Can Fish Lay Eggs in an Aquarium? + Preparing Your Aquarium

If you’re new to taking care of fish, you might miss out on their courting rituals, which are quite beautiful and specific, to say the least.

However, fish only lay eggs when they’re comfortable and happy.

So, if you can spot a swarm of eggs in the aquarium, then congratulations, your fish love their home.

There is no better feeling than to see the pair of fish you selected mate and produce fry. It is one of the best parts of an aquarium hobby.

However, the question remains, can all kinds of fish lay eggs in an aquarium?

Considering it’s not their natural habitat, are all aquariums favorable enough for such a profound process?

Can Fish Lay Eggs in an Aquarium?

Yes, fish can lay eggs in an aquarium. Although not every species of fish can reproduce in a fish tank, many schooling fish can be easily bred in an aquarium.

A quick online search can usually inform you whether your fish will lay eggs or give birth to live young.

When it comes to laying eggs, spawning is the intricate process through which many fish species reproduce.

The female fish releases multiple eggs in the water while the male fish releases the sperm to fertilize those eggs.

The female fish can lay around a hundred to thousand eggs at one time.

It’s important to separate the eggs after spawning as the parent fish may eat them immediately.

Those that lay eggs are further divided into two groups – egg-scatterers and egg-depositors.

Let’s learn more about the two!

Learning How Fish Spawn

Egg-scatterers are a species of fish that lay non-adhesive eggs. They usually spawn in pairs or groups.

These eggs may fall to the substrate, float to the surface, or towards the rocks and plants.

The broodfish – the fish used for breeding – usually eat their eggs or don’t care about them at all.

Egg-depositors are fish that simply deposit eggs on the substrate like wood, rocks, tank glass, or plants.

Compared to egg-scatterers, they lay fewer but larger eggs.

Egg depositors, too, can be divided into two groups – those that look after their eggs and those that don’t.

They are many species of tropical fish like goldfish, barbs, and tetras that can lay eggs in an aquarium under optimal conditions.

Here’s a comprehensive list of fish that can lay eggs in an aquarium.

Fish Species that Commonly Lay Eggs in an Aquarium

Below are some common species that are often kept in aquariums and also lay eggs.


Goldfish is one of the most attractive and colorful species to breed in your fish tank.

They normally reproduce in the wild around immersed tree roots and substrate vegetation.

Although it’s relatively difficult to breed them in captivity, ensuring the right environmental conditions in your tank can allow the goldfish to lay eggs easily.

Goldfish need plenty of space, excellent water conditions, and good nutrition to make way for spawning.

They like to spawn in spring once water temperatures are high. For this, they require a large aquarium and a very specific temperature for laying eggs.

Goldfish require a big tank; therefore, you should get one that’s 4 ft long and can hold up to 30 gallons of water.

Add an extra 12 gallons for each additional goldfish in the tank.

Ideally, you should keep more males than females to increase the likelihood of successful spawning.

Goldfish can be sexed from around 1 year of age.

Therefore, to encourage the goldfish to lay eggs, lower down the temperature to 54 degrees F during the winter months.

Next, in order to induce breeding, slowly raise the water’s temperature to 68-74 degrees F.

Overall, make sure to keep the tank relatively cool; don’t cross 80 degrees F as excess warmth can stress the goldfish.


Another popular species that lay hundreds of eggs are the barbs. However, not all barbs are safe to keep in a community tank.

Tiger barbs, for example, can be very aggressive when placed with several other types of fish. If you have a community tank, opt for Rosy barbs.

Since they’re schooling fish, you shouldn’t keep fewer than five in your tank as rosy barbs get stressed in solitude.

They’re moderately easy to breed and attain sexual maturity when they reach a size of 2.5 inches.

A 20-30 gallon tank is the ideal size for breeding rosy barbs.

Although the breeding tank is only a few inches deep, make sure to raise the fry in a larger tank; otherwise, their growth will be stunted.

They can tolerate a slightly higher temperature from 64 to 72 Degree F; however, make sure to move them in winters.

For the breeding setup, you will need one male and two females.

To select the breeding pair, choose barbs with strong color and excellent markings.

After they initiate breeding, the female’s eggs are fertilized.

She will then scatter hundreds of them into the substrate or in a plant or allow them to float in the water.

Since the eggs are adhesive and the parents might eat the eggs, it’s important to separate them from the main tank.

The eggs typically hatch in about 30 hours, after which you will see free-swimming fry in the water.

Make sure to clean the water regularly and avoid harsh conditions.

Rosy barbs are one of the roughest kinds, so they can adjust to a wide range of conditions.

They can also tolerate high nitrate levels, which is a plus if you’re breeding them in a new tank as they will survive the initial nitrogen cycle.

Rely on a variety of food as good nutrition is extremely important for healthy breeding.

Insects, flakes, crustaceans, and worms are good choices for feed. Keep live plants like Java Moss inside the aquarium, too.


Serpae Tetras, also known as Blood Characins, are some of the most stunning, flame-colored fish to keep in your aquarium.

Moving in bright-red schools across the tank, these fish are easy to breed and look after.

Although they do tend to become slightly aggressive around slow-moving species, they’re still favorable candidates for their beauty.

Their ideal tank mates are barbs, other tetras, and danios. Tetras feel most at home when they’re kept in an Amazon habitat.

This means, they like organic debris and quiet waters. You can use blackwater extract or peat to mimic a dark substrate. Leave a few hiding places with plants and driftwood and keep the water slow-moving.

Tetras are very easy to breed in pairs and groups with an equal number of females and males.

The key to healthy breeding is to prepare a tank that offers an optimal habitat for both the spawning and the fry.

Make sure the water is soft, around 6-8 dGH, with a pH of around 6.0. Keep the filtration gentle and maintain the water temperature around 80 degrees F.

Once you’ve chosen a spawning pair, introduce a variety of live food that the fish can feed on.

The females will turn noticeably plump, while the males will become more colorful.

After they initiate breeding, the eggs will be released and scattered over plants.

Make sure to remove the adults into a different tank; otherwise, they will consume the eggs.

Keep the lighting dim through and turn it off after the fish has laid eggs as they are even more sensitive to light.

The eggs will hatch in the next two days and will feed on their yolk sack.

They will be free to swim and can be fed freshly hatched brine shrimp and infusoria.


This species of fish, specifically the Pearl Danio, is one of the most peaceful swimmers for your aquarium.

It’s friendly, easy to care for, and gets along with a variety of tank mates.

With iridescent colors that sparkle in the water, Pearl Danio can easily thrive well in a 20-gallon tank.

They reproduce well in captivity and require ample swimming room.

Since they’re accustomed to strong water currents and high oxygen levels, it’s important to have good filtration in your aquarium.

Pearls can be also be kept in an unheated tank as they tolerate cooler temperatures.

As egg-laying fish, they breed effortlessly. The males are smaller in size and more colorful, while the females have a large body.

As loyal breeding pairs, Danios require the breeding tank to be slightly warm, around 79-86 degrees F.

The water level should be shallow, about 4-6 inches, with fine-leaved plants and marbles that serve as an excellent substrate.

Pearl Danios breed both in pairs and in groups. For spawning, you need half as many females as males in the breeding tank.

Once you add the males, the pairs will automatically form and start leaving the group to scatter the eggs around plants and marbles.

Remove the adults immediately after spawning to prevent the fish from eating their eggs.

Make sure the tank remains dark as the eggs mature to prevent fungal growth. The eggs will hatch in the next 36-48 hours.

Longer tanks that are properly covered with soft to slightly hard water are preferable for Pearl Danios as they have a propensity to jump.


Harlequin Rasbora is a great breeding fish for newbies. These fish prefer natural habitats with gently flowing water and thick vegetation.

They have dark, triangular patches at the back and silvery tones covering the rest of the body.

It’s important to keep them in odd numbers of 3, 7, or 9 to encourage competition and spawning.

Make sure to introduce a school of these into a community tank as the Harlequin doesn’t like contact with other species.

Small, peaceful tank mates like tetras and danios are a perfect choice.

Rasboras need a spacious, separate breeding tank. The breeding process is relatively slow but one worth witnessing.

Choose a well-conditioned adult male and a relatively younger female for spawning. The courtship usually begins the next morning.

With an exciting fin-flaring and dance show, the male approaches the female for breeding.

The fish will spawn on the same plant or leaf where the pair indulged in courtship, releasing 25-100 eggs.

Although they don’t consume eggs, Rasboras do eat some occasionally.

The fry hatches in the next 24 hours and is free to swim on the third day. They mature pretty quickly and reach a good size after just three months.

Feed them baby brine shrimp or any commercial ground fry food and make sure to change 10% of the aquarium water every week.

How Can I Prepare My Aquarium for Fish Breeding?

The above-listed species of fish may be the most common aquarium-loving fish, but you can also add other species like Banded Rainbowfish, Angelfish, and Honey Gourami to your aquarium.

By now, you’ve probably realized that under the right conditions, your aquarium can be a wonderful habitat for egg-laying.

Here are some quick tips to help your fish ease into the breeding process.

Consider the Tank Size

You will need separate tanks for breeding and raising fry.

In most cases, the latter needs to be moved to a larger tank to avoid being consumed.

Therefore, your tank should be able to hold 10-20 gallons of water for most species discussed here.

Make sure to decorate the aquarium’s interior with the right plants, marbles, and driftwood to allow the fish to spawn comfortably.

The tanks should offer plenty of room for the fish to swim freely and attach about 200 eggs to suitable plants.

Use a Tank Divider

A tank divider will help you separate the male and female species and condition them effectively with high-protein live foods.

Make sure the divider is opaque so that the male and female species aren’t visible to each other during conditioning.

Control Temperature and Lightning

Many species spawn eggs that thrive best in darkness or slightly dim lightning, while others can easily grow in a well-lit area.

Carefully study the species you’re keeping to avoid stressing them out with dark overgrowths.

Equip your breeding tank with a digital thermometer and a heater so that you can control the numbers when needed.

Use this guide to breed beautiful, stunning fish, and enjoy a diverse, colorful, and thriving aquarium!

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