Goldfish for ponds breeding :
courtesy to : www.about-goldfish.com/goldfish-breeding.html
Goldfish breeding is a natural progression after you have kept goldfish successfully for a while.
Although you can get a great deal of pleasure raising goldfish you have purchased, this doesn’t compare with the satisfaction of spawning them yourself and raising the very best fry through to adulthood.
If you have some particularly nice specimens they will need to be replaced one day. On the other side of the coin, after reading about the ideal standards for your goldfish variety, you may now realize yours aren’t of a very high quality. Unless you purchase your fish directly from a breeder, those that survive the journey to a pet shop are never going to be high quality (unless you are very lucky).
If you can, purchase your goldfish from establishments that specialize in selling goldfish and tropical fish. These shops know far more than the average pet shop.
Black Moor males chasing female into spawning mops
Use the guides in this website to help you select the best quality fish from whatever source you choose.
At the end of the day, the best way to raise the quality of your stock is to breed your own.
Because the subject of goldfish breeding covers a large amount of information, I have broken the process into four stages:
An Overview, which you are reading now
Goldfish pre-spawning preparation which talks about male/female differences and conditioning the breeders
How to breed goldfish which discusses when where and how to breed your goldfish, and finally
What if spawning doesn't go to plan?
So, let’s begin…
Selecting The Breeders
Goldfish will spawn at 1 year, but the ideal age is between two and four years. Fish younger than this tend to throw small numbers of small eggs. Small eggs produce small fry which is not desirable. Fish older than this may spawn a large number of large eggs, but the number of infertile eggs and deformed fry is high.
Unless you are lucky enough to have purchased exceptional parents, you will have to make do with what you have. It will just take a little longer to produce that champion fish.
To learn more about choosing goldfish breeders click here...
The Grandparents Affect Fry Quality
An interesting fact when breeding goldfish is that you are actually breeding the parents of your selected breeders. This shows itself in the quality of the fry. Any faults in the grandparents seem to miss a generation and then show up worse in the fry.
It's called the second generation throw-back factor.
An example of this was when I was given a pair of Water Bubble Eyes to breed by a goldfish wholesaler.
The female wasn’t too bad, good even-sized water bubbles, with a reasonably smooth back. The male however was a disaster. He had a long body with a dorsal fin. No serious breeder would ever consider breeding either of these fish. However, because of supply difficulties, I had no option.
The parents produced large numbers of high quality fry.
You can guess what happened when I bred the fry…large numbers of low quality fry, even though the parents had been selected from thousands of fry and were of the highest quality.
The poor quality of the grandparents came through strongly.
Goldfish Always Try To Revert Back To Type
What I mean by this is goldfish will always try and revert back to that drab single tailed, slim bodied ancestor with a dorsal fin that all goldfish came from. In every spawning, there will be a number of fry exhibiting very few of the desired traits of the parents (or grandparents). If the fry should have two caudal fins, many will have one. If the fry should have no dorsal fins, many will have partial fins or spikes.
So it goes without saying, but I will say it anyway…NEVER breed different varieties together.
I will repeat that again, it’s important… NEVER breed different varieties together. It is hard enough raising quality fry using exceptional parents without producing a spawn of rubbish that nobody wants. You may as well spend your time raising high quality stock you will be proud to show anyone.
We haven’t spent much time discussing goldfish breeding yet, but as you now understand, a lot of groundwork needs to be done before breeding can commence.
To learn how to identify the differences between the sexes and the pre-spawning conditioning required before you start your goldfish breeding preparation, click here.
If you have already observed your Goldfish breeding and have collected some eggs, go straight to the page onhow to raise goldfish fry.
Goldfish Spawning Preparation
Goldfish spawning success depends on how much preparation there was beforehand. It all starts with...
Conditioning the Breeders
It goes without saying that the goldfish you have selected for breeding have been given the best possible care, and lots of room for the last one to two years. They haven’t been stunted by overcrowding or a poor diet.
Don’t assume that just because you have decided to breed your goldfish they will perform on demand. They won’t. They aren’t guppies. The more exotic the variety the harder it is to produce a successful goldfish spawning.
Conditioning Starts In Autumn
Conditioning should start in autumn, not in spring when there is little time to get the breeders into condition.
If your goldfish breeders are in poor condition going into winter, their spawning efforts are going to be very poor or non-existent in the spring. Nature determines that if a fish is in poor condition going into winter, it means there was not enough food available in the autumn.
Like a lot of other animals, goldfish live off their fat during winter. Whatever fat is left after winter is used to produce eggs. If there isn’t enough fat left after winter, your fish are unable to get into spawning condition, especially the females.
This is the reason why goldfish that have survived a harsh winter, then suddenly die in early spring as they try to get into pre-spawning condition without the necessary fat reserves.
To have a successful goldfish spawning, the fish seem to need a period of hibernation or have water cold enough to produce low activity. Where this doesn’t occur such as in Hawaii, the spawns are light and the fertility low.
Spring Conditioning :
With the start of spring, and assuming your parents have come through winter in good condition, now is the time to start feeding the breeders with live food such as earthworms and bloodworms as well as their usual high quality dry food. Live food seems to accelerate the production of eggs and milt.
Male and Female Differences :
Goldfish under one year old can’t be sexed. If you purchase young fish to grow through to adults, I would purchase about six as a minimum. Purchase them 12 months prior to when you want to breed them, at the latest before late summer. This gives you enough time to condition the fish during autumn. The fish would have to be of an adequate size already as you would only have a few months to get any growth before winter.
I have noticed that females are usually larger than males of the same age, so be careful if selecting your specimens based on size.
You now need to make your final selection of males and females. Ideally you should have three males to one female to increase the odds in your favor for a good goldfish spawning.
This is ideal but I have often only had one pair to breed after eliminating those fish with too many faults.
If you haven’t bred them before, you will need to select your best specimens as you identify male and female. Careful observation in early spring is the key to identifying male and female differences.
The males will start to develop small white tubercles on their gill plates and the leading edges of their pectoral fins. Varieties such as Lionheads that have heavy tissue growth over their heads and gill plates, you will have to rely on noticing the tubercles on the leading edges of the pectoral fins, but the tubercles are fairly obvious.
In comparison to a female of the same variety, the male should look slimmer, but unless the fish are slim bodied varieties, don’t rely on this characteristic as I’ve seen males with rounder body shapes than the female.
The female will look more rounded in the body, but as I said earlier, this can’t be relied upon with rounded bodied varieties. This is really only obvious in the goldfish varieties that have slim bodies such as Comets.
Another useful difference that can be used is to determine sex is the anal opening.
In the males the opening is small, oval, and recessed while in the female the opening is circular in shape and appears slightly raised. The differences are most apparent the closer the fish are to breeding.
As soon as you can distinguish male and female, separate them to avoid an unplanned goldfish spawning.
You should now have your selected parents separated male from female, feeding them heavily with live foods and high quality dry food.
It will pay not to have plants or similar objects in the aquarium or pond that the females are in as they may stimulate the female to drop her eggs prematurely, especially if she is very close to laying.
My suggestion is to remove the males from the females, leaving the females undisturbed. Moving the females to a new environment with fresh clean water is a sure fired way of stimulating goldfish spawning activity, (which you don’t want just yet).
You are now ready to start preparing the equipment you are going to use to collect the eggs and hatch the fry. Go to the page on How To Breed Goldfish to learn the final steps to have a successful goldfish spawning.
How To Breed Goldfish Successfully
courtesy to : www.about-goldfish.com/how-to-breed-goldfish
Here we discuss the final steps on how to breed goldfish now that your parents are properly conditioned, the weather is warming up, and everything is ready for your goldfish to spawn.
What To Spawn Goldfish In
There are two choices:
An indoor aquarium of between 20-50 gallons depending on the size of the parents and how many fish you are intending to breed or
A small outdoor pond of about 80 gallons.
Whether you use an aquarium or pond, it should be bare of rocks, ornaments and gravel to avoid spawning injuries and make it easier to clean. The only material present should be the spawning mops or plants that will be used to receive the eggs.
The water level should be reasonably shallow as goldfish move to the shallows to breed. Again it depends on the size of the breeders how shallow you want the water, 8 to 12 inches is about right.
Aquarium Or Pond...Which Is Best?
There are advantages and disadvantages with both.
The aquarium has the following advantages:
Being a smaller water volume, egg fertilization rates are higher
You can control the water temperature more easily (with a heater)
You can observe your goldfish more easily
Males with poor eyesight (Celestials, Moors) are less likely to lose the female
Goldfish are less inclined to spawn indoors. This is due to a number of factors such as light not hitting the aquarium at sunrise, smaller temperature changes and a confined area being more sensitive to pollutants.
If the fish don’t spawn reasonably soon after being introduced into the spawning aquarium, frequent partial water changes will need to be made. A filter can’t be used in a spawning aquarium as it will cause too much water movement and filter out the males’ fertilizing milt.
The outside pond has the following advantages:
Goldfish spawn more readily in an outside pond because the water temperature changes are greater
Sunlight hits the pond sooner
The goldfish probably feel more comfortable in a greater volume of water
Pollution caused by heavy feeding has less effect on water conditions.
80 gallon fiberglass pond
The greater water volume reduces fertilization rates (use more males to offset this)
Males with poor eyesight can lose the female (use more males to offset this and fewer spawning mops where the female can hide)
The pond needs to be covered from predators.
I use small fiberglass ponds of 80 gallons as a good compromise. I still have to go outside to see what the fish are up to, but my success with spawning outdoors has always been far greater than in an indoor aquarium.
The ponds are easy to keep clean as I don’t have them buried in the ground. I can siphon them out, tip them on their side and hose them out. Cleanliness is important.
Pond Or Aquarium Preparation:
All you need to do is ensure the pond or aquarium is spotless and free of any chemicals. Fill it with clean water a few days before introducing the fish.
I would aerate water in an aquarium to clear it of chlorine or chloramine. Don’t use any chemicals tocondition the water.
When preparing my ponds, I lay clear plastic over half the bottom and up the side where the spawning mops will be secured. Goldfish are egg scatterers and many fall to the bottom.
WARNING: If you use plastic film to cover the bottom, use plenty of smooth flat rocks as shown in the image above to ensure the plastic is held down firmly. Fish have a knack of getting underneath it and suffocating.
I keep the spawning mops together with rings made from plastic air line. I put four mops per ring. I then tie these rings together, and finally secure the rings with string to the pond side so they don't get pushed around the pond. I want them to stay in the same position during spawning otherwise eggs will be scattered all over the pond as the female chases the mops.
I would set up an aquarium the same way as I would a pond but I wouldn't use plastic film on the bottom if the aquarium is going to be used for raising the fry. Any eggs that fall to the bottom will stick, so they can be flushed when the water is replaced.
What Causes Goldfish To Breed
Changing conditions that cause your goldfish to breed:
The lengthening days of spring
A change in water conditions and
When the water temperature reaches about 68F
A low pressure weather system passing through.
Your goldfish’s hormones are affected by the increase in daylight hours. These hormones start the production of eggs and milt necessary for spawning. The actual spawning is triggered, or delayed by weather and/or water conditions.
When Is The Best Time To Breed Goldfish?
Spring is the best time to breed goldfish. You want to breed as early in the year as possible to give as long a growing period as possible. But not so soon as to risk a severe cold snap.
Breeding very early limits available food for your fry such as mosquito wrigglers.
Goldfish spawn when there is a change in the weather. If the weather has been hot, followed by rain, they will often spawn the next morning. If the weather has been cold, a rise in their water temperature will cause them to spawn.
By placing the breeders in new water, this is often enough to induce them to spawn, regardless of the water temperature.
I have had fish breed in late winter with a frost outside when I brought them inside for a few days. The spawning was very light and not worth keeping.
How To Breed Goldfish - Putting the Breeders Together
After the water in your aquarium or pool has conditioned over several days, place the well washed spawning material into the pool or aquarium. (I use nylon spawning mops because they are easy to sterilize and don’t introduce water borne pests).
Goldfish are messy breeders, spraying eggs in all directions. Many of these eggs will miss the spawning material and fall to the bottom. As you do not usually use the same container you breed goldfish in to hatch the eggs, (unless it is an aquarium), I tend to make sure the spawning mops are long enough to reach to the bottom of the container and cover a good portion of it as well.
Tie the mops together and secure to one or both ends of the container. If you don’t they will move around and the females will scatter eggs from one end of the container to the other, with most ending up stuck on the bottom.
If a cold spell is on the way, delay putting the parents together because if they do spawn, there will be few eggs.
I tend to put the parents together mid-late spring, but always keeping an eye on water temperatures.
Introduce the parents into the spawning container the morning before you want the spawning to take place. Hopefully, the fish are spawning the next morning. Spawning activity is obvious because the male or males appear to be pushing the female around the pond or aquarium. Every now and again she moves into the spawning material with the males in close attendance and releases some eggs.
Breeding activity starts as soon as sunlight hits the pool, and continues until about noon.
Observe any fish not participating in the breeding circus and remove them as they will eat the eggs.
The eggs are adhesive and the size of a pinhead when first laid. As they take up water, and hopefully milt for fertilization, they increase in size. After two or three hours they are water hardened.
After you observe that the fish have lost interest in breeding, remove the spawning mops to a temporary container (say a 2 gallon bucket) filled with the water the parents are in.
If you have limited time, remove the parents and untie the spawning material so it can float freely around the pond. I would also place an air stone in the container. This should be very temporary as the water will be full of unused milt which will quickly foul the water.
You should have a 15 to 20 gallon aquarium or something suitable filled with fresh aged water. Make sure the temperature is the same as in the spawning container.
I now take each spawning mop, flush it in another bucket of the fresh aquarium water, and then place it in the aquarium.
This serves two purposes:
It cleans the spawning mop of any waste material
If the parents have flukes, the flushing hopefully removes them from the mops. Flukes can wipe out an entire brood in days.
You now have your eggs safely placed in your aquarium, ready to start the next stage of raising your goldfish fry.
Knowing how to breed goldfish successfully is the easy part. Knowing how to raise the best six to twelve fry to adulthood is a little more challenging.
If your goldfish don’t breed on schedule or after a few days, go to the When Spawning Doesn’t Go To Planpage for some possible solutions.
Raising Goldfish Fry
courtesy to : www.about-goldfish.com/raising-goldfish
After a successful spawning the hard work really begins.
Raising goldfish fry to adults after a successful spawning isn’t easy. Few know how to raise quality goldfish fry that are worth the time and hard work it will take.
What usually happens is a large number of fry are produced, and then large numbers die off due to inadequate food, disease and poor conditions. Those that survive are the ones that hatched out first, got to the food first and therefore grew the fastest.
Unfortunately, these few individuals are often not the best quality. If twin tails are the standard for the type, they will have single tails; if dorsal fins are meant to be absent they will have one.
As someone once said “it takes just as much time and effort raising goldfish of inferior quality as it does prize winning ones, so you might as well spend your time raising the latter”.
Raising Goldfish Successfully Starts By Creating Ideal Conditions For Hatching
Your spawning mops or whatever material your goldfish spawned on has been flushed in clean aged water, and transferred to an aquarium. You now need to create the ideal conditions for hatching to take place in 4-5 days.
Ideally the water depth shouldn’t be deeper than 6 or 7 inches (180mm), but I often hatch fry in water as deep as 13 inches (330mm) without experiencing any problems.
The Correct Temperature Is Important
The eggs should be kept at a temperature of between 70-75oF (21-24oC). At this temperature the eggs will hatch in 4 days. If the eggs are in water hotter or colder than this, the health and quality of the fry will be adversely affected.
Aeration Controls Surface Scum
The eggs should be aerated to ensure adequate oxygenated water is flowing around the eggs. The aeration also helps break up any scum that forms on the surface of the water. More on this later.
Methylene Blue Controls Fungus
After a day, the infertile eggs will appear white and the fertile will go clear and be hard to see. The infertile eggs will get fungus on them after about two days. This fungus will spread to fertile eggs if not contained.
Don't try to remove the infertile eggs as some suggest. It is near impossible and pointless.
Add some Methylene Blue in liquid form to the water. Purchase it from any aquarium shop. You only want Methylene Blue, not a concoction that may contain other chemicals. The dose is not critical, put in enough so the water becomes quite blue.
Goldfish eggs attached to spawning mop
Methylene Blue is a dye. It will stain anything it comes in contact with, hands, clothing and aquarium equipment, so be warned. Leaving anything accidentally stained out in sunlight quickly fades it.
Egg Development :
After about 2 days you should start to see eyes of the fry appearing. Two days later the fry start to break out of their egg shells.
The fry jerk in the water as they move about the aquarium, but can’t keep it up for long. They spend most of their time resting on the bottom or hanging tail down on the sides of the aquarium.
Make sure the water surface is free of scum because as the fry hatch, they make their way to the surface to take a gulp of air. This inflates their air sacs which they use to swim with. If they can’t break through the surface tension they will die.
Black Moor Goldfish fry attached to aquarium side
To remove surface scum, draw a paper hand towel across the water surface. Make one pass only, and then use a fresh one.
The fry are about 5mm long when they first hatch. As they break free from their shells, they swim to the nearest object and attach themselves using suckers. For the next few days the fry use the remnants of their yolk for nourishment so don’t feed them.
At this stage you can carefully remove the spawning media from the aquarium. Make sure no fry are caught up as they tend to bury themselves as deeply as they can into the media.
You will now get some idea on fry numbers.
Close up of goldfish fry
Fry Become Free Swimming
In one or two days the fry will start to become free swimming and looking for their first meal. You should have your brine shrimp hatchery built and ready to seed with brine shrimp eggs. As the brine shrimp will take 24 hours to hatch, you should seed it in the morning, a day after the first hatched fry are seen.
Once you are sure all the fry are free swimming, siphon off the bottom of the aquarium, removing dead fry, eggs, uneaten food and any other debris. Note: Some fry never develop their air sacs to become free swimming and sink to the bottom. They will eventually die.
Cleanliness of the aquarium is one of the most important things that influence how successful you will be at raising goldfish, yet it is one of the easiest to control.
Change about 25% of the water with clean aged water of the same temperature and fill the aquarium up.
Install a sponge type filter in the aquarium. Any other type of filter will suck the fry in and they will be killed. A sponge filter provides aeration as well as filtration.
If you only have a corner box filter, take off the lid so fry sucked into the filter can escape. Make sure the sponge is a tight fit as fry are inquisitive and like to explore small cavities and will get trapped down the sides of the filter body.
Leave the heater in the fry to keep the aquarium temperature at around 70-75oF (21-24oC). Avoid any sharp drops in temperature for at least the first two weeks.
If the fry will develop metallic scales, raise the water temperature to 80oF (27oC) for the first few months to accelerate the color change process significantly.
The next critical step of raising goldfish successfully starts with correct feeding. Go to the Feeding Goldfish Fry page to learn how, when, and what alternatives there are for feeding your fry.
After a week of intensive feeding, the final critical step of raising goldfish fry entails rigorous, ruthless culling. Unless you have limitless space to spread your fry out, you MUST cull them down to manageable numbers otherwise all the fry will suffer.
Feeding Goldfish Fry
courtesy to : www.about-goldfish.com/feeding-goldfish-fry
Your goldfish fry are starting to free swim looking for their first meal.
Feeding goldfish fry as much food as they need as soon as they need it, but also maintaining excellent water conditions in their aquarium or pond are the most important secrets to raising fry successfully.
Keeping these two important issues in mind let’s look at the most common options for feeding fry during the most important first month stage.
Fry food options depend on the age of the fry.
Brine Shrimp - First Food
The advantages and disadvantages of brine shrimphave been discussed elsewhere. The biggest advantages are:
The fry can eat them as soon as they are free swimming
You can hatch as much or as little as you need
They are disease free
They are always available when you need them.
Goldfish fry with orange bellies from eating Brine Shrimp
Infusoria – First Food
These are microscopic forms of animal life that live in water. They are usually cultured in 1 quart mason jars or similar.
As soon as the eggs are laid you need to start a culture. You will need many jars of the culture to satisfy an average hatching of 500 to 1000 fry.
The infusoria will satisfy the fry for about two weeks before they need something more substantial.
Mosquito Wrigglers – First Week Onwards
Mosquito wrigglers are the best food for feeding goldfish fry. Growth speed can be doubled if you can get enough of them, which is a problem in early spring.
The way they are fed to the fry is by placing egg rafts in the fry aquarium. As the wrigglers hatch, they are eaten by the fry.
Fry just free swimming struggle with the wrigglers even though they are tiny. I tend to feed the wrigglers to fry about a week after they become free swimming. The fry have no trouble eating them then. You also avoid the problem of uneaten wrigglers becoming too big for the fry to eat, which occurs within a few hours, and having to remove them from the fry aquarium before they become adults.
Daphnia – Second Week Onwards
Daphnia are a small fresh water crustacean found in still water, sometimes in such quantities that the water appears red.
Some species of daphnia can be used as a first food. The adults are put in a fine sieve and the larvae that pass through are fed to the fry.
Daphnia supply can be uncertain, one day the water is teeming with daphnia, the next day they are gone.
Daphnia can introduce enemies of fry such as hydra that kill fry under two weeks old.
Most of us don’t have access to a good supply of daphnia these days but it is well worth considering seeding your own pond in readiness for introducing your two week old fry.
If you can get the timing right, you won’t have to feed your fry for the next two weeks.
To learn how to prepare a daphnia pond click here.
To learn how to feed and maintain a daphnia culture so you have a live food source year round, click here...
Microworms - Second Week Onwards
Microworms are very small white nematodes that look like tiny worms. Sizes range from 1.5 to 3mm. They are not to be confused with white worms that are much larger.
Microworms can be raised in any small container, a plastic takeaway food container with a lid is ideal. The taller ones are best as the worms will crawl out of the shallow trays.
You need to obtain a starter culture from an aquarium shop or other source. Place a thin layer of oatmeal that has been soaked in water in the bottom of a container, and on top of this sprinkle some dried yeast which the nematodes feed on.
Keep the culture covered but punch some small air holes in the lid.
Add the starter culture to the mix and within a week or two depending on temperature, a white film of micro worms will form up the sides of the container. Scrape them off the sides with a knife or small paint brush and stir them into the water so they separate.
Keep them between 68-85 degrees F.
When reproduction of the worms appears to be slowing, make up a fresh culture. The culture usually starts to smell at this stage.
As microworm cultures can smell unpleasant at times, keep them away from living areas.
Artificial Foods – First Food
I’ve put artificial foods last because that is where they belong…last.
Using artificial foods exclusively for feeding goldfish fry is seldom satisfactory because:
The food doesn’t provide all the nutrients necessary
They quickly pollute the water
Fancy Goldfish varieties don't develop properly.
Most shop bought liquid fry foods are primarily egg yolk anyway so I would avoid them.
Feeding Goldfish Fry Live Food The First Month is Critical
Feeding goldfish fry isn’t hard, but for the first critical month you must be well organized and supply as much food as the fry need on a daily basis, 2-3 times daily for the first few weeks.
If a brood is receiving the correct amount of food, the size difference between the smallest and largest fry won't be big enough for the larger fry to start chomping on their smaller siblings.
In other words you shouldn't have to separate out the larger specimens.
After the first month, you can start introducing some high quality dry food into their diet, but, dry food is never as good as live food, and the fry growth rate will drop if dry food is fed exclusively.
To raise high quality fish, live food should make up the majority of their diet for the first six months.