Home > Pond Life > A Beginner's Guide to Fish Breeding

A Beginner's Guide to Fish Breeding

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 24 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Breeding Fish Goldfish Koi Males Females

If you’re a fish-fan, then sooner or later the prospect of breeding your own is almost certainly going to appeal – always assuming your fish haven’t already beaten you to it, and started producing ‘tiddlers’ all by themselves!

There’s nothing particularly difficult about breeding fish in your own back garden – at least not in principle – and left to their own devices, generations of goldfish have been simply getting on with the business of reproduction without the need for any assistance from us. Never-the-less, if you are set on helping nature on its way, here are a few simple ways to increase the chances of getting started producing your own, home-grown fish.

Pond Conditions

First, take a look at your pond. Good water quality and adequate aeration are essential prerequisites, so if it’s heading towards summer and you haven’t tested your water in a while, now’s a good time to check everything is well before the breeding season gets under way. Make sure your filter system’s working properly too, changing the UV bulb if necessary; goldfish don’t need clear water to breed, but you’ll doubtless want to be able to keep an eye on what’s going on!

Good planting within the pond is another important consideration, both to provide the fish with a good spawning site where their eggs can stick to the submerged leaves and as a protected nursery for the fry that ultimately emerge. Unfortunately many fish have cannibalistic tendencies and will happily eat their own eggs and offspring, so having an area of relative safety where the youngsters can hide out and grow is a crucial part of the proceedings.

The Fish Themselves

Obviously you need both males and females, so check to see that you do; although not all kinds of fish are the same, as a general rule, males tend to be more streamlined, with larger and more showy fins, while females appear rounder and more sedate in the fin department. It’s usually easy to get the hang of this with a bit of practice, but if you’re still not convinced, it’s probably worth asking a knowledgeable fellow-keeper to make sure you’re on the right track.

Some fish breeders suggest that the males should outnumber the females, while others point to the physical exhaustion caused by having females permanently pestered by amorous suitors – especially with koi. On balance, a slight male-bias is probably advisable, but do keep a watch to make sure that things don’t get too rough; highly stressed, worn-out females hardly make for the most successful spawning!

Equally obviously, they also have to be sexually mature. This is another thing which varies with species; for goldfish, for instance, this means over two years old, while koi aren’t ready to breed until they are at least twice that age.

Raising Baby

If you’ve got all these prerequisites right, the males have, with varying degrees of aggression, chased the females around for a while, and they have in turn responded by shedding their eggs for fertilisation, all that remains is for the eager fish-breeder to wait for them to hatch. Fortunately you don’t have to wait long; although it is temperature dependent, as a general rule for example, goldfish fry appear within two or three days – although they take about as long again to begin to look like proper fish, and as much as a year to develop their final colour. Many a novice breeder has wondered why there are no young goldfish and what kind of fish has produced all those brown babies!

Their nursery area will provide plenty of useful natural food for the young, but it is important to provide a good quality, specialist fry food to ensure they get all the minerals, vitamins and nutrients they need to keep them healthy at this stage of their lives. Growth is usually quite rapid in the early days and weeks in most species of pond fish – it’s nature’s way of helping them to avoid falling foul of all those hungry mouths that share the pond with them!

Unfortunately it doesn’t always work and the harsh reality is that the odds of survival for any one individual are very poor, but the good news is that with so many eggs being produced, there’s a very good chance that at least some will make it to adulthood and breed themselves. It is, after all, a cycle that has been playing out for millennia – and one which can, with very little effort, allow you to enjoy the simple pleasure of fish breeding for yourself.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Davo
    Re: Your Top Pond Questions Answered
    Why do i have continual white froth on top of my small patio pond. I have now only got 3 very old goldfish left in it The…
    23 September 2017
  • fishy
    Re: Raised Ponds
    hi ive built a raised pond, the top edge is perfectly level but the one end is lower than the other buy at least a couple of inches... will this mean…
    23 September 2017
  • Puzzled
    Re: Your Top Pond Questions Answered
    We have just cleaned out, relined and filled a garden pond which was filthy and leaking (we moved into this house a year…
    20 September 2017
  • PondExpert
    Re: Choosing the Right Fish for Your Pond
    Bill - Your Question:What fish will not eat frog spawn or tadpoles Our Response:We don't know of
    12 September 2017
  • Bill
    Re: Choosing the Right Fish for Your Pond
    what fish will not eat frog spawn or tadpoles
    10 September 2017
  • Linjay
    Re: Fish Diseases and Ailments
    Like Lyndy 2Jun Our fish are dying with no visible signs of anything wrong. The water is clear, ph fine, Any ideas what could be…
    3 September 2017
  • johno
    Re: Digging Your Pond
    good morning all, hopefully someone can advise me on my issue filling a preformed pond I have dug the hole, packed with sand at the bottom,…
    29 August 2017
  • talora
    Re: Aerating Your Pond
    I want to use "Paddle Wheel Aerator" in my small pond. May I put my queries?
    25 August 2017
  • lindyloo
    Re: Choosing the Right Fish for Your Pond
    shkenny your stickleback is a male making a nest to attract a mate for breeding. as the female lays the eggs in the…
    18 August 2017
  • kev1
    Re: What Could be the Reason for all the Fish Dying?
    if you have water lilies and they are overcrowded they are also like a jungle below the water line fish…
    2 August 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the PondExpert website. Please read our Disclaimer.