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. 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. Parents, protect the eggs
Many fish don’t show parental care and will happily eat the eggs they’ve just laid. Therefore, the first step is to save the eggs from being gobbled up. 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. You can move the egg spawning location to a safer spot once the eggs are laid. – 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. A mesh screen from a craft store can be placed above the aquarium floor for eggs to fall through. Some breeders like to put mosses or other bushy plants underneath the mesh as additional protection.
Some fish like discus prefer to use spawning cones or tiles to lay their eggs on vertical surfaces.
Plucking eggs from cave-spawning fish like dwarf cichlids and plecos is a skill that most fish are very good at protecting. However, new parents can be tempted to eat 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. Certain species of African cichlids have mouth brooders, which keep their eggs and fry safe inside 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 a complicated topic, so make sure to do some research on stripping eggs and the best method for you.
Now it’s time to hatch the eggs. 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. 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. The Fry should be removed
After the eggs have hatched, the baby fish still aren’t out of the danger zone. Separating fry from adults will not only keep them from being eaten but also allow them to grow larger and faster due to less competition for food. It is best to keep your newborns in a smaller container, so they don’t need to swim as far to get to their food. A net breeder or breeder box with a clump of moss for shelter is ideal because it allows the fry to live in the same tank and water conditions as the 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 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. To prevent cannibalism or reduce competition for food, it is possible to separate fry by size and place them in multiple aquariums. This is a great opportunity to remove sickly fry and prevent them from spreading to other aquariums.
3. Make sure you have plenty of coverage
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. This method is not the best, but it will produce more offspring than you would expect. The key to increasing fry survival is to create lots of tiny spaces for babies that are safe and secure. Breeders make DIY fish fry traps by using craft mesh or floating pond plant baskets. They also use zip ties to attach the mesh to a tall cylindrical. 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. A giant wad of Easter basket grass is also used by breeders to create a dense mass that only the tiniest babies can swim in between.
If you prefer a more natural-looking form of shelter, a thick jungle of live aquarium plants also serves the same purpose. For colony breeding, our favorite plants are java moss (or Pogosteman stellatus “octopus”), water sprite and floating plants with bushy root systems (such as dwarf water lettuce or frogbit). For the youngest fish, some species prefer rocks that have small gaps between them. Aquarium decorations and small artificial caves are great options for hiding from predators.
For colony breeding, you can add lots of aquarium plants to hide your baby fish.
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. You should use gentle filtration such as a sponge filter and maintain the filter regularly to prevent fish poop from building up. 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.
Since you will be feeding the fry a lot, consider doing daily or multiple water changes per week at first. This is a time-consuming part that can cause stress as it is possible to accidentally vacuum up babies. A turkey baster is an excellent tool to carefully remove water from small containers or breeder nets. You can also make a siphon aquarium using lengths of airline tubing. Attach one end of the tubing to a chopstick with rubber bands, and then place that end into the aquarium water. You can maneuver the siphon easily and avoid getting in the way of the baby fish by using the chopstick. You can use your mouth and suck the tubing’s other end to get water flowing through it. After that, you can place the end in a white bucket to collect any dirty water. You can see the white bucket better so you can find any fry that have escaped. 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 out of tubing, a chopstick, and rubber bands for cleaning grow-out tanks.
5. Multiply your small food intake multiple times per day
Fry have small mouths and tiny stomachs. Just like human babies, they need to eat every day. The yolk sac is a food source for newly hatched fish until they can swim freely and search 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. The smallest newborns (e.g., rainbowfish and tetras) should be fed nearly microscopic foods like green water, infusoria, fry powder, and vinegar eels. Livebearers and African Cichlids can be fed crushed flakes, Repashy gel, Easy Fry, Small Fish Food, and other foods that are more readily available to larger newborn fish.
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. You can learn how to hatch your own baby brine shrimp by following our step-by-step instructions.