I have been breeding guppies for more than 30 years. I always obtain the best stock available and then work with it using proven techniques and careful selection. I am every bit as strict with the quality of our guppies as I am with our angelfish. I have no interest in strains unless they are colorful, prolific, large growing and carrying ample fins. Most of our strains are true-breeding, but keep in mind that there is variation in every guppy line and that some have more than others. Any strain with a pattern will typically show more variation than a solid strain, as well as anything from a recent outcross.
One of the great thing about guppies, is the ease in which you can modify a strain and take it in different directions. The effort to turn them into something new and unique can be very rewarding. This is easier when working with lines that show more variation. Raising matched show males is not everyone's goal. Some prefer to develop new strains, which will be easier from lines that show variety. What you prefer, will determine whether you should seek line-bred fish or guppies that have been recently out-crossed.
IFGA Show Guppies are fish that were bred to meet the show standards set forth by this organization. Their standard specifies shape, color, size, patterns and proportions that the IFGA promotes in their shows. This does not mean that you will prefer the IFGA standard or that you will like every guppy bred to conform to it. However, most people consider the best IFGA-bred guppies to be very beautiful fish. If you decide to participate in the IFGA shows, then pay close attention to the standard. Otherwise, don't be overly concerned with getting guppies bred to conform to it. Just purchase what you like and then see if you can improve them for the traits that are important to you. There is no real advantage to getting "IFGA Show Guppies", if you have no intention of showing them. Buy them if you like the way that particular line looks.
There is a general belief that "IFGA Show Guppies" are an indication of quality. In general, this is true, but not always. It depends on what traits you consider high quality and who you're getting them from. For example, some show quality fish may prove to be poor breeders. Keep in mind the shows only judge for appearance and general health. Fecundity is ignored, along with vigor, behavior or the ability to produce fry like themselves. A show fish can often prove to be a very poor producer of fish like itself. Did you know that one common technique to get show fish, is to use an F1 cross that may not produce fish like themselves? Yes, many will maintain two separate lines of unrelated fish that are crossed solely because their hybrid fry will grow larger and place higher in the shows. Often, the F1s are never actually bred together, because the resulting F2 generation may actually be inferior as show fish. This is one example why a show winning line may or may not be what you need to start or improve your own lines.
When evaluating a person's claim of placing in the IFGA shows, keep in mind the class they enter will greatly determine the level of competition. It may surprise you to learn that some classes get few entries and "placing" is sometimes as easy as entering. In other words, winning some classes requires little skill or even good show guppies. On the other hand, many of the classes are very competitive with many great guppies competing for the win. Learn which type a person competes in.
I show guppies on occasion, but only to compare how my lines stack up to other exhibitors out there who follow the IFGA Standard. I have never attempted to win a class championship, which requires entering every show during the show season. Does that mean the guppies we ship are inferior to those shipped by show winners? Absolutely not! We are very confident that our stock is very suitable for showing and winning in the IFGA. More importantly, they are good looking, fertile, vigorous fish that are a pleasure to keep.
It can be a lot of fun showing fish and competing in the IFGA. If you're interested in fish shows, we highly recommend you give it a try. If that's the direction you decide to go, there are many IFGA members who will be more than happy to give you all the advise you need to get started showing your fish.
By Steve Rybicki
© 2006 Angels Plus