Betta fish (also known as Siamese Fighting fish) are one of nature’s more colorful fish and of the most popular tropical aquarium fish. With enough time, the right equipment, and a process to follow, you can have a new supply of Bettas in your tank.
In this article, we will share with you the steps you can follow to successfully breed vivid and healthy Betta fish, without putting your fish’s health at risk.
How to Breed Bettas
There are a few basic steps to breeding Bettas. These steps are the general procedures for breeding and not absolute, meaning once you gain experience, you can vary the steps as you prefer.
1. Before breeding the Bettas, choose the pair of male and female with the characteristics that you would like to see in the fries. A pair with similar color and fin type will produce better results than a mixed pair (different color or different fin type).
2. After that, the Bettas have to be conditioned for breeding. Lots of live food will produce the best results in a shorter time as compared to using processed food. Live food that can be used include bloodworms, Tubifex worms*, and Moina (Daphnia). Mosquitoes larvae are said to be the best food for conditioning, but it is quite difficult to catch or culture these. You can use other food like meat which is chopped up or small insects like fruit flies. Feed the pair more during this period. Feedings can be twice daily up to 4 times depending on the amount of food at each feeding.
One convenient type of food that works very well is frozen live food, like frozen brine shrimps and frozen bloodworms.
The Bettas should be placed in two containers which allows them to see each other. Both Bettas should start to flare at each other, with the male starting to build a bubble nest. The female will also put on “weight” by producing eggs in her belly. Her belly should swell to be quite big and become pale as the eggs strain against her belly. This will be fast if live food is used and slower with processed food. The conditioning period is about 1-2 weeks. Some breeders prefer a longer period to let the female produce lots of eggs before mating them together. Check to see that the female’s belly is big, and the ovipositor is protruding out of her belly.
*Note: Tubifex worms (also called sludge or sewage worm) are suspected to be sources of disease and other undesirable bacteria. It is not advisable to use them even though they produce the fastest results. Moina (comparable to Daphnia although smaller with higher protein content) are known to produce a laxative effect on grown Bettas when fed in excess.
3. The breeding tank can be from a 1 ft tank to a 2 ft tank. Roughly from about 8 to 15 gallons. The bottom should be bare to allow the male to pick up the eggs more easily. The water level should not be too deep to allow the fries to develop their bladder and labyrinth properly. The water level should be about 4 to 5 inches. Place a Styrofoam cup that has been cut into half on the water surface and stick it to the side of the tank. This is for the male to build a bubble nest. The male can be shifted into the tank about halfway through the conditioning or just before breeding.
4. At the end of the conditioning period, place the pair together in the tank. There will be lots of flaring and chasing and even some biting. After a while, the male will concentrate on building his nest and enticing the female to go over and take a look. Once everything is ok, they will mate.
The male will wrap his body around the female’s and squeeze the eggs out and fertilize them at the same time. A moment after that, both will seem to be stunned and the male will sink, and the female float up. (This sinking and floating of the male and female is what we observed). Then the male will usually recover first and pick up the eggs to his nest. It is possible the female will also help the male in this task. There are cases of the female and male eating their eggs. Don’t be discouraged if this happens, just keep trying.
The mating can last quite long, up to four hours as reported to us by a breeder.
5. After the eggs are laid and placed in the nest, the male will chase the female away and guard the nest zealously. The female should be removed at this point in time. The male will guard the nest and pick up any eggs that drop from the nest.
6. After one to two days, the eggs should hatch. The fries still have their embryos and will feed on them for up to two days. The time frame is estimated as it depends on the temperature of their surroundings. In most cases, higher temperature translates to faster hatching and growth rate. The fries will seem to hang from the nest and are almost vertical.
7. After their embryos are consumed, they will start to swim horizontally. This can be as fast as two days and as long as 4 days. As the tank will contain some infusoria, those that grow and consume their embryo faster will eat these. To ensure that they do not starve, other forms of food must be prepared for them. Information on fry food can be found below.
After about four days, the male should be removed.
Fry Food Options
The fries should be fed baby brine shrimp for up to two weeks or more, thereafter other food can be used. Frozen brine shrimps and bloodworms can be fed after two weeks. The fries must be large enough to eat them, if not, continue feeding with baby brine shrimp.
At two months old, the males can be jarred. This will be the time when they start to show their potential in terms of color and finnage. The males will start to squabble and fight with each other. To prevent fin damage, the more aggressive ones should be jarred.
Infusoria is a term for microscopic organisms found in water. If you want to increase the amount of infusoria in your tank, just add a lot of plants or Liquifry.
To start a culture, take a cup of aquarium water or aged water and put a crushed lettuce leaf in the jar. Leave it at a place that receives lots of sunlight. The culture will develop after a few days. Within a week the water should become cloudy. That means that bacteria are growing. Then the water will start to clear up as the infusoria is growing and eating the bacteria. Once the water is totally clear you will be able to see patches or areas that are filled with infusoria. Siphon them out and put them in your fry tank.
From our experience, the infusoria is only good for maybe the first one or two days. After that, we recommend baby brine shrimp for your fries. Recently, our fries died of starvation because we fed them infusoria for too long, as we believed it was the best food for them.
Baby Brine Shrimps (BBS)
After a few days, (some say, two days at most) infusoria will not be enough to support them alone. The most popular and the best (in a lot of people’s opinion) food to add at this point is live baby brine shrimp.
Brine shrimp aka Sea Monkeys are small aquatic crustaceans. Freshly hatched brine shrimp nauplii have a nutrient-rich yolk which is good for young fries. Brine shrimp can live in fresh water for around 5 hours before they die.
Buy some brine shrimp eggs from your local fish shop and salt (common table salt works). Put water in a 1 or 2 L bottle and add salt according to the instructions on the bottle. Aerate the mixture vigorously without an airstone. Depending on temperature and egg quality, hatching time should be about 24 – 48 hours. The quality of the eggs will affect the hatch rate – 70% of the batch will hatch for average quality.
Careful siphoning is necessary as unhatched eggs and shells cannot be digested and may become caught in the stomach of small fish, thus leading to mortalities. Leave the solution to settle for about 10 – 15 minutes. This will separate the eggshells, unhatched eggs, and baby brine shrimp. The baby brine shrimp will most likely be in the middle part of the bottle, with eggshells on top of the water and unhatched eggs on the bottom. Feed them to your fry 3 times a day.
Brine shrimp eggs should be always maintained in a dry condition. Store opened eggs in an air-tight container in the refrigerator or in a cool dry place.
Decapsulation for Brine Shrimp Eggs
Decapsulating the brine shrimp eggs will help improve the hatch rate and at the same time without the risk of the egg (unhatched and shells) getting stuck in fry’s bellies. Some people use it so that they can feed the eggs directly.
Here is what can be done:
Use the water that is left after one hatching of the baby brine shrimp. Put it in a cup and add some eggs. Aerate for about an hour or more. Next, add a volume of bleach that is about 2/3 of whatever water that has been used. Aerate for some time after that. Once the eggs start turning orange or possibly whitish, stop the process. Strain the eggs using a funnel and a cloth. Rinse the eggs thoroughly, at least three times with fresh water. If you are worried about any chlorine left behind, add some dechlorinator to your eggs.
Bettas are a popular choice for all aquarists as they are easy to care for and provide vivid colors for any aquarium. For beginners, they offer an easy introduction to breeding as the process is relativity simple and easy to follow.
We hope that you have understood that from our article and remember to ensure that the tank conditions are correct, the female is introduced properly, and the fry is fed the correct fish food and you’ll be raising Betta in no time.
For a more detailed guide on raising and keeping Betta fish, check out this well done book by Robert J. Goldstein on sale at Amazon.