With the possible exception of convict cichlids, there is arguably no tropical fish easier to breed than guppies. There’s an expression in the aquarium hobby – ‘to breed guppies, just add water’. And it’s a surprisingly accurate expression.
All it takes to breed guppies is moderately clean water and at least one male and female (though it’s recommended to keep more females than males.) And since these fish are a livebearer – and the babies are born fully formed – they tend to have very high fry survival rates. The real trick with guppies is getting them to stop breeding since they often overrun aquariums with their fry.
To learn more about Guppies, read the Aquarium Tidings article – Guppy Care
Another livebearer, platies are nearly as easy as guppies to breed. But unlike guppies – who rarely eat their young – platies actively hunt their fry. Because of this, newborn platy survival rates tend to be very low unless their aquarium has dense floating plants and numerous hiding places.
However, if a female is placed in a breeding tank and removed immediately after giving birth, then these fish reproduce like rabbits, or more accurately — guppies.
To learn more about Platies, read the Aquarium Tidings article – Platy Care
While mollies tend to be very easy to breed in perfect conditions, they are a finicky fish and generally not recommended for someone new to the hobby. But if mollies are kept healthy and proper conditions are provided, then these fish become incredibly prolific breeders.
And when kept in a species only aquarium, with well-fed adults, and dense aquatic plants, many of the fry will survive to adulthood. But if they are kept in a community aquarium, few, if any fry, will escape the jaws of hungry fish.
To learn more about Mollies, read the Aquarium Tidings article – Molly Care
While these fish were once popular in the hobby, they have fallen out of favor in recent years and tend to be difficult to find. The fact that they are relentless fin nippers and don’t do well in most community tanks also hasn’t helped their popularity.
But they are an easy to breed fish, with an interesting method of reproduction. While technically a livebearer, Ameca Splendens are part of the Goodeinae family and their reproduction is more similar to humans than to other livebearer fish. The fry are nourished by the trophotaenia, which is like an umbilical cord. After the mother gives birth to fry nearly half her size, the trophotaenia can often be seen still attached to the newborn fish.
To learn more about Ameca Splendens, read the Aquarium Tidings article – Butterfly Splitfin Care
These fish provide one of the best breeding experiences in the aquarium hobby. Convict cichlids display an incredible amount of parental care for a fish, zealously guarding their eggs and fry. The downside to their devoted parenting is that they will attack any other fish in their aquarium – regardless of its size – to drive them away from their young. There are even reports of convict parents killing full-grown oscars while breeding.
But if they are kept in a species only breeding tank, the entire breeding process is fascinating to watch, and something most aquarists should experience at least once. However, once convicts start breeding, it’s virtually impossible to get them to stop. It usually only takes a matter of months before an aquarium is totally overrun with convict offspring.
To learn more about Convict Cichlids, read the Aquarium Tidings article – Convict Cichlid Care
One of the earliest cichlids kept in the hobby, the firemouth cichlids aren’t seen as often as they used to be, but they remain one of the easiest aquarium fish to breed. They display nearly the same level of parental care as convicts cichlids, yet they breed less often and are less aggressive.
The sight of a pair of firemouth cichlid carefully guarding their eggs, while fanning them gently, and later shepherding their newborn fry around an aquarium, are among the most amazing sights an aquarist will see. But like most cichlids, they become very territorial during breeding and will drive away any nearby fish.
To learn more about Firemouth Cichlids, read the Aquarium Tidings article – Firemouth Cichlid Care
A small riverine cichlid, kribensis cichlids are exceptionally easy to breed. These fish display excellent parental care, but without the extreme aggressiveness that comes with some of the larger cichlid species — though they still guard their eggs and fry. Because of this, a species only breeding tank is recommended.
To learn more about Kribensis Cichlids, read the Aquarium Tidings article – Kribensis Cichlid Care
One of the hardiest and easiest to breed fish in the aquarium hobby, these are the perfect fish for anyone who wants to dip their toe into breeding. While these fish will spawn nearly continuously in a community aquarium, it’s unlikely for an aquarist to ever see any zebra danio fry. The adults and other fish will normally consume every single egg in the aquarium and any fry that are lucky enough to hatch.
For any zebra danio fry to survive, these fish should be bred in a special breeding tank. Marbles should line the bottom of the breeding tank to allow the eggs to fall out of reach of the hungry adults. Once the fish have spawned, the adults should be immediately removed from the aquarium, so the eggs and fry will be safe.
To learn more about Zebra Danios, read the Aquarium Tidings article – Zebra Danio Care
Rosy Red Minnows
A criminally underrated fish, rosy red minnows are usually only found in feeder fish tanks and bait buckets. But if someone looks past their humble origins, these fish are one of the easiest fish to breed in the hobby. And they are also one of the few freshwater fish outside of cichlids to show parental care.
When breeding, a single male rosy red minnow will claim a cave and defend it from all comers. He will then entice females into the cave to lay eggs until the cave is full. Once he feels there are enough eggs, he will vigorously guard them until they hatch. As the adults rarely prey on fry, these fish have excellent survival rates in a species only aquarium.
To learn more about Rosy Red Minnows, read the Aquarium Tidings article – Rosy Red Minnows
Breeding fish is one of the most rewarding aspects of fishkeeping and should be tried by everyone at least once. But before someone tries one of the more prolific fish, it’s important to make sure there is a plan in place to deal with the legions of fish fry that are certain to arrive.