Top 5 Easy Fish Breeding Ideas for your Next 20-Gallon Aquarium


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. Discover his 5 favourite fish and invertebrates. They are easy to spawn, raise and maintain in a colony setting.


1. Mouth-Brooding Bettas

Betta albimarginata

Betta splendens, a Betta species known for its colorful fins, is easy to breed. The male juveniles can’t cohabit and must be kept separate from the females until they reach adulthood. Some of the mouth-brooding Betta species can be kept together in a 20 gallon breeding set. We’ve personally kept and had success with the strawberry betta (B. albimarginata) and Penang betta (B. pugnax), but there are several other species to try like the snakehead betta (B. channoides) and B. rubra. To break up the line of sight and create hiding places for future fry, we like to plant the aquarium densely and add tall hardscape. To increase humidity and stop fish jumping out, a tight fitting lid is recommended. Even small ditherfish like neon tetras can be added to your tank to break up aggression and allow them to swim freely in open water. 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 spawned. The male will let the babies swim once they have hatched. The fry can usually eat baby brine shrimp immediately after hatching. This superfood will allow them to grow quickly and strong. You should know that the male cannot eat while holding eggs. Keep the female in separate tanks or breeder boxes until he can regain his mass before breeding them again. Remove the juveniles as the tank gets more full. This will make it easier to have room for the next batch of eggs and avoid territorial disputes.

2. Dwarf Shrimp

Neocaridina davidi

Dwarf shrimp is a good choice for breeding something that is in high demand and easy sell. There are many species available, including Caridina crystal shrimp, Neocaridina cherry shrimp and Sulawesi shrimp. Make sure to select one that is compatible with your tap water. Dwarf shrimp are scavengers that love picking through all the mulm and gunk in your aquarium, so they do best in a well-seasoned tank that has been running for many months. Although it is nice to have them in a planted aquascape, they will be happy eating the algae-filled food. To filter out tiny babies, use a sponge filter.

If your goal is to raise as many shrimps as possible, you should keep a tank that only contains species. However, if you want a livelier aquarium, then you could add other nano fish like chili rasboras and green neon tetras. They will be more likely to eat the colony, and they will also need to be fed heavily to provide safe places for baby shrimp to escape. Find out more about our top 12 tank mates that dwarf shrimp should keep.

3. Fancy Guppies

Poecilia reticulata

Fancy guppies is another aquatic animal that’s very popular and easy for you to breed. You can provide them with good food and water, and they will reproduce as rabbits. The parents will predate on their own young, so to increase your numbers, add lots of plants like water sprite and Pogostemon stellatus ‘octopus’ where the small babies can take cover and the adults have a harder time reaching them. Either you want to breed a tank with random colors or a single pure color. In both cases, be prepared to cull the fry and remove any young that show deformities or throw undesirable features that would mess up your line breeding efforts. For more details on colony breeding for livebearers like guppies, read the full article.

4. White Cloud Mountain Minnows

Tanichthys albonubes

Many hobbyists view egg layers as more difficult to breed and raise than livebearers. Therefore, white cloud minnows make a great starting fish. Cory first bought a small group of them to use as a feeder fish. However, he was shocked to find that he had accidentally bred an entire tonne 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 beginner-friendly fish is quite hardy and can even be kept outside in mini ponds during the warmer months. If you don’t have many fish or snails with them, fry can be raised with adults in the same colony. For a better survival rate, keep the juveniles away from younger siblings and add plenty of thick, fluffy plants. Read our care guide to learn more about their behavior and the various color options.

5. Desert Gobies

Chlamydogobius eremius

You may feel that you have bred every species of fish you see after a few years of fishkeeping. What other oddball fishes can you breed? Enter the desert goby. While it’s not the most colorful fish out there, we love their unusual appearance and unique behaviors. They can be kept together in community tanks. However, the babies will likely end up as food so we prefer to keep them alone in a species-only setting for breeding. They have large mouths and can get a little territorial during spawning seasons, so provide lots of hides for the subdominant adults. A 0.5-inch (1.35 cm) PVC pipe can be added to encourage breeding. Watch them lay eggs inside. Once they hatch out, you’ll spot little fry scooting around on the ground. They don’t yield as many eggs as livebearers and won’t be able to grow large colonies. However, they are an interesting fish that many people have never tried.

Best of luck with your next 20-gallon breeding project. We don’t ship live fish but you can check the stocking listings of our preferred online retailers. You can find more helpful tips in our article on how to breed aquarium fish.


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