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Post by alexmtl on Sun May 24, 2020 2:11 pm

Mail order unboxing Wild JAPANESE BLUE GUPPIES and BLUE STAR ENDLERS

Hey for those who are not members of this forum, come on in and register! The water is warm and the fish don't bite Shocked
Well you may have to watch out for the turtles and the koi, they can sneak up on you.

For those just visiting and wanting to see what aquarium life is like, here is an unboxing of fish from mail order. "Mail-order!" you might exclaim. "I thought that was back in the days of Sea Monkeys!". Well it has been going on for a while now, thanks to the advent of the fish shipping bag, also known as breather bags.

You can mail-order your fish (insert plant, invertebrate, snail, aquatic life) from Canadian sites on line. Many members have done so and continue to do so. Many aquariums legends like @GaryE frequently exchanges killie fish eggs with other hobbyists around the world. And there are many who order from Aquabid, and legally and legitimately import their livestock within regulation.

So I have contacted a new online aquarium site that I found on Facebook called G N J Aquatic Nation. I first checked out their pictures and found some interesting fish. Before you order, make sure you have a fully cycled (ie been fully in operation for at least a month) and know enough about the fish to properly house the new pets. Hint: goldfish grow to a large size, so a small 5g tank would only fit them for a month. They are best in a 20g minimum and then you should keep only a couple (check out our Koi/Goldfish section).

I chose to order some guppies/endlers. I'll profile them as I post along on this thread.

So keep checking out this thread, I hope you enjoy it enough to 1) Join Canadaquaria and 2) Mail Order your next favourite fish and support Canadian aquarists and hobbyists like G N J Aquatics Nation.

https://www.facebook.com/gnjsaquaticnation/


Last edited by alexmtl on Mon May 25, 2020 6:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by alexmtl on Sun May 24, 2020 4:39 pm

CHECK OUT THE ONLINE SITES and DO YOUR RESEARCH

The online site was great to visit and the sellers were quick to respond, which is probably the best sign of a conscientious hobbyist. As well, the content on the Facebook was knowledgeable and informative, another great sign that you are dealing with a hobbyist that knows about aquariums.

Often times you will see sites with dealers who pass along livestock from wholesalers without proper care, quarantine and nutrition. The fish, which are farmed raised, have had a triple shock of being shipped from overseas in a bag in crowded conditions, being introduced into new water, already weakened and potentially sick, and then acclimating to a tank, which may not have been cycled.

This is something you should research more about, your perspective seller. If they post videos and pictures, do the tanks look well maintained, their stock healthy and thriving. Do they raise fish themselves, as this is a great indicator that they maintain a great standard of care. G N J Aquatics Facebook page showed all this, which I felt was enough to make me want to buy the stock. I rarely buy from big box fish stores and if I do buy fish it is from hobbyists themselves, but safe to say, it is very possible to order online and be assured of healthy well cared for stock.

ASK QUESTIONS

Ask question of the seller: what type of food were they fed, are the fish from Asia or China or a large wholesaler, were the fish locally bred, do they quarantine, what type of water do they have in the tanks, general care and information about the type of fish. Just because you are not face-to-face doesn't mean that you can't be diligent, in fact the email responses are better and more likely come from someone who knows, rather than the part time worker at the local fish store (LFS).

AGREE ON SHIPPING and KNOW THE TEMPERATURES

Shipping was agreed upon and this was from UPS to UPS store, so I was confident that the package was not going to be left in the sun during the drop off. As well, the shipping temperatures I had checked and the daily temperature ranges were always below 20 C and above 10 C. Shipping during a heat wave is not advisable, so the window for online shipping for fish is narrow. I have personally shipped during winter and heatwaves, but you need to package carefully and ship as direct and fast as possible (and be willing to accept losses).

PAYMENT

Payment is easy. If you have PayPal this is probably preferred and easiest. Sometimes hobbyists cannot process VISA and Mastercard let alone Interac, so you maywish to have a PayPal account. It also protects you as well Wink

Don't forget to give your contact details so that you can be contacted by cell or as quickly as possible when the shipment arrives. It is preferable not to leave the shipment waiting.
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Post by alexmtl on Mon May 25, 2020 6:40 pm

So I have been fascinated by Endlers at least ten years back. I had read about the discovery in Venezuela and some of the first hobbyists to bring back these lively small livebearers. There are many colour morphs of Poecilia wingei, and it is controversial as to their exact classification but most would agree that they form their own genus P. wingei, as a distinct toothed carp. The origins have been debated as well, and it is believed they evolved  through predatory evolution and selection pressures, to the colour morphs that you see today.

Many have classified Endlers into different colour "breeds" and while they are not a recognized "breed" they are held in regard by Endler enthusiasts by their pattern names: Black Bar Endler, Cumana Endler types etc. I became interested when I joined a forum hosted by one of the original discoverers. I do not know whether there was science vs opinion which created the history, but I enjoyed the back story. I have had a few of the morphs, classified as "N Class" imported into Canada directly, from this original discoverer who maintained them in Florida.

You will be able to still find many Endlers available. Whether or not they are the "pure" strains that originally colonized the small ponds and formed their own distinct sub populations, I do not know, nor how to verify the "purity" of the line (it is hard to determine a pedigree). Efforts had been made to establish a system of registration but this was not popular enough to have been sustained. It was only a matter of time before the multitude of the many hobbyists and breeders who had ordered the precious "N Class" to breed large colonies and to begin selling them. Endlers gave such an welcome injection into the highly inbred guppy lines, that the hybrids produced were seen with more vitality and brighter vibrant colours than the Old Guard of the Guppy.

"P Class" are Endlers which were of unknown, but distinct colours and patterns similar to the "N Class". I have yet to really understand the classification system, and whether there is some scientific justification or taxonomy which was performed, or was this rather arbitrary and by shear opinion. You may still find a few forums which follow the N P K Classification. Others may find the Cumana numbered system, and this adds colour and engages the aquarists with a codex like history.

"N Class" became interbred with guppies to become "K Class" guppy-hybrid mixes with appealing colours and patterns.

Well, one pattern on Endler that I had read about early on and often tracked to see who was breeding them, was a Cumana type Endler called the "Blue Star". Whether or not these were naturally occurring in the wild in the ponds in Venezuela, I am not sure as I have never seen field reports and early sampling descriptions by ichthyologists. And really, it doesn't matter to me, I just like the colour.

While it is comforting to the collector side of me to know, that what I have may have a great back story of an extinct in the wild, or rare endangered population, pedigree, I still have a fond desire to try raising a colony of these little beauties. The pictures found on Glaser do not represent the joy of raising a colony, but they a stunning, and that is like a matter of taste, whether you like white or red wine, bourbon or whiskey.

So, when I saw the G N J Aquatics, I had to get three pairs...
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Post by alexmtl on Tue May 26, 2020 10:04 am

Another interesting wild livebearer is the Japanese Blue Guppy. Some call this fish the Japanese Blue Endler, I presume because of the striking blue iridescence of the body, much like what is seen with some of the Cumana Endlers. While Japan is continents away from South America (Venezuela), it seems so interesting that colours can be brought out to resemble fish thousands of miles distant.

I began to read about these populations in the scientific journals about ten years ago, as much had been published of the South American native livebearer populations by the ichthyologist Canadian John Endler. The new found species was accepted as a recognize taxonomic entity within a few short years after first discovery in the 1970s. The Japanese population is not an "Endler" and appears to be a natively evolved strain of wild guppies. The article that began my fondness for this Blue Guppy from Japan, was Sathyan and Couldridge, 2012 (DOI: 10.1007/s10641-012-0091-5) on female preference for the colour blue at the expense of other colours.

Thus despite other ecological factors, the Japanese Blue Guppy is an interesting example of female choice. I liken it to what is seen in male peacock birds. Another note, is that though you may see the term Endler used, it is in fact, a Guppy (P. reticulata). Morphological studies, and well as the actual size of the archetype indicate that the animal derived from released guppies.

Other guppies/endlers on my list, as they become locally available are the Ginga type guppies (Ginga rubra, Ginga sulphureus) produced by the Japanese Kenjiro Tanaka, recently seen in the trade around 2015 and is becoming more available. You can view some superb photographs on the German Glaser website.
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Post by alexmtl on Wed May 27, 2020 7:14 pm

SHIPPING and TEMPERATURES

Imagine being shipped by truck or train over a few days. While it is good that the parcel is dark, there is a lot of jostling and throwing because these are bulk packages. I often wonder whether some unrestrained refrigerator crate or errant 50 lb slab of hardware is going to crush the little box, but in all my days of shipping fish, I have never had any deaths (DOAs) or lost packages due to crushing. Thank goodness.

The parcel was sent from Southwest Ontario near Point Pelee and roughly took three days. The shipping began the evening of the Tuesday and was delayed slightly so that the parcel finally arrived on the Thursday. This is fairly quick and a two day delivery is decent. I have had fish in transit for over ten days so I knew that this was relatively painless in comparison.

Thank goodness the air temperatures never went above 20 C even during the mid-day. Shipping right now in summer is dangerous as the temperatures are just too high. Unless you have a guarantee of same day or next day, the heat is a chance that few shippers would want to take. I had one order from Florida where the temperatures had unexpectedly reached the high 20s maybe even 30 C, and there were casualties.


Last edited by alexmtl on Wed May 27, 2020 7:17 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by alexmtl on Wed May 27, 2020 7:16 pm

Mail order unboxing 20200513

Here is the parcel. There is a gaping hole and luckily the bags inside were not pierced. This was a lucky miss.
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Post by GaryE on Thu May 28, 2020 3:13 pm

Lucky. I used to ship a lot, and that happened no more than 2 or 3% of the time.

I'm checking my mailbox every day as I am supposed to get Aphyosemion striatum eggs from a guy in Ontario. They're on their way.

It's a common killie, if such a thing exists, and is very easy to keep and breed. I had some for years, and then got lazy.
It's a beautiful fish from Gabon that I miss seeing when I go by the tanks. It always caught my eye. If these eggs hatch (it's the first time the guy has shipped, and this is a bit hot to mail killie eggs...) I'll have some beauties in about 5 months - just in time to cheer up the fishroom for winter.Mail order unboxing CNFtaRx
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Post by alexmtl on Thu May 28, 2020 5:41 pm

@GaryE wrote:I'm checking my mailbox every day as I am supposed to get Aphyosemion striatum eggs from a guy in Ontario. They're on their way.
It's a beautiful fish from Gabon that I miss seeing when I go by the tanks. It always caught my eye. If these eggs hatch (it's the first time the guy has shipped, and this is a bit hot to mail killie eggs...) I'll have some beauties in about 5 months - just in time to cheer up the fishroom for winter.

That's a beauty, very striking fish. I'm not a killie expert but I think I've seen these before. Are they common in the hobby?
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Post by alexmtl on Thu May 28, 2020 5:43 pm

Mail order unboxing 20200514

Luckily the boxed was well padded. I used to ship with sytrofoam inserts but it does get expensive. The filter media is a good filler and cushions well.
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Post by alexmtl on Thu May 28, 2020 5:46 pm

Mail order unboxing 20200515

There was a heater pack in the side.

This is a good idea especially in early spring. During winter shipping I used the extra long duration packs, often adding two. The buyer pays for the material but if you are up front with the shipping materials most buyers accept that's what it takes to ship.
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Post by alexmtl on Thu May 28, 2020 5:47 pm

Mail order unboxing 20200516

There was three bags in total. One with the Japanese Guppies; another with Blue Star Endlers and a third with ramshorn snails.
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Post by alexmtl on Thu May 28, 2020 5:53 pm

Mail order unboxing 20200517

Breather bags are essential in shipping and I swear by them. I use Kordon breather bags. There is a new type, the Long Life bag, that seems to have replaced the medium size Kordons (not sure of Kordon has discontinued). Breather bags in principle work by allowing gas exchange between the outside and the water through a semi-permeable membrane. This is why with Kordon bags you will get sweating after two days, and a small amount of water after 5 days. The bag is not 100% water proof but allow small molecules to transfer, while retaining most of the contents.

In practice I do not double bag the Kordons. I use as little amount of water as possible. If I had four small palm sized packets, I will create a large outside bag (with a normal plastic bag) and double bag around the larger air pocket.

Many shippers are now double bagging the breather bags and I guess it is working well so the practice can be justified.
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Post by alexmtl on Thu May 28, 2020 5:59 pm

Mail order unboxing 20200518

I have transferred all the contents of the bags into floatable plastic containers. This is for acclimation. I float for 60 minutes to allow for temperature adjustment between water and tank. Then I begin the process of adding tank water. I used to have a drip that I could set up but adding small bits if water, about 1/10 water volume every 30 minutes is just fine. As the water volume begin to fill, just pour out from the plastic container so that you are diluting into container water. Acclimation is usually over 6 to 8 hours. While it seems tedious it is important especially for fish that have come from different water sources. As well the fish are stressed from the trip so the easier the water transition the better.
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Post by GaryE on Fri May 29, 2020 5:40 am

To answer the question - striatum are common in killie-world, but not in the wider hobby. It should be - it's a tough little fish.

That was a great 'article' on shipping.

If someone is thinking of skipping your step of emptying the bags and floating breathers directly - it would kill the fish. Floating in water ends the gas exchange and suffocates the fish.

I use no name bags, and a few surviving old kordons. I too swear by breathers. They cost more, but they save a bundle on shipping because of bulk and weight. The longlife bags are new to me - cool.

There are a few methods. I don't acclimate. It's into the water directly here, as quickly as I can do it. I assume the small amount of water after a long amount of travel of travel is pretty toxic. I pour the bags through a net to keep that water out of my system, and put the fish right in.

I have received killies from Europe and livebearers from the US and not acclimated, with no losses except the ones where you could see they were almost DOA. That's rare. When I used to slow acclimation, I had more fish appear to be in distress.

Plus the bags I use (no names) leak badly if they touch each other, or plastic. I am going to try the double bag idea to see what happens. It seems counter-intuitive to me, but if people are doing it and it works, so much for my intuition. I have to try this.

I always reinforce boxes with styro to guard against crushing. I doubt homemade styros insulate much, but they do protect and can be very small and light.
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Post by alexmtl on Fri May 29, 2020 11:52 am

@GaryE wrote:To answer the question - striatum are common in killie-world, but not in the wider hobby. It should be - it's a tough little fish.

I have always been impressed by the skill of killie keepers (pardon the expression). Beautiful fish and an art form. And a very good community.

@GaryE wrote:There are a few methods. I don't acclimate. It's into the water directly here, as quickly as I can do it. I assume the small amount of water after a long amount of travel of travel is pretty toxic. I pour the bags through a net to keep that water out of my system, and put the fish right in.

I have received killies from Europe and livebearers from the US and not acclimated, with no losses except the ones where you could see they were almost DOA. That's rare. When I used to slow acclimation, I had more fish appear to be in distress.

I agree that the water has concentrated the toxic waste accumulation. I have never read the scientific papers that show the semi-permeable membranes actually improve water quality and I doubt that the experiment will ever be done. The plastic industry has propogated the message that breather bags work, so there is no advantage to demonstrate more insights. It's too bad because I think you are right. The breather bags allow for air exchange and the proof is that the fish survive shipping. The point you make about the accumulation of toxins is valid, as the waste compounds would remain in the water; they do not dissipate rapidly into air. Two things happen in breather bags: the good is air exchange, the bad is toxin accumulation. Could not agree with you more.

I will still float my fish however...

@GaryE wrote:I always reinforce boxes with styro to guard against crushing. I doubt homemade styros insulate much, but they do protect and can be very small and light.

Couldn't agree with you more. I used to by the insulation sheets from Home Depot and cut them with Xacto knives down to size. I got fairly good at getting tight fitting styrofoam, and I believed that the better the fit, the more resistant to crushing. I believed that the crushing impact, in order to minimize a focal point, needed to be spread across a large surface area. This is analogous to pressing down using a pencil (you will pierce because of the single pressure point) against a sheet of paper. If you used a lead ball, the paper is strong enough to suspend the weight. Styrofoam, tightly joined, and joined in such a way to overlap edges to spread crushing impact, makes the shipping container much more resilient. It is much less weight than doubling up the cardboard, and the foam cells are more rigid than cardboard.

Agree that you are not making a beer cooler or a thermos mug here. Great insights @GaryE
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Post by alexmtl on Fri May 29, 2020 8:57 pm

Mail order unboxing 20200519

Here is a picture of the Japanese Blue Guppy. This is the double lyretail sport. You will notice the size of the male in relative proportion to the females. And the females have that typically gravid set that guppies take on.
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Post by alexmtl on Fri May 29, 2020 9:00 pm

Mail order unboxing 20200520

This is (terrible) picture of the Blue Star Endler. I was holding a flashlight to illuminate the blue in the fish and you can get an idea of the blue-purple hue that makes this Endler a desired sport. The “Blue Star” was originally collected in 2010 by Phillippe Voisin in Venezuela. Another name that this variety of P. wingei goes by is the French Blue Endler.


Last edited by alexmtl on Sat May 30, 2020 10:34 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : typos)
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