Fishkeeping is highly rewarding, however breeding is even better and if you manage to breed your fish it shows that you are providing the correct environment and conditions for your fish. However if you have never bred fish before, it is important that you chose your projects wisely. Some fish are notoriously difficult to breed, others produce hundreds of eggs and in a lot of cases the fry are very small, therefore requiring specialist foods to raise them successfully. Fortunately there are plenty of fish out there that are generally easy to breed and produce fry which can be raised easily. I will list some of them below. Convict cichlids (Amatitlania nigrofasciatus)- Like other Central American cichlids, Convicts are well known for their aggression. Because of this it is best to provide a separate tank when attempting to breed them. A 60 x 38 x 38cm tank would be suitable for a pair but a larger tank would be preferable. Once you have obtained a pair (many aquatic stores should be able to do this for you) they can be placed in the breeding tank. Filtration should be provided by a small internal power filter or an air-powered sponge filter. The tank should be furnished with plenty of hiding places in the form of flowerpot or small caves made out of suitable rocks such as slate. A substrate of fine gravel or sand is suitable and I would also add a a few artificial plants. The female (who will develop a yellow-orange underside during breeding) will lay a considerable number of eggs. The eggs should hatch within seven days (however on a few occasions it took as long as ten days). The fry will then consume their yolk sacs for the first few days of life, after this they will be free-swimming and able to take freshly-hatched brineshrimp and once they are big enough, powdered fry food. Convict cichlids are very good parents so the fry can be left inside the breeding tank until they are ready to be removed. Platies (Xiphophorous maculatus)- These are incredibly easy to breed, and believe it or not many females are already pregnant after being purhcased from the aquatic store. The sexes are easy to tell apart, simply look at the anal fin. Males have a rod-shaped anal fin called a gonopodium whereas females have a normal, round-shaped anal fin. They will breed under most conditions however it is important that there are no would-be predators in the tank (such as certain catfish and cichlids). The parents have also been known to consume their own fry so keep your eyes open. The fry are easy to feed and will accept most small foods, once they are around 1"/2.5cm they can be passed onto aquatic stores, other hobbyists or placed back into the main tank. However a few words of warning: like other livebearers such as guppies these fish breed like wildfire, unless you are able to house all of the fry then it wouldn't be a good idea to breed them. Kribensis (Pelvicachromis pulcher)- The good old Kribensis is peaceful, stays at a small size and can breed in the community tank so long as you are careful choosing tankmates. A pair can easily be kept in a standard 60cm tank however as always, the bigger the tank the better. Unless you can obtain a breeding pair it would be best to buy a group of these fish, not all two fish will form a pair and I've had problems with one fish acting very aggressively to the other. Once you are sure that you have a pair the surplus fish should be removed. Kribensis are quite easy to sex, males are typically larger than the females and the edges to the anal and dorsal fins are also more pointed. The tank doesn't need anything fancy decor-wise. A few flower pots and plenty of live plants to provide cover are all that's needed. The female should lay at least 100 eggs which will hatch within a few days, after this they can fed on freshly hatched brineshrimp or liquid fry foods. Golden Pencilfish (Nannostomus beckfordi)- These are without a doubt the easiest Characin to breed. To condition the fish for breeding purposes they should be fed with range of frozen and live foods. A pair can then be placed into the breeding tank which doesn't need to be very large, I've successfully bred them in tanks as small as 30 x 20 x 20cm. Provide plenty of fine-leafed plants such as Java moss. No filtration is required, the gentle bubbling from an air-pump is all you need. No lighting is required either and dim conditions are best when breeding these fish. Once the female has layed the eggs, remove the parents immediately. Pencilfish are well known for eating their own offspring. The eggs will hatch within a day or two and will consume their yolk-sacs for a further five to six days. After this the fry will be free-swimming and will be able to accept small live foods such as rotifers and freshly hatched brineshrimp. I've only listed a few potential breeding projects on here, however there are plenty of others out there. Make sure that you do plenty of research into the species you are interested in breeding before making any attempts. A few tips 1) Before attempting to breed any species, please ensure that you have all of the equipment and necessary foods required to raise the fry. There is absolutely no point in trying to breed a certain species and then realising that you don't have a particular type of food to raise the fry. 2) Make sure that you have the space to house all of the fry. Some fish such as livebearers reproduce very quickly and you may find yourself inundated with fry. 3) Breeding is not be got into lightly, once you obtain the fish they are your responsibility. Many have certain requirements in terms of tank space and water quality. Take these factors into consideration before buying the fish. Remember, if you can't house it, don't buy it! 4) If you choose a species which requires a particular biotope in order to breed successfully, look around on the internet for pictures of that biotope. Then try to replicate it with materials which are easily found in the fishkeeping hobby. 5) Finally, ask lots of questions! The more you ask, the more you'll learn. Happy fishkeeping! All text copyright © Pleccy, 2009. This article may not be reproduced without prior consent of the owner.