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The father has important responsibilities and has a very stressful role to play. Conditioning him prior to spawning will help him do his job better and help him deal with the stressful days after spawning.

1) The father, in most cases, should remain in the breeding tank for about 1-3 days after they spawn. After you remove the female, the father will continue to tend to the nest. He will move the eggs around to different spots in the nest, more than once. Don't be alarmed if you see him removing eggs from the nest, he is most likely placing them in another place. This prevents the eggs from getting fungus and rotting. Some males do eat the eggs, but it is more rare than common. He will continue to tend the eggs and the nest for the next 24-48 hours until they hatch. Don't bother feeding him during this time, he will most likely ignore the food anyway. I don't believe feeding him or not feeding him causes him to eat the eggs/fry in any way. He is going to be or not be and egg/fry eater whether or not you feed him. There is also a chance that he may tend the nest TOO well. I have one male that will build the nest and continue to build it up to where the eggs are eventually out of the water and do not hatch. I have never experienced this except with this male. I have to smash the nest down to get the eggs to fall once again. I bashed the nest in quite forcefully and was able to rescue many eggs, however the nest stayed firm!!!!!! Look to see if you can see the eggs in the nest (picture reference), if he has a thick nest and you cannot see the eggs, then I would worry. If his nest is thin, do not worry.
2) Once the eggs have hatched, they are then referred to as fry (picture reference). As they begin hatching, they wiggle and as they wiggle they fall from the nest. This is where the father's job gets busy. He will start picking up fallen fry and replacing them in the nest. As he picks them up (sometimes 15 or more at a time) he coats them with saliva that helps them to stick to the surface. Even with no nest, they can still stay stuck to the surface. He will continue this until they can swim horizontally on their own, also known as 'free swimming'. This usually occurs 1-3 days after hatching. If the fry hatch or are due to hatch in the middle of the night, I make sure there is light for him to see, whether it be a night light, tank light or the light in the room where the tank sits. I also cover his tank during the daytime and turn his light off so that he can get a little rest before his all night excursion with the fry ;)
3) If you notice that the male is unable to keep up with the falling fry and there are many on the bottom, you might very slowly siphon some of the water out of the breeding tank bringing the water level down to 1-2 inches. Leave the male in and his fins will stimulate the fry on the bottom to swim up. Don't do this right away, give him some time to get his groove, but if after quite a few hours there are still many on the bottom, then resort to this. I usually start with a very low water level, approximately 3", so I don't have to worry about lowering the water level later.
4) If you notice your male eating the fry, remove him immediately and lower the water level to 1 inch. This, again, is more rare than common but it can happen. Make sure he is in fact eating the fry, and not just pausing before he spits them to the surface. Removing the father can be very rough on the survival of the fry. Placing some java moss under the nest for the fry to fall onto will also help their survival rate.
5) Once the fry are free swimming (swimming on their own horizontally) or the father stops tending them, it is time to remove him. Acclimate him to his bowl and add extra salt if he was torn up badly by the female. You should re-condition both him and the female as if you were breeding them again. This will help them get back to their old selves in no time.
Once both are removed, you are ready to move on to Fry & Juveniles!
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Last update:
  March 23, 2009 10:27 PM CST

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