Select Aquatics of Erie, CO
 

                       Breeding the Puntius padamya "Odessa"

                        Page 3 - Breeding Specifics - Actually Doing It

 

 
 

         

                  Page 1:  Odessa Barbs,  Origins of the Odessa Barb

                  Page 2:  Overview of Breeding the Puntius padamya

                * Page 3:  Step by Step Specifics of How We Breed Them Here

                  Page 4:  An Easier (But less Yield) Way to Breed Them

                  Page 5:  Growth rates

 

                
                                  Preparation of the Water the Fish Will Breed In:

          Earlier mainstream hobbyists books - including most that claim to best help to learn how to breed these types of fish say
          that if the parents are ready to breed, and you set up the tank such that the fertilized eggs are kept from being eaten
          by the parents, that there is nothing else you can do to assure the success of your batch until the fish hatch.

          This is not only incorrect, but failing to prepare the water beforehand, in my experience, guarantees that you will produce
          a very small yield from your effort. In fact, without careful preparation of the water to have generous amounts of infusoria
          provided at hatching, relatively few fry will survive. Though I mention 250 - 300 viable fry will reach to one month with the
          ratio of males to females mentioned above, in fact, the most recent batch was over 1400 fry. With each spawning I have 
          become better at it, and generally 250-300 was more than enough to meet my needs. But with careful monitoring and care 
          of the new fry during the first month, yields can be much larger.
 
 
 
 
 

                        A breeding group, these females are full of eggs.                                           Be sure you have the room to raise out the fish after they hatch-
                                                                                                                                           or you will end up with a lot of stunted, undernourished fish!
 

 
                   Yield:

          Usng the same number of breeders (4-5 pair), I started off producing 200-250 that made it to one month old. Eventually I
          went to doing a breeding cycle every 6 weeks, improving my ability and getting to consistently producing about 300 at a time.
          The result was that within 6 months I was knee deep in Odessas that were not being raised out to their maximum size,
          because I did not yet have the space and resources to raise that many fish consistently at that time. Today I breed less
          frequently - 2-3x per year, and produce 500 - 700 each time. This last batch ended up being 1400, so it may be 6 months
          before I breed again.
 
                   Prepare the infusoria Starter

          I used many of the standard means of creating infusoria (Hay, lettuce, etc.) at first, until another breeder friend pointed
          out that infusoria can be easily created that is unique to your fishroom - everything came from your tanks, and the mix will
          be best matched to your water qualities, etc. To do this, I save any duckweed that is removed from my tanks, where it is put
          into a plastic tub, where it dries out. Through crushing it with your hands, it can be turned into a rough powder. This becomes
          the infusoria starter to prepare infusoria for the new fry. I have dried duckweed here now that is years old, the bacteria
          will always come back as soon as the material is put back into the water.
 
 
 
 
 
 
       29 gal. Odessa breeding tank on left, 55 gallon water change resource on right.
                       The pic on the left shows the tub of dried duckweed and other crushed up fine leaved plants, used to generate infusoria in the breeding tank
                       before the adults are introduced to spawn. the pic at right shows a larger, established tank used for the 3x per day 50% water changes the
                       growing Odessa fry require. In this case the bigger tank is a 55 gallon pleco breeding tank. The approximately 5 gallon water changes happening
                       throughout the day often triggers the plecos in that tank to spawn.

                       The water is drained from the Odessa tank, then a siphon from the pleco tank brings back up the water level. The pleco tank is then replenished
                       with water from the tap, and the original water from the Odessa tank is put into the daphnia tubs outside.
 
 
                   Starting the Breeding Process:

         A barebottom 29 gallon tall tank is used for breeding - and this size tank is actually not ideal, a 30 breeder is possibly
         better, but I simply had gotten used to using this, and though I have bred the Odessas in 40 breeders,the recent large
         batch - done in the 29 tall- has shown that with proper maintenance, going to a larger tank isn't necessary. For me as
         well, I like being able to see into where the the fry are to check on them as they grow. The 29 set at eye level is a
         good size for that.

         On an open corner of the tank I have marked with tape at the 4 inch point, marked "INF" for infusoria, then, at 5.5 inches
         tank depth, a second piece of tape is marked "DIV"- This is the level at where the divider will be placed. At 6 inches,
         the next piece of tape marks the "SET" point, where the water level stays once the divider is removed, and you are watching
         for signs of when the water level can begin to be raised. At 7 inches, the next piece of tape marks where the fish should be
         by about week 1 - no higher. The week 2 piece of tape is at about 8 inches. 3 weeks is at about 10 inches. 4 weeks takes you
         to within about 1.5 inches of the top of the tank. This can be seen below-

         Raising up the new fry in water deeper than just a couple inches causes airbladder problems, and can affect nearly half the
         batch - where the fish must fight to raise up from the bottom. By moving them to a tank of just a few inches deep, many can
         recover when this happens, but many will be lost. the next pieces of tape are markers for week 2 and week 3, based on the
         rate that previous batches were ready for at that time. The basic rule is to keep the water level low if water
         quality can be maintained. Experencing the full depth of the aquarium will generally not occur until slightly after the 1
         month old mark.
 
 
 
 

    This tells me where the water
    level should be when:

    The infusoria is started,
    a 50% water change is done
    The divider is added,
    The adults are added,
    When the adults are removed,
    after the divider is removed,
    and then at 1 wk, 2 wks, etc.

 

 
 

 

     This is a breakdown of
     the day to day increase
     in water level to show
     the appropriate pace
     that the level is
     increased.

     Any more quickly, and 
     you will see individual fish
     having trouble swimming 
     up from the bottom.
 

 
                   Prepping the Breeders

         Your males and females should be separated, and if mature there should be females that are full of eggs. Once males are
         fully colored up, and females are become ripe with eggs, they are ready to breed, likely at 8-10 months. Females generally
         take about 10 - 14 days, minimum, to fill with eggs after spawning. In preparation for choosing the best females to improve
         the line, it helps to bring out the color in each female before the selection is made, as the quality of color in the females,
         particularly with respect to which females will produce the best males, will be unknown. A practice used for many years by
         guppy breeders comes into play. At about the same time as you are adding the dried duckweed to the breeder tank, start feeding
         the females a color food. No hormones or artificial means, but any of the all natural color enhancing foods will do a good job.
         Over time you will find brands that you are happiest with. If you wish to contact selectaquatics@gmail.com, I will tell you
         which types are used here. Keep the feeding going until the actual selection of female breeders occurs. The males should breed
         readily when well fed, and feeling good - evidenced by good color. They only need 3--5 days to recover from breeding.

 

 

 
 

    Easy to sex once the males
    color up, the young are
    nearly identical to one
    another. The female has
    no red stripe, and holds
    on to the second black
    dot near the tail. One
    means of sexing them
    early is that the young
    males may show faint black
    markings in the dorsal fin,
    and the females do not.

 
 

     A group of adult females that are very full of eggs and ready
     to breed. It is ideal if they can be bred when they get this
     full of eggs, but living in this state does not seem to harm
     them. Though they might disagree with you!

 
                     Preparing the tank:

         Fill a cleaned, 29 gallon tall tank with about 2 inches of good quality, aged aquarium water and
         3 moderately strong airstones placed at each end and middle of the tank. Light is provided 24/7.
         Temperature of 78 degrees. My water here is moderately soft, at about 90ppm. In this initial
         setting up, I have also used fresh tap water - and will let the tank run with airstones for a
         day - "degassing" any chlorination before proceeding to the next step. This is probably the best
         way, but it also adds a day to the process.

         Infusoria takes approximately 7 days to "Bloom", where the newly hatched infusoria are released from
         the dried duckweed. Odessa eggs hatch within 1-3 days of being laid. So to have the infusoria blooming
         at the time of maximum hatching, the dried duckweed will need to be added at 5 days before the parents
         are introduced to the tank.

         I generally add 2-3 tablespoons of the dried duckweed to the churning water in the aquarium. At day 4,
         Java moss carefully cleaned for this process is spread evenly and not too thickly along the bottom of
         the aquarium. An equal amount of more java moss, or even better, java fern, is cleaned and prepared to
         add on Day 5. You want to be sure there are no shrimp, organisms that will eat eegs, and as few snails
         as possible where the eggs will be laid.

         On Day 5, bring the water level up to the spot where the divider piece of tape designates, adding
         clean, aged water from another established aquarium. You may want to do more than one water change to
         get the water to a clarity that will be healthy and easy to work with, if a lot, or too much of the
         dried duckweed was used.

         Place in the divider, carefully made so that the smallest adults cannot get below it. A loose adult
         below the divider not only means that many of the new eggs and fry will be eaten, but to fix the
         problem the fish will need to be taken out and everything removed, fixed, and put back together.
         Do not feel bad if this happens - I made many divider designs to get one that worked! Above the
         divider, now place small clumps of java fern throughout, so that fish can swim through the tank
         easily, but many hiding places are provided. The water level should be just above 1/2 inch- the 
         backs of the adult fish as they swim above the divider. Turn up the airstones below the divider 
         to keep a mild current and healthy oxygenation going on below the divider.
 
 
 
 
 
     The Vinegar eel culture is poured through a coffee filter placed over
   a hole cut in the bottom of a container sitting over a larger container.
                               The second day after the dried duckweed was added.
                          By day 5 when adults are added water will have cleared up.
 
 
 
 
            

           The Divider: plastic honeycomb light diffuser
            covered by plastic cross stitch backing,
            attached with electrical ties. Edged with
            cut kitchen scrub pads.
 

 

    This is how the divider sits in the tank when the
    breeding occurs. Notice the amount of Java fern
    used. the round electrical tie loop is so that the
    divider can be lifted out easily with a net handle.

         The divider is being carefully
                           lowered in.

 
 

                  Selecting Breeders:

         I first select the females because I generally want them to go into the breeding area first. I will choose 6-8 that possess a
         a combination of appearing most ready to breed in that they are very plump, and their overall quality of color looks good, based
         on the variables I am focusing on.

         Be aware that the color you are looking for disappears relatively quickly when they are startled and spooked, and the hints of
         the red and black you are looking for in the females may not be seen if the selection is not done quickly and gently. I make a
         point not to overcrowd them in the selection tub, and choose a tub that is darker colored or against a darker or earth toned
         surface. They will hold on to their color longer. The females chosen are then looked at closely in their own small container,
         and at this point I will stuff them with whatever they will eat - frozen brine shrimp, etc. After eating, the container is then
         floated to acclimate temperatures, and they are added to the breeder tank.

         The males are then quickly selected in similar fashion, and their color should always be excellent, but like the females, their
         color can totally wash out quickly, and you literally cannot select for your best fish. If possible, I will gently scoop a bunch
         up in a large black net, then go in with a 2 inch net and pull the best looking fish. Once the males are chosen and in their own
         container, they too are then stuffed with whatever they will eat.

         With full stomachs they will not be as prone to aggression with one another, and most importantly will be less likely to eat their
         eggs. After the females have had a couple hours to establish ownership of the tank, the males are then floated and added, generally
         on the evening of Day 5.
 

 
 
 
 
                        A male with good red color

 

       These females are a little washed out from being spooked,
       but their color is actually good, particularly the female on the
       left, and all are full of eggs.
 

 
        

         On the morning of Day 6, day 2 of adults being put together, they will start to settle down, with some chasing by the males,
         and some breeding may have already occurred. I will sprinkle a little dry food over the fish for them to eat, but do not add
         much. After feeding. GENTLY bring the water level up to where you have increased the water level by 50%, and drain back down
         to the level from before, as a water change following feeding.

         Early after noon of Day 6, feed the first small feeding of vinegar eels. I raise the vinegar eels in 2 liter soda bottles.
         About half the bottle is filtered through a coffee filter, the eels added to aquarium water, and they are fed with a turkey
         baster. the first feeding should be no more than the eels of one harvested soda bottle. After a half hour, do another 50%
         water change the same way the earlier one was done earlier in the day.

        I will then sprinkle a little dry food over them in the evening, followed by another water change.

         At this point you will start seeing evidence of spawning in that the area under the divider should be sprinkled with white,
         unfertilized eggs. It may even appear that there could not be fertilized eggs in there - the fertilized eggs you do not see,
         as they are a translucent amber color, and the eggs are about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Do not be
         concerned at the amount of white eggs you will see - sometimes it will look like a light layer of snow throughout the bottom.
         Trust me, if your fish are breeding properly there will more than enough fertilized eggs to produce the fry you are looking
         for. My experience has been that eggs just aren't laid if the males are not ready. There are times they may decide not to
         breed at all - this has only happened twice to me, and were due to the temperature being too low. Warming it up to 77-78
         solved the problem.

 

 
        
         On day 7 I watch the breeding activity (#rd Day of adults together). If it is still going gangbusters, and females are still
         robust and full of eggs, I will let them go another 1-2 days. Sometimes, if I can do it easily, I will pull any slimmed down
         females at this point, leaving any still to drop their eggs. Generally i will let them go one more day.
         If all females are slimmed down, pull them.

         Do two feedings of dry food, in the morning and late afternoon, followed by a vinegar eel feeding of one
         2 liter harvest, both followed by 50% water changes.
 
 
         On day 8, If breeding continues I will leave them in for up to 5 days, but generally pull the adults mid afternoon of the third
         day of being together. Again, a small feeding of dry food for the adults first thing in the morning, followed by a vinegar eel
         feeding and a 50% water change. The adults are removed late afternoon, and vinegar eels are fed again after they are removed,
         followed by a 50% water change. DO NOT REMOVE THE DIVIDER or the Java fern clumps. They will be left in for 3 more days as
         the eggs are mildly adhesive. The water level can also be lowered slightly once the adults are removed, be sure to keep the water
         level so that it covers the divider. I will also tilt the divider so that it is no longer firm against the aquarium glass, and
         is laying in the water such that the new fry below can get to the surface. All movements are slow and gently so as not to harm
         any new fry or eggs.

         Once eggs are laid, to siphon water from the aquarium to do water changes, you will need a net breeder. When it is time again
         for a water change, fill the tank to the level marked that indicates the water level had been increased by 50%, then carefully,
         gently, place a fine mesh net breeder on top of the divider, at a corner, or a place (near an airstone?), if possible, where the
         new fry will be less likely to congregate. Then carefully siphon the added 50% out from inside of the breeder so that new fry will
         not be siphoned out. It will still happen as the fry are very small, and at times I have saved the water change water - with an
         airstone put into the 5 gallon buckets that the water was drained into, and then with a flashlight would remove any fry that had
         been siphoned out.

         At this point - 1-2 days before the divider is removed, you may start to see new fry hanging on the sides of any smooth surface.
         Once they absorb their egg sac (1 day), they will start feeding on the microorganisms that grow on the fronds of the java moss,
         generated from the infusoria starter,and will be eating the vinegar eels within 1-2 days. Once they begin seeking out food on
         their own, you will no longer see them - they will stay hidden in the Java Moss, but they will rise up out of the Java Moss when
         the vinegar eels are added to the tank.

         It is entirely possible after 5-6 days of growth to stare into the tank with a flashlight, looking carefully for any fry to see
         just a couple swimming between the java moss. Don't be concerned - in the most recent hatching, reflected in these pics, there
         were nearly 1500 fry in the tank, but few could be seen at this stage.

 
 
 
 
                           The breeding tank with divider still in, net breeder to
                              on out water without siphoning out the new fry.
 
                          The new fry at just hours old.
 
 
  The new fry are little more than eyes, tail and a stomach that
can only handle going about 12 hours without being fed.
The routine I recommend - 3x feedings per day, followed
by a 50% percent water change a half hour or so later,
is both the minimum and the maximum amount of feeding
they require. If a single feeding is missed, you will lose a
substantial portion of them, and at the same time,
particularly during the first 3 weeks, a close eye must
be kept if ever a bacterial bloom should develop as the
food overwhelms the tank's ability to process it. An
extra 50% water change is often necessary when a quick
glance shows a slight cloudiness beginning in the tank.
During the first 2 weeks you may need to do an extra
water change 3 or 4 times. You cannot go in and siphon
off any mulm or detritus from the bottom, as you will
remove fry.
 
 
         At this point it becomes a delicate balance between food going in, and maintenance of water quality through water changes.
         The least sign of bacterial cloudiness must be followed immediately by a 50% water change, and you may have a number of days
         where where more than one water change after a feeding will be needed. Learning how much to feed and spotting trouble as soon
         as it presents itself is where the skill lies. The water must stay perfectly clear - there will be debris from the dried
         duckweed still present, but at this point it will not cloud the water. Do not try to remove or "clean" the tank in any way.
         There is no filtration yet, only water changes. Any well-intentioned disruption in the tank will damage the new fry.

        You will want to try prepared powdered dry foods - generally egg yolk based- because it seems that would be a good idea.
         I have tried a number of preparations, and though it does what it is supposed to do, I found the delicate water quality
         balance to be especially difficult to control - it is very easy to overfeed cooked, powdered egg yolk. And after so many times
         of breeding and raising these fry, I do not know that any benefit provided exceeds what they are already getting with vinegar
         eels and BBS.

 
         On the third day after the adults are removed, carefully, slowly remove the java fern clumps and then the divider. You will
         probably need to turn down the airstones slightly so that the water is heavily oxygenated, and some mild current is going on,
         but you want to be sure that there are broad areas in the where the new fry can sit peacefully - you do not want to see the
         constant "churning" of the water that occured when the dried duckweed was first added.

         At about day 6 after the adults were removed, you will want to add BBS to the vinegar eels fed to put quick size on to the
         larger fry. Vinegar eels are surprisingly nutritious, they do an excellent job getting them to the size to get on to Baby
         Brine Shrimp. Once they are on Brine Shrimp their growth really takes off.

         I feed Brine shrimp two ways. before a breeding cycle begins I will prepare about 10 trays of frozen, newly hatched BBS,
         and have raised up batches on this alone. However, the fish are more enthusiastic with live BBS whenever possible. But they
         will eat to full gluttony on either. Essentially, I feed newly hatched whenever possible, but will alternate frozen (or
         feed frozen entirely) depending on the time I have to devote.

         The frozen BBS may cloud the water more quickly, though live will do the same within a day. With the heavy water changes,
         and your watching the tank closely, this should not be an issue.

 
 

         I have found, and this is entirely anecdotal, entirely from my personal experience, that many fertilized eggs will continue
         to hatch for up to a week after the parents have been removed, though texts will say that they will all hatch in 1-3 days.
         I once lost an entire batch due to a bacterial bloom I didn't discover in time, but rather than tear the tank down and start
         over again, I decided to clean up the water and continue the batch, in the hopes there would still be enough fry left to make
         the effort worthwile.

         I was surprised to find that within another day or so, many newly hatching fry began to appear. From that experience, I look
         carefully at the fry to best determine when to make the total shift over to BBS from vinegar eels. Some may claim that in a
         normal situation, older fry may be feeding on younger fry coming up, explaining why a difference of more than 2-3 days in size
         is not always to be seen. Either way, I will continue the vinegar eels in combination with the BBS, feeding for at least 3-5 days 
         before discontinuing the vinegar eels.

         3x per day feedings continue with BBS. As the fish put on size and the water level in the tank begins to creep up, I obtained
         6 rectangular ceramic tiles, about 2x6 inches, and would put two or three together with nylon electrical ties. Then I will
         carefully place the tile bundle on the bottom of the tank, careful not to squash any fry, in an easy to reach spot away from
         where the fry tend to congregate. This will be the platform the net breeder will be placed on to do water changes, and tiles
         will be added as the water level increases.
 

 
 
   
 
                         At left a glass 6 inch Pyrex bowl is sitting on the bottom,
                        and two groups of tiles are supporting the net breeder as
                        the water level increases. It is best to remove the breeder
                        after each water change, as the fry will work their way
                        into it and get siphonned out. Yeah, it's a little clumsy,
                        but it works well.
     This is that 29 gallon on Day 30. The fish are just big enough
     to move with a net. With over 1000 fry in that tank. moving
     them as soon as possible to give them room to grow out is
     essential. This amount of fish will quickly overwhelm a tank
     that size. They have stayed on 3x daily feedings and 50%
     water changes 1/2 hour after each feeding.
    
 
                   Do not be discouraged when a batch is lost, I have lost many thousands of fish since first doing this, and in the wild most
                   would perish or be eaten anyway. Only two fry need to survive over the course of the fish's lifetime to maintain the species,
                   and they will breed up to a couple times a month- and they have fairly long lives. Eventually you will get your technique
                   dialed in!

                   If you have any questions or comments, email me at selectaquatics@gmail.com!

 

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