I received a lot of questions about breeding. Mostly about how to induce the female to lay eggs. Here I will share my insights on the matter.
Based on the capacity to produce eggs, I categorize female fish as follows:
- Very productive
- Normally productive
This categorization is useful to pick the right breeding strategy.
For the very productive female, there is hardly anything to be said. The fish can lay eggs everywhere even without the presence of a male fish. She can lay eggs in the contest arena. She can lay eggs in indoor environment. She needs no particular strategy to induce the eggs production.
Same thing goes for the sterile one. No matter what we do, nothing will make the fish lay eggs. The best thing is to change to another female. Do not invest on the unproductive one. Just for information, the fish being sterile can due to natural reason, but can also due to the application of certain hormone.
The normally productive one is the most common female we encounter. With a normal effort, we can induce her to lay eggs easily. But before that, let’s see two types of inducing eggs strategy.
I differentiate the inducing eggs strategies into two categories:
- Comfortable methods
- uncomfortable methods (surprise / shock)
The normally productive one usually responds well to the comfortable methods, such as:
- putting her in a stable pond / tub / tank with mature filtration
- pair her with male partner(s)
- mimicking natural environment such as introducing plants, enough sunlight, etc.
- giving live food such as daphnia, bloodworm, or mosquito larvae (but avoid tubifex worm)
- giving wheatgerm based pellets
- give sufficient food (for lack of food will make the fish stop producing eggs)
Uncomfortable methods can also be used but in a mild scale, such as:
- change the water with a new one
- move the fish from indoor to outdoor
Of course, this discussion assumes that the female is already mature. There is no point in inducing immature female to lay eggs early.
Now, the most challenging part is when we have the difficult fish. Somehow, we want her to breed for certain reasons such as she is a rare variety, she has certain beautiful feature we want to incorporate into our results, she is expensive, etc. And we do not know whether the fish is just a difficult type or sterile. We do not have the scientific tools to determine that in our command. So, the best thing is to try to induce her as best as we can.
I usually recommend the application of the comfortable methods first. When these do not work, we begin to suspect the fish is a difficult type. Then we move to the uncomfortable methods in a more intense scale, such as:
- mimicking the winter and spring season change. I recommend this especially for the breeder in a tropical area such as me. We do not have winter and spring. We try to mimick the season change by keeping the female indoor for several months, giving less food, and lowering down the water temperature when possible, while isolating her from the male fishes. After that, we move the female into outdoor pond (warmer temperature), giving abundance food (pellets and live food), and introduce her to male partner(s).
- lowering the water hardness parameter (gH), for it is a more ideal parameter to lay eggs. One way we can do this is by introducing rainy water / Air conditioning water excess to the pond.
- Putting the fish in a plastic bag, mimicking the stress of being transported.
- Giving a more tense feeling of stress (almost life and death situation) such as lowering the water level drastically, or when doing total water change, put the fish in the tub when the water is still low and the fish must struggle to swim. Sometimes, the presence of death might induce the fish to breed
- Some people suggest certain food to increase the appetite to breed, such as goose eggs, a certain toad-based diet, etc. I never experiment with this, though.
- Hormonal Injection such as Ovaprim can also be applied. But I do not have experience on this.
Those are the methods I sometimes use. If fail, we might suspect that the fish is sterile. But there is still one more strategy left which is worth to try. The strategy is: patience. Most fish are productive starting at the age of four months in the tropical area. But some becomes productive at a later age. I had a brown oranda which is way overdue in her schedule to lay eggs. But I do not want to terminate her since I love her so much. I just keep her in my pond. And guess what, she lays eggs in her jumbo size for the first time, at the age of perhaps 1.5 years old.
Hope these tips help. Cheers.