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Breeding Bettas
                 By Rhonni from Fish 'R Us®

 

Things to Consider
Welcome to the world of Betta Splendens. These are an incredible breed of fish. Even more incredible is to breed them. If you are considering breeding these fine fish, keep a few things in mind. Your female will most definitely get beaten up, whether it is a little or a lot depends. You have the potential to end up with anywhere from 50 to 300 baby bettas. Make sure you have the space to keep hundreds of jars that the males will have to be separated in to. You will have to culture your own live food, such as MicroWorms or hatch out live Baby Brine Shrimp (BBS). These are essential in the diet of your growing babies. This is a very time consuming project to take on. It cannot be done half-heartedly. This entails 5 to 6 months of total attention. Keep this in mind before venturing into breeding.
Supplies
There are a number of things you need to get BEFORE you start the pair spawning. The following is a list. If you have any questions about any of the items, click on it and a new window will open with reasons or explanations for this item.
Preparing the Tank
To get your tank ready for the pair, first make sure it is clean. Set it up on the stand or table it will be on. I fill my 10 gallon half full of water. Other people say to use 3 or 5 inches of water. After the water is in, I add Aquari-Sol, NovAqua & Amquel following the instructions. This gets the water conditioned and set for the breeders as well as the fry. I also place a small amount of aquarium salt, but this is a heated discussion in the group as to whether it is a good idea or not. I then place my plants at one end of the tank. I make sure there are enough plants to make almost a bush of plants. This makes it easy for the female to zip through, and harder for the male to catch her. She will need refuge from him during spawning. I choose to use live Java Moss in the breeding tank. This will automatically provide the fry's first food, Infusoria. If you use plastic plants, it is a good idea to make your own. I place my seasoned sponge filter at the same end as the plants. I then place the heater in the center/back of the tank. I set it and watch it for a day or so and make sure it is keeping a temperature of 80° - 82°F. Then you can take your half-Styrofoam cup and place at the opposite end of the plants. I used a suction cup once  as well as tape to hold it in place. I do not recommend tape, but a suction cup works well. I do not use anything at all now, I just let it float in one end. Make sure you have a cover for your tank. It is essential that the air above the water be very humid to help the fry develop their labyrinth organs. If the glass inside the tank is wet and foggy, then you have it covered well. If you do not have a cover, you can use saran wrap and use water from the tank on your finger to 'seal' the wrap in the edges of the tank.
Preparing the Breeding Pair
You should also be preparing your breeders. Keep them separated from other fish for at least a week before breeding. If possible, feed them live foods such as Brine Shrimp, Wingless Fruit Flies  or other live foods. This will ensure their good health and condition for the stressful spawning process. 
Introducing the Female
When I breed a pair, stick the male in at least one day before introducing the female. This allows the male to get comfortable with his new surroundings. When I feel he is ready, I place the female in a hurricae lantern chimney. These are great because she can swim around, always have fresh air and you can fed her though the top. They are approximately $1.50 at WalMart. I then leave her in the lantern until the male has built his nest. All bettas are different, so this is where experimenting comes in. Some people like to stick them both in at the same time. It all depends on your preference and what works for you. Your female will develop vertical stripes (Cambodian bettas will not show these stripes due to their light body color) when she is comfortable and flirty with the male. These stripes are right near her gills and are usually a light peach color. She will also develop eggs as a sign of her readiness. If she still has horizontal stripes after a couple days and is being violently pursued by the male, you may consider removing her back into her lantern. Some males are overly violent, but can still be bred with patience. If you are attempting ot breed a violent male, just keep an extra close eye on the female. Also, in the other extreme, if you are breeding a meek male, it is a good idea to keep your female in her lantern (or jar) during the night. I have heard many horror stories about the female ripping the male up in the night.
Spawning
After the female is ready, she will inspect the bubble nest. If it is unsatisfactory in her eyes, she will go back to the other end of the tank and wait until he comes and gets her again (sometimes she will destroy it). She will re-inspect it until she is satisfied and/or ready with eggs. At this time they will begin their 'embrace'. The male will wrap himself around her and squeeze the eggs out of her. Just a few at a time will come out. When they finish an embrace, the female may look dead, after a few seconds she will snap out of it. He fertilizes them as he is wrapped around her, so if they fall to the ground before he picks them up or he picks them up mid-water it is ok. He will place them in his nest. When they have finished their many embraces, he will chase the female off. You need to remove her at this time and place her in a bowl conditioned with Aquari-Sol, Novaqua, Amquel and MarOxy (some use MethBlu). If you do not remove her from the breeding tank, the male may kill her. Spawning can take anywhere from 1 to 10 days. If it persists for very long, just make sure your female is doing ok.
Hatching
Within 24-48 hours your eggs will hatch and you will have fry. I have also heard it can take up to 3 days. They will remain in the bubble nest for up to a week after hatching. For the first 2 or 3 days they will feed off the yolks of their eggs. The father will help keep them in the nest. Picking them up as they fall and replacing them for the first 3 or so days. If he shows any signs of eating the young (this is not very common but does happen) remove him immediately and lower the water level to anywhere to 1 inch. When the fry are free swimming and the father can no longer keep up with them, you can remove him and place him in a bowl conditioned with Aquari-Sol, Novaqua, Amquel and MarOxy (again, some use MethBlu instead). This is where you proceed to the feeding.
Feeding
If you do not have live plants in your tank, you will want to introduce Infusoria to the fry at about day 2. If you have live plants in your tank you can skip making the Infusoria. About day 3 to 5 you will need to start feeding BBS (baby brine shrimp) and/or MicroWorms. There are many, many opinions as to which is better. There are pros and cons on both. I have chosen to use both, but mainly MicroWorms. I happen to think that MicroWorms are God's gift to breeders. Make sure you are feeding them enough to fill them up. Check to see if their little bellies are full and pink (BBS) or white (MicroWorms). Using a magnifying glass & flashlight  helps considerably.  There are many foods you can feed your young fry, including : BBS, MicroWorms, live bloodworms, daphnia, mosquito larvae, MicroWorms, whiteworms, freeze dried tubifex, krill, or brine, and occasionally chopped and frozen chicken livers. It is also a good idea to feed mixtures of veggie flakes to help keep the fry from getting constipated from the high protein of live foods.
Care for Juveniles
Care for the babies is simply: feed, warmth & clean water. That is it in a nutshell. Feed them, preferably twice a day. I have heard of those only feeding once a day and they did ok, but if you want the best for your fry, (and who doesn't?) feed them at least 2 times a day. Keep their tank at least 80°F to 85°F. I have heard people say to fluctuate the temperature to help fight diseases and others say to keep it constant. Apparently it works both ways because they all had successful spawns and survival rates. I know for sure that it is critical to keep the water AND the air above the water warm while the fry develop their labyrinth organs (between 4 & 6 weeks). If they go to the surface of the water to take their first breath and it is not warmer than the water, they will freeze to death . . . instantly. Make absolutely sure you have a good cover (saran wrap will work) to keep the heat and moisture inside the tank. I keep my tank at approximately 80°F. It fluctuates anywhere from 80°-85°F. 
The End Result
The young bettas They will begin to develop their color from 4-5weeks. At this time they can be moved to a larger container or tank if needed. From 6 - 12 weeks the fry grow rapidly. Especially when given ample room to grow. They should be ready to breed at 4-5 months and ready to sell at 5-6 months. If you are going for a specific trait such as a color or a tail shape, choose a female from your spawn that holds this trait and breed it back to it's father. This can be done for a couple generations before you will need to introduce new genes.
Any Questions?
If you have any question, feel free to ask the group!!!
 

 

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Revised: April 04, 2000 12:29 PM