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Live Bearer Breeding
Unlike many breeds of fish that lay eggs, live bearing fish give birth to live young. Novice tropical fish hobbyists should select easy to breed live bearers, such as guppies, mollies and platys to breed baby fish. These breeds typically breed easily, give birth to many young and provide colourful pets for the aquarium. To encourage tropical fish to breed, the aquarium light and temperature should mimic the bright, warm spring to summer conditions fish would feel in the wild. These conditions cue their reproductive cycles and encourage frequent mating and birth of young, called "fry."
How Live Bearers Breed
Live bearing fish breed when the male fish swims alongside the female fish and releases a cloud of sperm to fertilise her eggs. The male reproductive organ, also called the onopodimn or the anal fin, is usually long and pointed. Females have a fan-shaped fin instead of the pointed anal fin. The male will swim close and sometimes appear to strike the female with the anal fin. In reality, he is sending sperm close to her body to fertilise the eggs inside of her. Female fish are ready to reproduce when they are usually between 8 to 12 weeks old. The pregnant female will develop a noticeably rounded abdomen. When she is ready to give birth, she will likely swim to the top of the tank or near plants so that her young have a hiding place after they are born.
Keeping Baby Fish Safe
To encourage reproduction, keep the fish tank warm and bright. Water temperature between 20.0 and 26.6 degrees C is optimal for breeding. Bright light for twelve hours a day is ideal for tropical fish. Provide fish with nutritious food appropriate for their breed.
One common complaint among tropical fish owners is that female fish eat their young. Sometimes males do, too. To prevent this, keep your adult fish well fed, since well fed fish are less likely to think about eating their offspring. Provide plenty of plants so that the fry can hide among their leaves. If baby fish continue to be eaten before they mature, you may wish to place females in a breeding cage. A breeding cage is a cage made of mesh that is suspended by hooks into the fish tank. After the female has her young, remove the female and place her back with the adults in the tank. The young remain in the breeding cage, where they can be fed and nurtured until large enough to move into the general population. Another option, although less desirable, is to move the young to their own tank. Use a gravy or soup ladle to scoop them out of the tank with plenty of water. Do not use a net, since this is too much of a shock for their young systems, and always use the same water from the tank in which they were born for the new tank to avoid temperature and water quality shock.
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