When fish decide to breed, special care needs to be taken for the sake of the fish fry. Giving baby fish their own aquarium is usually a good start.
Many fish are prolific breeders, and if the aquarist is not prepared, he could find himself with a cloud of possibly hundreds of baby fish, or fish fry, but no practical way to raise them and care for them. Even those intending to breed aquarium fish need to carefully plan and provide the necessities for both the parent and baby fishes. Setting up a baby fish aquarium is a relatively simple task, but raising fish poses its own challenges.
Setting Up the Baby Fish Aquarium
In most cases, baby fish need to be separated from their parents and any other fish in the general population. In some cases, the parents need to be removed immediately after spawning or they will eat their own eggs, or the fry that hatch.
The type of fish being raised and the number of fry in the spawn will ultimately determine the size of the aquarium to be used. But since baby fish take up so little space, small aquariums can be used. Aquariums ranging from 2.5 to 5 to 10 gallons all work well when housing young fish fry. Realize, however, that as the fish grow and mature, they will need to be placed in a larger “grow-out” aquarium.
Aquarium sponge filters are the best choice for filtration because their operation does not greatly disturb the water or create excess flow. Be sure to turn down the air flow on the sponge filter as low as possible. The baby fish are very small and fragile; any unnecessary water movement may injure them and make it more difficult for them to move around and locate food.
Make use of a small heater to regulate the temperature. Perform the appropriate research for the species of fish being raised and determine the temperature the fry need to be kept at. What is important is that the water temperature remain constant and without fluctuation so as not to stress the fish fry.
Baby Fish Food – Diet and Feeding Habits
At this sensitive point in their life, fish fry need to be fed specialized foods. Once they become free-swimming many fish will require the very smallest of foods, including infusoria and green water. These are very small microorganisms such as ciliates, protozoa, and single-celled algae found in greenwater.
For larger fry, or when smaller fry grow, more substantial foods can be used. Newly hatched brine shrimp, daphnia, microworms, and similar live foods are excellent choices. However, there are also commercial powder and liquid fry foods. The aquarist can also grind up high quality packaged foods and feed them to the fry.
Certain fish when young have particular food requirements. For example, some fish fry will only accept live foods, or foods that move in the water, enticing the baby fish eat. Before choosing a food, research the fish’s dietary needs.
Baby fish should be fed several times per day. Understand that as feedings become more frequent and greater quantities of food are portioned out, water quality will decline.
Raising Fish – Water Quality and Aquarium Maintenance
Since they are not fully developed, baby fish are not prepared for the rigors of aquarium life. As such, it is the aquarist’s responsibility to take steps to ensure the health of the fish fry.
When the fry become free-swimming and are being fed regularly, water quality will be of the utmost concern. Baby fish are very sensitive to water quality, and an entire spawn can be lost should the water quality decline.
To ensure good water quality, frequent water changes must be performed. Remove about one quarter of the water three to four times per week. Be sure to dechlorinate the water, and ensure that the water being added is close to the same temperature as that in the aquarium. Clean the sponge filter often.
Fish fry should not be subjected to any undue stress. This includes excessive lighting, aeration, water flow, or temperature. The fry should be placed in a quiet, low-traffic environment. The baby fish should not be moved unless absolutely necessary—and if they are to be moved, neither the eggs nor the fry should be removed from the water or exposed to air. Instead siphon out the fry, or use a different container or bag to remove them in the water.
Raising fish successfully can be fraught with challenges. Preparation and research are the best tools at the aquarist’s disposal. If the right foods and proper care are provided, any aquarist can raise a healthy family of baby fish.