For optimal breeding success, provide conditions similar to those found in a natural habitat.
One of the first things you should do before making any changes to your tank is to familiarize yourself with the natural breeding conditions and parenting styles of the type of fish you would like to breed. Doing your homework before you get involved will increase your chances of success.
- Breeding Conditions
Some fish require cues to reproduce. These cues or triggers are specific to a particular type of fish. In general, water conditions, such as temperature, light cycling and intensity must be adjusted.
- Proximity of breeding fish is also a consideration. Some fish need lots of tank space, while others need lots of places to hide or particular breeding substrates.
- Conditioning fish also involves a varied and high quality diet of dry, frozen and live foods. This will provide your fish with the nutrition they need to reproduce, as well as stay healthy and vibrant.
- Fish Parenting
The roles of males and females vary from one species to another. In some cases, both parents will protect and rear their young – you’ll find some of the best parents are cichlids, such as Convicts, Firemouths, and Oscars.
Bettas, also known as Siamese Fighting Fish, use a different technique altogether. Here, the male and female are only placed in the same tank together for a short time. After the breeding ritual is consummated, the female is chased away from the nest site, never to return. The male cares for the nest, the eggs and fry for a short time before he is removed, too.
Still others have no interest in their eggs or live young and, if given the opportunity, many of these fish will even cannibalize their eggs and babies. To protect babies and eggs from their parents, you may want to consider the following:
- If you have a female live bearer, such as a guppy, put her in a breeding trap in the tank or provide plenty of hiding places with plants. After delivering her young, the mother should be taken out and put in a separate tank.
- If you have an egg layer, both the male and female need to be together when the eggs are released from the female. After the eggs have been fertilized, the eggs can be removed from the parents and artificially incubated in a separate tank, or the parents can be removed. If you provide the eggs with aeration and a medication to prohibit fungus, the eggs will usually hatch.
To optimize chances for successful breeding and birthing or hatching, you may want to consider using a separate “spawning” tank. The conditioning required for breeding, and concerns about cannibalism, make separating the breeding fish from the main tank easier.
When breeding, it is more important than ever to ensure that the tank water quality is optimal: nitrites, ammonia, and pH must be perfect.