hobby.
1) You are going to need a tank to hold your breeders. This can be either a 5 or 10 gallon tank.
2) You are going to need a drop tank. This is the tank where you put the female to "drop" her young. It's best if this tank is a 20 gallon but a ten will do.
3) You're going to need another grow-out tank, preferably a 20 gallon. A female guppy can have drops of between twenty and one hundred fry. The bigger your grow out tanks are, the more fry you will be able to keep. The general recommendation is twenty, four to five month old guppies per ten gallon tank. I use twenty gallon tanks for my grow-out tanks.
When you set up your tanks leave the bottoms bare. This will make it easier to keep them clean. When you do your water changes you can simply siphon the fish waste from the bottom of the tank.
The best type of filters are air driven box or sponge filters. You can use gravel or marbles in the bottom of the box filters to keep them in place.
I use Aquaculture double outlet air pumps purchased at Walmart. They cost about $10.00 and you can run three ten gallon tanks off of each outlet.
Managing Your Set Up:
This is a very simple setup to manage. Take a pregnant female from your breeder tank and put her in tank #2. This tank will be both a drop tank and a grow out tank. Once the young get old enough to sex (about 4-6 weeks) you are going to need to separate them. You can keep the males in tank #2 and move the females to tank #3. It is very important to keep the two sexes separate. Your future breeders are going to come out of these grow out tanks, and you don't want your breeder females coming into contact with any male but the best.
Once your guppies reach maturity you have two choices. You can either transfer them to your community tank, or you can talk to your local petshop owner and see if they will be willing to purchase them from you. The going rate in my area is $1 a pair cash or $1.50 a pair store credit.
There are two important draw backs to the three tank set up. First it is a very slow set up. You are only growing out one batch of guppies every four to six months, and when the time comes to out cross you're going to have to go outside your line to make a cross. Sometimes this is a plus sometimes not.
Aside from the draw backs there are also pluses. It's both cheap to set up and maintain and it's also fairly low maintenance. Both are important if you're just starting out!