There are many of people who are in the guppy strictly for general enjoyment, which is fine. However, if you are a serious hobbyist and are truly interested in raising and showing guppies at an International Fancy Guppy Association (IFGA) show or looking for the highest quality fish available, I would suggest that you contact a reputable breeder who breeds to IFGA standards. Ideally you will want to find a breeder who enters and wins constantly at IFGA shows with the strain you are interested in acquiring. Unfortunately there are people who sell guppies that will do everything from false advertising to changing names of fish to stealing photos just to make a buck. You may be asking how can you tell the difference between a reputable breeder with true IFGA show quality guppies and breeders who may have nice fish, but are far from IFGA show quality. What I am about to tell you is from knowledge I have gained through buying guppies myself and information gained by hearing from others who have purchased guppies from breeders. Not everything I am about to say always holds true 100% of the time, but you will find out that most of the time I am spot on. I will go through key elements that I suggest everybody consider when looking to buy true IFGA show quality guppies.
The IFGA standards were created and have went mostly unchanged since the 1960s. They have survived the test of time and have been used as a base for many organizations to create standards in all types of fish. Before you can go out and find IFGA show quality stock, you need to know what the IFGA show standards are so you know what to look for. Knowing what the IFGA standards are will be your number one tool to knowing if a breeder truly has IFGA show quality fish or not. You can learn the IFGA standards by attending an IFGA judging seminar or becoming a member of the IFGA and viewing them on the members only section on the IFGA website.
There are a number of people who look for a good fish in a photograph of the strain that they are looking to acquire and buy them based on that alone. Letting a fish in a photograph completely sell you that a person has good fish is foolish. Just because a person has or had a good fish in a photograph does not mean that their fish are anywhere near as nice as the one in their photograph. You will get people that buy a fish from a top breeder raise them up for a few months snap a photo and use that to sell their fish. If the breeder chooses the wrong set of breeders after they acquiring them from a reputable breeder it can take as little as two generations (less than one year) for a first place winning line to covert into a line that doesn’t place at all at an IFGA show.
Another problem with judging by photographs alone is that there are people who go to an IFGA show, walk down the show bench taking photographs all the way and then use these photographs to sell their fish. Most of the time they are not taking a photo of their fish but someone else’s. One clue that you are looking at a photo of a fish on an IFGA show bench is if there is a black background. The IFGA uses nothing other than black for their backgrounds.
You also need to be careful when a breeder is selling his stock with a photograph of just one fish. If they do that you have to wonder do they have other fish that are anywhere near as nice or was this just a fluke fish or a fish that they got from a top reputable breeder. It is nice to see a photo of a tank full of fish that are of the highest quality. Some auction websites only let a seller use just one photo due to file size restrictions so often a breeder can’t post a close-up of a top fish and a photo of a tank full of good fish. Thus, it is not a bad idea to ask the seller to send you a photo of a tank full of fish that are all of high quality.. Sometimes a breeder will have a personal website or one with a personal database (like photobucket) where you can view additional photos of his or her fish. When that is the case, you need to make sure that the website or photo database is actually theirs with photos of their fish.
The final thing you need to take into consideration when viewing a photograph is it really theirs or did they steal it from somewhere else. There are a number of photographs on the web of fish and you would be amazed as to how many times I have seen people use ones that are not theirs to sell their stock. One of the best ways to protect yourself from false advertising through a stolen photo is to spend a few hours on the web looking at photos of fish on different websites. If you come across a photo that you know you seen before, you should reference back to see if it really is their photograph.
THE USE OF THE NAME “IFGA” AND THE TERM “AWARD WINNING”
First off, you need to understand that the IFGA does not sell fish. IFGA stands for International Fancy Guppy Association. The IFGA is full of breeders that breed to IFGA show standards, but the IFGA does not breed any fish as it is not a person, but an organization. There are a number of people who put the name IFGA show quality, IFGA show stock, IFGA winning stock, Championship fish, Class Championship winning fish, etc. These terms are used by people to try to describe the quality of their fish or claim that their fish are up to the IFGA show standards. The fact is many of them have never shown or won at an IFGA show. Many of them don't even know what the IFGA standards are so for them to tell you that their stock is show quality is laughable. Some of them may have got fish from a top breeder who won with the stock they are selling secondhand, but as we talked about above that does not mean that they are the same quality as if you where to get them from the top breeder directly. A good way to check to see if a person has won or placed in an IFGA show is to visit the show section on the IFGA website and view the point standing and show results of past shows.
Now just because somebody placed with fish at an IFGA show does not mean everything. You need to find out what class they placed in. Is it the same class as the strain that you are looking to acquire or are they trying to sell their fish on a placement in the Purple class to sell their Greens? The IFGA has 72 different classes not all of them are as competitive and hard to place in as other, so make sure that the breeder has won in the class of the strain that you are looking to acquire.
Now it is very important that you know the difference between a placement at an IFGA show and a Class Championship. Winning a first place at a show is nice and shows some merit for the quality of one's fish but a higher honor award would be a Class Championship. You can’t win a cCass Championship by placing a few times throughout an IFGA show season, so don’t get fooled by the people who place once or twice and claim that they have Championship fish. It takes multiple placements throughout a show season to win a Class Championship. Each placement at an IFGA show gains points towards the Class Championship in the class that they are being shown in and whoever has the most points in that class at the end of a show season is the winner of that class and is then the Champion of that class.
Another thing to watch out for is people using the term award winning to sell their guppies and not saying at what show or better yet type of show. Was it at an IFGA show or someplace else? I have been to many of fish shows other than an IFGA guppy shows and often the first place guppy would not even place at an IFGA show let alone win. The biggest reason for that is they are often not judged to a standard and most of the judges think bigger is better or judge to personal preference. Often times the number of entries and compition at these none IFGA shows are low which make it much easier to place.
If you find somebody who is claiming to have award winning fish in any terminology, start to ask questions. Was it at an IFGA show? Did they place at more than one show? Was it recently or are they trying to sell their fish on something they did 4+ years ago? Did they win just because nobody else shown in the class against them? Are they selling you the same line that they won with or some other line that is not up to par?
True breeding is the percentage at which the offspring will look like their parents within reason. The reason why I say within reason is because not all offspring has to be cookie cutter fish. There will not always be the exact same curl to their caudal the exact same shade of color the exact same little spot in the body. It is referring more to the fish being of the same strain or color. and resemble their parents. It could be a multi stain that had Blue, Red and green in its caudal dropping just that and nothing else. With some of your known pattern strains such as a multi, you may have different percentages of each color, but the colors should be the same for one generation to the next. It is not uncommon for some strains such as Blues to drop Green and Purples and vice versa so these strains are really not more than 95% true breeding. I recommend that you look for a strain that breeds 90% true or better.
Unfortunately, the number of top quality breeders selling online are far and few between, so when you can find one that is a proven winner year after year on the IFGA show bench you need to stick with that breeder whenever possible. That breeder may not have the cheapest fish around, but like everything else you get what you pay for. You can save yourself some money now by buying the lesser quality fish, but you will then spend all kinds of time trying to bring a lower class line up to par.
I always recommend that you start with the highest quality fish available in the strain that you wish to acquire. Price should not be a factor when you are looking to buy top IFGA show quality guppies. I understand that not everybody want or needs top quality fish, but for the serious breeders it is a must and a luxury to be able to get their hand on show stock that somebody has put years of work into. I understand that there are people who have good fish but don’t show; the only problem with that is you just don’t know if they truly do have good fish unless you have learned the IFGA standards really well and have seen what a good guppy looks like. At that point, you could visit their fishroom and find out first hand. I wish you luck in your hunt for the highest quality guppies you so much desire.
Author Tim Mousseau