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FAQs on the Livebearing Toothed Carps, Poeciliid Fishes Selection

Related Articles: Poeciliids: Guppies, Platies, Swordtails, Mollies by Neale Monks, Livebearing Fishes by Bob Fenner,

Related FAQs: Poeciliids 1, Poeciliids 2, Guppies, Platies, Swordtails, MolliesLivebearer Identification, Livebearer Behavior, Livebearer Compatibility, Livebearer Systems, Livebearer Feeding, Livebearer Disease, Livebearer Reproduction,

 Dermogenys pusillus

Livebearers; stkg.      7/8/14
Hi, Hope all is well with you. I have a question, please. I know with livebearers it is recommended to have 2 0r more females to each male, but is it OK to have all males or all females?
<Yes unreservedly with females. In fact it's often the ideal situation if you don't want offspring and the females are just as colourful as the males (e.g., with Platies). With males it's possible, but you need a BIG group of them; keep just a few males and a dominance hierarchy would quickly develop, with the stronger male bullying the others. On the other hand, where people keep, say, a dozen male Guppies, things are generally more peaceful.>
Thank you so much for your help.
<Welcome. Neale.>

Freshwater Stocking Question     2/7/14
Good afternoon,
I have a 29g freshwater tank.  I keep it at 78F to accommodate both a Betta and 5 julii Corys.  My tank cycled 40 days, no traces of ammonia or nitrite, nitrate is low, am carrying out 20% water changes twice a week. 
Introduced my Betta, he's doing fine... loves it! Swims around, checks everything out.
Note:  Petland told me my Betta would drown...
<... no>

18" is to<o> deep for a Betta, sometimes they forget to breathe.  I asked her when the last time she forgot to breathe was?
 After a brief discussion, she thanked me for correcting her on what Petland has told staff for years 'at this particular location'.
Anyhow... I introduced my 5 Corys two weeks later, and they are also doing awesome.  I've had the Corys for two weeks, and am thinking of my next additions...  my little girls want guppies.  I want color.  Is there any issues of adding 3 female guppies, and then adding 3 female swordtails?
<Do a bit of reading re both... I would stock just one or the other of these two livebearers... And realize that they will be pregnant; will deliver young in time here>

Would the Betta, Corys, guppies and/or sword tails work well with 2 African dwarf frogs in a month or so?
<The guppies would be better than the Swords... smaller, less aggressive, competing for foods>
<Bob Fenner>

Platy or swordtail; stkg. Poeciliids in sm. vol..s      8/26/13
Hi there,
I spent a long time reading and can't find answers to the following questions. I have a 70 litre tank and 2 X 20 litre tanks but only a heater for the 70 litre
<18 US gallons, i.e., not a lot of water, so stock carefully.>
and one of the 20 litres.
<5 US gal., barely suitable for fishkeeping at all; at most, either a male Betta, some Dwarf Aquatic Frogs or a shrimp aquarium.>
I have only had my aquariums about 3 months.
<Stock slowly, and read carefully!>
I went away on holiday and used the 5 day feeder gel formula food and came back and all fish were well.
<Good. Just for the future, if you're going away for a week or less, feeding isn't necessary, and in most cases, properly fed fish are fine for two weeks without food. Safer than adding holiday food. Why? Because if something goes wrong, like the filter stops or gets blocked and slows down, there's less waste to pollute the tank.>
After being home a couple if days I did a 30-50% water change and then next day I saw a baby fish and realised ketchup my red platy was a lot thinner.
I also have a fat pregnant swordtail female in the same tank(Tiger).  Over the next week I collected 6 more babies from the stones and plants.  The first fish is slightly larger and plain and the others are all striped like the swordtail mother.
<I see.>
Do you think the plain one that is much bigger could be the lone survivor from the platys litter (or what ever you call a brood in fish) and the striped ones are swordtails like their striped mother?
<Possibly, but hard to say. Livebearers of all kinds can delay the development of fertilised eggs, which means that a female can produce fry anything up to 6 months after mating with a particular male. That means the father of your baby fish could have been one of the fish in the pet store.
Hence fish breeders who want particular sorts of offspring use virgin females, i.e., they take some female fry when only a few weeks old, isolate them, and only put them back with a specific male as/when they want to breed from them.>
I also wonder if my swordtail is still pregnant as I haven't found any more fry for a few days but she still looks pregnant.
<Possible, but again, be open minded. Ensure diet is adequate (these fish are largely herbivores, so need a greens-based diet, e.g., Spirulina flake) otherwise constipation is common. Water fleas (Daphnia) are a good laxative. Also be aware of what Dropsy looks like, and keep an eye open for it. It's a common problem when fish aren't kept perfectly well.>
I also just want to mention tiger the swordtail female started off being really bossy and aggressive with everything else in the tank and my first swordtail male hid from her and eventually died.
<Swordtails are aggressive, and your tank is too small for them. Bear in mind Swordtails are fast fish from flowing water habitats, and they can get to around 8 cm/3 inches in length, sometimes even more. I'd keep them in tanks not less than 70, 80 cm long, so realistically, tanks in the 110 l/30 gallon size range upwards. In smaller tanks aggressive fish will often
whittle their population down to a manageable size, and that may well be what you're seeing here.>
I since replaced with a new one who can just barely cope with her. I know this ratio of 1 male to 1 female is not normal but it seems right for her. 
What do you think?
<See above; Swordtails are aggressive and chase each other a lot. Keep two females per male, in a suitably sized tank, and either one male or three, never two because that number seems to end up with one bullying the other.
To be honest, in small tanks Platies are better bets.>
I got a lyre tail molly female to be boss and she started off hiding from tiger.
<Mollies definitely do not belong here!
Do read up on these difficult fish.>
I had to replant and move everything around to give all new territories play and this helped them to fit in better and now the 2 play and thankfully mainly leave the smaller fish alone. I must say I don't like the idea of having just one lyre tail molly but think this is working for the individual fish involved. 
<Mollies don't get lonely.>
I think I might sell 6-7guppies and just keep the named male (Albie).  He doesn't seem to Fin nip like the others do but would I have an issue with having 1 male guppy without a female or 2 to hassle in with the other fish?
<Stop. Your tank is already VERY overcrowded.>
The guppies are brothers and sisters so  I don't want these particular girls as I don't want to inbreed them any more as I got them from someone who has inbred them heaps.  I would want a new gene pool even though they are very pretty.
8 neon tetras
2 female platys
1 male platy
1 female swordtail
1 male swordtail
1 female lyre tail molly
2 peppered Corydoras
1 bronze Corydoras
2 Bristlenose catfish
7-8 nearly grown Guppies including named male
Thank you so much for your help
<Do read:
And follow the links. You have a very small tank overstocked with fish with different water chemistry requirements (e.g., Neons need soft/acid while Mollies and need hard/alkaline and possibly even brackish). Some of these fish are quite hardy (e.g., Corydoras) but others are notoriously difficult for beginners to keep successfully (Neons, Mollies). Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Platy or swordtail     8/26/13
Hi Neal
Thank you for your advice.  The only thing that I can't really understand is whether one guppy is okay in the communal tank rather than the current 6-8 or whether I need to keep a female to keep him happy?
<Guppies are fine on their own when kept with appropriate tankmates. Adding females (plural) per male Guppy is of course doable, but not necessary, and males harass the females in small tanks.>
The 20 litre tanks are 1. for raising babies and 2. for breeding food for my tank i.e. brine shrimp or Daphne.
<I see.>
What is Dropsy? Is there a link about it?
<It's a symptom rather than a disease. Fluid retention inside the body.
Indicates all sorts of different things, but typically bacterial infections and/or organ failure. Difficult to treat unless caught early. Very characteristic of Dropsy is the "pine cone" effect seen from above, as the scales of body stick outwards. Do start here:
Take care
<Will do, Neale.>

Stocking question: small tank, FW livebearers sys. mostly -- 03/20/11
Hi. I'm new at fish ... and I've spent more extra time than I have, recently, browsing your site. I am finding it very helpful.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
So the kids were given a 14 gallon tank a few months ago, and we set it up, and waited, then went to the LFS for fish ... ending up with a swordtail,
<Needs more space than this.>
a lyre tail Dalmatian molly and a balloon molly.
<As do Mollies, though Balloon Mollies, being stunted and deformed, can't swim well and may do OK in a tank this size. In any case, where Mollies need warm water, Swordtails prefer cooler conditions and strong water currents -- their long, streamlined shape is an adaptation to life in streams rather than pools.>
Then came the part with the Ich, and where we did some things wrong and learned a lot, and if the balloon molly hadn't stuck with us I would not be writing this. She has cycled and re-cycled a main tank and also the even-smaller tank I quickly realized we needed for hospital / quarantine / fry (!).
Fast forward to today, where we have the balloon molly, a black molly, a Mickey mouse platy, a red wag platy and two platy fry in the 14 gallon (all 4 adults are female - we were lucky there) as well as five platy fry in a 2.5 gallon. I don't plan to keep the fry long term, but they are cute ... and although I now realize the tanks are small, those aren't changing any time soon.
<Again, Platies come from a cooler environment than Mollies, and do best kept around 22-24 C/72-75 F. Mollies, at least the farmed varieties, thrive best kept warm, 25-28 C/77-82 F. While it isn't 100% essential, Mollies do favour brackish water conditions, or at least aquaria where around 2-3 grammes of (preferably marine aquarium) salt is added per litre/0.25 US gal. of water.>
My question is: is this a stable setup?
<Not ideal, no.>
An ok number of fish, compatible types and could the mollies be reasonably happy in 14g? (I have been reading!) They seem to get along. The balloon molly is the alpha female of algae wafers, although she and the black molly seem to take turns bullying each other, I can't always tell which is the aggressor. I have seen them do laps around the tank. The platies are significantly more skittish overall. I am expecting molly fry to appear at some point (after all, it hasn't been 6 months). Would it help to have a cleaning fish? If so, what?
<If you think a fish will clean your aquarium, you misunderstand. Retailers will sometimes tell you that you need to buy a "cleaner fish" but that's nonsense. Adding any fish will make it dirtier. If you had a live-in maid in your home, your house would actually be messier in terms of sewage and trash. Just the same in an aquarium. Plus, whereas a maid might do some tidying up, fish don't work that way at all, and certainly no catfish or loach will eat fish wastes as some retailers seem to suggest! By all means add some Cherry Shrimps and/or Nerite Snails if you're like some algae-eating animals that won't affect water quality much. Or if you want a catfish, try a single Bristlenose Plec, which will eat a some of the diatoms and green algae that appear in aquaria. None of these animals will "clean" your tank in any meaningful way though, and some algae types, including the ones most common in small and poorly-lit aquaria, like hair algae, aren't eaten by them at all.>
Setup: both tanks are moderately "planted" (plastic) with floating ones for fry (a huge thanks for that suggestion ... those little things are too strong to be siphoned but I managed to scoop them up there where they were hiding), and larger stones creating hiding places on the bottom (where the now-older free main tank fry hang out). Both tanks have heaters and the filters that hang over the side, with carbon filter inserts. Water chemistry seems to be ok and I do partial water changes regularly. I'm having trouble keeping ammonia to 0 probably because of overfeeding ... which is because of the fry ... I do add aquarium salt to the water, the ph is on the neutral to high side and I think last time I checked the hardness is up there too. If I get ambitious, I would try to add some live plants eventually (java fern and Anubias, from what I've read). [notice I changed from "we" to "I" ... who am I kidding, these are my fish :) ].
<Hard, basic water is ideal for livebearers; aim for 10+ degrees dH for Platies, and realistically, 15+ degrees dH for Mollies. If you only have ONE water chemistry test kit in the house, make sure it's the General Hardness one; although pH is easy to use, it's a fairly uninformative measurement, and despite what beginners suppose, fish don't "feel" pH and mostly couldn't care less about pH, provide it's stable. But general hardness, degrees dH, now, that's super-important in lots of ways.>
Thanks in advance for any thoughts on what I could do to help this be successful long term.
<As Bob would say, "keep reading"! There's some stuff you need to know about stocking small tanks, about water chemistry, and about the livebearer family of fish. Have a read of these articles, and if you need more help, let me know.
Cheers, Neale.>

Selling My Fish 11/11/08 Hi! My name is Bel. I am 15 and I love to raise Livebearers.  I have 4 tanks: one 40 gallon, one 20 gallon, one 7 gallon, and one 1 gallon.  I only have 4 neon tetras, and approximately 70 guppies, all raised by myself.  I am at the risk of overpopulation and would like to sell some of them, but I am not sure how or where or to whom I should sell them.  All the males and females are separated so I won't have more baby fry for now, but I love raising fish and would like to raise other Livebearers, but I'm afraid I'll have too many fish. I would love to keep all of them, but I already have more babies and I don't want inbreeding.  All my guppies are from two fish, no inbreeding.  All my fish are very happy and healthy.  I'm scared that if I go to pet stores they won't buy my fish because I'm young and don't know a lot about breeding fish.  And my female guppies are very plain and generic colored, like a sandy brown, so that might make it harder to sell them. But the males are very colorful. They have red tails with green sheen and black spots on their body. They also have some black and pink stripes.  I don't think they are a specific type of guppy, I think they have a delta fin or a fan tail. They also don't look exactly like their parents. The males look like a mix of both parents. Here's a picture.  Sorry if its a little blurry. Any advice on selling fish would be greatly appreciated! Thanks a million! Bel <Hello Bel. There's no perfect way to sell fish. You certainly can ask a retailer to take them from you, and often you'll get credit in return. I did this during the weekend with some livebearers that I'd bred, Limia nigrofasciata. Go to the shop first, tell them you have some fish, and see if they'll take them. Personally, I wouldn't sell them to a shop that trades in "feeder fish" or "feeder guppies" -- because your fish are essentially wild-type Guppies in colouration, it's possible some retailers might use them as fish food! Another way is to join a fish club. Fish clubs have auctions and you can also meet people who'll swap your fish for some of their fish. This is a great way to get hold of rare livebearers or particular strains of fancy livebearer. Or you could join a fish forum online: lots of these have a "buy, sell or swap" thread where people can trade fish. For what it's worth, I think your fish are nice, and I'm all in favor of wild-type Guppies. They're much hardier than fancy guppies, and make much better pets for use in community tanks. Cheers, Neale.>

Another few questions for Neale (if possible). Livebearer sel., sys.    -01/30/08 Hi again, Neale! (Or if not, whoever is kind enough to reply) <It is me...> Thank you so much for your advice. I had written you previously about keeping goldfish with sand, and you dispelled my fears about any negative consequences. However, I've decided to take a different approach and would appreciate a bit of your input. <Oh?> I've decided to nix goldfish, since Shubunkins were my first pick and they get so large, I realize now they are meant for ponds or large aquariums. There are calico fantails that might fit better into a 29 gallon tank, but the "golf ball" fancy goldfish look, while sort of cute, I find a bit grotesque... <Indeed, not a big fan of fish so inbred they can't swim.> So, I've decided to switch to livebearers! Of course, I've tried them before, but never have they fared too well in my tank. <Most all problems with livebearers come from two things: not appreciating their need for hard, alkaline water, and not understanding that they are fish of clean streams, not swamps. So they need good water quality with the right chemistry! A bit of salt seems to help, even with the non-brackish water ones.> I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment that they are not fish for the beginner, in spite of being recommended as such. I had a gold marbled molly in a 29 gallon tank, she never seemed sick, but one day she just disappeared. I also tried red wag platys, but I believe I got two females and they just looked bloated all the time. Eventually they got so bloated they seemed to not do much but lean on the plastic plants, and they eventually died. I also tried a male and female pair of tuxedo swordtails, but they died after I had them for only about a year and a half. <Oh dear.> This was before I knew much about the water chemistry as it pertains to aquariums, and that livebearers should get lots of greens in their diet. Now I am giving it another go, and I swear I'm going to do things right! First off, I have some European Shrimp Mix that my African cichlids love. I also have plenty of blanched greens available, and cucumber and cantaloupe (a bit junky, but very popular with the cichlids) and I plan on giving them only spare amounts of dried food. When I do, it'll be HBH Soft Spirulina pellets and Ocean Nutrition Cichlid Veggie Flake. About twice a week I'll give them frozen bloodworms and chopped, live earthworms. There will be no bloated fish in my house this time! <Very good. I think the chopped earthworms are overkill though (literally, for the worms themselves). Livebearers would be much happier with smaller mouthfuls. With the notable exception of the AMAZING pike livebearer, most of them are grazers and nibblers rather than biters.> Also, I am still interested in making this a lightly planted tank. I plan on having one fixture with two T5 bulbs, a Coralife Colormax full-spectrum and a 6,700k bulb. I believe the bulbs are 18 watts each, so 36 watts, not much lighting for a 29 gallon tank. I am hoping to keep it low-tech with lots of Java fern, but I would love to try an Amazon sword (since this tank is tall) and maybe some kind of background plant. The plant selection is very limited in my neck of the woods, I can't find Anubias anywhere! My other option is maybe getting a "low light" medley of plants from an online place. <Low-tech with plants is fine. I keep my Limia nigrofasciata in a small tank with Cryptocoryne spp., Anubias, and a few odd cuttings of other stuff. Your main problem is algae in low-light conditions (paradoxically, perhaps) but generally livebearers eat algae, so this problem isn't actually a problem at all. Sure, the plants will never be spotless like an Amano-style Nature Aquarium, but who cares? The fish are happy, the plants are happy, and in my tank, the shrimps and snails are happy too.> I would still like to try laterite, mixed with Schultz Aquatic Soil, with a layer of silica sand on top. Thank you for the idea about the gravel tidy, but it seems this is more of a UK thing...none of my LFS sell such a device. Is there a way to make a DIY gravel tidy? Maybe with some screen mesh, like what they use for windows and porches and what not? <You are correct about some planted aquarium gear being difficult and/or expensive in the US. It's a common complaint. Much of this stuff is made in Germany, and the demand is limited in the US, so prices stay high. Ambitious American aquarists tend to go marine, so the "high end" freshwater tanks get overlooked. Anyway, my DIY approach is to use plastic mesh from the garden centre. You don't want the nylon thread type, but the stuff more like stiff plastic mesh. Fairly small gaps between the threads are required, but beyond that you can improvise.> And here is the question that has been really bugging me, is there a way that I can skip using CO2 at all and still have decent growth? <In practise you can have strong lighting, no CO2, and good plant growth. But adding CO2 will *always* improve the plant growth. On the other hand, in a low-tech tank with slow-growing plants that tolerate low light levels, CO2 won't make much difference. CO2 matters where you have fast-growing plants under strong light.> The Hagen Natural Gro system seems very affordable, but I am worried about using CO2 in a tank where the water is supposed to be hard and alkaline. The only planted tank book I have is Peter Hiscock's "Encyclopedia of Aquarium Plants" and this book seems a bit dated. Any other book suggestions? I work at a library so that gives me a bit of an advantage! Rhonda Wilson's website (naturalaquariums.com) has been very inspirational. <Oh, there are *many* good planted aquarium books. I don't have any strong feelings on which is best. As you say, you should be looking for one that covers CO2 and lighting with reference to modern systems, but beyond that I don't think it matters much. There's a lot of argument about the best way to grow plants, but the reality is that (unlike corals, say) plants are adaptable and up to a point will succeed under a range of conditions. So long as they get enough light, CO2, and a proper substrate, you can't really go wrong.> Lastly, I was hoping to get some personal recommendations as to what kind of livebearer community to strive for. Do swordtails like only to be with swordtails, or do they do all right in the company of guppies? <Male swordtails are aggressive and best kept in groups of one male to two or more females with no other livebearers. They live in rivers and other open habitats, and male swordtails fight to keep their patch free of rivals. The problem in the aquarium is one male will consider most tanks his exclusive domain. In smaller tanks Platies tend to play much nicer.> I'd like to stay away from mollies as they seem to ultimately be better off in a larger tank, and kept brackish. <Agreed, but Mollies do also have the benefits of being really nice fish with great colours. Liberty Mollies are especially nice, if you can find them, and don't seem the need brackish water. They're a distinct species of Molly, and otherwise I agree with you, the standard hybrid Mollies do seem to do best in brackish water. That's not necessarily a bad thing: Anubias and Java ferns and hardy Crypts are just fine in brackish water, and at least one Crypt, C. ciliata, is a brackish water specialist. These plants extract carbon from the bicarbonate in the water, and don't really need CO2 fertilisation. You can obviously add brackish water fish such as Bumblebee or Knight Gobies, both of which are lovely fish. Knight Gobies are especially lovely in good condition, and practically coral reef fish in their shimmering beauty.> Swordtails and platies might be fun, but I don't want them to hybridize, so that could be problematic. <Too late -- all the Swords and Platies in the trade are hybrids.> I have access to lots of healthy Mosquitofish and least killifish but in my experience, Mosquitofish are very nippy! Least killifish are impressive in a large shoal, but they seem happier in a tank where the water is tannic. <Hmm... I think this varies. Least Killifish aren't reputed to be nippy, and I find they look best in groups in very quiet tanks. Both should do well in low-end brackish or hard/alkaline water; I've not heard of them preferred soft/acid water, though I admit to seeing many Mosquitofish in swampy streams in Florida.> Any suggestions or information you could point my way, I would be most appreciative! <Do also research availability of "rare" livebearers. Limia nigrofasciata, Micropoecilia picta, Poecilia salvatoris, halfbeaks and others can all be fun and colourful alternatives. Being that little bit more difficult to find makes their resulting offspring that bit more desirable and easy to sell/share with others. There are some nice livebearer books out there, and on Amazon.com for example you can get old copies for very little.> My heartiest thanks for your assistance, and for this website, which is the biggest contributor to my growth in this hobby. I know you hear it a lot, but this website has indeed taught me SO much! <Glad to hear it, and thanks for the thanks.> Best wishes, Nicole <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Another few questions for Neale. Livebearer sel., Goodeids   - 1/31/08 Wow, thank you, Neale! <Nicole,> Those suggestions for livebearers are right up my alley. Rhonda Wilson (who I mentioned having really taken inspiration from) also keeps many of these wild type livebearers - Goodeids, Limias, etc. and that's just the kind of setup I am interested in, some messy plants growing however they please, lots of algae for grazing, basically as natural a setup as possible. <Sounds nice.> Since there is no hope that the LFS in my area can special order anything like this, I searched Aquabid.com. There are a couple of Limias, one person had a pair of Liberty mollies, and the same person had Ameca splendens, the butterfly Goodeid. (I keep wanting to spell it Goodeoid, so my apologies if there's a typo.) The latter really interests me, mostly because I know zilch about Goodeidae and I love learning something new that's fish related! <Goodeids are fascinating fish, though some are pretty nippy, boisterous animals!> I am checking out goodeids.com, which has lots of helpful information, but would you know of any livebearer book that does more than gloss over this species? I've never seen a book on wild type livebearers, perhaps there is one? It's hard to get a feel for the livebearer books on Amazon since most aren't reviewed. <I have a couple of specialist livebearer books, of which 'Interpet Guide to Livebearing Fishes' is the one I like best. It's cheap and easy to buy used.> I can just imagine the look on the faces of my LFS if I asked them to special order these fish, since they had never heard of Pelvicachromis taeniatus, "Nigerian red" Kribs before. Their response was, "Are you talking about a freshwater fish or a saltwater fish?" <Ah, nice fish; kept and bred them myself. Increasingly easy to get in the UK, thankfully. Not sure why US-based aquarists are so poorly served when it comes to freshwater fish.> This is the same LFS that had a tank full of young Rainbowfish which they called "rainbow tetras". I helpfully took out a book from their shelves, and opened up to the page on Rainbowfish, which had plenty of pictures... <Heh...> I'm going to just take my time and research everything very carefully. After being in this hobby about 5 years, I now know that the amount of time spent planning an aquarium *definitely* pays off in the end. <Indeed so. And it improves the fun too. You can only buy a certain number of fish, so you'll get the best value from your fishkeeping if you very carefully choose exactly the species you need for fun, colours, breeding, and interesting behaviour.> Even if the fish you choose nonchalantly can co-exist together peacefully, it's awfully nice to have as close to a perfect stocking scheme as you can achieve, given your personal tastes...and going to the pet store and grabbing this and that is certainly not going to take you there! <Precisely.> So for all the newbies out there, it's not the slightest bit absurd to spend a couple months with an empty tank just planning. Use the time to fishless cycle, if need be! <Correct!> Thanks so much for your help, I knew you would be able to provide a fresh perspective. I am still a bit nervous about ordering fish online, I've never done it before, but my plan is to try to buy all the fish from the same seller at one time, so that I only have to pay the $30 shipping fee once. I will be sure to acclimate the newcomers carefully, and will be on top of water quality, doing daily water changes to ensure that as many as possible of the new fish survive. <One bit of advice I'd make with livebearers is to avoid getting fish from one person's batch. Those'll be descended from one pair of fish, so your gene pool is pretty small. Ideally get two batches of fish from two different people. That'll mix the genes up. Inbreeding with livebearers is problematical, and you can easily end up with a fair proportion of fish with crooked spines, deformed swim bladders, Siamese twins, etc.> Take care, Nicole <Will try my best.> P.S. Thanks for letting me know about livebearers and earthworms, I'll skip that then. My tetras and Bettas absolutely love this treat, it's probably their favorite food, but I can see that their mouths differ considerably from livebearer mouths. <Lots of fish LOVE earthworms. They're easily the best food in the world for settling in Spiny Eels. But livebearers are, on the whole, adapted to scraping algae and slurping mosquito larvae from the surface. They have neat upturned mouths for just this purpose.> I'll probably end up skipping the swordtails, although the aforementioned LFS can get green swordtails in, as I have seen those in stock before. <I'd tend to steer clear of Swordtails unless you have a big enough tank. They're funny fish. But do look out for Swordtail-Platies, Xiphophorus xiphidium, a neat little fish with the looks of a Platy but a little sword like a Swordtail. Cheers, Neale.>

Guppies are simple   5/10/07 Hi Crew, This letter is just to tick off all those who write in about their problems with guppies and their fry. My grandson (10) just got 2 males and 2 females from an LFS plus a small tank with a filter.  Within 24 hours he had over 50 new ones and managed to save them and place them in a separate container which is just like a large jar, no water movement and nothing to clean the water other than changing most of it once a week. It is now 4 weeks later and he only lost 3 babies. I can't figure it out but they must be some very hardy fish. Of the original 4 only one male is left. It killed off the others. I am trying to convince him that it is safe to put the babies in the tank because I doubt  they will survive too much longer in that set up he has. <Well... the popular livebearers are "not what they used to be" back a few decades ago... Do die "mysteriously" nowadays... but still a great joy and growth experience for young folks (and not!) to house, keep... I still can't stop collecting the fabulous one gallon jars available (mostly with pickles for us) that would serve as great small containers... If only the source/tap water were "safer"... Cheers, BobF>

Just a question, re platy density/stkg.  2/28/07 Hi I'm just wondering how many platies can i place in a 10 gallon tank? Also I want to place 1 guppy so how many can i place after the guppy? Thanks :) (fancy guppy) <Six or eight total... BobF>

Guppies Be Us shop in SG Someone just started a shop that deals only in Guppies here in Singapore. Very unusual thing to do for a tropical fish dealer. <Yes.> By the way, are guppies prone to bladder problems like goldfish. A few of mine seem to have lost their balance and died suddenly. <There are some "Guppy maladies" that are tough to beat... mainly having to do with triggering from being moved from breeders to "too clean" conditions. Best to "buy local" or breed, raise your own. Bob Fenner> Perry

Guppy Gambit, our enterprising Perry in SG Bob Are Guppies still popular in the States? Are you people still importing them from Asia? <Yes and yes... and the quality has improved, incidental mortality dropped. Have a friend (who sells, delivers freshwater angelfish for a living...) who I'd like to introduce you to (doesn't have email...) but will do so when you want to proffer more information. Bob Fenner> Perry

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