A serious breeder of any fish needs to be one thing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, serious and devoted to the animals that he or she looks after, even if some things involved are tough to do….
All serious breeders first concern when they embark on breeding their fish is space. They know every container , every shelf, and every row is filled with their best fish, which are used for fish shows or breeding regimes.The average beginners first fish room consists of a few jars and a couple of ten gallon tanks because they are just starting out. Soon they realize that to get the quality of fish that they are striving for they need to ‘expand’ the room and soon have 4-10 ten gallon breeding tanks, and several dozen gallon containers and they set themselves so that is the max. The average breeder of fish such as Bettas roughly has 50-60 fish. Some reaching the hundreds for breeding or show stocks so you can see how space can become an issue, especially since fish produce so many offspring at one time.
A good pair of betta fish can produce anywhere from a couple dozen eggs to well over three hundred. You now have hundreds of baby fish swimming around, what do you do with only a couple spots open for fish? Almost all people wait to see how many fry survive their first two weeks. This is because the weakest fry die off naturally first from competition for food and possibly their general health. At about 2 and a half to 3 weeks the breeder begins to notice the fastest and slowest growers, or the fish with noticeable defects (curved spines, missing fins). By the time the fry are about an inch one continues to watch finnage, possible color if it is beginning to set in and body structure.
So lets say your fish spawned and now you have 100 baby fish swimming around.
After 2 weeks, lets say 25 die off leaving you 75
At 3 weeks you cull your first defected fish leaving you with 65
At week 4 you get rid off the slowest growers brining you down to 40.
At half an inch (body only) you continue to mop out defected fish and slow growers bringing you down to 20.
So there you are 20 healthy fish but you have room for 6 fish.
You continue to watch them grow strong, healthy, active and beautiful.
What do you do with 14 fish you know you can not keep?
Well I have here the most popular ways to cull your fish:
1) Predator Animals – Breeders often buy large fish or aquatic turtles to get rid of their culls. This is rather humane and you are feeding your predators. Does it sting killing fish you helped raise, yes but you are doing it for two reasons 1) your feeding your predators and 2) its not fair to the fish if you try and keep it but don’t have room. Popular choices are Oscars (they get BIG), Red Eared Sliders (They get BIG) and Cichlids (territorial).
2) Freezer – Take a bag and fill it with the water your fish was in, then put your fish in it. Tie it off or seal it and place it into the freezer. Within a few short hours your fish will freeze to death. A lot of people do this because they feel this is humane as the fish falls to sleep then freezes. Note however that some people have pulled their frozen fish out and seen them in jerky positions of struggle, as if the fish was fighting for survival.
3) Flushing – Taking your fish and flushing it down the toilet. DO NOT DO THIS! THIS IS CRUEL AND THE FISH DOES NOT DIE ON THE WAY TO A SEPTIC TANK OR SEWER SO WHEN THEY ARRIVE THEY CHOKE TO DEATH ON HUMAN WASTE.
4) Oils – Placing oils in the fishes water. A few drops puts the fish to sleep, a few more drops kills the fish.
5) Give Away – Give the fish away to schools, friends, co workers.
6) Don’t Breed – If you cant get a predator animal, if you can’t bear the thought of killing them yourself, then don’t breed. Its not fair to force an animal to stay alive or in your care if you can not take care of them.
Culling is a serious and ethical factor that all fish breeder must do if they wish to keep disease down in their fish room, if they want to limit genetic deformities in future fish or if they don’t have the space to take care of every fish. Think what you will of culling fish but it must be done by people who breed their fish or if you refuse to cull your fish yet you don’t have the time or space to take care of them, then do not even consider breeding them.