In March, PVAS will be hosting a panel discussion entitled “Successful Fish Breeding” featuring four of our club’s most prolific breeders: Jim Chitty, Frank Cowherd, Don Kinyon, and Dave Sombach. These are the people who breed the rare and unusual fish that attract buyers from all over the eastern seaboard and make our auctions so successful. Come learn about how they do it and pry some of their secrets from them. Our President, Patchin Curtis, will be moderating the discussion. Thanks to all who provided questions at the February meeting.
When I was about 9 years old, my father brought home a 20 gallon long aquarium. He knew that I was fascinated by aquariums and informed me that it was my responsibility to learn and take care of it. He took me to a pet shop where I picked out some guppies, platys', sword tails and a few bottom catfish. Back then the tanks were lit by incandescent bulbs...air was provided by a small diaphragm pump and filtration was through a box filter loaded with carbon and spun glass wool. Times have changed a bit.
About 2 weeks had passed when I noticed something darting across the top of the tank....it was a tiny guppy fry...
I was hooked!
In 2010 I retired from Federal Service and found that I had a lot of free time on my hands. Thanks to my wife Gina, she helped me design my fish room. I now have over 40 tanks varying in size from 5.5 gallon tanks up to 300 gallon stock tanks. Currently I am breeding several strains of angelfish, 6 varieties of Corydoras, electric blue rams, German blue rams and blue diamond discus.
Gina keeps busy as well. She raises Lady Gouldian Finches.
Frank is a retired Chemist having received his B.Sc. in Chemistry from Duke University in 1965 and his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Clemson University in 1969. He retired in 2001 after 30 years in the organic chemical manufacturing industry.
Frank has been keeping and raising fish and live foods for over 40 years, and has been an officer or on the board of various fish clubs for about as long. Upon retiring, he and Carol moved to southern MD and set up a fish room containing over 70 tanks ranging from 10 to 40 gallons (not to mention the wading pool full of plants). In his sunroom he keeps 2 community tanks: a delightful 180g full of clown loaches performing various antics and gouramis, and a 65g rimless community tank featuring harlequin rasboras. In his yard he built and maintains a koi pond.
Frank’s favorite fish is the red wag platy, and he won Best in Show with it at the 2006 All Aquarium Catfish Convention and the 2009 AquaFest. His other favorites include German Blue Rams, koi, velvet black, and silver angelfishes, red velvet swords, orange australes, black banded sunfish, coral red pencilfish, and a number of different corys.
He is always looking for new interesting beautiful fish to buy and spawn. His current new ones or tough to breed ones are pygmy sunfish, torpedo barbs, and L201s. Through this experience Frank has concluded that live foods are almost essential, and consequently he has developed the ability to raise a number of live foods, such as daphnia, in large quantities to support his breeding program. Frank continues to perform designed experiments aimed at raising tropical fish and has converted his hobby to a hobby business called Aquatic Life Farm, LLC.
When I was 9 or 10, my folks bought me a ten gallon aquarium stocked with some of the common aquarium fish available at the time. They had no idea what it would lead to. My knowledge of fish keeping was zero, but it looked like fun. I started to read about fish keeping and breeding, set up a gallon jug with some White Cloud minnows and floating plants, and the obsession began. Within a couple years, one end of the living room was jamb-packed with aquariums.
That was a long time ago, but the obsession remains. My wife Sue and I live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and she tolerates my hobby almost as well as my parents did. There are around 40 tanks in the fish room that hold mostly Corydoras catfish and blackwater cichlids, along with the odd tetra, pencil fish or rainbow.
This is one of the greatest hobbies one can be involved with, and you meet some of the most interesting folks on the planet.
I got back into tropical fish about 10 years ago after a 20-year hiatus in between keeping and breeding fish, where my interests took a different path, and I bred, hybridized and showed orchids. This occupied all my free time, so the fish were out of the picture for a while. Having started in fish back in the mid 70's when I was younger and I lived in Canada, I still found a fascination to the aquarium hobby, and couldn't walk by a pet store without checking out what was available.
While the orchids are still around, I really pared down my collection, and needed another venue to take up my down time. When I rekindled my passion for the aquarium hobby, it was in the form of Killifish, and like anything I do, I jumped in with both feet. In short order I had a couple dozen aquariums, most being smaller than 10 gallons. My interest grew and I decided to breed, keeping my fish in species specific tanks, rather than community aquariums.