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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Other Livebearers Taking up Space in My Fishroom

Other Livebearers Taking up Space in My Fishroom

© Alan S. Bias
Permission granted for nonprofit reproduction or duplication of photos and text with proper credit for learning purposes only.

Like most breeders I play around with some other species here and there.  Over the years I have bred just about every type of livebearer to be found and a number of Killifish species.  Most rarely hold my interest for an extended period or over multiple generations.  Two that have are Xiphophorus couchianus and Heterandria Formosa.  

My fist experience with X. Couchianus, or Monterrey Platys as they are commonly referred to, was back in the early 1980's.  During this time I maintained active membership with the American Livebearer Association (ALA).  I kept a couple breeding colonies for a number of years before dispersing them to others.  There are some very good scientific papers available online that detail this species very well, so I will not attempt to do so here:

The Genus Xiphophorus in Mexico and Central America

My current stocks came from Earl Blewett Ph.D., an Assoc. Professor of Microbiology at Oklahoma State University.  To date they seem very hardy and robust after nearly 50 years of captive breeding with no visible deformities.  While these  fish show a lot of barring with mood swings, they do seem to lack some of the constant color that I remember from my earlier colonies.  I impose little in the way of selection criteria on my stocks, less setting up breeding colonies.

The dominant male will show color most frequent, as will dominant females.  Cannibalism of fry is not an issue in a well planted tank.  While shy by nature this little gem quickly acclimates to its surroundings and when not threatened will eagerly approach for feedings.  They are very gentle species and seem to come to the front of their tank just to watch you watch them.  A need for a consistency in water conditions seems to be their only weakness...

For most of the years I have been raising guppies, I have also kept Heterandria Formosa.  The origins of those offered online are often not documented and lost.  Normally I try to obtain wild caught stock.  At one time my stocks consisted of over a dozen distinct populations.  Variations included dorsal coloration, size of females, base body color, barring, striping, size of litter,  to name a few.  Again,  this species is well documented and easy researched online:
Heterandria Formosa - Dwarf Livebearer


These days I have been working with a strain collected in Florida.  Like many local populations they exhibit both gold and grey phenotype.  However they lack much in the way of green iridescence found in some past populations found in Louisiana.  Vertical barring in this strain is very intense.  They only selection criteria I impose on them is to frequently cull individuals who lack barring.  A red dorsal spot is very evident in both sexes.

Last year I obtained a captive bred "gold morph".  I have little in the way of its origin.  One trait that was readily observable was the overall body shape in females.  Seeming to have a much smaller head and very elongated body vs. wild stocks.  Very distinctive.  While robust and fertile, at some point tank space providing, I'll probably infuse wild stock back into this line.  

These two species of peaceful livebearers will probably continue to grace my tanks for some years to come.  If for no other reason than they just make good use of space as self sustaining colonies in large planted tanks.


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Click on blog photos to enlarge