Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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babarian16 01-01-2012 03:52 PM

Guppy or platy feeders?
I have a 20 gal and i plan on breeding feeders for my O and JD. Im not looking to have feeders 24/7 but to have a treat once a month or something would be nice. Which would you choose between and what are your experienecs. This is a single tank project. Thanks in advance.

ksacres 01-19-2012 05:25 PM

It really depends on what exactly you want to do. I have listed the most commonly available livebearers in order of MY PREFERENCE for use as feeders.

If you want the cheapest start possible, just get some "feeder" guppies. Try to find some larger gravid females. I would seperate the fry immediately and use them as a start to your colony. Too much danger in using the petshop feeders, they can carry all kind of nasties. Feeder guppies have smaller drops (3-10 is what I averaged when I had them, other experiences will vary) than fancies or other larger type livebearers. But they are extremely hardy once you get them healthy. I raised them in bare tanks with nothing more than infrequent water changes and an airstone.

Platies-these are probably the hardiest of the "fancy" type livebearers. Again, IME. They average drops of 15-25 for me. Platies are deep bodied, so you get a little more "bang for your feeder buck" in terms of quantity of food per feeder swallowed. they also come in lots of varieties to suit anyone's taste.

Mollies-often overlooked in terms of feeders, but one large strain female can provide you with fifty or more fry on every drop. You would only need one or two females to keep you in fry. Also, IME, Mollies tend to be the least interested in eating their fry of the common livebearers, so you can use the fry as needed and chances are the female mollies aren't going to finish them off. This is particularly true in planted tanks with plenty of space for each female to have her own space. Often livebearers will cannibalize their young if they feel overcrowded or stressed. My mollies will occasionally snatch a fry or two, but they don't stage group hunts like my other livebearers do. Mollies are also used to feed saltwater fish as they can be acclimated to full saline conditions.

Fancy guppies-Depends on what strain, and how 'fancy' they are. Generally speaking, the fancier the fish, the less hardy and adaptable they are. Some strains are so inbred they can fall apart given the slightest disadvantage. This relates more to the finnage than the color, brightly colored fish aren't at a odds with swimming and eating and breeding the way elaborately finned varieties are. Average drops for me, depending on the strain, are between 15 and 35 babies. Larger bodied strains generally have higher drops, not bigger babies. Some lines are crazy baby eaters and some aren't. You don't really know until you have them-I have one strain of Red Solid Snakes that I have NEVER witnessed going after fry, and one strain of half-Blacks that must be seperated and put in HEAVILY planted tanks if you want any fry to survive.

Swordtails-I wouldn't really advise using swords as feeders. My females like to eat fry and in general aren't as hardy or forgiving as other livebearers. Again, this is MY experience, others will have different opinions.

Some other options:
Endlers-very similar to feeder guppies, but they come in actual strains. You can get either N-class (full Endler) or there are many varieties of endlers that have been hybridized with guppies. Hardy, small fish with small drops, but easier to find healthy specimens since people actually raise these to have not just to feed.

Heterandria Formosa (Dwarf Livebearer)-these fish are small, and have the added benefit of practicing superfoetation, basically meaning that instead of producing one "batch" of fry at a time, females may have one or two, then a few days later, one or two more, and so on. Since you said you want "occasional" treats, this may be a way to go, since you won't be overloaded with fry at any one time. Of course, they are tiny even as adults, and a bit more expensive than other livebearers, since you won't find them at most LFS.

Hope this helped!

I also wanted to add-keeping a colony of Endlers or Dwarf Livebearers in a twenty gallon would be extremely easy, that is plenty of space to keep them healthy and reproducing at a good pace.

babarian16 01-21-2012 07:07 PM

Thanks alot or all the information. Very useful, althoug ive already decided to go the platy way. I have 1 male 5 females and3 algae eaters in the tank. I liked them because they are smaller than mollies but larger and hardier than the fancy guppies i was looking at. No fry yet but its only been like 2 weeks. Its the patience part thats the hardest. Here the tank they are in now. Does it seem to have enough cover for fry and shelter? Im only using this one tank setup.


ksacres 01-21-2012 07:31 PM

Looks good. The only thing I might recommend is adding more live plants, rather than fake ones. Tiny food items will be grown on live plants that give fry a bit of a headstart. Also, a good surface covering is very important for livebearer fry that will be reared in the same aquarium as their parents. It provides good protection as they instinctively head for the top after birth and kind of become "sitting ducks" if the adults decide they are hungry.

In some of my aquariums I have a thick covering of duckweed, in others I have watersprite, and in others I just float hornwort or elodea. Guppy grass (najas guadalupensis) is another super easy plant. Once your moss grows out, that will be a great source of food and protection too. Doesn't have to be anything fancy, and all my tanks are situated under run-of-the-mill shoplights so nothing too expensive and no CO2 injection required. Easy peezy lemon squeezey...

Of the "fancy" type livebearers, I definitely think you chose correctly.

babarian16 01-21-2012 08:28 PM

Ya i only have 2 live plants besides the java moss. Maybe ill get one or 2 more for near the front for more cover. I feed my fry microworms so im not worried about them having to eat off of the plants really. Theres 100's of microworms swimming and drifting around the tank so they will always reach the fry and they can live in the aquarium for up to 12 hours.
In terms of populating the tank, how long do you think it will be before i have an established colony with solid numbers? my male may be a bit small cuz he doesnt seemto be trying to mate wit the females like my swordtails did back when i had them..

ksacres 01-22-2012 12:25 PM

Chances are good that the females you purchased are already pregnant. Depending on the supplier, they may have been virgin females when they got to the shop, but usually it doesn't take more than a few seconds for a newly introduced male to do what he does best. Male platies tend to be smaller than females, as is the case with most livebearers. If he is young, by the time the females run out of stored sperm packets, he'll be ready to go. Honestly, you probably could have skipped buying the male, livebearers generally store so many packets, it's not uncommon for fish to have multiple drops after being seperated from males. I, personally, had fish (guppy) give me six drops after being seperated. That's A LOT of fry with no male. Of course, your drops tend to be better with plenty of access to the males and "fresh" stuff. The last drop from that female was only six babies, but still, you get the point.

Normal time between drops for healthy livebearers is four to six weeks. If you keep your water parameters perfect and the temperature around 80, that time will be closer to four weeks. Cooler water will lengthen the span. Of course there are exceptions, but we're talking in broad generalities here.

That time can also be extended a great deal longer if the fish are subjected to less than ideal conditions, such as nasty pet shop water, pathogens from newly introduced fish, temperature fluctuations, and a myriad of other things. If they haven't dropped within six weeks of being in warm (80 degrees) and perfect water (ammonia/nitrite/nitrate) then they probably aren't pregnant, but if there were males and females in the display you purchased from, it's a good bet that they are, but are still adjusting to the dramatic changes that have occured, or were virgin females when put in the display.

One good drop from each female should leave you with plenty to choose from as far as which ones you want to build your colony. Again, it depends on your goals here, but if you choose to keep fewer adult fish, usually you will find they have less issues with aggression and fry eating, and you will get slightly bigger drops. On the other hand, if you keep more adults, you will have slightly smaller drops, more fry will get eaten, but it will still pretty much even out because you will have more females dropping. Fry grow pretty quickly, but swords and platies develope a little more slowly than guppies. Usually between two and three months of age, the gonopodium should make it's appearance on the males. You want to feed the ones that you don't want for breeding, as they WILL breed as soon as they are fully developed. It's really more of a size thing than an age, as feeding programs and temperature play a huge part in the speed of developement. The females can pretty much get pregnant as soon as they are big enough to be stuck by a male, though small females will obviously have small drops.

So, long story short, within the next two-three months, you'll likely have platies coming out your ears...

babarian16 01-22-2012 04:49 PM

Cool, i really appreciate all the info. I see a gravid spot on another one of my females and she looks kinda big. I didnt notice how big she was untill today. So between her and the pregnant feeder platy im hoping to have fry withing 2 weeks.
Have you ever had problems with slightly older fry eating the younger fry. I had that happen with my swordtail fry. Didnt happen in the fry tank but it did happen in the main tank.

ksacres 01-24-2012 12:37 PM

I haven't seen that so much with platies, no. Guppies even, not really. And the Mollies that I've had don't eat their fry, chase them, yes, but I've never actually seen one gobbled up. I feed all my tanks (yes, even adults) between four and seven times a day (depends on what I'm doing that day) so they never go that long without a meal, it's possible that that makes a difference. Mostly I find some just like fry and others seem not to.

Swords are a force unto themselves. They will usually eat ANYTHING that moves and they are incredible jumpers. If they don't like their water, they jump, if they don't like how quickly the water is moving, they jump, if they think they see something they can eat, they jump. They are definitely different. I usually don't mix stock unless it's close to the same size with the swords. Some people get lucky, but I've found it's just better for everyone if they are kept in like size groups. The more voracious the appetite, the healthier the sword though. It's usually a good sign. One piece of advice I got on the swords, was to hang a fry trap with fry in the tank and after they bang their faces into the side trying to get the fry, they will leave ALL the fry alone. I don't personally use traps, so I haven't tried it, but I've thought about giving it a whirl-would certainly help for those times when I get lazy or distracted and don't get the females out before they drop...

babarian16 01-24-2012 08:47 PM

Thats a pretty neat idea actually. Its kind of like training them that they can see fry but not eat them. Perhaps it would be worth it. Ill see how my first few drops go b4 trying that though. Peaking of which i found two little fry swiming in the floating plants on top. No idea if there are more or if there will be. It seems likethey were my red wagtail fry as it kinda looks like they have an orangy/red tint. She was rly fat one morning and super slim in the evening and the next day is when i found the fry.Hopefully they and others will survive. If not then my feeder platy still ooks preggers so shooouuld have more soon.

ladayen 01-24-2012 08:55 PM

Well.. I see you've already got your feeders, but just to toss this out there.. why feed live at all? Packaged foods are more nutritious then live ones and theres no chance of getting parasites or sickness. As a treat you could feed frozen foods like bloodworms and such.

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