Angelfish Breeding Information
WHERE TO START
A. The first thing you will find out is that every Angelfish breeder does it their own way. There doesn't seem to be any set way that you have to follow to get satisfactory results.
B. You must decide for yourself what you want to gain by jumping into the Angel breeding business. Are you a hobbyist that just wants to be able to say " I've bread and raised Angel fish" or are you interested in becoming a commercial breeder supplying all of North America with thousands of Angels every year. Or maybe somewhere in between.
C. This page will try to help you reach any and all of the above goals. For the remainder of this page we will take a middle of the road approach as to the size of your operation. I will make comments along the way on how you may want to adjust your set up to fit the situation.
Fish room & tank set-ups
A. Your fish room size will be determined by how well you do at breeding and raising Angels. Also by how much time and money you want to put into it. A nice thing about raising Angels is they are one of the few tropical fish that, most of the time, will pay for themselves. As your room gets bigger so do your sales.
B. Here are the rules I go by when starting a new set-up:
1. Each pair has their own tank. I use 10 gallons others say you have to have 20s (not true).
a. No gravel, no plants, no snails, no other fish, no toys.
b. one 3-4 inch wide piece of roofing slate, and one corner filter.
2. Spawns can be hatched in many different manners. This is probably the biggest difference of options between breeders. Some let the parents have the job of hatching the eggs, some remove the eggs and place them in everything from a 1 gallon jar to a 50 gallon tank and everything in between. I've tried many of these methods and occasionally, when I'm out of tanks I still use some. For the most part however, I choose to hatch in a 20 low. ( more about the actual process later )
3. The raising tank rule is 2-3 fish per gallon. If you're using 20s to raise in, you will have to split most spawns 2-3-4 or even more times so as not to over crowd the babies. If you don't have enough tanks to do that it would be better to feed some of the fry to the breeders than to over crowd. Over crowding will result in stubby fins and in general poor quality Angels which will be hard to sell. You don't want a reputation for raising those kind of Angels.
4. If you intend to raise your Angels beyond the nickel-quarter (popular selling size) size you may want to consider moving about 50 into 55 or more gallons.
5. Heat, as with all tropical fish, will have to be provided. Tank heaters do a fine job for most set-ups, but I prefer keeping my room temperature at 76 degrees all year and only use heaters in the breeder's tanks to get them up to 82 degrees. I use a gas wall heater to heat the room.
6. Light requirements again is treated differently by most. I always have some natural light coming into my fish room. I also have a light on a timer which keeps the light on from 7AM to 10 PM.
7. As with most tropical fish, you will need an air supply. Again this depends on how big your set-up is. As you grow you will add more and more air pumps. Bigger and bigger, better and better, until one day when you take the plunge and put in that central air system. Then you will ask yourself " how did I ever do without this?"
8. Filtration is another big discussion area. There are hundreds of filters out there. Which one is the best ? I have no idea. In my breeder tanks I use a simple box filter with charcoal and a piece of foam or filter floss. In my raising tanks it's either the same or just the foam filter. I like to siphon off the bottom of my tanks once a week and add fresh water. This provides a weekly 25% water change which I feel is a must.
HOW TO GET BREEDERS
A. Buy 6 small Angels of the type you wish to breed. Raise the fish up to breeder size and let them pair off naturally or choose your own pairs from the group.
Picking a pair of Angels isn't quite as easy as with some tropical fish. Most people can't do it. The picture above demonstrates a basic difference between a male and female Angel. At times even this does not hold true but I'm about 85% accurate choosing with this method. The Angel on top is the Male. Notice the shape of his head as compared to the females. The females' head is almost a perfect 45 degree angle off the nose. The male has a hump or bump on the top of his head, and his body is almost perfectly round. Like I said this is not 100% . The biggest problem with it is that the female can also, at times, appear to have the rounded body.
B. Buy a guaranteed matted pair.
1. Another way to get a pair is to buy a guaranteed matted pair of the type you want to raise. This can be done at your local fish club or even on the web or an auction site.
2. I recommend starting off with a Silver or Gold pair. They both seem to be accommodating. As the Angels get darker or more high bread they require a little more experience.
C. Pick out what you think might be a Male and a Female at your local pet shop; put them together and see what happens.
1. While at the pet shop stand back from the tank with the breeder size Angels in it and watch them for a few minutes. Lots of times I have bought a pair out of a tank where the dealer didn't know they had a matted pair in there.
2. Look for the two that are keeping all the others pushed to one end of the tank. Perhaps one of them will be cleaning a leaf or a rock. It may be that they have already spawned an they are protecting their eggs. You must take time to watch though it only takes a few minuets of your time but could make a big difference in your good fortune.
3. If there doesn't seem to be any action going on between the breeders just use the choosing method offered above. After a week or two if you are not getting any action throw in a third to speed things up a little.
Things to look for
A. A pair can act in many different ways.
1. Pairs tend to hang out together.
2. At times one will chase the other behind the slate as if to hide them from site.
3. Angels will mouth wrestle (pair or not)
4. One will seem to spend a lot of time looking at the slate.
B. Getting ready to spawn
1. One of the two will start cleaning the slate while the other is kept behind the slate or just observes form a distance.
2. Later both will join in the cleaning process. This is a good indication that spawning is near. The female should start to plump up a little my this time.
3. Next the tubes will drop. The female's tube is the larger tube which will carry the eggs to the slate. The smaller tube of the male will be used to fertilize the eggs. ( See animation above )
You spot the eggs, what do I do!? what do I do!?
A. Your big decision time is here.
1. The pair is in a community tank and I will let nature take it's course.
2. The pair is in a tank of their own and I want to watch them raise their fry.
3. I want to try to save the babies so I need to prepare a hatching area away from the parents.
B. 1. In a community tank the pair will keep all the other fish in the tank away from the eggs and / or fry as long as they can. Sooner or later the fry will fall victim to the other fish in the tank.
2. Your pair may or may not choose to raise their fry. Most will. After the spawning is over the pair will continue to go through the motions as they do during the spawning. This time, however they are not laying eggs but they are fanning the eggs to keep the dirt off of them. this reticule will continue for days even after the eggs are hatched. The pair may even move the eggs to another location altogether. You might think they are eating the eggs at that time. They might think they are moving them to a cleaner or safer place. After 3 days the eggs will hatch and in 10 days they will be swimming. That's when fun for the parents really begins. The pair will try to keep the school in a small tight group. As the fry grow, however this will become harder and harder. Soon the fry will be going anywhere they want to. The pair may start to thin out the group knowing that the tank space will not be big enough for all 400 of them. And one morning when you go to feed them you will see 2 very fat Angelfish which will not need any breakfast or even lunch.
3. Saving the fry is not to hard. The eggs are removed from the pair tank ( with some resistance from the pair ) and placed into a hatching tank. ( size optional ) For best results:
a. Prepare the hatching tank by cleaning it with hot water ( no soap ) and fill it with a mixture of hot and cold water which will bring it to the same temp as the pair tank ( 80-82 degrees ). Fresh water drawn just before removing the eggs is best. If you have city water do not de-clore the water. The chlorine will help fight bacteria and fungus and will be gone before the eggs hatch. Mark down the spawns date. In 3 days they will hatch, in 10 days they will be swimming.
b. Lean the slate against the front glass, egg side down. Place an air stone so the air stream is near but not on the eggs, with strong enough force to simulate the fanning process noted above but not so strong so as to blow the eggs off the slate.
c. When the eggs hatch they may clump up together or hang in strings off the slate. Some of the eggs may fall to the bottom of the tank even before hatching; that's ok.
d. Before hatching some of the eggs will turn from milky-clear to solid milky-white. These are fungus eggs and are no good. Just leave them alone for now. If all the eggs turn solid milky- white. the whole spawn is no good. Wait a full 4 days to determine if this is the case. If you can find even just one egg that hatched it will verify that you have a matted pair. With out that one you will have to decide if you want to give them another chance or assume they are both females or they just don't like each other or perhaps the male is sterile.
Your fry are swimming freely !
A. It's time to start feeding the babies.
1. Here is where we may have to part company with some of you. There are many baby foods out there which I have never tried. I can only relate to the way I have been feeding Angel fry for over 50 years.
2. The first day they start swimming is not to critical. The fry will still have food in their yoke sack to sustain them for a while, however your live brine shrimp should be ready to feed at this time. Live brine shrimp is the main staple in feeding the fry.
B. Hatching brine shrimp.
1. The rising cost of brine shrimp eggs over the years has put a finical burden on all the Angel breeders. Never the less live brine shrimp remains the number one food for Tropical Paradise Angels.
2. There are a number of ways to hatch live brine shrimp. You can hatch it in a pan or a gallon jar or even as we do in 2 lt. bottles. (see our page on Brian Shrimp)
3. After draining the shrimp through a brine shrimp net you will feed as follows:
a. Some spawns will school up and hang together for the first week or so. others will be more adventurous and spread out all over the tank. For the first week you will have to make sure that you put the food right where the fish are. Soon they will learn where their food is coming from and be there waiting for you whenever you come near to the tank.
b. Some breeders feed 3-4 times a day. I choose to feed only twice a day. After about 4-5 weeks I start breaking them off on a good quality flake food. Live brine shrimp in the morning and flakes at night. By the time they are nickel-quarter size they are on a total diet of flakes. This prepares them for what they will be getting form my customers.
4. Feeding the breeders
a. Mine get frozen adult brine shrimp in the morning.
b. Flakes at night
c. It seems to be important to keep a regular routine when it comes to feeding. You'll find that spawning will take place at a regular time of the day if you do. ( about 2 or 3 PM ) This is a convenient time because when you are there for the evening feeding you can also set up the new spawns. If they were to spawn later in the day you might miss it and by morning your eggs might end up being a midnight snack for a hungry Male.
Now what do I do with 2oo nickel-quarter size ?
A. Sell or trade to locals
1. Your local pet shop may be glad to buy your bounty if the price is right.
2. You may have a local fish club or just some friend who can take some off your hands.
B. Go to http://aquabid.com/ and you're sure to be able to sell all the Angels you can raise at top prices. Your Angels must be healthy and have nice long fins and good color, which if you have followed the info above they will.
C. You may also want to keep a handful around for your community tank or just to raise up for future breeders. Who knows, you might be a competitor of mine some day.
Another thought or 3 before I close
If you're thinking about raising Angelfish be careful. It gets in your blood and the sickness can even be passed on to your kids. I was so sick one year I use to set on my basement steps where I could see my breeders but they couldn't see me, and I would record their actions. This went on every night month after month as I compiled information which I then converted into charts & graphs. These charts & graphs demonstrated the spawning habits of Angelfish to a tee. I could just about pin point the day each pair would spawn & if they didn't I was real up tight trying to figure out why. What was wrong with the pair? It got so bad I had to quit before I lost my mind. So be careful, there is usually one sane one in the family who will keep you under control, listen to them once in a while.
Thanks for taking time to read this. I am also available to answer questions if you need help. Call 330-808-2001 9AM - 9PM