Red Moscow Guppies
By C. Moormann
Show Quality Guppies
In our ads I stress the fact that these fish are touchy -- they require a lower than normal ammonia and nitrite level. I recommend the large hydro sponges from Jehmco or several corner sponges -- there is some magic in the sponge surface/area/volume that promotes healthy bacteria colonies that keep the ammonia and nitrite levels low. If you see them all at the top and some with clamping -- add more sponge filtration -- as a matter of fact add the extra filtration before you have a problem. I don't claim to know everything about these guppies. I am continually adding to this page as I learn so read the entire page periodically. The main attribute of these fish is the large size (we have 3 other large-strains that are not reds). We don't get fish this large in most of the other strains we have -- from the fish farms for instance. To insulate us from a lot of complaints I relate some of the facts related to the apparent lack of normal immunity in these fish. The reds are from an IFGA strain from a California breeder I believe. As stated in the ad --- they are sensitive. I am embarrassed to have to admit I was not able to raise them until I found the filtration solution. My friend Paul went with me to pick them up and I came home with over a hundred of them and gave about 30 to Paul and another 20 or so to another friend Doug. A year later I may have a few small ones and both Paul and Doug have tanks of them. Paul's are huge while Dougs appear as good although smaller. Paul just started his fish room about a year ago and took my sage advice -- and did not follow my example. I told him to expect some to die and definitely feed frozen brine, follow strict quarantine. As you can see from my price list I have too much going on to follow the rules. The short story is that there are probably 3 ways to deal with guppy diseases --- #1 strict quarantine --- #2 medicate (but for what?) --- #3 cross your wonderful strains with something more resistant and keep working until the wonderful genes include resistance to new disease vectors. I would now add to this list the addition of increased filtration media. It would appear that IFGA strains and their breeders believe in #1 and #2 and this is reflected in the prices. I have some other nice strains that I transship from Asia. I put a YouTube link of what I have on this page. Note the Geisen (ribbonfin) fish in with them. These fish I have had for only a week and they are young. I have some small reds and purple strains that I have had since 1988 that have had a percentage survive with all of the incoming vectors and some lack of filtering capacity of the intervening years but they are all mixed up colorwise. Paul has some blue/black moscows, some metallics, and some AOC half blacks that he is working with but he is not ready to sell them. He is also crossing his red moscows with my 1988 strain and we all hope for the best. Some of Paul's fish are from another local IFGA breeder and the breeder apparently extracted a promise from Paul to not sell any. The Asian guppies are available (normal finned) and ribbonfin females (email us for negotiations on price and availability). I can't make any guarantees. The best story I can tell is that when I went to a fish farm in Texas the owner said that when he wants to start a new guppy color strain that he orders in a couple hundred and works with the 10% that survive after a few months.Here are a few of pictures of the Red Moscows:
A pair of moscow red guppies is a male from Paul's tank of males and a female from the Paul's tank of the moscow females. They are most probably brother and sister or cousins. They are not related to any of my non-red fish. We are not offering anything other than the pure-bred moscow reds. Below is the YouTube movie of one of his tanks of females and above a still shot of the females. He has over 200 males and 200 females --- all pure-bred. He has over 1000 other guppies of various colors and in different breeding programs as do I for reasons of our own with our own objectives. The pure bred moscows are a separate program not mixed in with them.
I attempt to make it clear on the website that although Paul and I have other guppies and that we do crosses --- Paul keeps about 1/3 of his tanks with just these pure strain red moscows --- just the pure strain. For some reason he has 2 or 3 tanks of just males and just females -- these are the tanks pictured. I think he likes the look of the male-only tanks and he says he gets too many babies if he has both sexes together. The setup for a local IFGA breeder also had single-sex tanks of males and females. Paul showed me a setup where he put a few females he wanted to cross with his red moscow males and I saw the tank over a period of days after the fish were put together. Over a period of less than a week the males went from having perfect tails to ragged tails and after a week or two appeared to be on the point of death. There was no evidence of fungus, or parasites -- just a kind of accelerated old age. He has other tanks with both sexes of the best fish to produce new generations of the moscows. All you would be getting are the pure-strain fish. We have had them for over a year and they appear to breed true red with an occasional gold body or albino. The original IFGA breeder must have crossed gold and albino in the past as part of his breeding program to get the color and finnage desired. The guy I got them from was culling out the albino and golds even though the dorsals and tails were great and feeding them to his cichlids until I told him that the albinos would be more valuable. One of the local IFGA breeders stated that he intentionally crosses with feeders occasionally to improve his strains from the effects of inbreeding. Most desirable traits are dominant (visible with even one gene) and easy to sort out and get back to improved genetics. Recessive genes such as gold and albino do not show unless both genes exhibit the trait which is why they are still present. The local IFGA guy also sells $2000 batches of breeding stock to Florida and Asian fish farms. I only buy from the best ones and you can tell whether they have started with quality stock by the dorsals and tails. I suspect that the Thailand guppies I have been getting are from show quality strains since they are hard to keep alive. I suspect the moscow gene (the ability to have color up to the nose of the fish) may have started in Asian guppies. The first ones I ever saw were bright yellow bodied males but with tiny round tails. If you want the really big males and females pictured we can send them but we usually send out younger ones that will grow to that size. Let us know if you want the really large older males and large older virgin females. The size potential would be proven and with virgin females you can better control for what you want -- there would be less time left in their lifespans though. I told Paul not to send out the large females that have never been with a male. Was I wrong? We allow ourselves to have other breeding programs to cross other strains to bring the large body and dorsal to other color varieties as well as an attempt to create a red moscow strain with a better immunity to disease. The red moscows that we send are all pure from the original stock with no outcrosses for the last 2 years as far as I know. As stated in the ad, my concern was that people realize the sensitivity exhibited in the pure show quality strain and for buyers to take proper filtration and quarantine precautions -- to protect these fish from something in your tanks. We are not all as anal-retentive as championship IFGA breeders but it is recommended with the red moscow strain at the present time. Because I sell over a hundred different fish species online and to local shops all the red moscows come directly from Paul with strict care on quarantine. Please allow me to have a breeding program at my house so that I can hopefully have the show quality characteristics on other color varieties and with a better immunity to current disease strains in the future. If I produced a show quality and bullet-proof strain I think I would charge more than $20 per pair. Another friend of mine paid $85 each for a trio of blue albinos and a trio of blue grass from an IFGA breeder last year. I personally paid $120 for a trio of blues from IFGA champion Bill Illig and $145 for half black pastels from IFGA champion Louis Wasserman back in the seventies when money was worth more. The price has seemed to drop since then. The present guppies I have are not decended from those although I have guppies decended from fish I originally bought in 1988 and I feel that their immunity genetics would be a nice thing to cross with these giant show quality strains.
After I got the red moscows up on aquabid I got a call from a local breeder that lives about 10 miles from us. He told me to bag up a couple of pairs of the reds and bring them over to his office (in a bowling alley). I got some good information on the guppies from him. He is a current champion in the IFGA with greens and other colors and had some huge males and females in greens and half-black greens. He had a strain of green cobras with a solid dorsal which appears to be something special in that color variety. I asked him about the apparent sensitivity of the guppies in my systems. He said we should not have problems with the guppies and said that when he sees clamping or shimmying he uses a product called 'Quick Cure'. Here is a link to a small bottle of the stuff: Quick Cure He had a larger bottle (about 10 ounces). The description in the link appears to match the symptoms I sometimes see although I have not tried it yet. As stated above I now recommend increased filtration capacity since ammonia levels seem to cause the problems and seems to be a better way to avoid problems. He also had some pointers on the coloration of the moscow reds. He did not buy the ones I brought but said he may buy a couple of pair for a friend after he talks to him. He said there is too much black in the tails and recommended selecting for the most clear-tailed females to improve the coloration. Looking at the tails myself on the fish I have here says that none of the gray-bodied males have red-only tails. I have other non-related moscows with blue or red or white and they seem to have black when they are on gray-bodied fish. Paul and Doug could not claim to have seen any gray-bodied males with no black. I am not convinced it is possible to have non-black tails and what I detect is possibly an underlaying color blending into the tail similar to the half-black gene. If you want non-black moscows just specify gold-bodied fish as they have no black. We now sell mostly the gold-bodied fish which do not display any black. I told the IFGA champ that the golds and albinos that we occasionally see have no black and if I understood him correctly he did not expect to see colored tails on the albinos so he may be speculating (they are just as gold as the reds). I also asked him when he first saw moscows in the hobby and he verified my recollection of about 8 or 9 years ago so I would guess that moscow gene interactions with body color genes, etc. may not be a developed science. When I had our store I remember being surprised to see corn snakes with red albino coloration and a type of black albino coloration. Any input to clarify the moscow black layering issue would be appreciated. The black seen in the dorsals of gray-bodied males and females and the black in the tails of the females are more like horizontal stripes rather than the blended underlayer of black on all of the male tails. One thing we have not tried is crossing with a non-moscow red with a gray body. We see absolutely no red males that are not moscow (colored to the nose) even in the non gray-bodied fish and suspect our fish are pure for moscow. I did a search of the web and found many pictures of red golds and red albinos with color to the nose but no gray-bodied reds colored to the nose. A search into guppy genetics indicates that the moscow gene is y-chromosome linked which explains why no females show coloration other than the tail and why a clear tail may be desired when selecting breeder females and a careful look for lack of black in the dorsals of male breeders. The secrets to improving color may be in the females tail as IFGA rules state that females must exhibit 50% or more of the strain color in the tail -- most of ours may not be showable. It is possible that the stripes are a separate trait that could be entirely eliminated without affecting the underlayer black trait. The pictures on aquabid and my website were taken with a 500 watt white movie light behind me which seems to light up the outer layer and make the red show up better -- they look darker without the light. In a display tank having the light come from the front would be recommended. A future project I would like to see is to take close-up pictures of a lot of males using a higher resolution camera and see if the black resolves into bars or stripes or continues to appear as a underlying the red over the entire cauldal. The females grow really huge and the large ones have the appearance of webbed black nylon stockings on their body (black between the scales). Even the gold-bodied moscow females have slight black dots randomly on their bodies making me suspect the black can only be lowered and not eliminated on gray-bodied fish. In crosses with gold-bodied fish the moscow gene would be selectable from non moscow females by the powdery dotting which may explain how these fish came to be pure for moscow but still with some golds and albinos popping up.
Here are movies of some of the fish on You-tube on the internet:
Red Moscow Males Red Moscow Males.
Red Moscow Females Red Moscow Females.
Guppies from Thailand Guppies from Thailand.
Guppies raised here some 1988 genes Guppies raised here some 1988 genes.
Guppies from Paul in tub Guppies from Paul in tub.
Update 9:41 AM 8/18/2013:
I originally wrote that article in 2009 -- time flies -- and we need to update some of the info. I still raise some guppies but as indicated in the article above -- I cannot keep the show strains going. We are currently not listing any guppies on aquabid. My take is that it is my water holds me back and as indicated above -- a lot of people have no trouble keeping them as their water must come out of the tap -- practically perfect for guppies -- I leave the field to those lucky breeders. If you still have problems read my article on angelfish water and pay particular attention to the affects of ammonia, nitrates, and phosphates. I would add for guppies that they need some salt, and the frozen and live brine shrimp. Water changes are a must and the vertical sponge filtration mentioned above -- and coupled with some water conditioning such as charcoal and/or if needed -- water softening resin to absorb chemicals and minerals if your water is not perfect.
Here is an ugly email we received when we used to sell the fish on aquadbid -- and my response -- (I told this guy I would post it if he did not respond -- so here it is -- a little late). It covers some details of what to expect from guppies purchased online.
My email response to JHiller's email after receiving his complaint on our red Moscow guppies (2009).