Breeding/Rearing Aquarium Tanks

Breeding/Rearing Aquarium Tanks

Some fish species will successfully breed in a community aquarium or species tank, but others will require a separate breeding aquarium. In some cases, the fish will spawn their normal aquarium but the fry must be caught and placed in a separate rearing aquarium to prevent the fry from being eaten by the adult fish. Fry left with adult fish will usually be consumed, but you can increase the survival rate by providing the fry with plenty of hiding spaces among marbles, densely planted bushy plants etcetera.

If you decide to setup a breeding/rearing tank, a 2-6 gallon container will be large enough for most aquarium species. Very large fish might require 10-22 gallons. The easiest way to fill your breeding tank with suitable water is to fill half the tank using water from your large aquarium where the adult fish live. Use clean water to fill up the rest of the breeding tank. This water should be treated in the usual way for water changes. Another method is to place a foam filter in your large aquarium and let it run for a few weeks before you set up the breeding tank. This way, the foam filter will pick up a lot of necessary bacteria and the biological process in your breeding tank will get a kick-start when you insert the foam filter. A third method is to buy commercially available products such as Bio-Starter or Safe Water from your fish store and use them in the breeding tank. Some breeders combine the methods described above.

It is not recommended to place a lot of decorations in the breeding tank, unless you know for a fact that your particular species require some special type of decoration. A thin layer of gravel is easier to keep clean than a thick one, and cleanliness is very important in a rearing aquarium. A foam filter is the best type of filtration in a breeding tank since the filtration is gentle but efficient. The air pump must be of correct size for your breeding tank, or an adjustable model.

Even with a good filter, regular water changes are absolutely imperative in a rearing tank. High levels of soluble waste can harm and even kill eggs and fry. If there are no fry or adult fish in the aquarium, water changes can be performed much less frequent since eggs hardly produce any waste products. When the fry is very small, siphoning out waste products and left over food using a flexible tube is usually the safest cleaning method. Fish fry are renowned for their curiosity and accidents are common. Let the other end of the flexible tube rest in a clean bucket (do not clean with soap, detergent or similar!) when you siphon. This way, you can rescue the fry that becomes siphoned up and put them back in the rearing aquarium.

Plastic breeding traps are popular to separate fry from adult fish in community aquariums and species aquariums, but are not suitable homes for the fry for any length of time. The circulation of water is usually far from optimal and the fry should therefore be moved to a rearing aquarium as soon as possible. Another problem with plastic breeding traps is that many models float directly under the aquarium lights, which makes the water inside unsuitable warm for the fry. A breeding net that can be attached to the side of the aquarium is a better solution if you can’t setup a separate rearing tank for the fry.

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