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. You might see a baby fish if you take good care of them and feed them well. While accidental fry are always exciting, there are several ways you can increase their survival rate or boost your numbers if you plan on selling them for profit.
1. Protect the Eggs From the Parents
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. You can choose one of the following methods depending on your species and their egg-laying habits:
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. You can move the egg spawning location to a safer spot once the eggs are laid. You can also remove sticky eggs from aquarium glass and other immovable objects if they are on the glass. Another method is to manually collect the eggs by rolling them off with your fingers or using a plastic 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. A mesh screen from a craft store can be placed above the aquarium floor for eggs to fall through. As an extra protection measure, some breeders place mosses and other bushy plants under the mesh.
Some fish, such as discus, prefer to lay eggs on vertical surfaces with spawning tiles or cones.
While most cave-spawning fish, such as dwarf cichlids or plecos, are adept at protecting their eggs and are usually able to feed off them, the new parents may be more likely to eat them. If you wish to hatch the eggs yourself, use an appropriate-sized pleco cave, coconut hut, Apistogramma cave, or PVC pipe for the fish to spawn, and then take away the cave as soon as the eggs are laid. – Certain African cichlid species are mouth brooders that protectively hold their eggs and fry inside their mouths. Breeders sometimes remove the eggs (or fry), from the female to avoid the babies being accidentally swallowed and allow the mother to take more time to recover. This is a complicated topic, so make sure to do some research on stripping eggs and the best method for you.
Once the eggs have been isolated, now it is time to hatch them. Eggs, especially unfertilized ones, are prone to growing fungus, which can quickly spread and ruin an entire clutch. You can place larger eggs belonging to African cichlids or plecos in an egg tumbler. This will constantly circulate fresh, oxygenated water and discourage fungal infections. Another method is to place the eggs in a small, plastic container of water with an air stone for circulation, and keep the eggs warm by floating the container in an aquarium or clipping it to the side of the tank wall. Add a few drops methylene blue to the water until it turns slightly blue, or add some alder cones for a mild fungicide. Once the eggs hatch, you can do a couple of half-water changes in the container. You can remove eggs with fungal growth using either of these techniques.
2. Remove the Fry
The baby fish are still in danger even after the eggs hatch. Separating the fry from the adults not only prevents them from being eaten, but it also allows them to grow bigger and faster because there is less competition for food. Additionally, it is best to keep the newborns in a smaller container so that they don’t have to expend as much energy swimming to reach their meals. 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 breeder box just before she gives birth. The mother can then be removed after all fry have arrived.
Breeder boxes allow you to raise fry in the aquarium with the adults, while also protecting them from 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. To avoid cannibalism and reduce the competition for food, separate any fry that are growing faster than others. This sorting is also a chance to cull any sickly fish to prevent their defective genes from spreading.
3. Provide 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. While this approach may not yield the highest number of offspring, it is certainly easier in terms of time, cost, and space. You need to make sure that there are plenty of places for the fry to escape, and the adults can’t fit in. This will increase their survival rate. 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 the option of placing a pregnant livebearer into the trap so the fry can escape the holes. Breeders use an enormous wad of Easter basketgrass to make a dense mass that is difficult for even the smallest babies to swim between.
A thick jungle of live aquarium plants can be used to shelter your animals if you prefer something more natural. Our favorite species for colony breeding are Pogosteman.stellatus.octopus, java.moss, water.sprite, and floating plants that have bushy roots (such as dwarf water lettuce and frogbit). Some species prefer a pile of rocks with small gaps in between for the youngest fish to squeeze past. Small artificial caves and aquarium decorations can also provide hiding spots for fry to escape from being chased.
Adding lots of aquarium plants can hide your baby fish and help you breed colony.
4. Maintain 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. Use gentle filtration, such as a sponge filter. Regular maintenance is necessary to keep the filter clean of fish poop. Cover the motor with a sponge filter, such as a hang on-back (HOB), to keep small fish poop from entering the motor.
Consider doing multiple water changes each week, or daily, to start feeding your fry. 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 create a miniature aquarium siphon with a length or airline tubing. Attach the other end of the tubing with rubber bands to a chopstick and place it in the aquarium water. The chopstick is useful for maneuvering the siphon and avoiding 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. The white bucket makes it easier to see any fry that might have accidentally escaped so that you can retrieve them with a turkey baster, or small 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. Multiply your small food intake multiple times per day
Fry have tiny stomachs and mouths. Newly hatched fish come with a yolk sac that feeds them until they are strong enough to freely swim and look for food. They then need small meals up to 3 times per day. You can set alarms for your phone, or use an automatic feeder to feed larger fish. Smaller newborns like rainbowfish and tetras should only be given microscopic foods such green water and infusoria. Larger newborn fish like African cichlids or livebearers can eat almost immediately crushed flakes and Repashy gel food. Easy Fry and Small Fish Feed are also available.
Hatching baby brine shrimp to give to your fish fry is an excellent way to boost 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. They are full of healthy fats and nutrients, as well as active swimming in the water column. This triggers your baby fish’s hunting instincts to produce delicious pink crustaceans. Our step-by–step tutorial will show you how to hatch baby brine shrimp.