The reproduction process of fish is different than that of animals on land. Instead of laying eggs, female fish release their eggs into the water and fertilize them externally with sperm from males.
This makes the process very similar to how plants spread their seeds, which is why many people call it spawning.
Do fish layer eggs? In short, some fish lay eggs while they are alive, while other fish release their eggs after they have died.
In most species of fish, females and males both can release eggs into the water.
However, in some species of fish, only the males release sperm into the water to fertilize the eggs released by the females.
Do Fish Lay Eggs?
Many species of fish lay their eggs on the ground or in the water. However, there is a group of over 2800 species of fish that do not lay their eggs on land but release them into the water.
Female fish release their eggs and wrap them in layers of gelatinous material for protection.
The term for this reproductive process is called spawning.
How Does Spawning Work?
This process is the same as how plants can release their seed. When the eggs are released and the male fish releases sperm into the water, they become fertilized.
The fertilized eggs develop into larvae which grow for weeks or months at a time.
The larvae then grow into juvenile fish that then mature and become adults of both sexes that eventually spawn themselves, releasing their eggs into the water.
Fish can also be grouped according to whether or not they lay their eggs on land or in water.
The group of over 2800 species of fish that release their eggs into the water and fertilize them externally is called oviparous fish.
The group of fish that lay their eggs on land is called ovoviviparous fish. Some species lay both eggs on land and in the water.
Examples of fish that lay their eggs on land:
Examples of fish that lay their eggs in the water:
- Giant Oarfish
How Do Fish Lay Eggs?
Female fish release their eggs into the water. They then wrap the eggs in a thin layer of gelatinous material.
Gelatinous material is secreted by the females to protect and insulate the eggs.
The male fish then releases sperm into the water where it fertilizes the female’s eggs, creating a batch of embryos on which they will grow, including fish that can live outside of water.
Do Fish Lay a Lot of Eggs?
The number of eggs that a fish lays will vary from species to species. Many species of fish lay only a few eggs at a time, while some can lay over 200000 eggs.
The number of eggs that a female lays usually depends on the size of the egg as well as the temperature and age of the female.
- Salmon – which lays over 20,000 eggs at once.
- Tuna – can lay up to 2 million eggs at one time (the largest number of eggs laid by any fish).
The number of embryos that are born from each egg varies from species to species.
For example, the tiny goby fish will have only a couple hundred embryos in each egg. The great white shark will have around 60 embryos in each egg.
The Chinook salmon will have thousands of embryos in each egg.
Do Fish Lay Eggs Frequently?
How often a fish lays its eggs will vary from species to species. Some fishes only lay their eggs once per year.
Other fishes can lay multiple times in one year. Large varieties of fish will generally lay more than smaller varieties of fish.
It has also been found that warm waters with little current and sediment have the best conditions for spawning.
A female’s ability to reproduce can be seriously impaired if the water is too warm or polluted, making it harder for her to lay her eggs or protect them after she has done so.
Spawning time for any fish will vary. For example, certain fishes that spawn in the spring include salmon and trout.
The codfish spawns in the winter, while the catfish and dogfish spawn in the summer.
The fish that lay their eggs on land will have oviposition (egg-laying) trigger, while other fish that lay their eggs in the water do not.
The oviposition trigger is a biological trigger that is triggered by the characteristics of the environment.
This is known as physiological reproduction and can be triggered by many things, including the presence of a male partner or the amount of time since last breeding.
What Do Fish Eggs Look Like?
The eggs of any fish will vary in appearance. There are tiny eggs, the size of a grain of rice. Then some can get as large as 12 inches long.
Some eggs will be very round and smooth, while others are cone-shaped or flat and disc-shaped.
The color of the eggs will also vary from species to species. For example, the catfish egg is light yellow, while the whale shark egg is white.
The eggs of a fish will generally appear white just after the female wraps them in gelatinous material.
However, within a few hours of being laid, they will turn grey or brown.
How Do Fish Eggs Develop?
Fish eggs generally grow by receiving nutrients from the adult fish that are released into the water.
Most fish will have a pre-hatching stage and a post-hatching stage in their life cycle.
This means that fish develop after they have been laid.
In the pre-hatching stage, the larvae will begin to grow and develop gills. During this time, the juvenile fish will consume their yolk sac for food.
Then the fish will enter the post-hatching stage. During this time, the eggs grow and the larvae mature into juvenile fish.
The fish will continue to eat their yolk sac until they develop into eggs that are ready to be laid in the water.
So, do fish lay eggs? Yes, they certainly do.
This article has talked about the reproductive behavior of fish and the different ways that fish reproduce.
It also explained how fish eggs are formed, their size, and what determines egg shape.
There were even reasons given for why some female fish release their eggs into the water, while others lay their eggs on land or in water.
I hope this guide helps you understand the world of fish and how they reproduce. If you have enjoyed this post, feel free to share it with others who may find it of value.
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Hi, I’m George – the founder of MarinePatch. I created this blog as marine wildlife has been my passion for many years and I’ve spent decades learning and dedicating myself to documenting all I can about the topic.