From Chickens To Guppies

From “The Aquarium” magazine June 1938

Beginner’s Letter

Mrs. Bessie C. Rowly
Highland Park Mich.

(Prize Award for the Month)

I have been a chicken-woman, raised 3500 baby chicks each season, always had on hand around about 600 to 1200 laying hens. Worked like “Old Harry.” Made several trips in to eastern market each week.

Got tired of the whole business, sold out and went into the New York Stock Market in late 1928, made some money, and then came the big bust!

Feeling mighty low I strolled through Kresge’s 5 & 10 one day. Not much interested in anything-just a traveller. Walked past the fish department, saw and heard about Tropicals for the first time. Who ever heard of fish having young’uns? The idea intrigued me.

I walked out of there with a pair of Guppies. It was winter and I had my doubts about being able to keep them. Felt sure I’d thrown 20 cents more on the pile. But they were so cute.

I set them to housekeeping in a wide mouth square gallon jar that had formerly housed Dill pickles. I dressed it all up with nice fine sand and a little house ornament in one corner. I stuck in begonia cuttings and ivy slips. It all had a very peacefull appearance. and those little tiny fish looked on there new home with a contented appreciation. I got hours of enjoyment out of them. And they soon rewarded me with a lively little family. Of course I had to move them into larger quarters.

At first I just let nature take its course, and then my old knowledge of line breeding came into the picture. Why couldn’t I do with fish what I had done with chickens? I decided to try it. I secured a number of unrelated Guppies and set to work. It was slow work, but after several years I began to actually see results. Never sold or gave any undesirables away – destroyed them. If more aquarist would adopt that policy I am sure the general average of fishes would reach a higher plane.

Now 9 years have passed. The results are amazing. I have produced an entiely different variety of Guppy. Have shopped around to dealers who claim to be Detrot’s largest. Not one of them have Guppies like mine. I am sure that should the right dealer see them they would consider them something new and unusuel. And still I am not satisfied. With a portion of my stock I am trying a new experiment. I am hoping to produce something still finer.

How can people look down on the lowly Guppy? Many consider them a source of food for the community tank.

A tank full of male guppies is a joy forever. No other species has been able to win me away from my chosen one-the Guppy. They are hardy. Mine live and thrive in temperatures as low as 54 degrees – generally around 68 degrees and 70 degrees. Never have sick fish.Never keep heat on them. My visitors find the fascinating.

How I do wish that so many heart-sick people could know the joy of owning and caring for a tank of Guppies.

From an humble beginning I started. I believe many people hesitate because they think it is expensive and think they will only die anyway. This is not true, as my experience should convince anyone.

I have never made a penny of my nine years of faithful effort, but my Guppies don’t owe me a penny. I am happy in my work. Only lack of space keeps me from going into wider fields.

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