Most guppy breeders love variety....this is usually why they pick guppies in the first place. But raising a large variety of different types properly takes a great many tanks and a lot of space. It is simple to fill 9 tanks with just the offspring of one particular kind of guppy.--but if you like variety it as possible to properly work and improve as many as 7 different kinds of guppies in those same 9 tanks by using the following breeding programme.
Note, I did not say 7 pure strains! This 'short cut' technique is not to be confused with maintaining pure strains (for which there is no really successful short cut of which I know). You will eventually end up with your own pure strains if the programme is followed throughout, but in the beginning this is strictly a creative technique (which in itself can be very satisfying)....a way to expand without adding more tanks.
For the sake of illustration, let's assume that our guppy raising space is limited to 9 tanks (15 gallons or larger).The first step of the whole breeding programme is to decide what basic colour you prefer. Then comes the most important step of the whole breeding programme...one which will decide the success or failure of all your efforts....selection of the basic pure strain which will be behind all the other variants in the 9 tank programme. Don't scrimp here...shop around, talk to breeders. learn as much as possible about each strain, then purchase the very best, truest-breeding strain you can find in the desired basic colour----hopefully one that also carries a recessive trait such as Gold, Bronze or Albino body colour.
This becomes your BASIC strain. Breed the new strain immediately and when young are dropped, remove mom and dad to a holding tank. No attempt will be made to save their future litters unless tragedy strikes the first litter. When fry are old enough, be sure to separate males from females IN TIME! This is vital as these young females will the backbone of all the other varieties in the programme and will be the only females that we work with at all.
While these basic strain fry are growing in tanks 1 and 2, start looking around for other fish with which to start the variety part of the programme. A little knowledge of genetics helps here as most of our varieties will utilize dominant characteristics which are visible in each generation. Most varieties of cobra or snakeskin are carried on the Y chromosome and will therefore be passed directly from father to all his sons. Some varieties of Half or Three-quarter Black carry the trait on the Y chromosome also and would be ideal for one of our varieties.
If carried on the X chromosome they can still be used but require slightly different crossing methods and will produce 50% of the desired Black variety (except possibly in the initial cross) when bred in accordance with our programme. If the basic strain carries recessives for Gold, Bronze or Albino we do not need to seek an outside male for these characteristics as we can use a male from the basic strain to work this variant. We can also add a colour variant, which will often throw multi-colour when crossed into our different colour.
For the sake of illustration we will select a Cobra, a Y-linked 3/4 Black, and a good fish of a different colour than our basic strain (which we will say already carries a recessive for gold). From these three plus the basic strain we can raise in only 9 tanks 7 distinct varieties of guppies that will all be breeding true for their variant characteristics....and in time all will be pure strains.
The Programme can be started when the basic strain F1 females in Tank 2 reach breeding age (about 3-4 months)and will be set up as follows :-
Tank 1. Basic strain females, first litter.
Tank 2. Basic strain males, first litter
Tank 3. Cobra. (The selected cobra male, 3 virgin Grey females from tank 1 plus one gold female from tank 1)
Tank 4. 3/4 Black*, (The selected 3/4 Black male, 3 virgin females and one, at least, gold female from tank 1.
Tank 5. Gold (or Bronze or Albino). Select the most promising Gold male from tank 2. Add two or three females from tank 1
Tank 6. Gold Cobra. (First litter will be Grey bodied hybrids, all carrying gold). When gold females in tank 3 are heavily gravid move to tank 6 to drop the brood.
Tank 7. Gold 3/4 Black.(First litter will be Grey bodied hybrids). When gold females bred in tank 4 show signs of pregnancy, remove to tank 7 for delivery.
Tank 8. Multi (or some form of colour variant). Put selected male of any colour different from the basic strain colour with three virgin basic strain females from tank 1.
Tank 9. Holding tank for mature males...to show, sell or for emergency.
In case of X-linked 3/4 Black the process should be reversed- -if a virgin female of the 3/4 Black strain is available she is put in tank 4 with the best basic strain male from tank 2. If no virgin female is available, put X-linked 3/4 Black male with three virgin basic strain females. In the F1 only the females will be black and breeding plan will remain reversed...basic strain male to 3/4 Black female for each new generation. Only 50% of males will be 3/4 Black...it would pay to look for a Y-linked 3/4 Black male when breeding according to this programme.
When females in tank 3 through 8 are well loaded, remove the males to tank 9.After fry are dropped remove and discard the female parent. Sex fry as soon as possible and DISCARD all females as soon as sexed except the Gold females in tank 5 which should be added to tank 1 to increase the supply of basic strain females with which to work. As young males begin to colour up discard any that show undesirable characteristics. As they mature gradually weed out all but the best.
While they are maturing we will turn our attention back to the basic strain which should be kept moving along and improving also. Being at least three months ahead of the variants, we can now select the very best male in tank 2 and remove at least three to tank 9 (in case of emergency). Select the best three females from tank 1 and put the male in tank 2. When fry are dropped continue as before: discard parent females, sex fry, remove young virgin females to tank 1, discarding all the Grey bodied females which might remain in tank l. At this point all gold females are kept to ensure a good supply as sometimes gold and albino females prove difficult or impossible to breed and new females must be tried.
As the breeding programme continues, it may become obvious that one or more of the outcrosses are incompatible with the basic strain and do not produce good fish. In some cases this can be overcome by merely carrying the breeding on for a few more generations, backcrossing to the basic strain females each time. In other cases it might prove best to locate a different strain of the variant involved and start again for that variant. In the case of the fish in tank 5 (the gold, bronze or albino) it would be advisable every so often to breed the selected male to a Grey bodied female of the basic strain to create stronger fish. (The Grey-bodied fry from this mating would be hybrid for gold and will produce 50% in the next generation when again bred to a gold female....and the gold variant is off again and running with new vigour.)
*** Midge Hill is deceased but her pioneering efforts in breeding fancy guppies still continues to this day*** Don Hutsony
5645 Apache St. Zephyrhills, FL 33542 US
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