Breeding Neon Tetras

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So ive decided to try my luck at breeding what i would class as the most common species in the trade.... The Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi) I have no clue if i will succeed but if i dont then no harm done, however if i do then i will finally get on the ladder and earn some BAP points !

DAY 1)
With the amount of rain we have had recently i decided to leave a 5 gallon bucket outside with a insect window screen above to hopefully collect pure rainwater without any creepy crawlies getting inside. After 3 days of what felt like non stop rain i had my bucket over flowing and could begin this project. I grabbed my 5.5 gallon tank and left a mixture of white vinegar and tap water soaking in the tank over night to hopefully clean it of any muck that had accumulated since the last time it was used. The setting for this breeding project will be in my basement under the stairs as i know the fry/eggs are sensitive to light. The temp has stayed between 70-72 degrees. I'm going to try it without a heater and if it go's belly up then i will introduce a heater.

DAY 2)
I scrubbed the tank with a Mr Clean magic eraser, these things are really handy for cleaning aquariums. I then left the tank outside in the sun to dry off and put my rainwater in a big pan and boiled it for 20 minutes to kill anything that might contaminate the tank later on. Setting the tank up was pretty straight forward, i know they are egg scatterers so i decided to line the tank with filter floss and scattered some lava rock on top to stop it from floating, on top of that i added some java moss which is where the eggs will hopefully end up. At one side of the tank is a air driven sponge filter for oxygen but i toned it down a little to stop the water having too much of a current. I also added some Indian Almond Leaves, this will serve 2 purposes, one it will stain the water with its tannins, hopefully making the new home owners feel more comfortable and two it will feed the fry once they are free swimming due to the micro organisms that live in the leaf. The boiled rainwater is now cool enough to pour into the tank and get under way.

DAY 3)
The tank is 3/4 full and i decided to pour 1/2 rainwater in and 1/4 Tap water, at this stage i have not yet tested the waters parameters which could prove to be my error in the next few days, we will see. The Tetras I'm using are from my 75 gallon planted tank, they have been in the tank for roughly 3 months and have been fed on a diet of frozen brine shrimp, frozen bloodworm & Spirulana flakes. From reading various articles online i feel i now know how to tell the difference between a Female & Male Neon Tetra, however just in case i was off i decided to put 4 in the breeding tank. I placed the 2 fattest ones with a "bent" blue stripe (which i believe to be female) and 2 slim tetras with a straight blue stripe (which i believe to be Males) in the breeding tank. The tank does have a lid on and i have covered it with a fine black mesh so when i turn on the house lights it will not enter the tank as much.

DAY 4)
I woke up today and if I'm honest i was like a little kid on Xmas eve ! I knew that it had to be a miracle that in less than 1 day they had spawned, but none the less i had to take a little peek. I first counted to make sure they were all alive and thankfully they had survived the move, in which they had. The 2nd thing i did was to look at the bellies, 2 were fat & 2 were slim just like the day before so i know that the miracle did not happen just yet. Im debating weather to feed them or not at this point, i don't want to foul the water and start doing water changes whilst they are getting used to new surroundings which i know will stress them out so i think i will wait and "go with the flow". Still no heater in the tank and the water temp is right at 72 degrees, I'm wondering weather to place a heater inside and gradually work it up to around 80 degrees. the only problem with that is i will placing my hands in the tank and disrupting the pairs every other day which i don't want to do.
I decided to leave the heater out and try it this way for 2 weeks before i begin to think about using a heater.

DAY 5)
I woke up today and noticed the Tetras pecking at the Java Moss, thinking the worst i decided to take a closer look. The Females are still plump looking so they cant have spawned, I'm guessing they were just grazing on micro organisms that were growing on the Java Moss. I gave in today and decided to feed them a tiny bit of frozen Brine Shrimp which they gobbled down in about 2 seconds, it now looks like i have 4 Females due to there bellies being full now. The water in the tank is getting tea stained due to the Almond leaf so im guessing the water is getting a little Acidic. I tested the water today and the results are as follows:
Ph 6.4
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Gh 4-5
Kh 2-3
I placed a heater in the tank and set it for 78, i have read several articles that gradually heating the water would promote spawning quicker so this evening (when the fish are less likely to spawn) i placed the heater inside.

DAY 6)
Woke up this morning to some interesting behaviour inside the tank . Both Males are swimming in a circular motion around the females and playing what looks like chase. The Females are still plump so i know i have not missed the spawning yet but i have a feeling this is the start of the females releasing the eggs. I have no idea how long the breeding process lasts so i will have to keep checking in to make sure they dont go and eat all the eggs. I have not seen any eggs, and from what i have read i doubt i will see any since they are smaller than a grain of sand and with them being in a dull room its making it extremely difficult just to see the fish..... thank goodness they are neon in color!
Its been about an hour now and the chase game is still going on, in the time i have watched them i have noticed that they are not switching females. I thought it would be a case of first come first serve but its not looking that way, they seem fixed on each female at the moment and swimming tightly together, maybe that will change once eggs start falling. They do not seem phased about me pulling up a chair next to the tank and peering inside, they would usually expect food when they see me this close to the tank but they are carrying on with business as if i am not even there.
Well its been just over 2 hours and since my last peek i have noticed one of the Females is much smaller than she was. The other Female still looks plump but i can see them "pecking" areas which im pretty sure are the eggs so i have decided to pull them out. Im not looking for 100's of fry so even if i get 5 fry i will be happy at this point.
The adults i have pulled out are slowly drip acclimating back to the 75 gallon, i think the almond leaf will have made the water in the breeding tank too acidic so to throw them back into another tank would be a little mean.
I have placed the black mesh over the tank and switched all lights off that filter into that room so hopefully the eggs will survive....fingers crossed.

DAY 7)
This was a difficult day to stay away from the tank since i knew that shining a light in the tank could damage the eggs/fry but i had to know if i had fry in or if i needed to start over. I ended up lighting a candle, the only source of light i knew would not be too bright. I un plugged the sponge filter and peered inside the tank only to find 3-4 tiny fry swimming on top of the sponge filter ! I quickly blew out the candle and have yet to return to the tank ! My only concern now is how to keep them alive, do i do water changes ? do i feed them ? Its a horrible feeling knowing that these fry will either live or not depending on what i do next.

DAY 16)
Been very busy this week and have not had chance to keep my eyes on the fry as much as i would have liked (maybe thats a good thing) I have left my moonlights on during the day as im not sure at what stage they are comfortable with bright lights. I have spottted 6 fry but with them being so small i could have more hiding in the java moss. I added around 10-15 daphnia on day 8 and since then they have exploded, maybe 50 now. Im hoping the fry will survive off the micro organisms in the java moss until they are big enough to eat baby daphnia, i have some microworms and vinegar eels waiting for them if need be. I tried to take a picture of the fry today but they are so small that its just a . with tail and with them being clear in color the camera is not picking it up very well. I am setting up 10 gallon tank tomorrow to try to breed some more but this time i am going to put a mesh 1/4 of the way off the bottom so that way i can see the eggs on the bottom and can keep the adults in longer without having to worry about them eating the eggs. I still think i took out the adults maybe halfway through them scattering eggs which is why i have a poor fry count.

DAY 24)
Not good news ! Im down to 3 fry that i can see. I have been working 14 hour shifts last week so have not had chance to do daily water changes and feed the fry 3x a day so i have lost a few. I will see how the 3 do and if i lose them i will begin the process again once i have a little more time on my hands.

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Updated 06-09-2013 at 08:13 PM by stevenjohn21

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