There are many, many options for discarding extra fry from overly productive parents. Some are easier than others and what follows are the most common options used by hobbyists for getting rid of excess fry.

 Selling or Trading Them to Pet Shops

It pays to call around before you start counting on this option, because as we've already noted, many pet shops don't take fry from hobbyists. And those that do are unlikely to take them until they're close to "saleable size" (translation: half to three-quarters of their average adult size), because they don't want to put in the time and effort-not to mention tank space-to raise young fish themselves.

That means you'll be responsible for maintaining the fish until they reach saleable size-something that, depending on the species, may take a considerable amount of effort, resources, and space. It's also important to realize that even if a pet shop takes your fry, you're not likely to get anywhere close to the price that the store sells them for, because the store must factor in the expense of caring for them for however long it takes to sell them.

The problem is that it's not only more efficient to purchase fish from a wholesaler, but it's safer because the store knows that if there's a problem with a batch of them, there's recourse. However, sometimes shops are willing to take fish that sell easily but don't ship well from amateur breeders. Some will also trade juvenile fish for store credit.

 Auctioning Them Off

If you're not already a member of your local aquarium club, now's the time to join. Not only will you find experienced aquarists willing to provide advice and support for your breeding program, but you'll also find an easy outlet for your fry, since many aquarium clubs regularly auction fish bred by members. (The club usually takes a small portion of the proceeds, and the rest goes to the breeder.)

If you expect auctions to be one of your main outlets for getting rid of fry, find out how often your local club holds them; some have auctions at every meeting, while others hold them only once or twice a year. You don't want to have your rearing tanks bursting with fry and several new batches on the way, and the next auction six months away.

 Selling Them Through Classifieds Ads

You're unlikely to get rich selling fish, but some people do make enough to help subsidize their fish addiction. That's particularly true if you're breeding fish that aren't easy to obtain locally, However, be aware that there are many hassles and expenses associated with shipping live fish.

In addition to purchasing shipping bags, insulated boxes, and oxygen cylinders to pump air into the bags before shipping, you'll need to arrange with a delivery service to pick them up, or drop them off yourself at the shipping center, since you can't let fish sit in bags for an extended period of time. And speaking of shipping, it's expensive; a fish that sells for $5 can cost four times that much to ship, a differential that buyers won't be willing to pay if they can easily get the same species elsewhere.

The bottom line is that before you commit yourself to direct-marketing fish, you must be certain you're willing to deal with the hassles involved, including buyers who become irate when something goes wrong, as it almost certainly will at some point.

 Use As Feeder Fish

Cruel as it sounds, it's probably the most natural alternative, since in the wild, large numbers of fry would be eaten by other fish. Many species of captive fish rely on a steady diet of other fish, and their owners often prefer to obtain these feeder fish from hobbyists whose fishkeeping methods they trust, as opposed to pet shops where they may be exposed to overcrowded or disease-laden tanks.