Tag Archives: breeder trap

Saving Baby Swordtails with the Aqua-Nursery

26 Mar

I love my Velvet Red Swordtails and want to have some more of them. They look great in the pond or aquarium and they are very popular if I want to sell a few or give them away.

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The problem is this: Momma Swordtails will eat many of their own babies as soon as they are born. I’ve always kept the mother in a densely planted tank and then removed her as soon as possible after giving birth. That works pretty well, but there’s another way to do it.

Here it is, the Penn-Plex Aqua-Nursery. I ordered it online through Kensfish.com. It cost $8.25.

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It’s a variation on the old “breeder-trap” idea. A breeder trap is a slotted plastic box. The mother has the babies and the babies fall out of slots in the bottom and they swim away into the main tank. That’s fine most of the time but I want to get some babies, then put another mom into the trap and have the option of where I want to put the babies. Anyway, you’ll see how it works and see if it would help you keep some baby fish.

I hung the Aqua-Nursery on the side of a 10-gallon tank. You have to attach an airline to the bottom of the nursery. This serves two purposes. One, it keeps water flowing through the nursery, which is nice, and secondly, the air causes water to be drawn from the mother’s section to a little baby section. The babies get gently sucked into their own little compartment. So clever!!

Of my 4 adult female Red Swords, none looked very pregnant, but I selected one last night. I took about 20 minutes to acclimate her to the water, just like bringing a fish home from the store.

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And, amazingly, she had babies during the night. I was surprised it happened so fast. The compartment for the mom is quite small for a Swordtail. The Aqua-Nursery is better suited for Mollies, Guppies, and Platies. But if the female Sword is ready to pop I think it’s OK.

Here are some of the babies that went from the Mom section to the kids section.

Here are some of the babies that went from the Mom section to the Kids section. Half of the babies were in their own section, the other half were safely below the mother.

The bay section can be removed and then you can put them wherever you want.

The baby section can be removed and then you can put them wherever you want.

If you want the babies to go right into the aquarium just leave the baby section off completely. The airline still helps keep the mother's water circulating.

If you want the babies to go right into the aquarium just leave the baby section off completely. The airline still helps keep the mother’s water circulating.

I started a fresh batch of Brine Shrimp to feed the babies in a few days. Live baby Brine Shrimp isn’t needed to raise livebearers but they love it.

Note I have this sitting on a fluorescent light fixture to keep it warm and speed the hatching. Also notice the cover to prevent a salty spray from getting onto the lights.

Note I have the Brine Shrimp on a fluorescent light fixture to keep it warm and speed the hatching. Also notice the cover to prevent a salty spray from getting onto the lights.

The Aqua-Nursery worked pretty well. It’s an ingenius little device.

I think the manufacturer is implying that you can keep all the babies and raise them in the little nursery section. I don’t think it’s big enough to do that BUT it is big enough to keep maybe 10 babies and raise them a few weeks until, hopefully,  the other fish in your tank won’t eat them. Like I say, it best suited for small livebearers like Guppies and Platies.

Remember you need an airline attached to make the nursery work properly.

So good luck to you if you want to raise some baby fish! If you save just a few every once in awhile you can have a never-ending supply for your aquarium. A big plus is you can avoid the disease issues that happen when you buy from those big stores (they know who they are, I’ll be nice today).