If you compare the current aquarium fish with their natural relatives, then you will be surprised how some species have generally lost their similarity with their fellow living in nature. To date, aquarists have been able to bring a huge number of breeding forms that differ from the original species with new acquired qualities and habits.
New breeding forms almost every day delight the eyes of beginning lovers, provoking them to come to grips with the selection of new species.
Perhaps the most attractive fish in terms of breeding are representatives of the Gambuziev family, which has more than 20 species, which include about 170 species of fish. The sizes of hydrobionts of each genus vary in a fairly wide range: from 2 to 20 centimeters.
The variegated color and tendency to genetic plasticity and variability make these fish very attractive and unpretentious in terms of housing conditions. And in particular, breeders are always interested in such specimens.
Widely known live beetles such as swordtails, mollies, guppies and petilia have a large number of species. Modern aquarists’ preferences for breeding forms sometimes lead to the fact that in home aquariums there are mainly specimens with an exotic color, and the nominal form of fish fades into the background.
However, such fish can not have genetic and physical resistance, respectively, the fish become more demanding of conditions. Only breeders are patient people, and they are constantly looking for new and improving old methods.
And such persistence bears the necessary fruits.
Breeding a live beetle can be practiced by both an experienced aquarist and an aspiring amateur who has the most minimal knowledge of practical fish farming in an aquarium. The main condition is to set a mundane goal, that is, to fix already established varieties.
Believe me, this is an interesting and exciting activity.
Selection of live beetles can be carried out both passive and active method. The most popular among aquarists is the passive method of total breeding, during which the aquarist must choose healthy and strong young animals, and reject all other fish that are not suitable for selection.
After this step, individual selection takes place when it is necessary to pay close attention to each specific fish in order to add it to an artificial harem family or an individual pair.
Artificial crossing of the live beetles makes it possible to combine the many desirable traits of different species of fish and get a new breeding form that will absorb the best qualities of the producers. To bring the perfected form to perfection, introductory crossing is used, which improves the gene pool thanks to new producers. After this comes the turn of the fixative cross, which is intended to stabilize the desired traits.
It is used for several generations within a single population, after which the most valuable specimens are selected again.
Today in the arsenal of domestic aquarists there are many other, more complex ways of crossing: return, multi-stage and absorption. However, these methods are extremely difficult to implement in the conditions of a home aquarium, because they need a large amount of breeding material, a large number of auxiliary aquariums, specific knowledge and special training.
If you do not set yourself the task of mass waste-free production, then you can reproduce the fish indefinitely in “yourself” without fear of the negative consequences of inbreeding. This is possible provided that the aquarist will meticulously select high-quality producers and carefully discard undesirable for selection of fish with any deviations.
And it does not matter how many fry were in the litter, because for an ornamental aquarium there will be more than enough conditioned specimens. The main thing is not to allow crossing litters between themselves after reaching puberty, and, moreover, parents with their offspring, since this will necessarily lead to the loss of certain qualities and degeneration of the whole breed.
If the task is to obtain offspring in large quantities without loss of quality, it is sometimes recommended that existing producers be crossed with fish of a similar shape, but from a different line, which has no common ancestors. This event should be held every few years, with a new line selection.
In order to carry out breeding work at home, you need to equip in advance and properly equip the required number of additional aquariums. It is desirable that additional aquariums do not have soil and were with live aquatic plants. Javanese moss is considered the most optimal grass, as it does not need soil, and it responds positively to frequent water changes.
The plant is also famous for the fact that it grows well with a wide range of hydrochemical parameters and temperature. In addition, moss is an excellent shelter for both fry and females after spawning.
Tropical green globular algae belonging to the genus Aegagropila have proven themselves well. Just do not confuse with the globular cladophora, which does not survive at room temperature.
Under the influence of water flow from the filter, these green algal balls travel around the aquarium without any problems. As a result, algae actively consume carbon dioxide and waste products of aquarium fish, and instead produce a large amount of oxygen.
Breeding tanks for live beetles should be equipped with overhead lighting and a good aeration system. The amount of breeders directly depends on the size of the fish and the likely ways of crossing – school, harem or pair. If you have a small group of live beetles, then the volume of the aquarium can be up to 20 liters, for a larger flock – up to 40 liters.
If breeding is planned among several large groups, the volumes of the aquarium should increase proportionally.
The preferred height of the aquarium should be within 15 – 25 centimeters. The aquarium should be closed with a cover glass, because during spawning the fish are very mobile and can jump out.
Swordtails are considered the most bouncing: for a couple of days of uncontrolled spawning, almost all its inhabitants can leave the spawning ground.
Immediately before the spawning itself, it is necessary to carefully select future producers, and in some cases, the producers are specially trained. Selected females should have a rounded abdomen, and males have a bright color and a slender body.
Large males with fringed long fins, there are frequent problems with full natural copulation, and in some cases it is impossible. Accordingly, such decorations will be further unnecessary, therefore, they need to be cut off with a blade from a safety razor, placing the fish on a wet plank.
Such a procedure for fish is absolutely harmless, you can not be afraid.
No need to feel sorry for the fins, because they will grow back in a short period of time, and the future offspring will inherit this very unusual, albeit to some extent, burdensome attribute. In some cases, and with acute need, in the veil forms, gonopodia, which is a modified anal fin, are cut off.
His amputation should be carried out at a distance of 1 – 1.5 centimeters from the base.
To stimulate spawning, males and females must be kept apart for several weeks. Such a simple technique favorably affects the sexual function of fish.
At the same time, the daily amount of food for males should be reduced by half, and females, on the contrary, should be fed with diverse and nutritious food. At the same time, it is very important to increase the frequency of water changes for fresh in all aquariums.
Before planting spawning beforehand, some water from the aquarium containing females should be added to the aquarium with the males. Such a cunning device provokes males, after which they become extremely agitated and will be much more active during spawning.
A similar technique must be made in the aquarium with females.
Producers prepared for breeding are transferred to a well-lit aquarium. Under good conditions, the fish will repeatedly spawn, but in order to guarantee high-quality and productive spawning, the fish are kept in the same aquarium for several days on a reduced feeding ration.
In a similar way, they do it with double breeding, only a pair remains in solitude for 5 days.
It is advisable to keep pregnant females in a separate aquarium and feed them well. In addition, at least twice a week it is necessary to make water changes in the amount of 50% of the total. Creating an artificial flow in an aquarium using a filter favorably affects the course of pregnancy and accelerates its outcome.
In calm aquariums, females can stagnate, embryos reproduce a little longer, and the onset of labor in most cases depends on a number of factors that are difficult to predict. A positive result of pregnancy is an enlarged belly and the presence of a dark birthmark, which is clearly visible in the females of many live-bears.
A sign of readiness for childbirth is a change in the shape of the anterior part of the abdomen, because its anterior part, together with the stomach, slightly increases with abundant feeding. If the female was kept in the general aquarium, the signal of readiness for childbirth is the desire to be alone in the thickets of aquarium plants.
At this time, the female is better transplanted into a specially prepared aquarium, otherwise adult fish will eat all the young. In addition, if there is a high column of water in the aquarium, the fry will find it much more difficult to rise to the surface to take their first breath to fill the swim bladder.
Cannibal tendencies are characteristic of almost all viviparous, so it is better not to allow the fish to spawn in the general aquarium. If you miss childbirth, then all the fry need to be caught and transplanted into a separate reed.
There are cases when a female after transplanting into a separate aquarium cannot have a birth for all the symptoms of the end of pregnancy. In this case, an excellent method and incentive for childbirth is a one-time water change for fresh in an amount of from 80 to 100 percent.
Only the main condition is that the water to be replaced has the same hydrochemical parameters.
If this technique did not bring the desired result, then a pair of adult males should be added to the aquarium with a pregnant female, which instantly smell the course of pregnancy. The males immediately begin to chase the female through the aquarium, trying to pin down the abdomen.
I would like to note that this process is not fast, but it allows to achieve the desired result. In the process of spawning fish is better not to touch and give them freedom of action.
If the spawning proceeds in the general aquarium, the males will behave in the same way. They will chase the female around the aquarium until the last fry is born.
At the end of the birth, the female sinks to the bottom and breathes rapidly. Overexcited males do not pay any attention to the fry, but if you want to save the offspring, it is better to add a couple of bunches of javanese moss or riccia to the spawning aquarium.
Upon completion of spawning, the producers need to be removed from the aquarium, and the young need to be fed with small live food after a couple of hours. Independent and healthy fry to bring up easy.
The optimum water temperature in spawning should be within 24 – 27 degrees. Higher temperature content is fraught with the appearance of weak or not viable fry, which are an order of magnitude smaller than the standard.
During the entire pregnancy and spawning, do not let the temperature increase abruptly and do not forget to regularly replace the water in the aquarium.
Amateur aquarists in rare cases have to resort to the method of artificial insemination of females with male sperm. This method is very simple and does not require specific skills from an aquarist. This method has several advantages: you can successfully cross the desired pairs, at the same time fertilize several females from one male.
In addition, if you do not have special producers, you can temporarily take them from familiar breeders and use their genetic material.
Artificial insemination is indispensable if intergeneric hybridization is carried out, since the structure and form of gonopodium in fish is very different, respectively, this is a serious obstacle to normal copulation. Artificial insemination is performed as follows. When the pair is determined, the male is caught and transferred to another net, inside of which wet cotton is laid.
Without getting the male from the net, they turn the belly upwards. The area in the area of gonopodium is wiped with a swab moistened in a one-percent solution of table salt, and then wiped gently with a dry swab.
With light movements of the fingers, they begin to stroke the belly on both sides until a small amount of sperm is released from the gonopodium. It must be assembled with a pipette and transferred from a previously prepared and disinfected glass plate with a small depression in the center.
At the end of this operation, the role of the male is played and it can be returned back to the aquarium.
The female is caught in the same manner as the male, which is placed in the net in a similar way with wet pads between the fish and the net. Then take a pipette and inject semen into the urogenital opening. After that, you need to massage it with a swab moistened with weakly salted water for injection (sodium chloride).
This method of fertilization prevents the occurrence of spasm of the abdominal muscles and the successful settling of sperm in the oviduct.
While the operation is underway, the fish should be held tightly in the net. No sudden jerks and beats should be allowed, otherwise wounds may appear that will heal for a long time and in the worst case the abdominal cavity will inflame and the fish will die.
The inseminated female is returned back to the aquarium with suitable conditions throughout the pregnancy and the correct balanced feeding.
The main disadvantage of such a method of insemination is too small a juvenile offspring, due to the imperfection of the procedure that took place at home. In general, natural fertilization is much more effective and painless for fish, breeders resort to artificial insemination only in the rarest cases.
I would like to note the moment that in the case of pairing or artificial insemination, males predominate in the litter. If the spawning is gregarious and harem, then there will be more females in the offspring.
As many years of experience has shown to breeders, when mating fish of progeny of different age, most of the fish inherit the sex of young parents (such a feature is characteristic of both viviparous and imitating).
Under natural conditions, sexual dimorphism is rather tightly regulated in a natural way: if the habitat conditions have deteriorated greatly, then most of the females will be in the offspring, and if they improve, on the contrary, the males. This feature helps the population to survive and maintain its population in difficult conditions.
Such a moment can be observed in representatives of viviparous and in aquarium conditions.
If the pregnant female lives in an aquarium with a lowered temperature and lack of food, the roe will begin to dissolve and be absorbed back into the body. Upon completion of this process, you can see how the female starts up a long and thick white thread.
I think it is not necessary to consider in detail the negative consequences of this phenomenon, everything is clear here.
The main problem of carrying out breeding works with viviparous at home is that the aquarist does not have enough quality source material. If you look at the assortment of fish in pet stores, then there is a clear choice and not why, and the appearance of the fish is generally a separate topic for discussion.
In the market, you are also unlikely to find suitable material for home selection.
Accordingly, the best option for a novice breeder is to acquire young stock from friends of responsible and conscientious aquarists. The number of fish producers should be such that you can discard unsuitable specimens and create your own breeding group.
In an ideal scenario, in one aquarium they will combine fish that do not have common ancestors, and divide the future offspring by sex and transfer them to other aquariums according to the principle of unrelated relationships.
Only in this way and in no other way will you be able to assemble a large breeding gene pool, in which the quality of producers will correspond to their quality. As you understand from the above, breeding surveys with live-bears are quite an exciting activity.