Submitted by Aquatic Ma
July 2020

I’ve been in the fish hobby since I was 11 yrs old. I don’t remember not having a fish tank in my childhood well up until now.

I recently got into what we call “summer tubing”. I purchased 4 different types of stock tanks from Tractor Supply company, only to end up with 3: a 25 gal, a 10 gal, and a 40 gal. The 4th was a 100 gal but I read many negative reviews on using the tough stuff stock tank and decided against it.

I live in North Florida, the emerald coast. The heat can get serious here so I encountered several issues: maintaining a safe environment for them to live in (we have Hawks, snakes, rats, even lizards will eat fish here), maintaining adequate temperatures, and whether or not I actually needed to do water changes. Mind you, I’ve NEVER tried breeding outdoors before. We’ve had turtles and small 300 gal goldfish pond at my parents house as a kid, but never before have I been in charge of setting up and keeping my own pond!

I used many different strains of guppies: yellow cobra, red Mosaics, Red Dragon Dumbo ear, and Purple Mosaics.

I started the end of February. I dug up the old tenant’s garden just outside my patio. I added Scott’s organic topsoil as a base for plants I wanted around the pond, as well as some Coco fiber leftover from my Pacman frog substrate changes. The soil here is hard, compact, and sandy with very low nutrients. Next I leveled the area, but (and this is a newbie move) I didn’t add anything underneath to account for the weight of the tub. I filled the bottom of the tub with old sand substrate (another newbie move). I was able to add the guppies late March.

Now here’s what I’ve learned the past couple of months of doing this:
1) Level your ponds with hardscape! Use pea gravel, rocks, flag stone, anything HARD! Down here in July it rains for days at a time, sometimes the whole month! The newly added soil which benefited the plants, shifted my tub. I’ve been able to work things out over time but it’s been a pain.
2) DON’T add substrate to your small tubs, 100 and under! Especially if you’re breeding guppies. You don’t want to spend hours and hours in summer heat trying to dig up guppy fry
3) Know your stock source! I’m fairly new to guppy breeding but have learned the hard way if you get bad stock, you’ll spend MONTHS culling deformed fry. I had bend spines, lopsided dumbo ears, twisted tails, etc all of which I had to get rid of. Even 2nd generation fry were horribly deformed and this comes from not adding new genetics to a pure line.
4) Keep lots and lots and LOTS of floating plants! Yes it can make spotting your stock harder but trust me! Even the larger ponds can heat up and fry the stock. I find that water Hyacinth is the best at providing both shade and cover for fry. They are an invasive species in Florida and I’ve actually collected a bunch from city workers who pull them out of our ditches!

All in all, I had a blast this summer and will continue to be able to keep my tubs outside until the end of October. It doesn’t get really cold here until mid November (low 70’s) Good ole Florida weather!