How to Raise Baby Fish Fry in Your Aquarium
One of the most thrilling parts of the aquarium hobby is getting your fish to breed. A tiny baby may be spotted if you take care of your fish and are feeding them well. Although accidental fry are always fun, there are ways to improve their survival rate or increase your profit margin if they are sold for profit.
1. Protect the Eggs from the Parent
Many fish will happily eat eggs they have just laid and show no parental care to their offspring. Therefore, the first step is to save the eggs from being gobbled up. One of the following methods can be used depending on the species and the egg-laying behavior.
If the eggs have a sticky texture, you can offer a place for them to hatch, such as yarn-spawning mops or dense plants like java moss and frogbit, ceramic tiles, or even spawning conicals. After the eggs have been laid, you can move them to a safer place. – If the sticky eggs are laid on the aquarium glass or other immovable objects, you can remove the parents from the tank. You can also manually collect eggs using your fingers or a credit card. If eggs are scattered and won’t stick to anything, you can place layers of marbles on top to let them fall between cracks so parents don’t have to reach them. Another similar technique is to place a mesh screen or plastic mesh from the craft store just above the bottom of the aquarium floor to let the eggs fall through. For extra protection, some breeders prefer to place mosses or other bushy vegetation underneath the mesh.
Some fish, such as discus, prefer to use tiles or spawning cones to lay eggs on vertical surfaces.
– Most cave-spawning fish (like plecos and dwarf cichlids) are good at guarding their eggs, but new parents are often prone to eating them. You can hatch your eggs by using a suitable-sized pleco cave or Apistogramma cave for the fish, and then remove the cave once the eggs have been laid. – Certain African cichlid species are mouth brooders that protectively hold their eggs and fry inside their mouths. Some breeders will remove the eggs or fry from the female to protect them from being swallowed accidentally, to stop the fry being released into the main tank, and to give the mother time to recuperate from her duties. This is a complex topic and should be studied in detail. Do your research to find out more about how to strip eggs and which method is best for you.
Now it’s time to hatch the eggs. Unfertilized eggs are more susceptible to fungus growth, which can rapidly spread and destroy entire clutches. An egg tumbler can be used to place larger eggs, such as those belonging to African cichlids and plecos. It continuously blows fresh, oxygenated air onto eggs, which discourages fungal infections. A second option is to place the eggs into a small container of water. This will allow for circulation. The eggs can then be kept warm by being placed in an aquarium or by being clipped to the tank wall. A few drops of methyleneblue (until it turns slightly blue) can be added to the eggs. After the eggs hatch, it is possible to do a few 50% water changes in your container. You can remove eggs with fungal growth using either of these techniques.
2. Take out the Fry
The baby fish are still in danger even after the eggs hatch. Separating fry from adults is a good idea to keep them safe and allow them to grow faster as there is less food competition. The best thing for the babies is to be kept in a smaller container. This will allow them to spend less energy swimming to reach their food. The ideal shelter for fry is a net or breeder box that has a clump moss cover. This allows them to share the same tank and water conditions with their parents. If livebearers prefer to bear young eggs rather than lay eggs, the female can be placed in the box during her pregnancy. The mother can then be removed after all fry have arrived.
A breeder box allows you to raise fry in the same aquarium as the adults while protecting them from predation.
When the baby fry are bigger and stronger, move them to a larger grow-out tank to give them more room to swim around. To prevent cannibalism or reduce competition for food, it is possible to separate fry by size and place them in multiple aquariums. This sorting process is also an opportunity to cull any sickly fry if needed to prevent defective genes from spreading and to avoid giving customers unhealthy fish.
3. Offer lots of cover
If you don’t have enough space for an additional grow-out tank, colony breeding is an option. In this method, the parents and the young are raised in one fish tank. Although this method may not produce the most offspring, it is much more efficient in terms of space, time, and cost. It is important to have plenty of small spaces that the babies can fit into, but not the adults, in order to increase fry survival rates. Breeders will often create DIY fish fry traps from floating pond plants baskets or craft mesh that is rolled up into a long cylinder with zip ties. You can either place a pregnant livebearer in the trap to allow the fry to escape from the holes or vice versa, where the parents can be outside and the fry can swim within the trap. Breeders also use a giant wad of Easter Basket grass to create a dense mass where only the very smallest babies can swim between it.
A thick jungle of live aquarium plants can be used to shelter your animals if you prefer something more natural. We love java moss and Pogosteman. stellatus. ‘Octopus’ are our favorites for colony-building. For young fish to get past, some species prefer small gaps between rocks. If the fish are being pursued, decorations for aquariums and artificial caves may provide extra hiding spots.
For colony breeding, adding lots of aquarium plants can help hide your baby fish.
4. Make sure you have good water quality
Baby fish are less hardy than adult fish and therefore can be more sensitive to any toxins or excess waste in the water. Regular maintenance of the filter is essential to ensure it does not become clogged with fish poop. To prevent small fish from getting into your motor, use a hang-on back (HOB), or any other filter that has an intake tube.
Since you will be feeding the fry a lot, consider doing daily or multiple water changes per week at first. This can be stressful as no one wants to accidentally vacuum-up any babies. A turkey baster can be used to remove small amounts of water from a small container or breeder net. For grow-out tanks, you can also create a tiny aquarium siphon using a length of airline tubing. Attach the other end of the tubing with rubber bands to a chopstick and place it in the aquarium water. You can maneuver the siphon easily and avoid getting in the way of the baby fish by using the chopstick. To start the water flowing through the siphon, use your mouth to suck on the tubing. Then place the tube into a bucket to collect the dirty water. The white bucket allows you to more easily see any fry that accidentally escape so that you can retrieve them using a turkey baster or little shrimp net. You can also pipe the siphoned water into a fish or breeder net that is attached to the bucket. This will capture any fry that escape.
Make a DIY fry siphon from tubing, a chopstick and rubber bands to clean grow-out tanks.
5. Eat Tiny Foods Multiple times a Day
Fry have tiny mouths and tiny stomachs, and just like human babies, they must constantly eat all throughout the day. Newly hatched fish come with a yolk sac that feeds them until they are strong enough to freely swim and look for food. Then they require multiple small meals, up to 3-5 times a day if possible. You can set alarms for your phone, or use an automatic feeder to feed larger fish. For the smallest newborns, such as rainbowfish or tetras, you should feed them almost microscopic foods, like infusoria and fry powder and vinegar eels. Larger fish, such as African cichlids and livebearers, can eat small fish food, Repashy gel foods, Easy Fry, and crushed flakes almost immediately.
Hatching live brine shrimp to give to your fish fry is the best method to increase their growth.
However, the #1 fry food that every veteran fish keeper and fish farm knows will bring out the best growth and numbers in your breeding projects is live baby brine shrimp. These shrimp are packed with healthy fats and nutritious proteins. They also actively swim in water columns, activating your baby fish’s hunting instincts. If you haven’t tried hatching your own baby brine shrimp, check out our step-by-step tutorial and give it a try.