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Feeding and Breeding Schooling Fishes
by Ruby Bayan

Tiger Barbs The more common schooling fishes are omnivorous, and they share the same breeding tendencies -- they're egg scatterers. This means that in a community tank, certain guidelines need to be followed to keep the schools healthy and prolific.

How to Feed Schooling Fishes

Tetras, barbs, and danios are omnivorous. Most tetras are insectivorous, but also feed on flake and pellet foods. Barbs and danios eat live foods but supplement on vegetation.

Schooling fishes prefer to swim mid-tank, and enjoy going after live food like mosquito larvae, bloodworms, and other small aquatic invertebrates. In the absence of wriggly live food, flakes floating in the current are just as delectable. In the absence of both, the nearby vegetation will do just fine for these omnivorous species.

Give your schooling fishes frozen foods if live ones are not available. Remember that live foods are essential to characins and cyprinids, especially to danios, because a diet rich in live foods enhances their coloration.

Tiger Barbs
Tiger Barbs

How to Breed Schooling Fishes

Most cyprinids and characins share a number of breeding tendencies. Tetras, barbs, and danios, are all egg-scatters and do not exercise any type of parental care of the eggs or the young. They will breed in a community tank but most of the eggs and fragile fry will not survive to mature in the presence of the other tank inhabitants.

For better success in breeding egg-scatterers, transfer the breeding pair to a spawning tank. The spawning tank should have a substrate of marbles, java moss, or a mesh where eggs can settle out of the reach of their omnivorous parents. Fine-leaved plants will work well for barbs and tetras that tend to shimmy and scatter their eggs and milt onto the vegetation.

Tetra broods are usually small, while barbs spawn hundreds of eggs, but in both cases, adults should be removed before they get a chance to prey on their own eggs and young ones.

Remember that the best water quality is a pre-requisite for good breeding. Fry should be fed with plenty of infusoria, newly hatched brine shrimp or other fine powdered fry food. Always provide a varied diet for best nutrition and ideal growth.

See also: Introducing Schooling Fishes

Suggested Reading:

Dr. Axelrod's Mini-Atlas of Freshwater Aquarium Fishes

An Essential Guide to Choosing Your Tropical Freshwater Fish


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