Shrimps Dogs and Discus - meet Gordon Rattray...

Hi Guys, 
As you all know, our table sale is just round the corner. Im very excited and having the shrimp show too. It is a first for Scotland and the first Facebook group in the UK to host such an event. Barry Horrocks from Freshwater shrimp has been working hard to get things in place for the show and we will have 3 different awards to give out with prizes and trophies to boot!!
I have been recently contacted by Gordon Rattray. Gordon breeds shrimp and was hoping to enter the show however due to circumstances out of his control, he will unfortunately be unable to enter. 
However, Gordon has offered up some of his own shrimp for a raffle prize on the day. I thought it would be nice to find out a little more about Gordon and here is what he said!

Firstly, for anybody who doesn't know you, tell us your story? what attracted your to the shrimp hobby?
I was born in Greenock in 1952 but have lived in Kilmarnock for 45 years. Im known more for being a breeder exhibitor and Championship show judge of Rottweilers our Varenka Affix has been our first love and main hobby , but aquatics has always been another interest.
I got my first aquarium in 1964 when I was 12 , an angle frame made in the shipyards and glazed with a green putty , I remember my old man wiring up the heater to the thermostat , no combined unit in them days. I have been in and out of fish at different times , but in the early nineties when exhibiting our dogs which takes us all over the UK I took a fancy to discus and visited and bought in from many UK private breeders. My mate and myself put some money together and started Select Discus, I bred them in Kilmarnock and he raised them and sold them from Glasgow ,We did advertise in the monthly magazines , most of them I bred artificially and raised away from the parents it was a great challenge and we were going for 6 years, I was out of all aquatics for many years and 3 years ago I set up a community tank for my grandkids and of course searched the Internet and that's where I first saw freshwater dwarf shrimp.
Currently, how many tanks and what shrimp to do currently have?
Today I have 7 tanks mostly 70 and 50 litres but I only keep and specialise in Caridina cantonensis , I breed pure red line shrimp and I am working on my own line and trying to move up the grades I also breed Taiwan bees or shadows as some call them, I have blue bolts , wine reds and I have a mix breeding of f1 and Taiwan bees this gives me bbs, blue shadow mosura , red wines including hino and mosura , black and blue pandas, black King Kong and even the odd red Ruby , but of course mixed tanks are pot luck but an interesting area of TB breeding , but my goal lies in selecting and improving the quality , do I consider myself an expert , certainly not but keeping such closely inbred shrimp is a very steep learning curve and I have gained lots of experience with lots still ahead.
Which shrimp do you consider your crowning glory?
My personal favourite is my Pure red line shrimp , with beautiful white, stunning red markings with different patterns these shrimp are beautiful , red legs are much desired and a thick dense white shell is a great virtue these are far are the most expensive , my next favourite is a top blue bolt and third is a quality red wine but I prefer them with a brownish tinge. But many keeper breeders will have there own favourites I do not have great numbers of shrimp but I consider my stock quality and have some some high quality individuals , my initial stock came from selected UK breeders, its not easy in the UK getting to know who's who and produces great shrimp , unlike my dog world where there's annual awards etc published , I also have imported from selected European breeders who's shrimp I believe brings quality and certain virtues I seek but again not in quantity but rather quality .
What shrimp would you say is the most desirable in the hobby?
Pure red line, there standard and grading system makes breeding them a great challenge , and they have a great following .
However Currently the big craze is pinto and crosses of Taiwan bees X tigers , IE taitbees & tibees some beautiful shrimp are getting bred , IE zebra , 3 spot pintos , back line , it's endless with a huge scope for attempting to create a pattern and colour thats stable and breeds true. There are also beautiful neos getting bred.
If money was no object, what would your ultimate setup include?
An interesting question, taking account my age and having done the tanks everywhere in Select Discus , I would still specialise in a small number of different type shrimp, travel to Europe with a view to spending big for top shrimp but not to buy success the dream would be to breed them even higher quality , maybe invest in Sulawesa set ups which I intend in the future to do.
aquascaping and shrimp keeping often goes hand in hand. are you stricktly a shrimper or do you enjoy a spot of underwater gardening at the same time?
I am middle of the road I like a nice aquascaped tank , 3 of my tanks are Dennerle 50 litre scaper flows and I have a couple of beautiful hand made bonsai trees , dragon rock plants and different moss , and one of my mixed 70 litre is like a jungle , but I keep trying to restrain my overdoing it in the select breeding tanks. I don't have high tech our use co2 the risks is too great so foremost I am a shrimp keeper breeder who likes a nice tank
Whats you favourite element to shrimp keeping?
Enjoying the fascinating lifestyle of shrimp which you will only ever truly see if kept on there own , yes shrimp will breed and some survive in a densely planted tank but when free of predation they are amazing to watch , still get a thrill watching a 5 mm baby swim in mid water
what do you consider the most important aspect to developing your own strain?
Same principles rules and thinking as I applied to our Varenka dog line now 15 generations and it paid off gaining us Top UK top Rottweiler breeder 08, 9, 10 and 11 Shrimp are no different it takes honesty over your stock, don't fool yourself, don't be blind set a high standard , don't get bogged down by numbers and of course listen to those who are successful .And if you have a set back find the why.
the shrimp hobby is huge in Europe and Asia, why do you think the UK, especially Scotland is so far behind?
Scotland and the UK in general is behind , there are a small group of very knowledgable uk breeders but the shrimp hobby is well behind , but so is the USA , for me Germany as a country is leading the field I believe they got into the shrimp world few years early , but hopefully we Brits and that includes us Scots have proved we can breed anything and we will catch up.
can you see the hobby growing in the future?
Yes I think the hobby will grow big and fast , the majority may just love keeping and breeding for enjoyment and that's great , It would be fantastic in time if the generations of tank bred shrimp get less demanding to such stable water parameters but there hopefully will be a group of serious breeders emerge up in Scotland and from your group members it seems there's a small handful already working hard.
You have kindly donated some of your own shrimps to our group for a prize, whats your advice for the future winner?
Caridina take a little more expense they demand very stable water parameters and are not as unforgiving , my advice is an active soil with Ro Di water remineralised , this gives a blank canvas to Taylor the water but the reward will be very stable water parameters , there's 2 ways to breed Taiwan bees , first is f1 crosses which are crystal shrimps X Taiwan bees the offspring will carry TB genes these can mated to each other for a percentage of pure TBs , or mated to pure tbs to increase the percentage of tbs , the shrimp bred this method are meant to be more resilient , Then we have selective breeding tb X tb for improvements of colour markings etc all babies born will be pure TBs but some reckon survival rate is lower , and of course all Taiwan bees grow slow

So guys thats Gordon Rattray everyone. Look out for a video of the shrimps that will be up for grabs. Thanks again Gordon for taking the time out to answer these questions and I hope to see you at the next event in November.

Bye for now

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