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jack daniels | 21:08 Wed 16th Jan 2008 | Pets
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I've got 4 goldfish in a tank that get on fairly well.
My question is..... one of the fish is older, therefore much bigger, the other 3 fish I got 2 months ago and one of them looks as if it's 'chasing' the older big one around, but then it looks as though it's 'sniffing' it's anal area which is bigger in appearance then normal - what's going on??
Thanks in advance Abers


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It is very possible that your fish are getting ready to breed. Not the right time of the year but I presume your tank is inside so the fish are subject to unnatural light and temperature cycles. Just leave them as this will soon pass. If you're interested in breeding, have a go. It is fun and very interesting.

When a female goldfish feels her eggs are ready to spawn she releases a hormone in the water that signals the males to get into breeding condition. In the final few days the males go berserk and chase her into the plants to test if she is ready to breed. This is the 'sniffing' you are observing. When ready she will release a dozen or so eggs when pushed into the plants and the successful male will quickly release its milt over the eggs thus fertilising them. The bigger the female the more eggs. A 6" fish may release over 1000 eggs.

In nature the fish will just go their merry way after breeding and repeat the procedure 2 or 3 times per year in other parts of the lake/stream. In captivity they can not go their merry way and are stuck in the tank. Once the hormones are gone they revert to their second most important natural activity - eating. The eggs will make tasty morsels and depending on the plants and tank size, most would be gone in the morning. If the fish are removed straight after breeding the eggs will hatch in 2 to 7 days and 3 days later the fry will require brine shrimp hatchlings to do well. As they grow, daphnia and tubifex should be provided as well as gradually increasing the dried food.

The size of the fish is not a clear indicator of the age. There are many different breeds and many 'pet shop fish' are of a mixed heritage. It also depends on how much room the fish had when they were growing actively, crammed conditions mean stunted fish.

Question Author
Blimy wildwood - just saw the time you posted to me!
Thanks for your excellent advice.
It is an indoor tank. I've only got artificial plants in it - should I get something else?
I wouldn't mind them having babies - should I remove the fish once the eggs are there? would I beable to see the eggs?
What about when I do a part change of water? should I stop this until when or what do you advice?
would the eggs be laid on plastic plants?
Thanks again x
When the fish have finished - when the males loose interest in the female - remove the adults and stop the water changes. If there are any eggs you should be able to see them on the plants and many will have fallen between the gravel. The eggs are 2mm so quite small and trasparant but the infertile ones will turn opaque in a few days. If one week after you removed the adults you don't see any very tiny babies the breed has failed. If there are too many infertile eggs the fungi growing on them will also attack the good eggs. It is not easy but if you manage to rear a few you'll feel so proud, I'm sure.
So would it make any differnce if they are with artificial plants?

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