Conclusion: Lessons learned

Since this was my first time spawning and raising fancy goldfish, everything was a learning and problem solving experience. I was very grateful to the more experienced GFSA breeders who offered advice; over a period of 4-months I probably contacted 10 different people. I did a lot of spur-of-the-moment innovating. Some ideas worked, others didn’t; next time will be somewhat different. Here are some thoughts on what I learned:

  1. Hand spawning can yield really high egg fertility percentages and can help avoid disease transmission. Unfortunately is can also hurt the fish. I would say hold off on this until you can get some hands-on instruction from an experienced goldfish breeder. Or else try learning on fish that are not too precious. An alternative to reduce disease transmission is to take the spawning media with eggs on it out of the spawning tank and dip it in a medicated solution. Then put it into a clean tank. I don’t know the specifics of the dosages, but I know there are breeders who use a stronger-than-usual formalin solution for flukes.
  2. Feeding is critical; the more feedings you can do per day the better. Live foods are very good. I am too scared of tubifex worms to feed them but more than one Ranchu breeder has told me that wen and body growth is improved if they are used. The Chinese consider daphnia to be a near perfect food; if you can keep a supply of these going they will be very good for your fry.
  3. Brine shrimp work well as an early fry food. However, the hatchery can be a pain. For future versions I want more containers (probably 4 or 5) and a way to better control the splashing from the aeration. After 6 weeks there was salt everywhere around the hatchery tank.
  4. It seems like the fry have a period of high susceptibility to disease, particularly gill parasites, between 4 and 8 weeks of age. My best advice (in hindsight) is to remove and destroy sick fry immediately and to feed generously during this period; size seems to make them able to handle more problems. But don’t foul the water!
  5. It is hard to have too much filtering (but easy to have too much water current). Running 2 or 3 filters in each tank worked well for me. Gradually build up the filtration to accommodate the growing fry and food consumption.
  6. Plan for the fact that you will need to get rid of hundreds of fish over a 6-month period. If sickness develops in your tanks, destroy the culled fry. Trying to sell or give away sick fish is bad for everybody. For healthy fry, try to find area pet shops or other hobbyists who will take them for feeder fish or other uses. I would really encourage you not to release them into ponds or streams; they don’t belong in the ecosystem.
  7. Experienced breeders always say "don’t overcrowd!" and, guess what, they are right. To test your crowding, put 3 or 4 fry in a 10-gallon tank separate from the others. If, over a period of months, you find these fry outgrowing your other fry by a factor of 2 or 3, well, then you know the score.
  8. My continuous drip water-changing system worked very well for me. Finding a way to conveniently do daily significant water changes (10% or more) I think is really a good thing.

I would love to hear from other people who have bred their goldfish. Improvements and suggestions are gratefully received. Hope you have found this interesting and useful.