(68 present, 200+ items in the mini-auction)
"Intro to Livebearers," by John Mangan
When people think livebearers they think of guppies, swordtails, mollies and platies, but people don't know that some Prehistoric fish were livebearers. Many sharks are livebearers including the great white shark. Some of the stronger fry in the mother even eat weaker fry inside the mother shark!
Some of the stingrays are livebearers. There is a huge diversity of fish that have live bearing as a means of reproduction.
To make things more confusing as to what we define as a livebearer, there are types of live bearing fishes. At one extreme you have goodeids. In this family the female develops something akin to a umbilical cord to the baby - a connection to the baby as it develops. Near the other extreme are the other livebearers like guppies, mollies etc. where there is very little connection from the baby to the mother. The egg is held in the mother's body and it develops in the mother's body instead of being laid out in the open. There is no connection between the mother and young. In mollies and swordtails the pregnant female gives birth to eggs with developing embryos inside.
Seahorses are other fishes that bear live young. The female seahorse lays eggs in a pouch on the male's stomach and the eggs develop there. There is a connection between the father and the eggs in his pouch, in some of the sea horses.
In a pair of mouthbrooding bettas - the fish holds the eggs in the body (the mouth) until the fry hatches. This is a stretch, but where do you draw the line between what you consider a livebearer and what you don't?
What you'll have in your tanks in your home. The livebearers we have in the hobby are divided into two broad categories: Domestic livebearers and wild-type livebearers. There are two divisions of livebearer hobbyists: those who keeps the wild strains and others who keep domestic strains and dabble in the others.
Guppy: A complicated subject with all the genetics involved. The Delta Tale Guppy is one of the most well known guppies. There are a lot of other domestic guppies that we just do not see any more. Double swords are popular over in Europe as well as the topsword guppy. These smaller guppies are popular overseas.
Platies, variatis and swordtails: Most of the domestic strains of these are not true species but hybrids of these three different species. That's how all the colors and patterns we have today were developed. An early domestic pattern was found on the black bar platy. All of this started in the 30's, 40's, and 50s when scientist Myron Gordon was doing cancer research and he found that there were platies that he could breed together to develop melanophores to do cancer research. He started distributing the fish to his friends who were aquarists, and he did a lot of writing of his own in aquarium journals about his genetic research.
Wag pattern in swordtails and plattes; "Wag" refers to black tail, black dorsal fin and pelvic fins... black rather than clear.
Hi-fin platies: the body is more elongated with more variatus in it than platy. There is a lot of gray area between platies and variatus. The hi-fin trait - no hi-fin fish are homozygous. If you breed them together they will be heterozygous - there are two genes for hi-fin which are lethal and it kills the fry. Better to breed hi-fins to low fins.
Another fin type in platies is a plume tail. Different types of plume tails: brush tail, pin tail.
Tuxedo pattern: black on bottom, orange on top.
Hi-fin, plumetail... you can play with genetics to create all kinds of fin, color and tail patterns and shapes...
How do you get fry from these types of fish??? If you were beginning you might have bought a fry trap, and it should be called a death trap. I wouldn't put a swordtail or molly in one of them. It's too confined to keep them in for very long. It's much better to set up a 2.5 or 5.5 gallon tank, load it up with java moss and move the female into that, but it isn't something you have to do with these fish in a single species tank. Most of the time in a single species tank, as long as they are well taken care for and well fed, they will not eat their babies. In tanks at home I never pull any of my females.
Variatus: Red-tailed blue variatus - you don't tend to see variatus as often as you should. They are a great fish. The most common one is the sunset variatus. You can put the hi-fin trait on the variatus as with the platies. A double dose of hifins is lethal and fry won't survive.
A lot of people think they can take the low fins and cross them back to the hi-fin, but they have a double dose of the low fin genes and it will only produce low fins.
More common livebearers - males have the modified anal fin which is the gonopodium. The female's anal fin is more of a normal fin shape.
Salt with livebearers: A lot of people think you need salt. These fish need clean fresh water, but salt acts like a low level medication. Swordtails come from the mountain streams with no saltwater. Platies come from far inland and are not exposed to saltwater.
Wild-type green swordtail. The ones in pet shops are not probably wild, and are raised on fish farms. You can find nice looking green swordtails in the pet shop. They are pretty fish with spots and stripes. Different wild populations have different patterns.
Gold swordtail - this fish is a lot smaller than most. You will see that some strains don't get as big as others, that's the mixing with platies and variatus to get the color and the genetics restrict the size.
How do you raise good swordtails? You need a lot of space and a lot of water changes. Experts say you need a minimum of 30 gallon tank for 6 of them. 55 gallon for six of them with massive water changes, and good water movement. Activity helps them develop tail size.
Don't save the one juvenile swordtail that develops the sword too Garly. Once he develops his sword that's as big as he's going to get. Get him out and let the other fish develop. Put them all in a tank together and they will develop larger tails.
Green hi-fin swordtail. Hi-fin swordtail. Imperial swordtail (very rare) they are not common. Hi-fin lyretail swordtail. Anal fin is very long - long gonopodium - you cannot use him as a breeder. He cannot breed with the gonopodium because it is not functional - no way for him to hook up with the female. Take a female sib of his and breed her to a low-fin male and you will get a proportion of hi-fins and low fins and that is how you get your hi-fins.
Artificial Insemination: Some people do this and there are several different methods to do it. Do research on the Internet to figure out how to do it. I'm not familiar with state of the art with doing this, so do your research.
Remember hi-fin to hi-fin is lethal to developing fry and strain will become weaker.
Mollies- two general groups
Short fin mollies and sailfin mollies (comes in many colors, very impressive looking fish)...
Short fins: golddust pattern, gold or sunset molly, many names for these fish. It's hard to know what you have because they do not have a pure strain. You don't know what you've got.
Sailfin mollies- salt? come from lowlands and some come from brackish water. But you do not need to add salt. JoAnne Norton - she was the founder of the ALA and her specialty was mollies when she was alive. She was the reigning expert in the world on mollies. Many of her strains disappeared when she died.
She never used salt with any of her mollies... more important is clean big water changes. Any of the livebearers - water changes! At least 50% a week on any livebearer tank. More is better. People who raise the best livebearer's do more than that. Experts do 50% a day on the goodeids.
Sailfins: PH and hardness: as a general rule livebearers like pH to be neutral if not a little higher and hardness on the high side.
Diet: Mollies need vegetables in their diets.
Sunset Sailfin mollies: these fish are enormous by the standards of what most of us have seen for sailfins.
Females dorsal is much longer than the short fin mollies - on Sailfin females.
Lyretail trait in mollies: Hi-fin lyretail... genetics gives you all kinds of crazy stuff.
Veiltail molly - I've seen these once or twice in all the years I've been dealing with livebearers and only at conventions. This form has never become popular. It is an amazing fish, but the people who raise them say no one wants them.
Goodeids: amica splendins, butterfly goodeid - goodeids are endemic to Mexicao and the majority are endangered in the wild and it's important to keep them going. Amica get up to 4-5 inches. Males are very attractive.
Goodeids can be on the aggressive side. They can be used as dither fish in the cichlid tanks. These livebearers are not wimps!
Blue-tailed goodeid, very small habitat which is very endangered with water being drained out of it for irrigation. Bright iridescent blue tail indicates the fish is happy and healthy. Entire body blue.
drugnithese viperous: described in the 1800's looks different and is very tiny at 1 to 1.5 inches full grown.
more strange - habzina turerii: very different than most goodeids. This fish is a nocturnal predator. You don't see them in the daytime.
Illiodon goodeids - one of the bigger goodeids. A lot of variety in these. They look different in every place you go to collect them.
Goodeids do not have a gonopodium they have a notch that develops in the anal fin.
Wild swordtails: there are many different species of wild swordtails, most of which you will never see unless you are an avid swordtail enthusiast.
Montezuma sword: good size swordtail, long sword on it.
X. nigrensis: shorter body.
Wild Mollies: V. latapina common sailfin mollies. They look fairly similar. Some do come from brackish water and you can collect them in the southern US. Good males can be HUGE, the size of your hand. Make sure you are giving them good quality water to keep them going.
LIMINEAS: Occasionally seen in livebearer auctions.Limineas nigraphasiata - looks deformed, older males have more pronounced of a humpback. Nice fish to work with if you get the chance.
Half-beaks: occasionally seen in pet stores.
Submitted by Sherry Mitchell
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