HOW TO GET STARTED WITH GUPPIES
by Bob Larsen, South Jersey Guppy Group
CARE OF MY TANKS and FILTERS by Bob Larsen Years ago as a preteen, I was lucky enough to be connected to some breeders where my family lived. I was also lucky enough to be a Junior member o the Hudson-Bergen Aquarium Society. This club met in North Bergen, New Jersey. They had show each year, along with Christmas parties, etc. Not only did I get to know guppy breeders but also people who kept killies, angelfish and other types of livebearers. I actually started out with swordtails and mollies. At age eleven I won a third place ribbon with a pair of green swords. This win was in regular competition. Another club near by held a novice only show. You could enter only if you never won a first place. Tooting my own horn, I did very well. At eleven years old I was one of the only kids. Most of the other entrants were adults. What finally gave me the guppy bug was the opportunity of cleaning one of the breeders tanks and being able through him, to visit other guppy breeders. Anyway, back to my tanks and filters. I use mostly ten gallon and five gallon tanks. I do use a few two and a half gallon tanks as well. Most of my tanks have two old fashioned box filters. This system enables me to completely change a dirty filter, leaving the second filter alone. Water changes, anywhere between 25 and 50%, are done at least twice a week. At times, especially close to show season, I can do a third change if time permits. Older show fish get less percent of change, but frequent, compared to babies and young fish. My system uses a 37 gallon barrel on wheels and a pump with a garden hose. When plugged in, the old water either goes out the back door or down a drain inside on very cold days. During draining the tanks down, I will check my filters. I don’t consider a filter to be too dirty until it is completely brown with debris. At this point I will pull the filter out, take out the filter fluff and then decide to either change the fluff or just squeeze it out and place the semi-clean fluff back in the same filter. Of course a disease situation requires complete cleaning, tank and filters. I use either bleach or Potassium Permagnate. Bleach is more difficult to use because of the stringent rinsing required. Also filter fluff will be changed if upon examination it seems too mushy, similar to an old sponge filter. Besides filter fluff, my filters contain a couple marbles for weight and ceramic noodles or a similar product for bacterial growth. There are times when a tank really needs a good cleaning. My guess would be about two or three times a year. I empty a tank, take it off the rack and really scrub it down using an algae pad and a single edge razor blade. My fish room gets quite a bit of sunlight and artificial light. Algae, whether brown or green, does coat the glass. Most of this can be scraped off and siphoned out after settling. Once every few months, however, I really need to strip the tank down. After complete cleaning, the tank is refilled, and dirty filters are placed in again. Usually in a day or two fish are back in that tank. What I have just revealed is a good reason for using small tanks rather than 20 gallon long tanks used back in the 1950’s and the 1960’s. Something I really appreciate is having empty tanks. When ( and it doesn’t happen often) I have empties , I can really clean tanks. Fish can be moved to one of the pre-cleaned empties which allows me to strip another tank.