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Fancy Guppies

Posted: July 22, 2013, 10:00 a.m. EDT

By David Lass

If there is one fish that most hobbyists have kept, or are at least familiar with, it would have to be the humble guppy. Given the fact that, in addition to being offered in so many varied fancy types, "feeder” guppies are also sold by the box I would think that the guppy may be the fish that we would find in the greatest numbers in the hobby / industry; if not the top, it has to be in the top five.

The Humble Guppy. iStock/Thinkstock

Once we have agreed that there are lots of guppies out there in local fish stores and in hobbyists’ tanks, I would put forth that we can also agree on the fact that sometimes fancy guppies can be problems for stores to keep and sell. The problems keeping guppies are due, in my humble opinion, to two very simple things – the source of the fish and the water conditions they are being kept in. In fact, one of the major problems is that the most basic thing is to match the source with the water conditions. For example, if your guppy supplier is keeping their guppies in very hard alkaline water with piles of salt, and you are not willing or able to match those conditions, then you will not do well keeping their guppies. The "standard” advice that guppies need hard alkaline water should be taken, quite literally, with a grain of salt.

Most of the guppies in the business come from the Far East, where they are produced by the millions. The problem is to find which source for guppies from the Far East do best for you in the store and for your customers. I can only offer advice based upon what has been my experience, having kept guppies for many years both in my retail stores and also at the wholesale level. It has been my experience that the fancy guppies that do best for me are ones that come from Singapore. I sell fish for Always Quality Aquatics, and we have access to guppies from many countries in the Far East – Singapore has the best. This week’s list from Singapore had five pages of guppies, roughly 600 different ones. You can buy them in pairs, males only, and females only. They are available in size from small with 450 fish per bag up to XLarge at 200. My advice would be to buy the large or xlarge fish, and to buy males only. Sure, keep a tank of females, but most customers want males. You can experiment with what colors and types of guppies sell best for you. I can tell you that my best seller wholesale was "Tequila Sunrise” (it goes by other names such as "McCariff Yellow”) which is a male guppy with neutral body, yellow tail that ends in red, and a red dorsal fin. I sold Tequila Sunrise guppies 10 to 1 over any other type/color.

One final note. Rather than plain salt for guppies, I found that the best is something called Morton’s System Saver II that is sold for water softeners. One pellet per five gallons does the trick – available at Home Depot. Best stuff ever.

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