We’re here to learn how to look after and protect fish eggs in an aquarium. By the time you finish reading this post, you’ll know what needs to be done to the tank, the eggs, and the other fish in order to make sure the fish eggs survive long enough to produce a school of fry!
What’s more exciting than watching your fish enjoy life in your aquarium, you may ask? Why, the most exciting thing to see in your aquarium is seeing your fish form a pair!
The courting rituals of fish are specific and beautiful. Most of you will likely not even notice it occurring if you’re new to taking care of fish. (A story for another day)
Regardless of how the ritual is performed, fish tend to lay eggs only when they’re comfortable and happy. If your fish have laid eggs, then congratulations! Your fish tank must be clean and spacious. It means you must be feeding the fish often enough and that your water solution is the correct temperature and has the right contents for that type of fish.
Unfortunately, a fish tank is not always a safe place for these eggs. There are steps you must take to make the eggs comfortable. Not only that, but you also need to be aware of the potential dangers within your aquarium. Fish are wonderful creatures, but sharks aren’t the only predators in the ocean.
Read on to find out how to make certain that your fish eggs survive and hatch in cute little fry!
How Can I Help the Fish Eggs Survive?
Before the eggs have been laid, you need to know what type of fish you’re dealing with. Each species of fish has a different method of caring for their eggs. Here are the most common methods:
- Laying the eggs and hiding them in a cave or under a hollowed out rock.
- Placing the eggs inside a plant, such as a sea anemone.
- Laying then swallowing the eggs, fertilizing and storing them in the mouth.
- Laying the eggs out in the opening and abandoning them. (This may sound horrible but they’re merely following their instincts)
- Burying the eggs underground.
- Creating a nest of bubbles to store the eggs.
There are other, more specific methods that fish take, but these are the basic, most common methods. So, before you do anything at all, you must learn what the type(s) of fish you have tend to do with their eggs. The reason for checking this will influence how you can help the fish eggs survive.
The first thing you can do, other than research, to help fish eggs survive is to prepare in advance. While your fish may not have mated yet, you should be prepared for the possibility. Now that you know the method used by your type(s) of fish, you can make sure that your aquarium has everything they’ll need to lay them.
For example, if your fish tend to hide their eggs in sea plants, you should place some large plants in the tank before the fish even show signs of courting one another. That way, by the time it happens, the fish will already be aware of the plant and make good use of it.
Obviously, you will need to adjust your changes to the tank based on what fish you have. You may need to change the substrate of your tank if you have fish that prefer to bury the eggs. On the other hand, you’ll need a cave for fish that like to hide their eggs in one. The choice of ‘decoration’ really depends on the fish.
Now that you’ve made sure your fish have the correct means to take care of their eggs, you still have a few options for protecting the eggs after being laid. The first option is to build and place a divider box, separating the eggs from the other fish in your aquarium. Doing so will at least dissuade the other fish from trying to eat the eggs.
Before we get into what to do next, you may notice that some of the eggs turn white. You may also have noticed that those eggs were darker than the others when first laid. You needn’t worry about this. Eggs that react this way were infertile to start with, meaning there was never going to be a fry growing in there. Regardless, you should still avoid letting any fish eat these unfertilized eggs because they may go for a fertilized one next!
Unfortunately, if your fish parents are new to parenting, they may also decide to munch on their own eggs! (I’ll explain how to avoid this in the next section)
Probably, the biggest threat your fish eggs will face comes from other fish. (Assuming you’ve taken the steps to keep the aquarium clean) So the main question you should be asking yourself is, ‘How do I stop my fish eggs from being eaten?’
How Do I Stop Them from Being Eaten?
There are two major methods of keeping eggs from being eaten. The first method involves separating the eggs from other fish for the whole duration of their incubation. You need to be careful with how you do this, again because of the differences with each fish.
The means of separating the eggs requires you to move all the grown-up fish from the main tank to a secondary tank. Doing so with fish other than the parents is advisable as that will greatly reduce the chances of your eggs being eaten. Obviously, a fish cannot eat an egg if the egg is in a completely different aquarium.
The difficult part of this option involves the parents. I mentioned earlier that some parents eat their own eggs, especially when they’re inexperienced. You should really only remove the parents from the eggs if those fish tend to abandon them anyway.
However, fish that tend to stick around and care for their eggs should be left there to do so. It’s difficult to say why, but if these eggs aren’t cared for, they might fail to form and break out of their eggs. In this case, you need to pay close attention to the parents. If they show signs of wanting to eat the eggs, remove them quickly and keep them away for a couple of hours. Try to reintroduce them to the eggs if you can. If not, then you’ll have to hope they were around long enough to get the eggs to reach the hatching period.
What Are Their Chances of Surviving in the Main Tank?
There are three factors that will influence an egg’s survival in the main tank:
- The Type and Character of Each Fish in the Tank – Any fish that likes to eat eggs reduces their chances of survival. While you may not have sharks in your aquarium, (I would hope!) other fish can be just as carnivorous when it comes to the tasty nutrients found in eggs. The best ways to reduce the risks here involve feeding your fish well or removing them from the main tank until the eggs hatch. Even if you feed your fish well, they may still go for the eggs. So, I would advise removing the non-parent eggs from the main tank, as I’ve previously said.
- The Cleanliness of Your Tank – Eggs are prone to fungal and bacterial infection. On top of that, they can easily die out if the temperature or water content changes suddenly. You must keep all of this clean and consistent or you risk losing the entire brood!
- The ‘Potency’ of the Father – I’m going to assume that anyone old enough to need to read this understands what I mean by potency. As I mentioned earlier, some of the eggs will likely not be fertilized, but most of them should be. There are times where a particularly weak male will barely be able to fertilize half of the eggs. Even then, the ones that were will be a weak brood thanks to this male. It may sound mean, but if this happens more than once, you should look for a replacement male. I DO NOT mean that you should discard the weak male. I mean you should introduce another, stronger male to court the female fish.
So, those are the basic tips and tricks to keeping your fish eggs alive and un-eaten. There are more factors to consider when it comes to taking care of fish eggs than you may have thought. The hazards and problems that can arise make it quite difficult to keep them out of harm’s way.
However, the joy of seeing your first brood of fry emerge from those little eggs and start puttering their way around the aquarium makes anything and everything you had to go through well worth it.
A job well done, my friends! You have your first brood of fry alive and ready to grow into a school of curious, young fish. Are your troubles over now? Far from it! Looking after fry may be just as difficult as caring for those eggs was! But… We’ll cover that another day. Enjoy your victory for a time first. You’ve earned it!