Adhesive Egg Layers, General Spawning Instructions

The Strange and Wonderful Habits of Adhesive Egg Layers

Adhesive Egg Layers, General Spawning Instructions

Some common adhesive egg layers are members of the barb family, some Tetras, the Giant Danio and the Rasbora family.  Certain species, such as the Tiger Barbs and Rosy Barbs are both good easy adhesive egg layers to start your breeding experiences with.  Before attempting this project, see our instruction: preparing the tank for egg scatterers, for the preparation of the tank with adhesive egg-layers is essentially the same, with the exception of the of the plants and interior of the breeding set up of the aquarium explained below.

Temperature:  If the fishes are kept at an average temperature of 75F, the majority will spawn without a rise in temperature.  All that is necessary is to place a ripe pair into the spawning tank with as little disturbance as possible.  The tank should be filled nearly to the top with fairly new, but conditioned and de-chlorinated water.  The exceptions to this rule are few, and will be covered under the individual fish requirements.  Many of these fishes will spawn at lower temperatures in open pools.

Conditioning:  A pair of well matched fish (male and female) of exactly the same species, placed in the breeding tank.  This pair must be pre-conditioned and ready to spawn.  For this, they are best conditioned for a week or so before the breeding is to take place with live or frozen food (high protein food), to “ripen” the female with maximum eggs and ready the male for breeding.  Although many species do not always require this procedure, it always increases the yield of eggs and the readiness to breed!



How the Female Should Look:  The female should be full of spawn, you will see this by her bulging sides when you look down from the top of the water, but she must not be left in this condition too long.  If left too long swollen with eggs, the eggs may not be fertile, and in the end she may become egg-bound and die.

  Remember this is only a possible threat to her life when she is left without a male for too long.  Separated from the male, in a community tank, these fish breed constantly, you just don’t look for it! 

The female should resemble a U not a V when looked at head on, this is the signal that she is full of eggs.  A thin female will sometimes spawn, but usually she gives few eggs; if she has a normal load of eggs, she will not be thin; this is the law of nature in most cases.  The male should look pert and well-colored.  He may become pale when he is moved to the breeding tank at first, but he should rapidly regain his form and color.  Even within a few minutes, the urge to breed between these types of fish nature is paramount, and any opportunity in prime conditions will usually not be passed up no matter what the outside interference. 


Avarage Procedure:  Young males may not fertilize all the eggs laid by the female and young females will not give a very large number of eggs the first or second time breeding, but there is no other reason why younger fish should not be spawned.  Keeping fishes for 2 years before spawning, when they are ready at 6 months, is pure waste and may create many difficulties when trying to breed older inexperienced fish, nature has a reason for making fish able to breed at a younger age.

  Fish should spawn early and spawn regularly for the best results.  Often, a female will be ready every 10 to 14 days and a male twice as frequently. 

Do not chase the prospective breeding pair all over your community tank to catch them and then expect them to spawn immediately.  They will be too scared in most cases.  This is one of the reasons we recommend placing the male and female in separate conditioning tank areas, it makes them far easier to catch when breeding time comes.

In most cases, this class of fish may spawn immediately, or they may wait several days. But somebody must be ready at frequent intervals to inspect the tank and remove the fishes if they have spawned.  It is best to watch the whole process and take them out as soon as spawning is over, since they must be removed immediately or, especially Tiger Barbs will began eating their eggs immediately after spawning if complete, there may be few eggs left uneaten.



What to do When Spawning Process Ends:  After all, the spawning process is extremely interesting and educational; none of the process should be missed the first few times if at all possible!  After a time, you will develop your own pattern to know when the breeders are finished their task, but watching the process is beneficial the first few times.  Even flooding the tank with live food does not curb the fishes natural urge to eat their eggs, although it may somewhat curb their hunger, an abundance of live food may sometimes eat the eggs themselves and foul nursery.  Food should not be given during the spawning process, for it may terminate the process.

How to Induce Spawing:  If fish do not spawn quickly, they may do so early the next morning; therefore be up and watching within 2 hours of dawn to see the process.  Another way to catch the act for those of you that enjoy your late sleeping is to cover the tank so that it will stay dark and daylight may be admitted at your convenience.  Still another way to induce breeding when it is convenient for you to watch is to place a glass divider in position with one fish on each side of the glass and let them contemplate each other for a spell.  This often helps, so much in fact that some breeders use the device regularly for a few hours per day. By putting an opaque cover over the glass divide and removing it, even days before allowing a pair to finally come together.  It is not unnecessary in most instances, however.

If fish have not spawned within 2 days, gradually raise the temperature by 4F or 5F.  This often stimulates spawning quite promptly, but wait for another day or so, if nothing happens.  If spawning has still not occurred after 3 or 4 days, it is usually best to remove the pair, separate them, or place them in a large community tank, and try again a few days later, this sometimes shocks them into a more willing mood when they return to the breeding tank.  If it has become necessary to keep the breeders in the breeding tank for more than two days, they should be given small amounts of live food.

Some other methods that can be used successfully include the routine placing of breeders in the tank after dark to induce spawning the next morning, placing  the female in about half a day ahead of the male, and placing 2 males with one female in the case of many Characins and Danios.  This is thought to increase the percentage of fertilized eggs, but it is a rather hazardous procedure in many cases, as the males seem to spend more time chasing each other than chasing the female!


Unusual Behaviour of some Species:  The spawning action varies with the species.  Most of them indulge in the typical chase of the female by the male, but some start with the reverse procedure, and the female chases the male.  Finally, however, it is the male who chases; he takes up a position beside the female and in or over the plant mass, with a quivering motion, the eggs and milt are released.  Some species have spectacular habits at the moment of spawning. 

The Glowlite Tetra pair does a complete barrel-roll, the Giant Danios female whirls around several times in a horizontal plane; the female Harlequin Rasbora loops the loop vertically, depositing eggs on the underside of plants as she does so.  In this species, as in many others, the male clasps the female in a crecentric embrace.  He curls his body around hers and releases the milt as she lays the eggs.  Whatever the fancy procedure, the results are fertile eggs deposited on leaves with a new life in each precious egg.

Other Resources Found Here in  Many of the fish discussed here have been written about earlier in great detail, and you can find out much more detail on breeding each specific species here at  Just a few of the species we highlight on this site are:  Rosy Barb, Harlequin Rasbora,  Glowlight Tetra, Congo Tetra,   White Cloud Mountain Minnow,  Tiger Barb, Giant Danio, Black Skirt Tetra.  Feel free to contact me for more information on breeding or any question regarding this, our wonderful world of fish keeping!


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