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Old 04-01-2014, 01:00 PM   #1 
Seki's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2012
How do you cull?

I am gathering supplies slowly but surely for a breeding attempt (probably this summer). Since I am looking at this more seriously now, I need to consider the unpleasant side of breeding... culling.

I am wondering how you guys choose which fish to cull, what age you start separating them out, and how you dispose of culls. I am too squeamish to, say, crush or behead baby fish. I am not overly opposed to feeding them to my dwarf gourami, but I don't know if that's a good solution or not.

Can I get some insight?
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Old 04-01-2014, 01:22 PM   #2 
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Some of the problems manifest themselves early, while others take time to notice:
1) spinal deformities are usually the first to be noticed.
2) missing or damaged/deformed fins
3) swim bladder issues
4) missing scales or poor scaling pattern
5) unwanted color pattern
6) unwanted behavior (unaggressive or hyperaggressive)

The way how you choose to cull does not always mean death. For example, I would consider the first 2-3 on the list for ice baths/clove oil/feeders, while there could be others on this forum would happily take 4-6 off your hands. You're still getting rid of fish, just not killing them.
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Old 04-01-2014, 02:19 PM   #3 
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"Culling" is different then killing. People are just squeamish and don't like to say that they are killing fish, so the term is used incorrectly quite often to only mean killing. Culling means removing from the gene pool- this can be done in a bunch of ways.

I am a no kill breeder- unless the defect significantly and permanently effects the fish's quality of life I refuse to kill it. Some people frown on this quite a bit... I just don't think it's right to bring life into the world knowing that you are going to be killing some of it. Fish can live happy, long life's with any of the defects listed above.

I cull by selling or giving away my stock to pet owners, they make perfectly good pets.

If you must kill the fish do it humanely. Ice bath, clove oil, and destruction if the nervous system (garbage disposal) are humane. I don't like using other fish or animals as culling machines... The way they eat can be slow and nasty and using another animal to do the dirty work doesn't automatically make it humane.
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Old 04-01-2014, 04:09 PM   #4 
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Wikipedia states:
For livestock and wildlife alike, culling usually implies the killing of the removed animals.
I do find when most breeders discuss culling, they are talking about the actual death of the fish, not just talking about sending undesireables to pet homes.

If and when I cull, I use the ice-water method. For young fish it is incredibly fast. I find death occurs after a few seconds of being submersed.

I breed wild bettas so I don't have to meet any rigorous standards. Really the main fault I cull for, is a seriously incorrect topline (minor dips and bumps are okay). There is basically no market for a single, non-breeding quality wild - at least with the species I keep. I would also be concerned that such an individual might get bred anyway once it has left my care and I feel that for the purposes of conservation such fish should not be a part of the gene pool.

Otherwise I have culled fry with ongoing swim bladder issues, fry that fail to thrive, fry with broken/locked open jaws and fry that didn't recover from repeated infections of velvet.

The decisions of when and if to cull is entirely up to the breeder. Some breeders such as MattsBettas will only cull if the quality of life is compromised, while others cull for what could be perceived as 'minor cosmetic flaws'. There's no right or wrong, just what level of culling (and I am talking about killing here) that you feel comfortable with.
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Old 04-06-2014, 08:42 PM   #5 
Sena Hansler
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I would also be concerned that such an individual might get bred anyway once it has left my care and I feel that for the purposes of conservation such fish should not be a part of the gene pool.
This is why I do cull (kill) fry who are deformed. I've come across "I wanna breed him/her anyways" bull, that I really don't like to see. If you are not breeding for the breed, don't breed at all. And that goes for ANY animal, not just fish.

Culling (killing methods)

I have had Betta fry who were constantly weak or sick, and those ones were culled. Other ones that are culled are ones whose quality of life is hindered or survival chances are small. This means deformed spines, chronic SBD, swimming vertically or sideways without correcting itself... Most of these will never go on the market.

Depending on the age of the fry: I may feed off to a larger fish, such as a previously bred Betta who could benefit from the protein. This would be for small fry or fry that are about a month or younger. I'll use ice water for fry older than that, or I use clove oil.

I know there is the "smashing with a hammer" method, but I cannot personally do it. Though it is humane, as it is swift... It's gross. Even if I don't see it, I still imagine it. Blech.

Culling (not killing)

For some lucky deformed fry, such as ones with a bent spine, there are a few people who would like to have a little "handicap fish" . These people give the fish everything it needs, including lower and wider/longer water to ensure they can reach the surface for air. You may find some people on here who do this. the people who take them also know they should not breed that fish - which is a good thing to know that you can trust them on that.

For ones whose fins are unappealing or colors/patterns that I do not desire, they are sold or given away. These guys are usually cheaper than the ones with better form (body and finnage), and better colors/patterns.

I deal with the mom n' pop shop here who would gladly take some of the fry off my hands. Otherwise Betta enthusiasts ask for them - especially since females rarely ever sell in stores. I don't send females to the store no matter what, just for that reason.

I also do not cull (kill) breeders. They are retired and either stay with me as a pet, or sent to new homes as a pet.

Each breeder has their reasons and their methods. There is no right and no wrong way - which has already been mentioned. Though I don't suggest just tossing them in the garbage can... That would probably be frowned upon.
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Old 04-08-2014, 02:09 PM   #6 
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Thanks for all the advice, guys. I have been in contact with a local aquarium store and they have agreed to take fry from my spawns, although they were not very interested in females. Before I breed, I'll have to figure out what I am going to do with female fry, of course. There is another local pet store that I will be contacting soon.

I am squeamish, I'm not afraid to admit that. So any culling methods that are particularly gruesome will probably not be good for me. For instance, the garbage disposal method would be a bit much for me. Ice baths are probably the way I would go.

Thanks again for all the insight and advice. I appreciate the help!
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Old 04-08-2014, 02:35 PM   #7 
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if they're halfmoon females, the chances of them selling are much higher (think of all the people who purchased HM males from petco, and want to breed halfmoons but females are nowhere in sight)
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Old 04-08-2014, 03:14 PM   #8 
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I breed bristlenose plecos. I only kill fish with severe deformities and that usually entails a very pick death with a razor blade. It's instant, I tried ice baths but that usually takes a few seconds.

The plecos whose colors I find undiserable I sell or give away. I usually separate the ones with minor deformities and keep them out of pitty, but I put males wth males and females with females so that they don't breed.

obviously doing that with bettas is unwise as far as the males are concerned but the culling methods could be the same
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