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. Accidental fry can be exciting but there are many ways to increase their survival rate and boost your profits if you intend on selling them.
1. Protect the Eggs from the Parent
Many fish don’t show parental care and will happily eat the eggs they’ve just laid. The first step in saving eggs is to stop them being eaten. Use one of the following methods based on the species and their egg-laying behavior:
If the eggs are sticky you can offer sites for them to lay such as yarn spawning mop, dense plants (like Java moss or Frogbit), ceramic tiles or spawning cones. Once the eggs are laid, you can move the spawning site to a safer location. If sticky eggs have been placed on aquarium glass or any other immovable object, the parents can be removed from the tank. You can also manually collect eggs using your fingers or a credit card. – If the eggs are freely scattered around and don’t stick to things, you can use layers of marbles as substrate to allow eggs to fall in between the cracks where the parents can’t reach them. To allow eggs to fall through, you can also place a mesh screen or plastic net from the craft shop just above the aquarium’s bottom. For extra protection, some breeders prefer to place mosses or other bushy vegetation underneath the mesh.
Some fish such as discus prefer to lay their eggs vertically on spawning tiles or cones, like the discus.
– Most cave-spawning fish (like plecos and dwarf cichlids) are good at guarding their eggs, but new parents are often prone to eating them. If you want to hatch the eggs yourself use a suitable-sized Apistogramma, Apistogramma, coconut hut or PVC pipe to allow the fish to spawn. Once the eggs are laid, remove the cave. Some African cichlid species have mouth brooders which protect their eggs and fry in their mouths. However, some breeders choose to strip the female of the eggs (or fry) to prevent the babies from being accidentally swallowed, stop the fry from being released into the main tank, and give the mother more time to recover from her duties. This is an in-depth topic that extends beyond the scope of this article, so do your research to learn more about stripping eggs and which method works best for you.
Once the eggs have been isolated, now it is time to hatch them. Even unfertilized eggs can grow fungus quickly, which can spread rapidly and cause the destruction of entire clutches. Larger eggs that belong to African cichlids, plecos, peacock gudgeons, and the like can be placed in an egg tumbler that constantly blows fresh, oxygenated water onto the eggs and discourages fungal infections. You can also place the eggs in small plastic containers of water that have an air stone to circulate the egg. Keep the eggs warm by putting them in an aquarium, or simply clipping the container 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. Remove the Fry
After the eggs have hatched, the baby fish still aren’t out of the danger zone. 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. Because the fry can live in the same water and tank conditions as their parents, a net breeder or a breeder box with a bunch of moss is ideal. For livebearers that bear live young instead of laying eggs, you can place the pregnant female in the breeder box when she’s about to give birth and then remove the mother after all the fry have arrived.
A breeding box lets you raise fry in the aquarium with the adults, while protecting them against predation.
If the baby fry become stronger and bigger, it is time to move them to larger grow-out tanks to allow them more space. If some fry are growing faster than others, you may need to separate them out by size into multiple aquariums to prevent cannibalism and lessen competition for food. 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. Provide Lots of Cover
Colony breeding can be used if you do not have the space to install an extra grow-out tank. This allows the parents and their young to be raised in the same aquarium. Although this method may not produce the most offspring, it is much more efficient in terms of space, time, and cost. The key to increasing fry survival is to create lots of tiny spaces for babies that are safe and secure. 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. This allows you to either place a pregnant livebearer inside the trap so that the fry can escape out the holes, or vice versa where the parents are outside the trap and the fry can swim inside for safety. 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.
If you prefer a more natural-looking form of shelter, a thick jungle of live aquarium plants also serves the same purpose. We love java moss and Pogosteman. stellatus. ‘Octopus’ are our favorites for colony-building. Some species prefer a pile of rocks with small gaps in between for the youngest fish to squeeze past. Finally, aquarium decorations and small artificial caves can provide additional hiding places for fry to dart behind if being chased.
To hide your baby fish, add many aquarium plants.
4. Make sure you have good water quality
Baby fish are less resistant than adult fish, and can become more sensitive to toxic substances or other waste. Regular maintenance of the filter is essential to ensure it does not become clogged with fish poop. If you’re using a hang-on-back (HOB) or other filter with an intake tube, cover the intake with a pre-filter sponge to prevent little ones from getting sucked into the motor.
You will likely be feeding the fry many times per week so it is worth doing several water changes per day. This part can be a little stressful because 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. You can also make a siphon aquarium using lengths of airline tubing. Attach the other end of the tubing with rubber bands to a chopstick and place it in the aquarium water. The chopstick makes it easy to maneuver the siphon without causing damage to the baby fish. 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. You can see the white bucket better so you can find any fry that have escaped. You can also have the siphoned water stream into a fish net or breeder net clipped to the side of the bucket, which will then collect any fry that escape.
Make your own DIY fry siphon using tubing, chopsticks, and rubber bands.
5. Eat Tiny Foods Multiple times a Day
Fry have small mouths and tiny stomachs. Just like human babies, they need to eat every day. A yolk sac feeds newly hatched fish until they are strong enough for them to swim and seek food. They then need small meals up to 3 times per day. For larger foods, you can use an automatic fish feeder or set alarms on your smartphone. 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 newborn fish (e.g., livebearers and African cichlids) can almost immediately eat crushed flakes, Repashy gel food, and Easy Fry and Small Fish Food.
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. Check out our step by step tutorial to learn how you can hatch your own baby salt shrimp.