It’s not rocket science to deduce that if you stock an aquarium with fish, that you will more than likely have a selection of both male and females which, let’s be honest, may feel the urge to procreate!
This may be planned, as in you meant for it to happen, or a shock, in that you hadn’t given breeding a thought. If this happens you’ll need to think about
When the baby fish arrive, you will need to take care of them to ensure they survive and grow into healthy specimens. The following is a five-step guide on how to achieve this goal whether breeding was planned or not.
Step One – Planned Breeding
Caring for baby fish begins with the good health of their parents. After all, fish that are not healthy in themselves are highly unlikely to produce healthy offspring. Good breeding environments, a healthy diet, and understanding the needs of the fish species involved are of the highest importance and should be researched well.
You should also take into account that not all fish are compatible for breeding. Some species can be as picky about a partner as we humans are. The number of potential partners can also be an important factor, so ensure you have the correct ratio of females to males.
Step Two – Unplanned Breeding
The first thing to say is that you should not panic if you spot fry swimming around or that eggs have been laid within your aquarium. This is a regular occurrence in many a home aquarium and easy to deal with as long as you stay calm.
The first step in care is to establish whether the parents of the fry/eggs are likely to eat their young. If so, you should either remove the babies from the tank or in the case of eggs the parents.
Please note, however, that the latter will not be a solution should they be in an aquarium with other young-eating fish. In this case, you will need to take your chances and hopefully catch the young as they hatch.
It is also worth bearing in mind that some eggs need caring for by their parents such as those from anabantoids and labyrinth fish. Gouramis, Bettas, and Paradise fish are good examples in this case with the male of the breeding pair guarding their eggs against all intruders until they hatch.
Step Three – Creating A Good Home
Whether the fry are to be raised with their parents or in a space of their own, a healthy environment is of paramount importance. You see, fry have immature immune systems that make them vulnerable to fungal, parasitic, and viral disease.
The water parameters in a fry tank should be suitable for the species of fish that they are. This will vary, with some fish liking hard or soft water, and various temperatures being optimal. Researching is the best way to find out exactly what your fry’s water parameters should be.
As with any other aquarium you keep, fry tanks will need regular cleaning and maintenance to prevent disease and loss of life. Ammonia levels in fry tanks and also nitrite levels should always be zero.
Sponge filters are most often used to help with this, as not only do they clean water whilst creating very little flow, but they also are a breeding ground for zooplankton, which fry love to feast on.
Step Four – Feeding
Most fish hatch as larvae with an attached yolk sac that they will feed on for the first few days until they are capable of feeding on their own. After this, they will need feeding with carefully chosen foods at least 4 to 6 times a day. The prior is due to their having an underdeveloped digestive system and the latter them having a high metabolism.
Fry like and thrive on live food with brine shrimp being the most commonly chosen by breeders. However, this type of food has become more and more expensive over time leading to more and more breeders turning to alternatives such as daphnia and micro worms. Fry need these types of food to be fed to them for several weeks. Then they can move onto dry, pre-prepared flake and pellet.
In the case of surprise births, it, of course, may not be possible to feed fry live foods straight away as you may not have any. In this case, you should improvise with what you have to hand. You can, for example, crush flake into a fine powder and use a wet toothpick to administer it. Simply dip the wet toothpick into the powder and immerse it into the water near the baby fish.
For our livebearers and egg-layers, we use Hikari Fry Food. Click here to see prices on Amazon.
Step Five – To Keep Or Not To Keep?
At some point, you are going to have to decide whether you are going to keep your baby fish or sell them on. This decision will often depend on the amount of aquarium space you have. If you choose to sell them, aquatic stores will quite often consider purchasing babies but you could also consider private sales as well.
At what point you sell on baby fish will vary depending on the species. However, as a rule of thumb for medium-sized fish, it would normally be at around an inch in size. Large fish are different from this and they should be kept until they reach around a quarter to half of their full size.
Conclusion: Taking care of baby fish
There is no doubting that the thought of raising baby fish could be seen as an incredibly daunting task. However, as you can see from the above if you simply follow our five-step guide you will find it a breeze.
Baby fish are really not that demanding, they only have basic needs. By simply housing them well, feeding them a nutritional diet, and protecting them from predators, you will soon have healthy specimens.