Breeding fish in a domestic aquarium is not only about pairing a male and a female of the same species and hoping for the best: it requires careful preparation and monitoring. You must first learn about the optimal living conditions and the mode of reproduction specific to the species you intend to breed. Next, you need to select a potential healthy parent of each gender. After this step, you need to adjust the living conditions (water temperature, pH level, lighting, and surrounding flora) in the aquarium to make them more suitable for reproduction. This acclimatization helps to “create the atmosphere” for the fish and guarantees a successful mating.
Take an adult and healthy fish of each sex
To breed fish, first find out what gender they are. Unlike other animals, it will be more complex to want to differentiate their genitals. Although they have certain identical features, there is a diversified biological difference according to the species. For example, female cichlids generally have a rounded body and less pronounced gills, while males usually have a more vivid coloration and sometimes have a small bump on the head .
- Be sure to cultivate only fish of the same species. Even if the mating of two different species is feasible, there is a great risk that the resulting hybrid will be weak, malformed, or sterile.
- Discard suffering, injured, or malformed fish. They are unlikely to cause healthy offspring.
- Be aware that you can call on an aquatic veterinarian or a breeding specialist if you have trouble differentiating the sex of your fish.
Put the parent fish together in a separate aquarium for fish breeding
You can name it “breeding pond”. This isolation of the parent fish limits the size of the spawning pond to 2 fish, thus making mating easier than usual. This also promotes the optimization of indoor living conditions while avoiding disturbing a larger number of fish not selected for reproduction.
- Provide a breeding pond with a capacity of about 30 to 40 liters for the majority of fish species.
- When you transfer breeding fish to the spawning pond, make sure to reserve living conditions almost identical to those of their original pond. Then gradually move on to the required adjustments to allow them to acclimatize.
Put the fish in condition to make them more vigorous
Feed them high protein nutrients when you encourage them to breed. A proper diet will allow them to flourish and thus increase their fertility. Remember this: the good health of babies depends on that of their parents.
- Feed them with fresh or frozen artemia, white worms, or daphnia, because almost all species adapted to medium-sized aquariums, such as the fighter and the scalar, are fond of them.
- Condition the fish for 2 weeks before mating. It’s always better this way.
- Find out about the diet of the species you have selected so that you can feed them properly during the preparatory stages for mating. In general, fish give the best of themselves with a balanced diet consisting of fresh herbs and living foods such as salted shrimp.
Create favorable breeding conditions for your fish
Learn about how your fish reproduce
Before pairing 2 fish of opposite sexes, try to know their instincts in terms of reproduction. Find what attracts them to each other, their mode of copulation, and laying. Thus, you will be able to recreate the conditions of reproduction in nature.
Research your species in a special encyclopedia. Also, consult the books and manuals that deal in-depth with the specifics of aquarium breeding.
Optimize the quality of the water in the aquarium
Apply your discoveries to the selected parents to provide them with a more welcoming environment. The temperature, as well as the chemical and mineral balance of the water, can influence the propensity of fish to mate or not. If necessary, use another heating element to heat the pool or soften the water to change its composition.
- Before coupling the selected species, make sure that the water is at a temperature varying between 28 and 31 ° C, with a pH between 6 and 7 and a moderate to low light.
- If you plan to make a substantial change to the aquarium water, try to do it gradually. Avoid increasing or decreasing the water temperature by 3 to 5 degrees over a week. An abrupt change can stress or even harm the fish.
Simulate the mating season for perfect fish breeding
This is the period during which all fish mate in large numbers. Use a watering can or circular spray system to achieve the effect of a light shower on the surface of the water. Reduce the water level by emptying the basin in half and gradually filling it. It can also give the impression to fish that this is the ideal breeding season.
When you lower the water level in the aquarium for the first time, let the fish get used to this level for a few days. Then gradually return to the initial level for about a week, using water with a temperature between – 17 and – 16 ° C below that found in the aquarium.
To perform a more convincing simulation, lower the intensity of the light in the room then turn on and off a flashlight near the aquarium to produce “flashes”.
Introduce familiar physical traits
Put items like stones, plants, and artificial tunnel structures in the aquarium to reproduce the natural conditions that favor the mating of fish. For example, cichlids generally mate on flat rocks while other species take refuge in caves or rise to the surface of the water. A more recognizable environment will comfort them and encourage them to reproduce.
- If you are considering creating an ideal physical environment for your fish to reproduce, first find out how they choose their partners and lay their eggs.
- These structures will also provide an enabling environment where female fish can lay their eggs.
Equip the basin with a low power filter
If necessary, replace the filter you currently have with a less powerful one. High-power filters can circulate excess water and thus generate strong currents that can sweep the eggs or even suck them up.
- Sponge filters are generally recommended for aquarium reproduction.
- If you use a less powerful filter, clean or replace the aquarium water more frequently (about 15 to 20% of the total volume per week or every two weeks as needed).
Measures, protect and care to take for perfect fish breeding
Remove the parents from the breeding pond
After the female has laid her eggs or given birth to a live fry, return the breeders to their environment, under the original conditions where they will acclimatize without delay. Thus, the eggs will not be hindered and this will allow the fry to hatch. Keep the conditions in the aquarium at the same level. This can now be used as a nursery pond for raising fry.
- Except for a few feeding species, it is not uncommon for adults to devour their eggs.
- If it is impossible to set up another tank for the fry, introduce plants in abundance which will serve as hiding places as soon as they manage to swim.
Reduce the lighting in the aquarium
Cover it on all 3 sides with paper or pieces of cloth thick enough to prevent light from entering it as much as possible. Eggs and fry are generally sensitive to light: excess light can delay their development or even kill them. As they grow, they become more tolerant of light. This will allow you to return to the original level of brightness.
- Be sure to cover the sides most directly exposed to light. Leave one of the larger sides uncovered for observation.
- Cover the aquarium squarely with a sheet outside of the time devoted to feeding or controlling the fry.
Change the aquarium water daily
Empty the water from the basin daily at 25 to 50%, and add an equivalent amount of freshwater instead. The latter must be clean while the fry learns to breathe and filter the oxygen in the water.
Draw on the same source each time you fill the aquarium because the new water must have a composition identical to that which was withdrawn.
Feed the fry several times a day
At their first hatching, the fry is provided with a large yellow bag of the egg which feeds them for a few days. As soon as this bag of eggs disappears, start feeding them yourself. Liquid egg yolks, crushed flakes for fish, plankton, and algae are examples of foods to feed your fry.
- Buy the food and supplements you need from pet stores that sell fish products. As usual, try to find out which foods are suitable for your fry.
- The smallest species such as red neon and rainbow fish cannot digest industrial food well so soon after hatching. Then feed them with liquid infusoria or similar supplements that they can digest easily.
- Give them more substantial live food such as brine shrimp and small worms when they become larger.
The Bottom Line from thefishinfo.com
- Partitions for aquariums can be useful if you are unable to install a separate spawning or nursery.
- Line the bottom of the basin with a substrate composed of heavy materials such as stones or marbles. The eggs laid in a scattered manner by the fish nest in the spaces created in this substrate, which puts them out of the danger of adult predators.
- Remove the weak and suffering fry from each generation so that those who are healthy are not forced to compete for food.
- Sell your fish to pet stores and other aquarium owners. This can be an effective way to recover the cost of equipment and materials when you become much more experienced.
- Remember that the growth in numbers of fish inevitably leads to the restriction of the space available in the aquarium. Before you start mating your fish, make sure you can meet the requirements of a large colony.