But there is a third option. A breeding tank! Breeding tanks can be anywhere from 5 gallons (19 liters) up. I always recommend at least a 10 gallon (38 liters), though. If you are planning on raising larger fish, like Swordtails or Mollies, I'd look at going for a 15+ gallon (57+ liters).
Setting One Up:
The Temperature is good anywhere from 75-78F (24-26C). I would definitely recommend a heater for fry tanks, even if you keep your house warm. A heater will prevent temperature fluctuations which can stress fry out very much.
For filters, you basically have two options.
- A Sponge Filter
- A Hang on Back (HOB) or other filter.
If you choose to go the HOB or other another filter route, make sure you get one that isn't going to be too strong. You don't want your fry getting blown all over the tank all the time. Also, to make sure they don't get sucked up into the filter, you can cover the intake with a Breeder Net or pantyhose. You will have to clean them off often though, as they tend to get gunked up.
Decorations can be anything you want. Plants are good, as are rocks, wood and general places for them to hide. Thick plants seem to be a favorite with mine. They can disappear into there, and fool their brothers and sisters as to where they are!
Now, on to substrate. Sand is a good choice, but some find it hard to clean. Gravel is okay, but you need to make sure you don't get very big or heavy gravel, because sometimes fry can get stuck in it and get crushed. Bare bottom is also fine, and some find it easier to clean.
Speaking of cleaning...how are you going to clean your fry tank? Fry need good water quality, and they are sensitive so lots of water changes! Don't worry about doing too many! You can do water changes using an airline tubing siphon you make, or a turkey baster so you don't suck up the little babies. Another option is to shine a flashlight near the tank. Most babies will go either towards it or away from it. Then you can clean where they aren't. This works well if you do a water change using a siphon or gallon jugs.
How to use them:
There are two options for using breeder tanks. You can either
- Put the pregnant fish in there before she gives birth, then move her out after the fry are born, or;
- Let the mother give birth in her normal tank, then move the fry over to the breeder tank.
If you are going to move the fry over to the breeding tank from the main tank, test the water parameters in the two tanks. If they are the same, you don't have to worry about acclimation too much. If the temperature is a bit different, just float them in a bag (You can use a Ziploc or any other sandwich bag) for about 10 minutes. If more then the temperature is different, do the normal full-blown acclimation. You know the drill....float for 10 minutes, add water, wait 10 minutes, add more water, wait 10 minutes etc. You can also do the drip acclimation method, if you want. More information on this method can be found on the bottom of this page.
Keeping The Tank Cycled:
Another thing commonly wondered is how to keep the fry tank cycled? The easiest way is to just stick the filter in one of your main tanks, and just let it run there until you need it. It will keep beneficial bacteria on it, and you don't have to keep the fry tank up and running all the time. Or, if you'd rather, you can take some medium from your main tank's filter, and put it in the breeding tank. If you have the same kind and size of filter, you can put it right in there, otherwise you can just stick it in the tank. You can use some gravel if you are in a real pinch, but you need to very careful and watch the water stats closely. There is still a lot of debate as to how much beneficial bacteria gravel REALLY holds, so just be careful.
I hope this has answered some of your questions on breeding tanks! Questions and Comments are welcome.
Edited by Annastasia, 02 January 2006 - 07:35 PM.