I would love to breed someday, and as I get more immersed in the hobby I discover certain aspects of it that many people differ on. For a while now I have been thinking about the morality of culling. I have seen people very against it, and I have heard people say that they think responsible breeders cull because few people will buy deformed or undesirable fish and those who "should have been culled" will live short lives and die where they are being sold. I personally can't figure out which side I am on because I think you shouldn't destroy something just because you don't like it, but then again it would happen in the wild and will prevent fish from living unsatisfactory lives.
I want to know what you guys think, every aspect of it and your own practices or solutions to this issue. Thanks, Brandi
If the fish is deformed and cannot live a good quality of life, I feed to a large Oscar... If they are ugly/undesirable/ or deformed but it does not effect quality of life, I find them homes personally. Attractive fish I don't plan on breeding goes to buyers/ bargainers. Then I have the fish I keep to continue the line. This is my personal way of doing it. :)
I think culling is a very big part of being a responsible breeder. However, culling does not always have to mean killing. If a fish is so severely disabled or deformed that it affects its quality of life, then I would kill that fish because it is not fair to keep it alive. Not everything is supposed to be given a chance at life.
However, for culls that may have only minor faults or deformities, you can give them away or adopt them out under the stipulations that they should not be bred from.
The only issue with this is that once you relinquish ownership of your culls to someone else, you also lose control over what is done with that fish. Even if you say 'no breeding', the new owner could very well choose to breed from your fish and so your name is then going to be attached to what could be a very poor quality spawn. For a good breeder, this is probably not something you want to happen.
I think in the wild, unless you were a quick swimmer or smart fry, you would end up getting eaten by your siblings. None of my bigger juveniles have been very fussy about who gets culled out of their younger siblings.
"But where should our fun stop and betta ethics begin? It is oftentimes a fine line... Blurred by too many careless people... In other words, if we are to play GOD by creating life, do we not owe it to our creations to care about them and FOR them? Is it not our moral responsibility? If we do not have the adequate space, time, financial resources to provide the fry with proper care and most importantly homes, should we even attempt to spawn in the first place? Are we being selfish when we spawn for fun but the many bettas we produce suffer?
The answer is yes, yes and YES."
-Faith at BettaTalk.com
I very much agree with this statement. You essentially play god in creating life, so you have to be responsable enough to care and home them. In my opinion, culling for numbers, looks, form, size (a lot of "runts" turn out to be some of the nicest fish in the spawn) or mild disorders is wrong. Culling for disorders that will make their lives miserable and painful however is fine and even suggested. To cull, use clove oil or the cold-shock method. Please breed responsably.
absolutely. I would never ever breed unless every detail was sufficiently met. I will not attempt to breed until I have space, money, and time to do everything that needs to be done, and have places for the fry to go. Though I have learned so much in the past few months, I am still a rookie and it is not yet my place to play creator.
Thanks for your opinions guys, I want to have a strong foundation of what to do and what not to do when the time/opportunity does come. :)
Good luck! Another thing to do (if you can) is start with stock from a reputable breeder that you know doesn't have a high rate of deformities in the lines history or at the very least breed healthy, defect free stock. I'm very happy you are taking your time!
There are a few different "rounds" breeders go through. A popular one is:
1st- Obvious deformities-curved spines, messed up mouths, the ones that would give bad lives to the fish
2nd-Second deformities- deformities that weren't visible at first.
3rd- This is when the line breeding comes in. Culling for fish that don't fit exactly with what you want/envision or those that you don't like the form or finnage or color are culled out.
Personally, I would do 1 and 2 and maybe cull out any that are too too small or have bad fins that won't find good homes. I agree that runts are often some of the best though. I would try to cull as early as possible, I don't think I could cull out them when they are older. Too much emotion.
As the breeder I feel it is up to you personally to make the decision based on your own ethics.
I would bet those breeders in Thailand etc. producing top quality fish would cull very heavily. Logistically, there would just be no way to get rid of hundreds and perhaps thousands of culls each year.
Yet members here still purchase fish from these breeders.
Also I would rather cull a fish than have it end up in a sub-standard home. There's only so many culls and poor quality fish the market can bear before it becomes saturated.
I agree.. it is up to each breeder on how they go about it.
Me personally, my biggest spawn was 550+.. and by me not culling them for over a month actually hampered them all. It was not fair for me to be selfish and try to raise them all. I could not keep the hormone levels down enough, I could not keep enough live foods reproducing fast enough, etc etc.. out of that 550+ spawn I now have about 30 left. 14 died naturally, the rest I culled. After they were culled those that were left have just grown very good, gotten healthier, stronger, etc.
To give some the best chance, some will have to be sacrificed when it is a larger spawn. Unless you have many large tanks free.. it will be hard to care for so many fry and keep them all healthy. I only had 2 29 gallons free at the time of that spawn, and that was not nearly enough for them. If the spawns are small, then culling can wait, and can be done at a later time, etc.
Also keep in mind if you keep all of them alive, you will have hundreds of jars to keep warm, hundreds of jars needing cleaning all the time- hours spent a day on water changes. And hundreds of babies needing homes.. and you won't be able to continue breeding until you find homes for most of your fish you have. And just hope that they are ones people are willing to spend $35+ on just shipping.. etc.
Culling, in my opinion, is very important for both the health and well being of the fry and for the well being - both mentally and physically - of the breeder.
As for those Thailand breeders.. they breed dozens of pairs daily, 99% of those spawns are culled and only a small number you see on AB are sold. Most of their spawns are culled - they want the reputation of having the best fish in the world, so anything that does not meet their absolute standards are not kept around. It's a business for most of them, they view the fish as their stock. Sometimes breeders need to put aside the emotions and be realistic.
*not all Thailand breeders are as I said, but a good number you see on AB are breeding from farms and you only see one or two fish out of a few dozen they spawned.