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FAQs on Characoids/Tetras & Relatives Reproduction

Related Articles: Characoids/Tetras & Relatives,

Related FAQs:  Characoids/Tetras & Relatives, Characoid Identification, Characoid Behavior, Characoid Compatibility, Characoid Selection, Characoid Systems, Characoid Feeding, Characoid Disease,

Silver Tip Tetra Breeding      7/21/15
Hi Crew,
I just want to say first that you have an amazing website with a treasure trove of information. The best I have come across yet.
<Thanks for the kind words, Steve.>
Currently I have 10 of these beauties (3 males, 7 females) in a 40 gallon breeder tank, planted. But reading through your section on STT's I didn't find any information on breeding. I have read some things on other websites (a separate tank with subdued lighting, conditioning with live or frozen foods, slightly elevated temperatures (low to mid 80's), and slightly acidic ph) and I was wondering if my 10gal tank with a sponge filter would be good for a spawning tank.
<Yes. Keep the tank clean (I wouldn't even bother with a substrate) and instead add one or two spawning mops (whether artificial, clumps of Java moss, or simply pots with Myriophyllum or Cabomba planted in them).>
I know they eat eggs, but could I use one tank to spawn multiple pairs?
<Normally tetras are removed to the spawning tank one pair at a time. I'm sure you could put multiple pairs in a largish sort of tank, but then your challenge will be remove eggs before the other fish find them. Since you don't normally feed fish in spawning tanks, they can get hungry. Really depends on how serious you are about rearing lots of fry. If you're happy
with just a few to top up your school, then by all means experiment with "group spawning" in the breeding tank.>
Any information would be super helpful.
<Condition well beforehand! You want the female to be obviously swollen with eggs before you move the pair. Water chemistry shouldn't be too hard (though unlike a lot of South American tetras, this species doesn't absolutely have to have very soft water to spawn). Anything between 1-10 degrees dKH, pH 6.0-7.0 is fine. But water quality needs to be good without a turbulent flow of water (an air-powered sponge filter would be ideal) and yes, lighting should be subdued (ambient room lighting is fine, even better if the tank is further shaded with floating plants). Sometimes adding peat or blackwater extract helps gets things moving along. Check for eggs at least daily, and remove when seen (a floating breeding trap can be a useful refuge for these until such time as the spawning tank is vacated, if you're using the same tank for rearing the fry). As is usual with tetras, the fry are pretty small. In all likelihood, you'll be using infusoria the first few days, and Microworms or brine shrimp nauplii thereafter and it'd be at least a good couple of weeks before you can start to switch to Liquifry and
similar. That said, some of the new fish fry foods are very good, and if you wanted to experiment, in a mature rearing tank with lots of algae you might be pleasantly surprised. This is one of that select group of egg-scatterers that occasionally breeds successfully in quiet community tanks, by which I mean people have occasionally seen baby Silvertips hiding
among the plants in those sorts of tanks. So the fry can't be too fussy!>
<Do hunt down a copy of "Fish Breeding" by Chris Andrews. An oldish sort of book, but consequently availably for pennies on Amazon, and filled with useful ideas on spawning numerous species of fish. While Silvertips aren't in there, three other tetras are, and the key steps are all much of a muchness. Good luck. Cheers, Neale.>

Breeding emperor tetras  2/17/14
I have five emperor tetras in a 75 gallon at the moment. The are in there with Congo tetras and two angelfish. The really slow moving angelfish ignore them.  We have hard water. There is no water softener in the house so the gH is high, I tested the kH and it is fine for swords and guppies, but not for Emperor tetra breeding. They are speedy little things. Anyway someone at the LFS said that I could put them in the 10 gallon with half distilled water and half tap, filled only to the five gallon level, at about 78 degrees and let them go at it and if they breed the usual tiny live foods. I wonder if this is possible? Some of the stores here would love to get emperors as they are hard to obtain. Is distilled water mixed with tap as good as R/O Thank you
<Distilled water and RO water are interchangeable for aquaristic purposes; indeed, rainwater has historically been used as a substitute for both, though there are attendant risks to using rainwater to do with ambient air pollution and the cleanliness (or otherwise!) of roofs, gutters and rainwater storage butts. And yes, it's absolutely standard practise to mix tap water with de-mineralised water to make up what you want; for example, I routinely use a 50/50 mix of rainwater and tap water for my water changes, but the exact proportion will depend upon the desired hardness (pH is somewhat less of an issue provided its stable, as it seems to be calcium ions in particular that affects the viability of fish eggs). So if you have 20 degree dH hardness water and want water of 5 degrees dH, then you'd use 25% tap water and 75% de-mineralised water of some sort. Assuming you don't have clean rainwater, then the easiest way to get (relatively) inexpensive de-mineralised water is from your local aquarium shop, where it'll be sold by the gallon for use in marine aquaria. Do bear in mind you'll need to scale your demands for such water with regard to both the aquarium size and the frequency of water changes, so budget accordingly. In any case, I've not bred Emperor Tetras so can't comment in detail, but it is generally regarded as one of the easier tetras to breed, so definitely worth a shot.
Instead of me rewriting someone else's notes, have a look at what Gary Lange has to say over at FishChannel:
The SeriouslyFish page is pretty good too, with some specific water chemistry values to aim for:
Hope this helps, Neale.>
Breeding emperor tetras    2/23/14

I am acclimatizing three emperor tetras to the 10 gallon. A mixture of 75% distilled water and then rest from the 75 gallon. I am putting three in now. One aggressive male and two females. There are two males left in the 75 gallon. What is the best ratio of males to females in a ten gallon. I am thinking of getting another male tomorrow, but maybe it is ok the way it is. Thank you
<No personal experience of this species but Baensch suggests using pairs.
Do condition them properly beforehand though (live or frozen food likely essential) and make sure the breeding tank is somewhere dark. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Breeding emperor tetras     2/24/14

The breeding tank is dark 75 F and I may get a male emperor tomorrow to even it out. These tetras can be $7 each unlike the $1 sales on neons. It's strange they are so pricy here.
<Not really. That's a $1 charge for Neons that are crummy fish thanks to years of poor breeding, pretty much guaranteed to come down with Neon Tetra Disease within a few months (if not weeks) of purchase. Neons furthermore need soft, acidic water to thrive (their lifespan in hard water is limited, at best) and should also be kept relatively cool, around 22 C/72 F, which hardly anyone bothers with, least of all the retailers, hence them being half-stressed when purchased anyway, let alone any predispositions they have to disease. Compare that to a $7 charge for Emperor Tetras: a bigger, more interesting fish that has an excellent track record in terms of hardiness and adaptability to hard, alkaline water conditions and does well at normal tropical temperatures. Realistically can expect these fish to live 3-5 years if properly kept for, possibly longer. Hmm... Emperor tetras starting to sound like a bargain, perhaps! The question isn't really why Emperors are expensive (they're really not, big scheme of things) but how Neons are kept so low, and like suspiciously cheap food, there's a reason for their low cost. Mass production, ubiquitous use of antibiotics, no attempt made to separate healthy specimens from sickly ones anywhere along the distribution chain. Interesting fact: the first Neons brought to Europe flew across the Atlantic on the old German airships of the 20s and 30s, and they were priced accordingly.>
Anyway my spouse my spouse and I took a hike in a preserve today and I got a couple of jugs of water in the stream that I will not be using. It warmed up in upstate ny for the past couple of days and the streams are running with snow melt. The water is a tannin brown color everywhere. I even put a gallon glass jar on the deck and caught snow melt from the laminate roof, same color as the stream. I did not use any of this water in the tank because free low KH water is too good to be true around here. I boiled a gallon, and it is still brown tinted. The boiling probably got rid of any pathogens, but contaminants are an issue, maybe pesticides from farm water run off. I wish there were a way to truly test water as in test for everything imaginable, but the tap water testers omit the important stuff for aquariums. It would be nice if US houses had slate roofs like they do in England
<Indeed. Well, good luck with what you're doing. Snowmelt from a national park or similar should be fine, even if a little "brown". Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Where did these babies come from?  11/4/10
Good afternoon Neale, just thought I would send you some pictures of those beautiful Diamond Tetra's in their 125 gal. They are growing up and I believe they are spectacular with their long flowing fins and sparkle.
Thank you so much for all your help back in July, it was very much appreciated. Hope your having a wonderful day. Karen
<Hello Karen. Some very nice pictures there! Definitely one of the nicest tetra species, and an under-appreciated gem. Cheers, Neale.>


Spawning Aftermath (Hyphessobrycon columbianus) 3/2/09 Good afternoon <Ave,> I am so glad you folks make yourselves available to anxious fish lovers. <We're happy to help.> Two weeks ago I set up a 37 gallon tank, intending it as a new home for 8 Colombian Tetras that I had purchased back in 2007. I had gone to my LFS with the intention of purchasing Flame Tetras - a small, peaceful sort of fish that appeared to be well suited to life in a 15 gallon - but came home with mis-labeled Colombian Tetras. By the time they had grown enough to show their true colours, I was fond of the little thugs. <Ah, yes... Hyphessobrycon columbianus. As you say, a bit thuggish, but good fun. They work fine with things like high-speed loaches, armoured catfish and so on. Some folks keep them with the more robust cichlids. Not angels, which would get nipped, but things like Jewels that can give as good as they get. On the plus side, Hyphessobrycon columbianus is an attractive and extremely hardy fish. In good condition, they're almost like marine fish, I think a bit like Green Chromis. So in the right tank, nice beasties.> Realizing that 15 gallons wasn't going to cut it - these are pretty hefty fish as tetras go - I set up the new tank. I transferred some of my old filter media, moved a large number of plants, and bought some new plants to fill in the back corners. I tried to make the water parameters equivalent - ammonia and nitrite are 0, pH is 6.6 - but I have a bit of nitrate (something less than 5 on the test scale) in the old tank that is not present in the new, the water temperature of 77 is slightly lower and the light is definitely stronger. Two days ago, I transferred the Colombians. <All sounds ideal.> I seem to have unwittingly replicated spring in South America because they spent all day yesterday spawning. And probably all night as well, because when the lights came up this morning I was met by a group of sorry looking fish. <Oh dear.> What should I do about the war wounds? There are bruises, torn fins, missing scales, and two of them have injured their lower jaws. One of these appears to have a strip of skin hanging down, and a pair of fuzzy, white lips which I can only assume is fungus. Reading about injuries on your site leads me to believe that salt may help. <No, wouldn't use salt. Since these are "bullet proof" fish are wouldn't hesitate about using a proper copper/organic dye medication. In the UK, I'd recommend a product called eSHa 2000. Now, Fungus is specifically a thread-like fluffiness like cotton wool, and shouldn't be confused with dead flesh or skin, which will look like white gunk. I'd actually be treating against Finrot rather than Fungus here, since secondary bacterial infections would be the most likely risk.> Is this true in my case and, if so, what dose? Iodized table salt or sea salt? <Nope.> There seems to be a variation in opinions about using salt in tanks with plants and lower pH. Would something else be preferable? Should I raise the temperature? <Nope. Don't use salt.> Secondly, how long can I expect them to be spawning? Comments indicate it may last for a few days - is that correct? <Does rather depend. Changes in temperature and early morning sunlight are both spawning triggers and should be considered, but I suspect the horse has bolted on this one. Actually, do you have any eggs? Or just tattered fish? If the latter, it's more probable you're dealing with a social, hierarchical thing and once the fish have settled down you'll find they behave themselves normally. Increasing the number of fish -- perhaps paradoxically -- also calms their behaviour. A dozen specimens is about the right number.> They are pretty subdued right now but they may just be mustering strength for another go. I'm thinking of removing the plants that they prefer - will that cut down on the number of potential fry? I've no guarantees that any will hatch, of course, but their enthusiasm is giving me nightmare visions of a tank full of miniatures when 8 was already more than enough. <Chances of eggs surviving to fry, let alone fish, is nil.> In the meantime, I will keep on reading. I'm more concerned about nipping the fungus in the bud than the rest of it - the other injuries appear clean at the moment and I'd like them to stay that way. <Don't confuse Fungus with Finrot or necrotic tissue!> Moving the most tattered back to the 15 gallon isn't an option as - the stress of another move aside - I put a half dozen Black Neons in there yesterday. Yes, I could have waited but it looked so empty! Thanks for your help Evelyn <Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Spawning Aftermath (Hyphessobrycon columbianus) -- 03/03/09
Thanks very much Neale <Most welcome.> I didn't take any action yesterday, I just kept an eye on them. They were socializing normally by late evening and the damage looked pretty stable - no expansion on existing areas and no new ones. This morning the fuzzy-lipped male with the flapping skin had lost the flapping bit although he still has the fuzzy halo around his mouth. He's not eating but that isn't a concern. They were all really healthy when they were moved so he has plenty of reserves. The second fish with the injured mouth is about the same. A few of them have tears in their spine where the dorsal fin meets their back - those weren't visible yesterday but are white today, as are the edges of the chomped fins. From what you have said, I suspect this is simply dead tissue. <Yes, but treat proactively with anti-Finrot anyway.> I will take your advice and treat them for bacterial infections rather than fungus since the injuries seem to be leaning that way. <Good.> As to whether they were spawning or rearranging their hierarchy, I've never seen spawning before but the females would dart into the shrubbery and a male would whisk in after her. There would be a considerable amount of thrashing with the male cork-screwing around the female. I only saw one drift of fine dots - that was when they were in the floating plants at the front of the tank. They were in the shrubbery at the bottom back of the tank for the most part. <Could well be spawning.> I'm relieved to hear that I won't be overrun by these fellows in a few months. To ensure my chances of maintaining an appropriately stocked tank in the future, I tossed the floating plant that was one of their favourite hang-outs and lightly vacuumed the bottom of the tank. I couldn't do much as the plants haven't settled in yet and I didn't want to disturb them. I also changed out four gallons of the water. <Water changes are good. But honestly, there's no chance of eggs, let alone fry, surviving in a tank with these bruisers.> Thanks once again Evelyn <Cheers, Neale.> Vancouver, British Columbia (whoever assigned the Latin name to these fish should have looked at a map!) <Uh, I think these fish were named after the country Colombia rather than the Canadian province.>

Re: Fishless Cycle, Characoid repro.   - 3/21/08 Hello Neale, <He's on holiday for a week or so...> I have a rebus <Ahh! A puzzle, mystery...> for you. Actually, it's a rebus for me but you may have a simple answer. If you remember I was cycling a new tank. Well, last Sunday the cycle was over and I gradually moved all my fish from the 10-gal to the 46-gal. I didn't just throw the fish from one tank to the other one, but I placed them in a little tank and added 1 cup of the new aquarium every 5 minutes for a total of 15-20 minutes to acclimate them to the new water. After a couple of days I noticed that one of the 3 Pristellas was getting bigger and I thought that the change might have triggered eggs production. However, today that Pristella started looking sick. In particular, she lost most of the color on the fins, she couldn't rest and started swimming all over the tank but in a way that was evident she was feeling very uncomfortable. Then she started resting on one side. I understood she was going to die in a matter of hours or minutes. At that point I moved her to the 10-gal tank (still running) to avoid that she could spread infections to the other fish. She died after about 30 minutes. Now here is the rebus. When I tried to squeeze her a lot of eggs came out. So my question is why she died? Couldn't she just release the eggs? What do you suggest to do if I see a similar situation in future? Thank you, Giuseppe <This does read like some sort of trouble with "egg-binding"... likely related to the changes, being moved about... Having your fishes in the larger, more-stable new setting will go a long way to preventing such occurrences. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Ceramic media, air pumps... Actually Neon Tetra... dis., repro.   -- 09/13/07 Hello Neale, <Hello Giuseppe,> as you know I have 2 adult Neons in my tank. One of them has a larger abdomen compared to the other one, so I assume I have a male and a female. <Indeed. According to Baensch, the difference is also seen in the shape of the blue line: on males it is straight, on females it is bent. But I can't see any difference!> Now, I noticed that every 6-8 weeks the female becomes even larger and tends to eat much less and spend most of the day in a quiet spot of the tank. This situation lasts for about 10-15 days, after which her abdomen goes back to normal and she starts eating normally. <Odd.> Do you think that she might have eggs during the time she's more swollen and doesn't eat much? <Sounds plausible enough. Do keep an eye out for Neon Tetra Disease though: key symptoms are shyness, loss of appetite, and loss of colour. Then they die! NTD is unfortunately very common.> If this is the case I would be very fascinated in trying to breed the two Neons. I read that it's pretty challenging, but that experience would be extremely exciting for me, considering also that neon tetra is one of my favorite fish. <I'm not sure it's "difficult" per se, since these fish are bred in their millions on fish farms. The problem for most aquarists is Neons only breed in very soft water. The other big mistake people make with Neons is to keep them too warm; while they aren't subtropical fish, 26C (79F) is the top of their preferred thermal range, and for breeding they only want around 24C (75F). When kept in hard, overly warm water they just won't spawn, or if they do, the eggs become fungused.> Do you also have any good web site where the breeding process for Neons is described in detail? <Is there nothing here at WWM? Breeding Neons follows the same basic pattern as most other tetras. Soft (<2 dH), acidic water (5-6); low light levels (i.e., no lights, lots of shade); little to no water movement; and benthic plants like Java moss to catch the eggs. Sunlight can be a good spawning trigger. Eggs hatch in one day, free swimming 3-4 days later, when they take Artemia nauplii and the like. If you're interested in fish breeding, there's an excellent book by Chris Andrews called 'Fish Breeding'. It's my bible for fish breeding. You can usually pick up used copies on Amazon and the life for a dollar or two.> Thank you, Giuseppe <Good luck, Neale>
Re: Ceramic media, air pumps... Actually Neon Tetra... dis., repro.   -- 09/13/07
Neale, <Giuseppe,> I just bought that book. I was thinking about what you said about the water conditions needed to breed neon tetras and I have a couple of questions: 1 - Currently the tank where they live has a temperature of 78F and PH at 7.0. If I setup a second tank with lower temperature and acidic water, wouldn't the Neons have a shock when I move them from one tank to the other one? <Small water temperature changes don't harm freshwater fish; indeed, they are often important spawning triggers. If you're moving the fish from one tank to another, then doing the normal thing of placing the fish in a bucket of "old" water and dribbling in the "new" water over 30 minutes will not only adapt them to the new water chemistry but the water temperature too. If you're taking the fish across a dramatic water chemistry change, e.g., from hard water to very soft water, you would probably be wise to fill the breeding tank with hard water and then do soft water changes of around 20% each day until the water chemistry had changed over completely. Do also remember that very acidic water doesn't support biological filtration. You will need a small air-powered box filter filled with ammonia-remover for such a tank. There's a good argument for not filtering the tank while the parents are actually spawning and when the eggs are sitting in the moss. Only start the filter back up once the fry are free swimming.> 2 - If the Neons have to be kept in dark conditions but with plants in the tank, wouldn't the plants die for lack of light? <Yes, if you kept the lights off all the time. What you're aiming for is to put the Neons in the tank for a week, and once settled down, turn off the lights so the tank only gets natural light, and once they've laid their eggs and the fry are free swimming, turn the (subdued) lights back on. Regardless, the level of lighting should be low, and the peat extract in the water will make it quite murky. Java Moss will tolerate this regime fine. I have one tank that simply receives natural light from a window and the Java Moss has gone wild. Baby fish love the stuff, because it collects detritus and micro-organisms that they can eat. There's obviously a balance between having a nice rich microflora and a dirty tank though! Some people skip plants and use synthetic mops of various types, home-made (boiled dark-coloured yarn, teased into threads and then knotted) or purchased. There are really many options.> 3 - How long does it typically take from when the Neons are moved to the breeding tank to when they actually spawn? <No idea, never done it myself. Typically fish take a few days to settle into a spawning tank, but once there, if they're mature enough to breed, they will do so almost at once. The key thing is conditioning the female: lots of live foods so that she gets nice and fat.> Thank you, Giuseppe <Cheers, Neale>

Breeding Black Skirt Tetras -- 06/11/07 I recently lost my 6" Jurupari and my Tiger Barb. This morning I awoke to find my puffer had jumped out of the tank last night sometime. The last two fish I have in my tank are two black tetras that I have had for years - about a week ago I noticed the larger tetras belly was getting bigger - It seemed to be eating fine, but after losing so many fish at once I was really concerned it might be a parasite. It doesn't have a protruding scale issue, so I don't think its dropsy, anyway today as I am watching them, the two Tetras are acting really strange... The small Tetra will not leave the big Tetras side, its as if they are dancing together and the one with the big belly keeps spitting up a round ball - lots of them. I have no idea what is going on please help! I know my tank's cycle is off right now, but is it infested with something or what? Beth < Sounds like a typical tetra spawning. The female is the larger fish and the male is fertilizing the eggs as she is scattering them about. I guess the other fish were intimidating them. Now that they are gone they are off spawning scattering their eggs everywhere.-Chuck>

Re: Two Black Tetras, Breeding Tetras -- 06/11/07 WOW! Really! What can I do to raise the fry? It is all in my main tank too, do I take the adults out? And what do I feed the fry? Thanks! <Most tetras are egg scatters. They swim side by side. As she lays the eggs he fertilizes them as they swim along. The eggs and fry will be eaten by the adults. You can remove the adults and you may see little fry swimming around the tank. They need to be fed very small live food for about a week or so. In a large tank many fry will starve because the food is so sparse in the tank. Commercially they set up pairs in a 10 gallon tank filled with a couple inches of marbles over the bottom. After the pair spawn they are removed. The eggs fall between the pores between the marbles so they won't be eaten. After a couple of days the marbles are removed. The eggs hatch and the fry are fed green water full of infusoria or paramecium. In a week of so they are fed baby brine shrimp and microworms. They fry will be very tiny and hard to see so look closely. Chances are a few will survive if the eggs hatch.-Chuck>

Sexing Neon Tetras   8/16/06 Hola to all,   I want a female neon tetra but how do I know it is a girl?      Thanks, Anonymous <Not easily done... there are folks who claim there is a color difference twixt the sexes of Paracheirodon innesi... but about the only way I've been able to tell is when they're large-enough and the females egg-laden... Bob Fenner>

Pregnant Tetras  8/6/06 My name is Dom, I am 13 and I wondered if you could tell me how do you know if your neon tetras are pregnant? Yours sincerely Dom < Many female tetras are slightly larger and fuller then the males. Females will generally be much fuller in the belly region when they are getting ready to spawn. Many aquarists think that their fish are pregnant but they end up dying because of an internal infection. Sick fish usually do not eat and are very reclusive. A breeding female tetra is very active trying to attract a male so she can spawn.-Chuck>

Breeding blue tetras and cichlid problems. Mochokid comp.   7/12/06 Hello. I was wondering what I would have to do to breed the blue tetra (Boehlkea fredcochui), also what are the sex characteristics. <Cochu's Blue Tetra... have no personal experience with... you might peruse this search: http://www.google.com/search?q=Boehlkea+fredcochui> I am also having problems with one of my cichlids (Melanochromis auratus) and a Synodontis nigrita. whenever my poor cat tries to come out to eat he just get beat up by the one cichlid until he goes back to his hiding place. I kept my poor Syno. in my 55 gallon tetra tank and he prospered. now he looks like he came out of a boxing match. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks CJ <I'd move this Catfish, pronto... back in with the Tetras or somewhere more easygoing. The situation with the Cichlid is not going to improve... it will kill this cat if they are not separated. Bob Fenner>

Is my Congo tetra carrying eggs?   7/6/06 Hello WWM Crew, <Jim> Simple a quick question, and yes I have searched around but I think it's just too simple and I am too cautious.  Judging from the attached photo, is my Congo tetra prego?  If not, what could it be?  It is acting perfectly normal and holding up its part of the 6 member school. Thanks in advance for your help. Best regards, Jim <If carrying eggs, not many... Looks more like an infection from the pinkish coloring in the vent area. At this juncture I would just keep observing... Bob Fenner>

Re: Is my Congo tetra carrying eggs?  7/9/06 Hi Everyone, <Jim> An update.  The lump on my Congo tetra, described below, has definitely not gotten any smaller and continues to be red.  Could the fish's vent be plugged up? <Mmm, possibly, yes> Can anything be done?  It continues to act normally, swimming with the rest of 'em and eating, etc. Thanks again, Jim <Mmm, well, there are "laxatives" in the way of foods... like the feeding of brine shrimp (Artemia) or Daphnia... that might help here. Even the careful addition of Epsom Salt (see WWM re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/saltusefaqs.htm But I would take a "wait and see" approach here if this fish appears okay otherwise. It may well "self-heal" in your good care. Bob Fenner>

Breeding Info On The Gar Characin  - 05/10/2006 Hi guys, Jon from NB Canada again. I have a question and some info you may like to share. I have 5 Gar Characin's, 1 female, 4 males. There's not a lot of info on these fish that I can find. Other than the fact that they rarely breed in aquaria. Well I'm happy to announce that as I write mine are breeding. So here's my info on that. The male chases the female to the top, then with his anal fin which is longer and more frayed out than the females) he wraps it around her anal fin. Which squares of neat) Floating somewhat on his side she appears to deposit her eggs into the pouch he's made with his anal fin, he then deposits his sperm on them. After A second or two the male flips his tail scattering the eggs. Some float, some sink to the gravel. My Gar Characin are all about 6 inches in length and appear to lay 12 to 20 eggs each time. This has been going on for a couple hours. Didn't know if this info was already available, but I thought you may be interested. Feel free to edit and share with others. My tank was just cycled, no ammonia, 0.1 ppm of nitrite, tank temperature 78 degrees. Now my question, I've read that these fish are wild caught, is this true and if yes could I feed my Gar Characin wild caught minnows. < There are no commercial breeding operations for these fish that I know of. Feeding minnows that have been quarantined and well fed will be a fine addition to their diet. I would still try insects, and earthworms for a balanced diet.> After I treated the minnows for disease and adjusted them to my tank water. I have an unlimited supply of minnows I can get and a spare tank to make them healthy. Any help is greatly appreciated and I hope you use my info Jon < Thanks for the info on breeding the gars.-Chuck>

Tiny Unidentifiable Fry  12/03/05 Hello WWM crew, want to start off by saying again think you for all the help and information your site provides. I wrote to you before and now want to say I have a sparkling clean tank that gives me lots of relaxing enjoyment.  I have included my previous emails to you so you will know what was going on before, so I wont need to retell you what my tank includes again. Only changes in livestock would be that I now have 6 Danios, 5 Guppies and 8 Neon Tetras. I have spotted several babies ( Platies and Guppies) swimming freely and it seems with very little danger of being eaten by anyone, except of course by "George" the Gourami. His hobby is looking for food. LOL  I  have not tried to catch any of the babies because I want the tank to be as natural as possible and hold fast to the thought that "The strong (and smart) will survive" besides I know if I try to catch every single one I will need to get another huge tank to house them in when they are bigger and I don't really want to do that.  Now for my question. I have spotted over the last week some other kind of fry in the tank, I would say about 15 of them. The thing is I have no Idea what they are. They are so small that I cant make out any shape or markings on them to match them with the other types of fish in the tank. I do not think that they are a platy or guppy because I know their size when they are born and these fry are so small that I think a platy or guppy fry could possibly eat them. Would you have any idea what they could be? My guess is either Danio or Neon Tetra but I wanted your thoughts. < In a well planted tank with plenty of food these fish could be reproducing.> The second issue though is that the only reason I was able to see them is because they are swimming around inside the lift tube of my underground filter. (Its turned off of course) I have not seen them any where else in the tank. Could be because they are so small. Only thing I can tell you about them is that they have large heads and skinny bodies they look like tadpoles only much much much smaller and they are dark in color. Any Ideas? Thank you, Jennifer < If you have an undergravel filter than the two species you have could be scattering their eggs in the gravel and the hatching fry are being pulled through to the undergravel filter plate and showing up in the lift tube.-Chuck> 

Taking Care Of Little Fry  12/03/05 Chuck, Thanks for responding. Do you think it best to let them be down there? ( I don't know about feeding them) I turned off the UGF about 3 weeks ago, I assume there is probably a lot of gunk under there. Or do you know of a good way to get them out and keep them safe from being eaten? I have a breeder net but I am not sure if the holes in the netting is small enough to keep them in it. Jennifer < Newly hatch egg scatters like tetras need very small food like infusoria. When they get larger they can handle baby brine shrimp and microworms. Much of that infusoria can be found in the junk under the filter plate. If you try to catch them they will just go back down under the filter plates. You could try to replace the airstone and air lift the fry out of the tank while holding a brine shrimp net over the opening. Once you can see them you can determine if a breeder net will work. If it is even close then I would put them in their own container so they don't get sucked through by hungry fish.-Chuck> 

Spawning George Albert's toothy tetra hello, How and where would I go to find out how to breed and rear gar. Specifically the Spotted Pike Characin (Boulengerella maculata). Thanks, Andy <You should make a trip to a college library and ask a reference librarian in the life science section to show you how to run a computer-based search of the pertinent literature. An article on the topic: http://wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm You can make a preliminary search on www.fishbase.org with the scientific or common name (under references)... Do expand your search to include other Characoid fishes that actually have accounts of captive or wild spawning, reproductive biology. Bob Fenner>

Hey guys, my Silver Dollars are mating. I don't know if you remember, but a couple of months ago I had questions about diseases that were in an  80 gallon tank that included a very large Red Belly Pacu (pic. included) four silver dollars, a couple Balas, a Jack Dempsey, a Large Gourami, some Corys and  a very large Pleco. Now I know this is bad to have all these fish in this tank and it's really crowded. But somebody had to adopt these fish from the family that wasn't taking care of them. They were riddled with Ick, fin rot, and hole in the head disease and they also didn't have adequate filtration ( a pitiful old Penguin 300 that looked like it hadn't been cleaned or changed in months) But I've added a Magnum 350 pro kit with a Turbo Twist UV Sterilizer which is taking care of all the Ick and fin rot beautifully. Also, a couple days ago I picked up a used 90 gallon tank with every thing I need except the adequate filtration for $150, although this time there's no fish in it When all this first started, the Silver Dollars were in the worst shape, I thought they would surely die. But I've nursed them back to the point where their mating! Believe it or not, these people just happened to have one male and three female in there, and they decided to mate right in front of my Grandparents during thanksgiving dinner. That was really embarrassing let me tell ya.          So my question is: how can a set up a breeder tank for these larger fish (6 inches long) so that when they are ready to lay the eggs the eggs are protected. Also, how does this work with Silver Dollars? I've successfully bred over forty sword tails in three batches now, but I've never bred an egg laying species. Please help! < Silver dollars are egg scatters as are most characins. The male and female do a little dance and will swim side by side. As they do this the female releases the eggs while the male fertilizes them. The eggs drop all over the bottom of the tank and ornaments. They are quickly eaten if they are not removed. The key is to set up a tank that is big enough for them to spawn by you need to keep them separated from the eggs. Go to the hardware store and get some lighting panels that resemble egg crates. Cut them to fit your tank and suspend them off the bottom. Next time the fish spawn the eggs should drop below the egg crate where the fish cannot get them. ^Then remove the adults. Another method would be to cover the bottom of the tank with glass marbles. The eggs would fall between the pore spaces between the marbles. They prefer to spawn over tuffs of plants some java moss or an artificial spawning mop would help. The eggs are very susceptible to fungus so the tank must be kept clean. Water temperature hardness and pH are all critical to get a successful hatch. Water should be clean, warm , soft and acidic for the best results. When the fry become free swimming they can be fed. depending on what species you have the adults may not eat the fry. They should be fed infusorians until they get big enough to eat baby brine shrimp and crushed flake food. Females will be plumper than the males. Some species do not eat the fry at all! Breeding these fish is not that common . Good luck.-Chuck>   
More Silver Dollars!
My silver dollars spawned again! I didn't have them in a tank setup for this, I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time to protect the eggs from swordtails with a net and managed to siphon out about ten of them. I don't have another empty tank so I'm attempting to hatch them in a hanging net within the tank the parents are in, and I figure that since the water parameters were good enough for them to spawn, I will touch nothing. <Good idea> The eggs are still currently clear a couple of hours later with a spot in them. My question is: what color will they turn, and how long should it take them to hatch?   <Should remain clear except for the growing juvenile, their eyes... about four days to hatching in the low 80's F... you should be culturing food for them NOW... read about this on the Net... "Rotifer Culture"> -the Pacu kid. (am I just good at keeping the water nice? Or did I just get lucky? I never really do tests on water parameters, I just watch the fish and go with the feel. <Given passable circumstances almost all life will reproduce itself... a high priority eh? Bob Fenner>

Pregnant Blackskirt? I have a Blackskirt tetra. I have had her for almost a year and her tummy has become quite enlarged.  I noticed also she is reddish under her back fin.  Could she be pregnant or sick? <Could be either or neither... this species does get quite round... from over-eating as well as egg maturation> That is assuming it's a girl.  I have two other Blackskirts with it, a yellow Gourami, 5 Danios, 4 tiger barbs, 2 albino barbs, 1 clown loach, and 4 rose barbs  located in at least a 40 gal tank.  I treated the tank for gut worms a month ago.  What could it be? Sincerely Melissa Lee <Might even be just resultant from the treatment... I encourage you to feed your fishes a type of food that has a laxative effect... like brine shrimp or Daphnia... once a day for a few weeks. If your Black Skirt is "full of eggs" it may release them (they will be consumed by the other fishes unless you place it, the other Black Skirts in another system). Bob Fenner>

Black Neon Spawning 3.16.05 Hey... just came across this site by chance, LUCK! Hoping you could help. 3 of 5 black widow tetras have huge bellies, the other two are smaller in size. They all seem to have slight blood streaked abdominals. <Keep an eye on this, it could be nothing, or it could be a sign of poor water quality.> Do you think this is due to the shark chasing them a lot (maybe hurting them? <Doubt it, unless the shark is actually catching them.> Or that they are having little tetras of their own?? <Could be constipated as well.> If they are pregnant, then how can I tell when they are ready to burst? Last time my guppy had babies she went crazy on her own, so I felt bad and put her back in with the other and the poor little babies only lived for 2 hours.  <Try to remember the good times you shared.> HELP! Thank you....thank you, thank you :) Debbie x <Hi Debbie, although I have never tried to breed them I'm a big fan of the black neon myself. Unlike your guppies which are live bearers, Neons are egg layers. If your fish are getting frisky you will notice the male's colors will be enhanced and the females will be larger and rounder as they are full of eggs. If they do spawn, chances are they will eat all of the eggs. If you want to breed them, search the web for "Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi" you should find plenty of info on breeding techniques. Best Regards -- Gage > 

Pregnant/fat black widow neon - Bob's Response Hey... just came across this site by chance, LUCK! Hoping you could help.... 3 of 5 black widow tetras have huge bellies.. the other two are smaller in size.. they all seem to have slight blood streaked abdominals...do you think this is due to the shark chasing them a lot (maybe hurting them)... <Maybe> ...or that they are having little tetras of their own?? <Doubtful> If they are pregnant, then how can I tell when they are ready to burst? Last time my guppy had babies... she went crazy on her own, so I felt bad and put her back in with the other... and the poor little babies only lived for 2 hours.  Thank you....thank you, thank you , Debbie  <Please read through the freshwater site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm re tetras, feeding... Bob Fenner> 

Surface-dwelling Swordtails and Sexing Tetras  Hello. I first want to thank you for the previous information. It was very helpful. I still have the swordtail that looks pregnant. Lately (like the last 24-36 hours) she has been staying near the surface. Does this mean something? <Livebearers have been known to hang out near the surface when they are about to drop young. Keep an eye out.> She eats and has regular bowel movements, but if she is starting to develop a disease or something, I want to catch it soon. What do you suggest I do? <Well, if she looks and acts healthy in all respects other than this abnormal behavior, I really cannot pinpoint what (if anything) is wrong with her, as hanging near the surface is a symptom for many things. I assume it may be due to her pregnancy that you mentioned, but it could be a host of other causes. Low oxygen, being bullied, disease, stress, just to name a few. I would recommend your watching her closely, and taking action if you notice anything else out of the ordinary.> All the other fish in the tank swim around. The water is fine. <When you say that the water is "fine," it is about as useless to me for determining if your water is of concern. The readings you get from your test kits are magical in that respect. Something could be wrong and you may not even know about it, and it could be hidden within the readings. Don't be afraid to send them along if you think something is wrong.> Oh, and another thing, I have a couple of tetras. How can you tell what sex they are and when they are pregnant? <Depends on the tetra :-) > I know they cannot be as easy to sex as swordtails; is there something that an amateur, like me, can see that will let me know if the fish is male or female? Thank you so very much! <Again, depends on the species. Some species are sex-able, but most are not. Check the following page for tetra species identification. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/CharaciformFishes.htm  Hope this helps, Mike G> 

Neon tetra breeding 7/17/05 I am trying to breed my neon tetras (yes I know this is difficult but that's why I am trying).  I have three tanks set up, one for my males, one for my females, and a breeding tank. I've done a lot of research, and have access to every scientific journal, but there is more I seek.  I am curious as to your opinion of the best technique to sex neon's and in particular the 'candling' method where you shine light through them and look for ovaries (I have yet to try this myself).   <There are slight coloring differences between the sexes... handling them, moving them to where a bright light can be shone behind is not recommended. The folks in the orient who breed this species just condition, time the spawnings...> Also, regarding water GH.  For the right breeding conditions I need to get my water down to about 1-2 dGH. <Yes, the lower the better>   I have yet to get below 3 dGH and I'm using RO water with 1tbsp/10 gal. salt added back <Leave the salt out> and tetra black water extract (We have pretty hard water in our area). I'm also using a phosphate free acid buffer to help with the pH which works very well.  Any advice is appreciated. <The 3 dGH should not be a problem. What has been your difficulty thus far? Getting the fish to spawn? Raising the young, growing sufficient food? Bob Fenner> Jeramie Abel
Re: neon tetra breeding 7/18/05
Thanks for your quick reply.  My difficulty thus far has mainly been with the dGH.  In just about every literature I've read it suggests dGH of 1-2. But if you say 3 should work I will try. <Not much difference in the hardness between 2 and 3>   Sexing them so I can separate them will be accomplished once my second tank is done cycling (still have high ammonia at this point... waiting for the bacteria to become established through fishless cycling).  I have not tried any of the subsequent steps although I've had females become gravid, I just haven't tried to separate them into the breeding tank because it too has not been ready yet so if they have spawned, I have not paid much attention to it because I knew I could do nothing with the eggs and they would be eaten.  Currently I have a gravid female who is hiding out in an ornament (covered stump that is pretty secluded) but I haven't seen any mating rituals, however I'm not sure I know exactly what to look for with Neons. <You will see... there is a discernible fixed action pattern of orientation, dance, release, separation...>   My plan, should I see some behavior that is unmistakable, is to move the male and female to the breeding tank with a nice piece of java moss and turn out the lights.  My conditions in the breeding tank are pH=6.4, temp=74, dGH=3-3.5, ammonia & nitrate =0, no gravel, and it has an established sponge filter.  I plan to feed newly hatched brine shrimp at approximately 3 days old or when the yolk sacs are depleted but at this point I've yet to get the opportunity to try and raise any fry.  Thanks for any advice. Jeramie Abel <Artemia are too big for a first food... do read re "Infusoria" culture... on the Net, in "old" aquarium books... Look for the name William T. Innes. Bob Fenner>

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