Week6/Guppies/Connor Petty

The guppy is a small fish that is the second most popular aquatic pet, the first being the goldfish. They are easy to breed and they their gestation cycle is about a month. But what is most fascinating about this are the wide phenotypical characteristics it can possess. Guppy breeders have spent over a century trying to uncover all of the colors, tail shapes, and body patterns that lie hidden in the guppy’s genetic code.http://wiki.igees.org/images/c/ca/Filigraan_Rood.jpg

From the work of these breeders, the Guppy’s genetic code became one of the most well studied of any animal. As a result, several hundred strains of guppies have been created. The process of creating a strain is rather simple. Take a few guppies, mate them, and then mate the best looking of the children and repeat that process until every that is breed is indistinguishable from it’s parents.  I myself attempted this process. I say attempted because I didn’t have the supplies or the space to do it “correctly”. To do it correctly I would need at least 3 10 gallon tanks in order to properly separate the fry from from the adults and to separate the males from the females. Instead I just weeded out all of the fish I didn’t want to use for breeding in my only 10 gallon tank. Even though I didn’t breed the guppies with maximum efficiency, I still got results. I originally tried to create a strain that looked similar to this:Image:Rondel02a.jpg

but with a full tail instead. After 6 months of breeding I was actually able to obtain that strain. The strain was not pure, however, since the offspring were never consistent in appearance. Some of the guppies would have short tails, others would look like the the above picture, and others yet wouldn’t even have the striped pattern on their body. Guppy breeding definitely requires a lot of trial and error. My attempt to make a strain made me feel like an artist, picking and choosing what looks bests and what looks interesting in order to create something beautiful.

Guppy breeding could be considered old-school biotech art. It uses the process of science to create a work of art. While profession guppy breeders may not be using the latest bio-engineering technology to create their art, they are using one of the most basic of bio-engineering known as selective breeding. It is this form of bio-engineering that farmers have used for centuries to grow better and better produce that exceeds anything that would be found in the wild. Similarly, guppy breeders selective breed to create guppies with full and vibrant color that are far more colorful than could be found in the wild. An interesting fact is that female guppies actually prefer to mate with the most colorful males, but natural selection prevents this in the wild since such males would likely be eaten due to how well they would stand out. For most people, guppies will only be a pet fish, but to me they are a form of living art that. I hope that I will one day have the time to create an even better strain.



alas what used to be one of my favorite sources is no longer up do to lack of maintenance:


so, here’s the incomplete alternative:


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