Breeding Egg-Laying Aquarium Fish, Part Five: Other Fish to Try.
This is the fifth in a series of articles on breeding egg-laying aquarium fish. In the previous article we covered the three fish that I believe are best to start with for someone attempting to breed their first “egglayer”. In this article we will learn about some other fish that are relatively easy to breed, but possess one trait or another that makes them less than an ideal first choice.
Zebra Danio, (Danio rerio)
The Zebra Danio, or Zebrafish, is a small, peaceful, extremely hardy little animal. It’s hardiness and EASE OF BREEDING have caused it to be used for countless lab and genetic studies, one of the products of which has been the commercialization of a genetically modified strain, (developed to detect pollution), into the extremely colorful GloFish. It seems EVERYBODY has successfully bred Zebrafish. Everybody, that it, except me!
Oh sure, I’ve gotten them to spawn successfully. Using the setup I describe in Part Three, I’ve had my Zebras lay plenty of eggs. I removed the breeders then, of course, and the eggs mostly all hatched. The little babies developed nicely, bouncing around until they had consumed their yolk sack. And then my problems began …
Every single batch of Zebra Danio babies I’ve had has starved to death!
Maybe it’s because Zebras are from moving water, and the babies need a current to feed properly? I don’t know. I’ve given them the best of newly hatched brine shrimp, but to no avail. They all just refuse to eat, and waste away.
Most of the references I read recommend feeding the fry infusoria. You can read my opinion of infusoria here in Part Two. (Hint: I don’t like it!)
So despite what other folks may say, I personally think successfully breeding Zebra Danios is a bit tricky. But now that GloFish with their fantastic fluorescent colors are readily available, maybe it is worth trying to breed them again. (Note: supposedly it is not legal to breed GloFish even for personal use. Check the laws in your state.)
Here are some references for more information on Zebra Danios:
How to Breed Tropical Fish: http://breedtropicalfish.blogspot.com/2007/02/how-to-breed-and-raise-zebrafish.html
Freshwater Aquariums on About.com: http://freshaquarium.about.com/cs/cyprinids2/p/zebradanio.htm
Convict Cichlid, (Amatitlania nigrofasciata)
If you are having trouble coaxing your fish to breed, I DEFY you to NOT breed these little monsters! The basic requirements for Convicts to successfully reproduce is a boy Convict and a girl Convict in a leakproof container of non-toxic water of room temperature, and some food.
Yes, I exaggerate, but not much. Convicts are ridiculously easy to breed, and they come in a pink form that is very attractive in its own subtle way. The babies are tough, and fairly simple to raise even without brine shrimp. Unfortunately, Convicts have one huge problem; they are extremely mean and nasty critters!
Don’t worry about putting them into a community tank, because unless the other fish are fighters too, they will soon be disposed of.
If you like vicious fish, then this is the fish for you! (I can imagine some loser in a trailer park with his freely roaming abused pitbull and cages of venomous snakes, hollering over to his battered girlfriend, “Hey, let’s get us some of those Convict fish. They sound cool!”) But be aware that over time you may have a problem figuring out what to do with all the babies. In fact, if you’re interested in Convicts, one of the cheapest ways to get some is at a local fish club auction, where the other aquarists will be grateful that you’re taking the Convicts off their hands, no matter how low your bid.
When I was raising Convicts, my intent was to use the babies as live food for other fish that I wanted to keep. But after I had a few batches ready, I wimped out. I couldn’t do it; I couldn’t use any of my “babies” as food. Maybe you aren’t as emotional as me, and deliberately destroying a batch of new life is no problem for you. But I need to tell you this yet again: be prepared for the day when you have to decide just what the heck are you gonna do with all those little mean fish.
Unlike all the previous fish we’re learned about, Convicts are not group spawners. A male and a female pair off and monogamously mate, (no doubt endearing them to religious fanatics), and in fact will fight off other Convicts who intrude upon their “territory”. If you want to breed these little terrors, you will need to ensure that you do have at least one boy and one girl, so the best thing to do is to start with a group of six or more, and let them sort things out for themselves. (Watch out! It will get violent!)
Further reading on Convicts:
Kribs, (Pelvicachromis sp., usually Pelvicachromis pulcher)
I love Kribs! They are almost as fanatical about breeding as Convicts, but are much, much nicer, and in my opinion are much prettier, being one of the more attractive aquarium fish.
The Kribensis Cichlid is about as peaceful as a normal Cichlid ever gets, and can be kept, and bred, in a community tank. Please don’t do this, but yours truly has successfully raised most of a batch of Krib babies in a 10 gallon tank with other peaceful fish. These same babies survived without brine shrimp. (Remember my attempt to feed them with infusoria described in Part Two?) But if you want to improve your chances of success, you’ll give your spawning Kribs their own tank.
Like Convicts, Kribs form pairs, so you’ll want to start with at least half a dozen or more to ensure a good gender mix. Kribs like to spawn in small sheltered areas, or “caves”, which can be readily provided in the aquarium by placing small unglazed ceramic flowerpots on their side. Obviously you don’t want them rolling all around the tank, so fix the flowerpots in place somehow. (Use your imagination!)
If I were to try breeding Kribs again, I’d get eight or so and put them by themselves in at least a 30 gallon tank, with as many “flowerpot caves” as I could wedge in there. Given a minimum level of care, in no time at all I’d have several breeding pairs, and soon be facing the same problem that arises with Convicts, namely, what to do with all the babies?
While Convicts are easier to breed, (like I’ve said, the trick with Convicts is to get them NOT to breed!), Kribs are much more fun. I’d give Kribs a try first, and if you just can’t succeed with them, then resort to breeding Convicts.
Further reading on Kribs:
The Planted Tank: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showthread.php?t=51883 (Page down for a description of them breeding in a community tank!)
Freshwater Aquariums on About.com: http://freshaquarium.about.com/cs/africansgeneral/p/kribensis.htm
There is one more article in this series, where we will discuss one more type of fish, and then I will end with some general comments. So if you’re up to it, let’s continue on to Part Six, and learn a little bit about breeding …. Angelfish!