Keeping and breeding fish for ornamental purposes dates back to Roman times. However, it was not until the first tropical fish was imported to Europe in the 17th century that this hobby became widespread. Read on to find out how to breed fish.
Most individuals who want to begin keeping fishes start with a few Goldfishes in a small bowl, but some soon want to find out more about how they live and, more specifically, how they breed.
How to select fish species
If you are a newcomer to the aquarium hobby trying to learn how to breed fish, you should start your fish-breeding attempts with livebearers, such as platies or guppies, before moving on to hardy egglayers such as barbs or danios.
Equipped with sufficient experience and knowledge gained in these initial attempts with easy-to-breed livebearers, you can keep and breed more difficult species of fish.
How to select parent fishes
Prospective parents (brood fishes) should be selected for their good physical appearance and finnage as well as their health and vigor. Selecting immature fishes, which you can grow on, is always preferred; or young mature fishes that will be ready for breeding after a little conditioning.
Older fishes are not a good choice for breeding because they might be nearing the end of their reproductive life.
Parent fishes and their offspring should not be interbred often (this goes for brother and sister fishes as well), because it can result in abnormal fry. Introduction of fresh brood fishes from time to time is also recommended.
Tank requirements for fish breeding
A separate breeding tank will always give the best results, although most fishes will breed normally in a community tank with other fishes.
However, if you really want to become a professional fish breeder and learn how to breed many species of fish successfully you will need at least 2 tanks: one for breeding itself and one in which to rear the fry and allow the parents to recuperate.
Buying extra breeding tanks can also prove useful as they can serve as quarantine quarters when not used for breeding. Also, perforated tank dividers can easily convert a large tank into two or three smaller units.
As far as breeding tank decorations are concerned, you should keep them to a minimum – just sufficient for the safety of the eggs and fry. Also, extreme aeration and filtration is not needed for a breeding tank as it can damage small fry. A simple foam filter will do for rearing fry.
When breading and rearing tanks are not in use, empty and rinse them well in running water and store them until they are needed again, together with all the associated equipment.
Keep in mind that you should use a separate equipment (nets, buckets, siphon tubes etc.) for breeding as disease organisms can be transferred between stock tanks and breading/rearing tanks.
Feeding and breeding
In order to bring adult fishes into breeding condition, a good varied diet is necessary. Nutritious food is crucial for the well-being of the resultant fry. It stands to reason that you must avoid overfeeding the fish. The golden rule of ‘little and often’ applies to fish breeding as well as general fish-keeping.
The majority of aquarists fill their tanks with tap water, which is, of course, intended for drinking rather than fish keeping. Using tap water can lead to many problems if it is not conditioned prior to aquarium use.
To make regular tap water safe for drinking, chlorine is usually added to destroy dangerous microorganisms that might be present. This chlorine can be toxic to fish.
Therefore, make sure you always remove chlorine before using tap water for fish keeping or breeding. You can do this by either adding a tap water conditioner or by aerating the water for a few days so that the chlorine will dissipate into the atmosphere.
Tap water conditioners also remove heavy metals (for example copper) that might be present in the water, especially in new houses or areas where the water is particularly soft. These heavy metals can potentially be toxic for fish and eggs.
Learning how to breed fish is the aspiration and ambition of all dedicated fish keepers – beginners and experts alike.