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How To Stop Fish From Breeding: 4 Easy Steps

Lindsey Stanton Profile Picture

By Lindsey Stanton

Clown fish in aquarium tank

Some people absolutely love to breed fish, but this is not always the case. If you have fish in your aquarium or pond and you don’t want them to breed, having a bunch of other fish show up unannounced due to some unwanted coitus, you might have some problems.

Extra fish take up space and they cost money to take care of, both of which you might not have. So, how to stop fish from breeding is what we are here to help you with today.

tropical fish 2 dividerWhy Don’t I Want My Fish To Breed?

There are various reasons why you might not want your fish to breed. These can include the following:

  • For one, more fish is not always better. Each fish requires a certain amount of space to live happily. If your fish breed and you leave the offspring in there, it will crowd the tank.
  • Crowding the tank comes with quite a few problems of its own. For one, having more fish means having to spend more money to take care of them, especially in terms of food. Having more fish in the tank also leads to spatial issues. Besides that, having too many fish in the tank will cause them to compete for food, with some outcompeting others.
  • Furthermore, you will have to clean the tank more often, as more fish in the tank means a bigger mess. This also means that your filter has to work overtime to keep the water clean, which then leads to more media changes on your behalf and more filter cleaning too.

The 4 Steps To Stop Fish From Breeding

1. Buy Only One Gender Of Fish

One of the best and easiest ways to ensure that your fish do not breed is to have only one gender of fish. Simply put, it takes a male and a female fish to breed and make young, therefore, only having one gender will effectively solve this problem.

Now, sexing a fish can be somewhat difficult, but wherever you buy your fish from should be able to help you out with this. We would recommend purchasing only male fish. The reason for this is because female fish could already be pregnant when you buy them. To avoid this, going with all males is a good idea.

2. Buy Different Species Of Fish

Now, this might not really apply if you have schooling fish that need to be kept in groups of their own species, but if you have some solitary fish, this will work just fine. Simply buy only one kind of each fish to put in your aquarium or pond.

This way, unless some kind of miracle or freak of nature happens, your fish will not be able to breed due to a difference in species.

two male cichlids fighting
Image Credit: Kraipitch Supyuenyong, Shutterstock

3. Go For Egg-Laying Fish Rather Than LiveBearers

To ensure that your fish do not multiply unwanted, you should also go with egg-laying fish rather than livebearers. Live-bearing fish are much hardier when it comes to breeding and the offspring can often survive in varying tank conditions. Also, livebearers do not require specific tank or pond conditions to breed.

On the other hand, egg-laying fish usually require very specific tank conditions to spur on their mating habits. If the tank does not meet certain requirements, egg-laying fish won’t even breed. Even if they do breed, the fish eggs themselves also usually require very specific conditions. If the tank or pond does not meet these specific conditions, the eggs will die and will not ever hatch.

4. Keep The Water At Conditions That Are Less Than Ideal For Breeding

What we mean here is that fish, even the egg layers, usually require some pretty specific tank conditions to breed. They usually require a certain water temperature, a certain setting, a certain amount of space, and other conditions to be met as well, such as the pH and water hardness.

If you know what conditions your fish need to breed, you can change up these conditions and make sure that they are not met. If you ensure that the conditions for breeding for your specific fish are not met, they will most likely never breed. Keep the tank or pond’s condition at the point where the fish can still survive and be happy, but not breed.

lots of guppies swimming
Image Credit: underworld, Shutterstock


The 2 Ways of Getting Rid of Unwanted Fish

Do as you might, sometimes fish will still breed no matter what steps you take to stop it from happening. In this case, there are a couple of options you can go with to take care of the problem.

1. Natural Selection

A lot of the time, adult fish will eat the young. This is why fish breeders tend to remove fish fry from a tank before the adults have a chance to eat them. Simply put, if you do not want the extra fish, simply let the adults eat them.

It is natural selection at its finest and it will cut down on your next fish food bill as well. You can also remove some hiding places where the fry can hide, plus adding some more aggressive fish to the tank can help as well.

2. Sell Them

Boesemani Rainbowfishes in a tank
Image Credit: ivSky, Shutterstock

Heck, if the fish have already bred and there is nothing you can do about it, you can always make a bit of extra cash on the side by selling the fry. Some fish only have a few young where others can have several dozen.

It might be a good way for you to get some extra money by doing no work at all. You can even give them away if selling them is not really a viable option.
tropical fish 2 divider


While the above options, when all put together, should be more than enough to stop any unwanted fish breeding, it does still occur from time to time. The solutions above about getting rid of unwanted fish fry work as well. Making sure to remove ideal breeding conditions and to only get one gender of fish are the best options here.

Featured image: Jordan Tan, Shutterstock

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