Artificially Raising Substrate Spawning Fish
Great for angels and Central American Fish
Hobbyists have been artificially raising substrate-spawning fish for many years. This technique is popular for angelfish, Central American Cichlids and other substrate-spawning fish with small eggs.
Some hobbyists feel that artificially raising fry (i.e. pulling the spawn) weakens the pair bond of the fish. This notion has not been explored scientifically. It should be pointed out the the majority of angelfish breeders raise fry artificially.
There are as many ways to raise fry as there are aquarium hobbyists. Review the technique below and adapt it to your specific needs.
Before you get started…
- Purchase the necessary supplies.
- Decide where you want to place the hatch tank.
- Observe when your fish spawn. One day post-spawning, you can pull the eggs (see instructions)
What you'll need…
- Small, 2-gallon hatching tank (see our recommendation)
- Air Pump (10 gallon size). (see our recommendations)
- Standard, plastic airline
- Gang Valve (see our recommendation)
- Small 7.5 Watt Heater (see our recommended heater)
- Methylene blue (any brand)
- Small sponge filter (see our recommendation)
- Turkey baster
- Hang-on or floating thermometer
Fill a clean, small tank or container with six quarts of water from the spawning tank.
We have had good luck with 8 quart clear, Rubbermaid Commercial containers. They are available from Sam's club and restaurant supply houses.
Avoid exposing the eggs to air. Invert the spawning surface (rock, etc.) inside a cup or container.
Place the spawning surface (rock, etc.) inside the hatching tank.
Attach an 18" piece of airline to the air pump and plug it in.
Attach the airline to a gang valve.
This will allow you to:
We've had good luck with Penn-Plax Lok-Tite Gang Valves available here. These allow for precise control of the air flow. Each piece of tubing locks into the plastic hanger to prevent floating and kinking.
Cut a one foot length of airline and attach it to one of the out ports on the gang valve.
Insert the airstone.
Thread the airline over the top of the gang valve.
Place the gang valve over the side of the tank.
Make sure that the airline is not flopping around. It could damage the eggs.
The airstone should be to the side and slightly above the eggs.
Adjust the airflow using the gang valve. It should be a gentle stream of air.
If your room temperature is below 78F, place a 7.5 watt aquarium heater in the tank.
Maintain the temperature at 78–81F. A lid may help in cold rooms.
We've had very good luck with 7.5 watt heaters from Jr. Aquatics. They are available at Walmart for about $7.
Add 2 drops of Methylene Blue per each quart of water.
NOTE: Methylene Blue stains clothes permanently!
Methylene blue helps prevent fungus. Methylene Blue stains the water a deep blue.
Eggs are light sensitive— do not put a light over the tank.
Your water should be darker than the picture at right.
Use a strong flashlight and check the hatch daily.
Most eggs hatch within 48-72 hours.
At 6 to 9 days post-spawn, the fry should be free of the spawning surface at the "belly whomper" stage— not quite able to swim, but hopping on the bottom.
Remove the spawning surface (rock, etc.).
As soon as the fry are belly whompers, start small, daily water changes.
Remove a quart of water from the tank. Replace it with fresh, dechlorinated water.
As you do more water changes, the water will get lighter and lighter.
You may notice some debris such as unhatched eggs in the tank.
Carefully remove the debris using a turkey baster.
When the fry are free-swimming, add a small, seasoned sponge filter to replace the airstone.
We like the ATI Hydrosponge #0. You can get them from Jehmco.
At this point, start feeding freshly hatched baby brine shrimp. Feed until the tummies are nice and round!
Prepare a ten-gallon, grow-out tank. Use a sand or bare bottom, heater and sponge filter.
About two weeks after the free-swimming stage, the fry should be about one-quarter inch long.
Remove the heater and sponge filter and carefully pour the fry into a seasoned ten-gallon tank.
Note: Make sure the temperature is the same as in the hatching tank!
Continue feeding baby brine shrimp.
At three weeks, begin adding finely crushed flake food to the mix. By one month, you should be able to wean the fry off of the brine shrimp.
Weekly, 50% water changes are critical for fry growth.