Ever wondered? In our Friday post this week, we look into exactly how fish have sex. What goes into the process, and how can you make it happen in artificial environments like in aquariums, aquaponics, and aquaculture.
It's super cool! Yes, the angel fish are not grown in aquaculture, but it's a cute picture! The "kissing" you see here is part of the angel fish's mating ritual.
The Different Ways Fish Mate
Ok a few more very cool things about tilapia breeding. First, they breed in pairs. If you are looking for babies, it's best to put a young male and female together. They can get to know each other and eventually become a "mating pair" once they reach sexual maturity. Next, the pair will stake out its territory once the eggs have been fertilized. They first clean the space very thoroughly with their fins to brush debris away and then protect their eggs. After this point, in some tilapia species the mother will then take the fertilized eggs up into her mouth (see picture) to protect them as they grow. Once the baby fry have eaten through the exterior of the egg casing, she will release the young fish out so they can continue to grow. Some tilapia breeders prefer to collect the eggs before the mother can place them in her mouth to control the process themselves.
As the male waits over the eggs, he uses his fins to stream oxygen-rich water over them to keep them in ideal water conditions. After about 8 days (depending on the water temperature) the young fry will spawn. The yolk sac nourishes them for the first 5 days and then they can start eating whole food, like bugs or small pellets.
The first step is for the farmer or breeder to isolate the "broodstock" or fish whose genes the farmer wants to pass on most. Once isolated, these males and females get a special diet to increase the health of their eggs and sperm or "milt" as it's called in trout. Then once the female is ready, the breeder "strips" the eggs from the ovaries by creating an incision and emptying them out into a bucket or container. Then the breeder takes the selected male and similarly strips him of some "milt" to fertilize the eggs. The two fish are placed back in a freshwater pond to recover. The fertilized eggs are then placed in a water bath to bring them to ideal temperature and monitored closely. Breeders pull out the dead eggs and watch as the eggs develop "eyes" meaning the tiny larva are growing inside of them. Finally, the fry begin to emerge and consume the yolk sac as they grow into fingerlings.