Top 5 Easy Fish Breeding Ideas for Your Next 20-Gallon Aquarium
When our founder Cory first got into fishkeeping, funds were tight, so he started breeding fish to help with his hobby expenses. After years of experience with fish tanks and fish rooms of all sizes, Cory still enjoys breeding fish in his 20-gallon aquarium. This is both the long and high version. Learn about his top 5 favorite fish and invertebrates that are easy to spawn and raise up in a colony setting.
1. Mouth-Brooding Bettas
Most people know about Betta splendens with their large and colorful fins, but breeding them can be hassle since the male juveniles are too territorial to cohabitate and must be raised in individual jars until they reach a sellable size. Some mouth-brooding Betta species, however, are more peaceful and can be kept together in 20-gallon breeding sets. We have personally kept and had great success with strawberry bettas (B. albimarginata and Penang bettas) but there are other species like snakehead bettas and B. rubra. We like to cover the aquarium with thick hardscape and plant densely to create a break in the line of sight for future fry. A tight-fitting lid is recommended to increase humidity and prevent fish from jumping out. For aggression-free swimming, small dither fish can be added to the tank such as neon Tetras. Most of these bettas prefer acidic, tannin-stained water, so don’t forget to add catappa leaves and other botanicals.
The male will care for the brood for the next 1.5-3 week after the female has borne eggs and the eggs have been fertilized. The male will let the babies swim once they have hatched. Baby brine shrimp is a superfood that can help fry grow quickly and powerfully. The male can not eat while he holds eggs so keep the female in a separate container or tank until he has had time to gain his weight before breeding again. To make space for the next generation of brood, you can remove the juveniles from the tank.
2. Dwarf Shrimp
Dwarf shrimp are a great choice if you’re looking to produce something in high demand that is easy to sell. There are many species to choose from – such as Neocaridina cherry shrimp, Caridina crystal shrimp, and even Sulawesi shrimp – so select a type that works best with your normal tap water’s parameters. Dwarf shrimp are great scavengers and will eat any gunk or mulm that is left in your tank. While it’s nice to keep them in a beautiful planted aquascape, they would be just as happy in an algae-filled setup because of all the free food to graze on. Use a sponge filter that has gentle flow or put a prefilter sponge on your canister filter to keep any babies from getting sucked up.
If your goal is to raise as many shrimps as possible, you should keep a tank that only contains species. You can also add green neon tetras and chili rasboras to make your aquarium more active. You can feed them a lot to make sure they don’t eat too much and give the babies shrimp more places to escape. Find out more about our top 12 tank mates that dwarf shrimp should keep.
3. Fancy Guppies
Fancy guppies, another popular aquatic animal, are easy to breed. As with most livebearers they need good water and food to reproduce. If the parents are not available to care for their children, you can add more plants, such as Pogostemon Stellatus ‘octopus’ and water sprite, so that the babies have cover and the adults can reach them. You have two options: you can either breed a tank that is mixed with different colors or one that has a pure color. Be prepared to cull and remove deformed or undesirable traits from the fry in both cases. For more details on colony breeding for livebearers like guppies, read the full article.
4. White Cloud Mountain Minnows
Many hobbyists view egg layers as more difficult to breed and raise than livebearers. Therefore, white cloud minnows make a great starting fish. Cory initially bought a bunch of them as feeder fish. He was then surprised to discover that he had accidentally bred over a hundred of them. Encouraged by his success, he went on to run the “White Cloud Race” at his local fish club where contestants would start with six minnows and see how many they could make over the summer season. This fish is easy to keep and can be kept outdoors in small ponds during warmer months. The fry can be raised together with the adults as long as there aren’t too many fish or snails. To increase survival rates, add lots of fluffy, dense plants to shelter the fry and keep them away from the older juveniles. Our care guide provides more information about the breeds and their handling.
5. Desert Gobies
You may feel that you have bred every species of fish you see after a few years of fishkeeping. What kind of oddball fish can you find that is still easy to reproduce? The desert goby is your friend. Although it isn’t the most colorful fish, we love their unique appearance and unusual behaviors. Although they can be kept in community tanks, most of their babies will end up as food. We prefer to keep them in a species only setup for breeding purposes. You should provide plenty of hides for subdominant adults as they have large mouths. You can encourage breeding by adding a PVC pipe measuring 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) and watching them lay eggs in it. Once they hatch out, you’ll spot little fry scooting around on the ground. They aren’t as high-yielding as livebearers so don’t expect to build a huge colony, but they are a really cool fish that many people haven’t played with before.
Good luck with your next 20 gallon breeding project. You can view the stocking list of our favorite online retailers to see what is available, even though we don’t ship live fish. You can find more helpful tips in our article on how to breed aquarium fish.