Gupp-tastrophe: My misguided run at feeder fish breeding

  1. I decided it was time for a large "predator" type fish. After some research I decided a comet fish / marine beta was the correct choice for my reef. They look pretty sweet - have an 'eel eye' type spot on their tail, they're meticulous hunters, and have a good rep as far as messing with cleaners - except shrimp...my coral banded shrimp got disarmed when he tried to give him Mr. Comet a pinch. They were bffs after that. Suspect they just needed to establish some boundaries and the arm grew back of course.

    *Please note pictures of fish are just a day after tank Xfer/upgrade, a very stressful time indeed. Fins are healed up and lookin' great nowadays.

    Mr Comet.jpg

    Like many, I try to give my reef critters the opportunity to reproduce their behaviors. I figured, "Hunters gotta hunt! I need to find a sustainable food source for my new buddy that will fill that need to hunt!".

    I knew I didn't have the gear to properly breed any saltwater fish, so I started researching easy to breed freshwater fish.

    Quickly I found several people object - lots of comments that using freshwater feeders for saltwater fish was a no-no. Something about non-descript liver toxins..? On the other side several folks said "Shoot, just acclimate a freshwater fish to saltwater, feed them saltwater fish food for several weeks and then you can use them as feeders without concern!".

    I couldn't find anything relevant to substantiate either argument: studies, books, literally any sort of academic article that would help add some validity could not be discovered by me to prove one way or the other(if anyone has got something please share), so I had to give it a shot.

    I decided to acclimate some guppies(3m + 9F) to 1.025 salinity using a drip every day for a week. Success! No fatalities in the acclimation process to salt water.

    I then transfer them over to a barebottom, 30G tall equiped w/ a large generic HOB filter rated for 70g, a HOB shimmer, heater, and 6500k led growlight that had been cycling while the acclimation was occuring. I added a ball of chaeto, and what we call here "Texas Holey rock". This is a very dense limestone with awesome caves, ledges, and edges. It ain't Porous, but I like the way it looks + its cheap and comes in giant boulder sizes. Figured these would be perfect hiding spots for fry, and provide for multiple, consistent food sources of varying types and sizes!

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    Not only did I put the guppies on a "Saltwater food diet" but they also developed a taste for the Chaeto. The bigger guppies would rip a noodle off the clump, 2-3 inches hanging out of their mouth, and cruise around the tank slowing nom nom noming it over a week+. Absolutely ridiculous! Roughly 4 weeks later the tank was riddled with babies of various sizes and I thought maybe they'd been acclimated and food adjusted for long enough.

    Snack time!

    I dropped an adult and 2 juveniles in my DT. They shoal near the top of the tank...Mr Comet locks in on the adult and starts stalking...CHOMP! The two juveniles bolt - one under an overhang...CHOMP! Freckles the PJ Cardinal got himself a nice snack. The last guppie diiivess to the sandbed - CHOMP! Archimedes the Engineer Goby scores a meal and returns to his cave to chew!

    Goby.jpg

    "Alright cool" I think to myself, "I've got a few other fish that'll enjoy the occasional feeder fish! Thank goodness because I don't want to run the risk of overfeeding and I'm starting to get roughly a bazillion guppies in this other tank"

    2 weeks later I decide its time for the DT to get a snack. I drop 3 juvenile guppies in the DT. No one is interested what so ever. Days pass....they're growing....

    I come home from work: Mr. comet and 3 near adult guppies and now shoaling all over my tank together. Hanging out, eating together, drinking beers, playing cards etc. Imagine Mr. Comet as your ship in a Galaga/R-type style video game and you just picked up the power up that gives you the little satellite ships that float around you and pew pew pew. It was like that. Just slowly Cruisin' around like old buddies.

    Totally defeated - no one wanted the snacks I worked so hard to produce for them.

    Needless to say my wife strongly objected at the idea of guppies breeding uncontrollably in our DT(and I was getting attached to the trio after a couple weeks in the DT), so I captured them in a homemade trap, tore down the breeding operation and donated all the saltwater guppies to a LFS.

    What a total gupp-tastrophe.

    Fin.

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