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My tilapia are breeding on their own, whats next.?

While we weren't trying to breed them but hoping they would on their own, I just noticed that 2 of my females have bulging mouths, I for sure seen eggs in 1 of their mouths.

1st: How long till they release their eggs?

2nd: I have 4 females & 2 males in the same tank, if I try to remove the un brooding ones, will the others spit out their eggs?

3rd: best recommendation for my situation please?

thank you in advance for your help.

Mike H.

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We've also been blessed with unintended breeding.  We have 7 tilapia in a 70 gallon tank.  In the last 2 weeks, 2 females have released fry.  The first instance we didn't even realize what had occurred, just noticed that one of the previously docile fish had become highly aggressive.  There was also an unexplained pH spike and when I dipped in the net to try to capture some of the inevitable collections of waste the fish actually attacked the net and put herself fully inside it!!  This definitely called for further examination, and that was when I noticed the fry.  The only "structure" we have in the tank are some broken pottery shards and a cup or 2 of crushed oyster shell.... apparently our tilapia have considered that to be sufficient structure for breeding.  In the first 24 hours we lost half of the first batch of fry. Whether this loss was due to becoming a meal to adults or from the pH spike and resulting adjustment is up for conjecture.  After the first day we added a plastic mesh basket (inverted) placed on the bottom of the tank as a place for the fry to seek cover.  The second batch of fry, from a different female, have almost completely survived (for about 3 days so far).  We are setting up a separate 20 gal tank and will begin attempting to capture as many fry as easily possible and transfer them to this tank.  This tank will be connected within the existing AP setup so there shouldn't be much for acclimating considerations. 

     We have been feeding fingerling food that I've worked down to a powder with a mortar and pestle.  The fry eagerly eat it and already are learning to recognize the signs of an upcoming feeding.

     In our limited experience, once the eggs are fertilized, the female generally holds them for about 8 days (+/- a day).  Water temperature seems to play a role.  We have no heating elements in our system and the temperature drops to the low 70s at night and rises to the high 70s-low 80s during the day.  Both females have released their fry late in the day, almost into evening.  The tank is mostly shaded this time of year, but gets quite a bit of indirect sunlight...apparently enough to encourage breeding.  Another female has been holding eggs for about 3 days now....

I've found that the easiest way to catch the fry is to just catch the female while carrying the eggs or fry. That way you'll get them all. Put her in a separate tank (I used a transparent tote) and separate the fry gradually when they come out to play. It's amazing how fast they can get back into the mother's mouth. The changing water temps shouldn't be a problem, Just put in an air line. Despite what you've heard I've done fish moves with drastic pH and temp changes and never had a casualty from it. Tilapia are tough.

Since this post I have had great luck with breeding. We recently switched systems between bluegill & tilapia, & found probably about 300 fry swimming around. We have removed and put into a nursing tank, that we recently had removed a out 400 fingerlings from. Not sure what we are going to do with all these fish but we will figure it out i guess. :)
Btw we have 2 systems and reason for the switching of fish is because one will be inside of a green house.

Mike, I had the same problem. My first 2 batches were 300 and 500 within a couple of weeks. Needless to say I stopped trying to breed any more. They still seem to be producing but at a slower pace because of natural reasons. I couldn't see myself flushing any of them so I eventually added them to the IBC tank. Had to slow down feeding because the filtration wouldn't handle all the waste and eventually added another GB. Harvested my first 5 last week up to 1 1/2lb. Just took out another 15 larger 12oz. to 1 lb. fish and put them in a grow out tank.  BTW I would suggest growing them to 1 1/2lb. because they don't produce a lot of meat and cleaning them sucks.
MikeH said:

Since this post I have had great luck with breeding. We recently switched systems between bluegill & tilapia, & found probably about 300 fry swimming around. We have removed and put into a nursing tank, that we recently had removed a out 400 fingerlings from. Not sure what we are going to do with all these fish but we will figure it out i guess. :)
Hahaha, yeah cleaning would suck if they are small.
We talked about it and if we get to many fry we might start feeding them to our bluegill as they would love it.

My plan is to grow a lot of fish slowly and have the separate grow out tank so I won't have to wait long before for the next meals.

That's a great idea, would you tie it into the AP system? Or add other type of filtration?

I'm using a 45 gallon aquarium in my basement with a 4" deep GB on top and a 5 gallon bucket swirl filter for solids. 

A picture is worth a thousand words.Basement System

I just added the swirl filter because of solids build up. I also put some red wigglers in the bed to break down the solids. The pump goes to the filter which dumps into the GB. The Goldfish are gone. The GB can be used to grow seedlings from seed for transplanting. Right now I'm propagating strawberry plants..

I sell fry powder,

www.tilapiastore.com

I have been trying to get my tilapia pair to breed. Female lays eggs randomly, but ignores it. I keep a screen between male and female, he is very aggressive and brutally attacks her. There a moments when they seem to want to be together, but then ends up too rough and I separate. Is this normal breeding behaviour? Are there signs to look for to proper time to put the two together? I'm just afraid he'll kill her, she is my only breeder.

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