Breeding Egg-Laying Aquarium Fish, Part Four


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Breeding Egg-Laying Aquarium Fish, Part Four: Easy to Breed Egg-Laying Fish.

This is the fourth in a series of articles on breeding egg-laying aquarium fish. In previous articles we covered food for the fry, and a suitable environment for spawning. Now we are ready to look at a few easy to breed egg-laying fish species.

First we’ll look my “top three”, then in a subsequent article we’ll cover a few fish that may be easy to breed, but have some other undesirable traits.

Without further ado, the best fish for the beginner to try are:

1. Cherry Barb, (Puntius titteya). Small, colorful, hardy, easy to induce to spawn, and the fry will feed on newly hatched brine shrimp and/or infusoria in the tank.

2. White Cloud Mountain Minnow, aka “White Clouds”, (Tanichthys albonubes). Small, colorful, very hardy, somewhat easy to induce to spawn, and the fry will feed on newly hatched brine shrimp and/or infusoria in the tank.

3. Albino Corydora, aka “Albino Cory Catfish”, (Corydora aeneus). Small, colorful, (in a subdued way!), very hardy, easy to induce to spawn, and the fry will feed on “muck” on the bottom of the tank!

Cherry Barb, (Puntius titteya)

Cherry Barbs are my all time number one choice for the easiest egg-laying fish to spawn. They are small, pretty, peaceful, hardy, and ready and willing to reproduce. The young are easy to raise, (they gobble up baby brine shrimp), and plentiful. In fact, your biggest problem with Cherry Barbs, (and most any fish that reproduce, actually), will be what to do with all the babies!

I bred Cherry Barbs using 10 gallon tanks as explained in Part Three, with a layer of marbles on the bottom of the tank. I also crammed lots of vegetation, (real and fake), into the water, and lowered the water level to about half full. Feed the adults brine shrimp as often as you can, and watch for when the “fat ones”, (the mommies full of eggs), become thin. At that point, move the adults to another tank, (they will eagerly eat their own eggs, and babies should any happen to hatch), and daily check your breeding tank for the presence of babies. If the tank you move the adults to is also set up as a breeding tank, you can keep breeding these fish indefinitely. (Let’s fill the world with Cherry Barbs!)

I’m oversimplifying here; don’t be discouraged if your first few attempts to produce babies fail. But, like riding a bicycle, once you get the hang of it, this will seem as easy as …. well, riding a bicycle!

For more information on Cherry Barbs, please check these references:

Aquatic Community:


White Cloud Mountain Minnow, (Tanichthys albonubes)

White Clouds have basically the same desirable traits and tank requirements as Cherry Barbs, but in my experience they are much less eager to spawn. However, they make up for this by being able to tolerate and thrive in cooler temperatures. In fact, White Clouds aren’t truly a “tropical” fish, and if properly acclimated would probably do okay in temperatures as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit. (However, don’t get carried away, and expect them to survive a North American winter outdoors!) They are also much less inclined to eat their own eggs and babies, so you can raise a small amount of fry and adults in the same tank.

It took me a while to get White Clouds to spawn, so be patient with them. (I think they need time to “get used” to their surroundings, so to speak.) However, once they do spawn you don’t have to be in a rush to remove the adults from the spawning tank, so in that sense White Clouds will appeal to the more laid-back aquarist. I’ve tried to breed them in outdoor ponds during the summer, but nothing has ever come of that.

For more information on White Clouds, please check these references:

Seriously Fish:


Albino Corydora, (Corydora aeneus)

I LOVE Cory catfish, and who doesn’t? With their whiskers, peaceful nature, and playful antics on the bottom of the tank, they seem happy as otters. But, sadly, Cories are among the most abused of all tropical fish, for people often buy only one, (or rarely two), of them to stick alone in a tank. Corydoras do best in groups of at least three or more, as they are a social fish. A lone Cory will not be a happy Cory.

So … we are going to get a group of Cories, three or more, and since we want them to breed, put them in their own tank. (Remember from the Introduction: “If you want to breed egg-laying fish, then you will have to accept the fact that you will need to have at least one species-only tank.”) This tank should have a bare bottom, and be full of as many potted plants as you can cram into it. I would not add a heater, as Cories can take cool, (not cold!), temperatures with ease.

If you take care of your Cories, they will breed readily, typically laying their eggs on the sides of the tank, or a stiff plant leaf. Sadly, Cory eggs are highly susceptible to fungus, so in this case you will need a power filter or some other means by which you provide a strong current of water in the tank. The Cories are smart; they will lay their eggs where the water flow is strongest.

You can also try GENTLY scraping off the adhesive eggs and raising them in a clean container with moving water. I have treated the eggs with methylene blue, but for the life of me I can’t remember if this helped discourage the fungus or not. You’ll have to try this one on your own!

Feeding the Cory babies is tricky. They will hang out on the bottom, and as best I can tell have no interest in newly hatched brine shrimp. What they will eat is the, for lack of a better word, “muck” that accumulates on the bottom of the tank, particularly around the bottom of the potted plants. In fact, I would say that potted plants, not brine shrimp, are the crucial factor for Cory baby survival.

Using this method, which is mostly hands off, (notice that, in a glaring exception to the rule, brine shrimp is NOT required), you will have a few, say three or four, of the babies survive from each spawning. The adults can be left in the same tank, as they will not eat their own eggs or babies. Over time you’ll start to accumulate quite a herd of Cory catfish!

For more information on Albino Corydoras, please check these references:

Aquatic Community:

All About Aquarium Fish:

These are the top three fish I would recommend to beginning breeders. But suppose none of them “strike your fancy”, or, ominously, you can’t succeed in breeding any of them? In Part Five we will read about some other easily bred aquarium fish that, because of a bad trait or two, I don’t recommend you to start with. Let’s head over to Part Five, and see what awaits us there!




Back to Part Three


On to Part Five