How Do Fish Mate? How Do You Find A Breeding Pair? | Kidadl

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How Do Fish Mate? How Do You Find A Breeding Pair?

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Male and female fish mate within their groups at particular times of the day.

Fishes are of many different breeds and types, and their breeding style is not always the same throughout. But all fishes do sustain reproductive organs to lay eggs and produce new ones.

All fishes are not the same. But reproduction and mating are the basic features shared by all. Male and female fishes of several genera and types mate in their respective groups to reproduce young ones similar to the existing fishes. All the types of fishes have somewhat similar reproductive organs that help them to mate and produce babies. Male fishes consist of two equal testes that can be separated or fused depending upon the breed of the fish. On the other hand, female fishes consist of ovaries that lay eggs containing baby fishes (called fry).

Besides these reproductive organs, both male and female fishes consist of genital papilla that release sex cells. In the case of male fishes, genital papilla releases male sex cells, which are named sperm cells. Whereas in female fishes, genital papilla releases egg cells. Both sex cells help to fuse the cells forming new ones. The genital papilla is located near the anal fin, and its shape is often used to detect and differentiate between male and female fishes. Where the genital papilla in male fishes is long, extended, and pointed, on the other hand, in female fishes, this genital papilla is oval, round, and broad in shape.

After reading about different ways of how do fish mate, do check our other articles on what do fish eat? And, why do fishes die when taken out of water?

How do fish mate in a fish tank?

Do you know that the temperature of the water is critical during goldfish breeding and mating?

The breeding and mating of fishes depend upon their type. Some female fishes lay eggs after mating, and male fishes fertilize those eggs to produce new baby fishes such as goldfish and clownfish. In comparison, there are some fish named livebearers that give birth to live fry (fish babies). Fishes like guppies, mollies, and platys are some of the best examples of livebearers. These live-bearing fishes get pregnant for a few days, generally a period of 30-40 days. After the maturation of the fry (baby fishes), they release them inside the water column itself.

Let's talk about how aquarium fish mate inside a fish tank; there can be two ways for this type of mating. Fish tank fishes can lay eggs that will be fertilized by males inside the water column. Fertilized eggs have tiny black dots inside the eggs. In some breeds, one of the parents holds fertilized eggs inside their mouth after the mating process. As soon as the fry hatch, the eggs are released from the fish.

The other way of spawning for aquarium fish is that males and females mate to reproduce and eggs are fertilized, and the fry develops inside the body of the female fish. After a period of a month or so, when the fry babies are grown enough inside the female fish, females release the fry inside the water. The type of females that release live babies are known as livebearers.

In fish tanks, egg-laying fishes are more common. However, livebearers are also recommended for the better growth of your fish tank. Many people like to keep egg-laying fish in their fish task due to low maintenance and accessible food supply. Once you understand the feeding type of egg-laying fishes, it is more comfortable to breed them during their gestation period for a better collection of baby fry. Egg-laying fishes like betta fish, plecos, cichlids like catfish, and corydoras are some of the most common egg-laying fishes that many people prefer to keep in their fish tanks and aquariums.

Egg-laying fishes release their eggs either inside a cave, nest, plants, or on top of the plants. Gourami family fishes do not lay eggs inside a cave. They make their own nest and release their eggs inside these nests. Male gourami fishes prepare the nest. Female gourami fishes lay the eggs in the made nest. The male fish fertilize the eggs and blow them once they are fertilized.

How do I know if my fish are mating?

Fish mate in groups or pairs, whether in an aquarium or natural water bodies. Several species of fish mate and reproduce differently; if you want to know whether your fish are mating or not. You have to enhance your observation skills and look carefully at what is happening inside your fish tank, especially if, like many people, you prefer to keep fish that lay eggs inside the tank, which are fertilized by the male fish inside the water column itself.

Many species of fish that lay eggs release the unfertilized eggs inside the water column. These releases of eggs are done in caves, plants, nests, or in some cases, on the plants. When the female fish releases its unfertilized eggs inside the water, male fish group together to act on these released eggs, all the male fish fertilize the eggs inside the water column itself.

Fish mate mainly with the same breeds but cross-breeding is also possible in some cases.

There are some of the signs that you will notice before the actual mating begins. You will find a pair of fish staying close to each other, or a group of male fish starting to show interest in a female fish. For example, the silver dollar male fish will chase and swim around the female species of fish aggressively.

In other species of fish like the parrot and the oscar fish, the male fish will start to rub their bodies against the female fish. Along with the rubbing, they also start to vibrate their bodies with the female ones. Some male and female fishes start to lock their lips against each other as the preliminary signs before the actual mating starts.

Other than these pre-mating signs, you can look for the behavior change in your tank fish, such as guppies. The spawning behavior will be noticed where the female fish will settle itself on the nest while the male fish will start to rub its body against the female fish. Many fishes start to build a nest before mating to release their eggs on a safer platform. Whereas when they lay eggs, you will find a change in their behavior. Once the eggs are laid inside the water, other fishes will try to attack them to feed on them. Both male and female fish or only the female fish will protect and guard its nest against the other species of fish present inside the tank. Both parents do not stop feeding the fry until all the eggs are hatched.

When is a fish mature enough to reproduce?

Some fishes start to reproduce and mate to produce new fry babies as soon as they grow a little after their own birth.

The reproduction pattern and age are different for different fish species. There are many young fishes that take years to start reproduction after their birth. The reproduction age sometimes helps determine several species of fish. The maturation age of a fish to start reproduction initiates right after the maturation of reproductive organs or sex organs.

Reproductive organs in both male and female fish are the slowest growing organs. It takes time for most fishes to develop matured sexual organs that permit breeding and reproduction. Right after the birth of the fish itself, the reproductive organs are not at all developed and matured. As the survival of fish is not necessary. But in later stages of life, when a species of fish need to reproduce to give birth to young ones of the same type, the requirement of these sex organs is essential.

The sexual maturity in several fishes reaches different ages. The female and male fish mate and get ready to give birth to young fishes at certain ages of their life cycles. The process to determine by watching a species of fish when it will attain the sexual maturity to start reproduction is to look at the size and age of the fish. The smaller the fish species will be in size, the faster it will reach the maturity age of initiating the reproduction and start spawning.

In species of fish that have a small body even as adults, as soon as the female fish grows up a little it starts mating with the male fishes. Where on the one hand, many species of fish start to reproduce and give birth to the young ones almost immediately after their own birth. There are other species of fish that take time to grow and mature their genital organs to begin the sexual procedure of producing young fishes.

Many fishes undertake breeding by laying eggs.

Eggs Layers VS Livebearers

Species of fishes are categorized into two major categories named egg-layers and livebearers. Both kinds of fish reproduce differently.

Fish reproduction is different in several fish species. The way they go about giving birth to young fishes is how they are categorized into either of these two distinct species.

Egg layers like betta fish are the species of fishes that lay eggs in the water column. These laid eggs are unfertilized when released in the water. As soon as the female fish releases the eggs, whether in the nest, cave, plants, or over the plants, one male fish or a group of male fishes reach towards the eggs and fertilize them. On the other hand, livebearers keep the baby fishes in their womb until a specific time and then release the living baby fishes.

Many people prefer to keep egg layers in their fish tank and aquarium because of the low maintenance they require. Once a person understands the fish needs during pregnancy, supplying the proper food will help the fish tank fill within a few months. There are more than 500 species of fish that are egg layers. Live-bearing fish species give birth to live baby fish because the male fertilizes the eggs inside the females' stomach. People avoid keeping a live-bearing fish in their tank because of the proper care and nutrition it requires, the same as all other mammals do.

As a live-bearing fish keeps the live young fish in its stomach, the required nutrition level increases during the gestation period. Taking care of the livebearers involves looking after the pregnant fish, and feeding them with the right food from time to time is essential. Along with the high nutrition status, livebearers have a significant advantage of producing cross-breeding fish species. As the young fish grow and mature inside the parent fish and parent fish roam freely without having the issue of protecting their eggs at a particular location, the chances of cross-breeding increase.

If you want your tank to have several types of fish species in it, it is a cheaper and better way to fill your fish tank with cross-breeding fish species. Where egg-laying parents get stuck to protect the laid eggs, livebearers enhance mobility by freely roaming around the water column. Another significant disadvantage of egg-laying parents is the quantity of fish produced from the hatched eggs. When a female fish releases hundreds of eggs in the water column, other fish try to attack and reach the eggs to feed upon them; despite covering and protecting its laid eggs, many eggs rupture and damage due to the attack of other creatures and species of fish. Due to poor nutrition and care received by laid eggs, many get damaged before even getting fertilized. The remaining ones do not get proper nutrition and end up giving birth to immature fry; only a few eggs succeed in successfully giving birth to healthy baby fishes.

How to choose a breeding pair?

Choosing the right parent fishes for mating is an essential task. Male and female fish mate in most conditions. If you are thinking of getting a fish tank and are stuck on how to choose a parent fish pair so your fish tank can eventually grow the number of fish in it, start observing the pattern and types of fish.

The pattern of reproduction in a species is different from other types of fish. Where some reproduce with one male and female parent, other fish species reproduce with one female fish getting attacked by multiple male fish.

Always look for having a male and female fish in your tank if you want them to breed. However, the number of males and females can vary according to the method of reproduction followed by the fish species. Many fishes are dimorphic or isomorphic in nature.

Dimorphic species of fishes are easily recognized by their body structure. Male and female fish are distinguished by different shapes, colors, and textures of the body. The body organs and structure are also placed and spaced differently so you conveniently identify the male and female fish. On the other hand, sexually isomorphic fishes are somewhat similar. You cannot distinguish between male and female fish very clearly as they have almost the same body shape and size. Where sexually dimorphic male fish are larger in size and have more vibrant colors to attract their female mate, sexually dimorphic female fish are smaller in size while having slightly dull color on the body. In sexually isomorphic fish, you can identify their sex as male or female only by observing their genital papilla. The genital papilla structure is more elongated and pointed in males whereas in females the structure is more oval and broader.

How to breed fish in an aquarium?

For making a new fish breed in an aquarium, a selection of healthy and vibrantly colored fish is most important.

The selection of the right parent fish can increase the chances of getting healthy and beautiful young ones in your aquarium. If you already have fish in your tank or aquarium, adjusting the tank’s conditions can help the parent fish to breed and produce new baby fish.

Compatibility test for your fishes is very important if you are aiming to breed them and produce new fishes in your aquarium. Like in some species of fishes, including cichlids, the male and female mate and stay together only if they grew together from the beginning. Cichlids do not easily (if ever) reproduce and breed with new fish in the group. Not only do they refuse to breed with the new fish, but they can also fight to the death in many cases.

Except for the compatibility, providing correct food to the spawning pair is also very important. Proper and healthy food can help both male and female fish to stay in good shape and health.

Always try to get your fish in specific seasons when they mate at their maximum. In some seasons like in later winter and early spring, their sexual hormones are at their peak, this helps the male and female fish mate more. Buying and nourishing fish in these seasons can increase the chances of breeding and filling your tank with beautiful baby fish.

For fish species to breed successfully, it is essential to maintain the right tank conditions. Where some fish species need a separate or bare tank to breed, other species breed in groups. Maintaining the correct pH level and water hardness while keeping the tank temperature to the right degrees is very important for your fish to breed appropriately and successfully. The ideal water temperature for the proper environment for male and female fish to breed and reproduce new baby fishes differs with the genus.

Lastly, if you divide the aquarium, separating the male and female fish for some time, this may enhance the desire of fish to stay together and breed properly.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for how do fish mate then why not take a look at why do fish jump, or how often to feed fish.

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Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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