Friday, February 16, 2007

How to breed and raise Angelfish

Breeding Angelfish can be accomplished very easily. I will give you all the information that you need in order to breed and raise their fry.

Water chemistry:
Angelfish breed in slightly acidic water, PH of 6.8 or a little lower is fine. The tank temperature should be from 74 - 78 degrees F. Get a Ph test kit with chemicals to adjust the PH. Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda) makes the water more alkaline, Sodium Biphosphate makes the water more acid.

Selecting breeders:
You will need a pair of breeders consisting of a male and female Angelfish. LOL! Actually, there are instances where two females will pair up and lay eggs! Of course the eggs will be infertile, turn white and fungus up. Eggs that are fertile are clear colored for more that a few hours. If eggs turn white, they are dead. (We will talk more about eggs later on in this article) Now how do we tell that a pair(male +female) is a pair? Can you sex (tell the difference between male and female) a pair? Yes! One sure fire way to sex Angelfish is to identify their breeding tubes. Breeding tubes are found just in back of the anal area. The females tube is blunt and round, the Males is long and pointed. These tubes protrude from the fish about a week or so before they are ready to lay eggs. Another way to sex angelfish is to look at the abdominal area of the fish. Even when Angelfish aren't in breeding mode, the females always have a certain amount of eggs ready for breeding. If you look at their stomach area, they will have a little extra girth than the males. The males will have a very flat abdominal area. Of course we are talking about mature fish at least one year old. Can't sex them as juveniles.

What's the best way to pair Angelfish? The best way to pair Angelfish off is to place a dozen or so young adults with a body size of a silver dollar into a 55 gallon tank or larger, feed them three times a day with high quality fish food such as frozen blood worms, Tetramin flakes and live brine shrimp etc... for about 6 months. They will select their own mate buy this time or even sooner and you will see them pair off. Just keep conditioning them with fine food until you see a pair acting territorial by protecting an area of the tank from the other fish. You might notice them hanging around a rock or plant and cleaning it off or pecking at the area. This pair is getting ready to breed! Now is the time to separate them from the other fish by placing them in a 20 gallon high tank. This is the breeding tank baby!

Setting up the breeding tank: For the breeding tank you will only need a few basic things. The 20 gallon high tank, 100 watt aquarium heater, sponge filter(the kind that has suction cups that hold it to the side of the tank), small vibrator pump, lid(you don't want the fish jumping out) and a flat piece of slate which is placed at a 45 degree angle from the bottom of the tank to the one top side of the tank. If you can't find a flat piece of slate you could buy a big piece of PVC plumbing pipe(a pipe joint works great) and just stand it on the bottom of the tank. That's all you need for the pair. You don't need or want any gravel on the bottom so that you can make water changes, keep the tank clean etc...

Now that you have your breeding tank set up, pop your pair in there. A good idea would be to place the pair in a small tank (2 1/2 gallons) with the water from your pair off tank and then acclimate them to the breeding tank water by taking a cup out at a time over a period of a half hour, replacing it with breeding tank water.

Now the process starts: It will take a week or so for the pair to get used to their breeding tank. Just keep feeding them three times a day with high quality fish food such as frozen blood worms, Tetramin flakes and live brine shrimp etc..

Now we will get these baby's to breed! To stimulate the pair to breed, start changing 10% of the water in the tank once a day. Keep the temperature at 74 degrees for two days. After two days increase the temperature to 76 degrees. The third day 78 degrees and the fourth day to 80. After the fourth day, lower the temperature 2 degrees per day down to 74 degrees, repeat the temperature changes from 74-80 degrees up and down. Keep changing 10% of the water until they lay eggs. If it is a pair, they are mature enough and are a male and female, they will breed! Once they have laid their eggs, keep the temperature stable at the point where the eggs were laid and keep it there.

You have eggs, now what? The fish will lay their eggs on the piece of slate or pipe that you placed in there. If you see them in the process of laying the eggs, wait until they are finished and you are sure that they are finished, Wait a few hours. Set up a 2 1/2 gallon tank with just a 25 watt heater, vibrator air pump and an air stone. Gently siphon water into your egg tank from your breeding tank, then take the slate or pipe out of the breeding tank and place it into your egg hatching tank. Adjust your heater to the same temperature as the breeding tank, set the air stone up next to the eggs at a slow speed. You want the bubbles to gently flow over the eggs or real close to them. This will keep dirt away from them and artificially stimulate them, taking the place of what the parent fish would do. One other important thing. You must get a fungicide such as acraflavin or methylene blue. 2-3 drops a gallon should do it. If the water starts getting cloudy you can change not more than 5% a day with water of the same PH and temperature. Cloudy doesn't mean blue or green, that's the color of the fungicide.

Video of Angelfish spawning on slate:

Note about the parents: Keep an eye on the parents, they might blame each other for loosing the eggs. If they start fighting, separate them with a piece of glass for a few days until they calm down. This doesn't always happen but it can. Once they get used to you taking away the eggs a few times, they should be alright. If they won't stop fighting or you can't put them back together for some reason, try putting them into the pair off tank. Having other fish around will distract them from fighting and possibly strengthen their relationship enough to try breeding them again. Another reason why they might start fighting after they lay eggs is that either the eggs weren't fertile, or one of them ate the eggs. One would blame the other. Doesn't happen often but it happens. Just keep an eye on them.

Now that you have your 100-600 eggs in the hatching tank there is nothing to do but wait and watch. The eggs should be an clear to amber color if fertile. Ones that aren't fertile will turn white. You should take an eye dropper and separate them from the fertile ones to keep the healthy eggs from attracting fungus. If all the eggs turn white or a good number of them turn white don't panic. The first time or two you breed a pair of Angel fish they are inexperienced and might not get it right. No problem. If the pair aren't fighting and you don't have to separate them, they will breed every 10 or so days for a few months! That's what they call breeding cycle. Once they finish this cycle, they will take a month or so off and start breeding again! You better buy some more tanks because you're going to have Angelfish everywhere! If after numerous breedings a pair only produces white eggs, you'll have to go back to the drawing board and try another pair. Bummer!

Eggs will hatch in about 3 days: You'll just see a tail growing out of the egg that jiggles. At about 5 days, they will fall of the slate or pipe, develop and jiggle. In 10 days they should be free swimming. You'll notice a little egg sack that gets smaller every day. When the egg sack is gone, you are ready to feed them. Live hatched baby Brine Shrimp is best for a few weeks. If you can't hatch your own, they will take frozen baby brine if you turn up the air stone so that the frozen brine is moving. After two weeks you can supplement the brine shrimp with high protein flake food.

Raising the fry: Wait a week after they are free swimming then move them into a 5 gallon tank with the same water conditions as the hatching tank. Add a sponge filter. In two weeks, move them into a 10 gallon tank. Move them into a 55 gallon tank in another two weeks. In about 14 weeks total, you will have Angelfish with the body size of about a dime. You are in business!

Note about water changes and conditions: Change 5% of the water in rearing tanks every other day as long as you change it with water that has the same PH and temperature. Once the fry are large enough after a month or so, you can also add a conventional outside filter to the tank.

by Jeff O' Corbett
Article Copyright 2007