A General Outline of Northern Redbelly Dace Rearing
As the natural spawning seasons for the Northern Redbelly Dace begins around late Spring to early Summer, March and April are optimal months to begin setting up equipment, acquire adult fish, and cycle the tanks. Once the tanks are cycled and a healthy culture of bacteria has been established, more adult fish can be added to the tanks.
Once spawning season has begun, the characteristic red belly will appear on the male fish. Mating behavior such as chasing and energized movement can be observed as the fish become ready for spawning. At this time, the breeding mats are added to the adult tanks and monitored closely for eggs over the next few days. Once the fish have begun laying eggs, the mats can be removed and placed into one of the smaller tanks where they are formalin treated daily to prevent fungus growth. At this point in the project, fry will begin to hatch from the eggs and begin to grow. The number of fry in the tanks will grow rapidly over the summer and several hundred fish can be reared over the span of a few months.
As their spawning season begins to end in late August to September, the breeding mats are removed from the tanks and focus shifts to maintaining water quality and growing the fry. As there is a potential to be rearing a few hundred fry per tank during a successful rearing season, water quality can quickly degrade and jeopardize the health of the fish. Water quality and water changes are done frequently. Once the most recently hatched fry have had a few weeks to grow to size and begin feeding on live food, the fish are ready for release into the project sites.