Step #1: Selecting the Pair
If you want to attempt to breed Betta Splendens the first thing you must do is select a pair. When selecting a pair there are some things that should be taken into consideration.
The first thing that should be looked at is the ages of the fish you would like to breed. Bettas are usually at their peak breeding age between about four to twelve months of age. Females are usually able to breed for a while longer than males. This does not mean that an older pair will not breed, it simply means that you will have much better luck with younger fish, especially if you are a beginner.
The next thing that must be taken into consideration is the sizes of the fish. You should never attempt to breed a small male to a large female. The male will have a lot of trouble wrapping around the female during the spawning embrace, if he can even wrap around her at all. This can cause a lot of frustration for both fish, which will result in torn fins and tails, unhappy fish, and no eggs in the bubble nest. Always choose a pair that are about the same size, or a female that is slightly smaller than the male.
* Should I breed Pet Store Bettas or Show/Breeder Quality Bettas?? *
This is basicly a matter of opinion, depending on what your goals with breeding bettas are. If you simply want to breed for fun, and don’t care about showing, developing your own strains, genetics, or making a profit off your bettas, then pet store bettas are fine. If you do decide to breed pet store bettas, keep in mind the fact that while many of them are very beautiful, they are genetic mutts. You can not predict the outcome of fry from pet store betta parents. Their genes are to mixed up. Also keep in mind the fact that you will not make any money off of them. Pet Store bettas are veil tails, and not worth much more than a few dollars each. If you are planning on breeding pet store bettas, make sure you will be able to find homes for the fry, either through friends, or a local pet store that is willing to take them or trade for them when they are old enough.
If your goals are to work with different strains and colors, develope your own strains, show your bettas, and/or work with tail types other than veil tails, then you will need to purchase quality stock from a breeder. These bettas are more expensive, but usually well worth the money. Make sure to research the breeder before you buy from them, to insure that you are getting healthy, quality stock. We have a list of reliable, well reputed breeders on our links page. We have purchased quality stock from many of them. And we here, at TheBettaBubble.com, often have beautiful bettas from quality lines for sale.
Step #2: Conditioning the Pair
Conditioning a pair of bettas means feeding them high quality food two or three times a day for one or two weeks prior to spawning. You need to condition bettas so that they will be able to withstand the stress of courting and spawning. You also need to do this so that the female can produce a lot of eggs, and be ready to spawn, and so the male will have enough energy to take care of the eggs and fry after spawning. If you feed your bettas a well balanced, high protein diet full of many different kinds of food, then conditioning is unneccessary, in my opinion. My bettas are, in a sense, always conditioned, as they are always fed a large variety of live, frozen, and dry foods. If you only feed your betta(s) one or two different kinds of foods, especially if they are dry foods, then condtioning is a very good idea.
Live foods are the best to feed during the conditioning period, if you don’t have access to them, then frozen and freeze dried are good also. The pair should be fed two to three times a day in small amounts. Some breeders also claim that the pair should be seperated from and unable to see other fish at this time, and that a light should be left over them for the conditioning period, to stimulate a breeding hormone. I do not isolate my bettas from others before spawning them. My males are always in sight of other males, and my females are always in sight of other females.
Step #3: Adding the pair to the tank
Before adding the pair to the tank make sure to check that the temperature of the water is where you want it to be. (Between 80F-84F degrees) You should also add the glass chimney (from a hurricane lamp) to the tank at this time. Float the pair in their jars, in the tank for about an hour so that they get used to the temperature of the tank. (if they’re jars or tanks are to big to float in the breeding tank ,place them in a smaller container with water from they’re jar or tank, and float them in that. After an hour release the male directly into the tank, and gently pour the female into the glass chimney. The male should start flaring at the female, often she will flare right back at him, and if she is darkly colored begin to display her vertical mating stripes. Eventually, usually within a few hours, the male will begin to build his nest under the styrofoam cup. If after a few hours he still is not building a nest, and seems to have no clue, use a spoon to scoop up part of a nest from a different males jar and add that under or against the cup. This will usually give him the right idea, and he will start building a nest of his own.
The best thing to do now is to leave the pair alone for a day or two. Let the male work on his nest, and let the female decide that she wants to spawn with him. When the male has built a good size nest, (some males do not make very large nests during spawning, or they decide to not make a nest at all) and/or the female is ready, you should release her. You can tell that a female is ready by a few signs;
- She will be displaying her vertical mating stripes. (this is almost impossible to see on light colored females)
- She will be fat with eggs and her vent (the white spot between her ventral) will be elongated and easy to spot.
- She will be attempting to swim “with” the male and not away from him. She may be swimming at him in a head down position through the glass of the chimney, and/or flaring at him.
If the female is not showing any of these signs, wait another day or so to see if she does before releasing her. If she still does not respond to the male, you may want to try another female, or if the male is not building a nest, or is ignoring the female, you may want to try another pair, or another male. Some pairs just don’t seem to like each other.
Once the female appears ready and you let her out, a few different things may happen. She may swim over to the nest and the pair will spawn right then and there, but more then likely the male will chase her away from the nest, and around the tank, and then work on his nest, and then chase her some more, and then work on his nest, chase her some more, and well, you get the picture. This will continue for a while before she will approach him in a head-down position, and he will let her under the nest to spawn. Torn fins and tails are very common at this point, particularly with the female. You should not remove her unless she is seriously wounded, or if she is picking on the male, and not the other way around. You may have to leave the pair in the tank together for two or three days before they spawn. If the male is not being overly agressive towards the female, and she eludes him easily and does not seem scared to death of him, you should leave them in the tank together over night. I always leave a small, dim light over the pair when leaving them out together overnight. If the male is being very aggressive, and the female is having a really rough time, it is best to place her in the chimney over night, and let her out again in the morning when you can keep an eye on them.
Step #4: The Spawning Embrace
When the male finally lets the female approach the nest the pair will begin a kind of “dance” together. The male will swim in a horizontal “S” like pattern, the female may do the same. The male will embrace the female, and eggs will begin to fall. It may take the pair a few trys to get the embrace right, this is normal, especially if they are young, and/or it is their first time spawning. After the embrace the male will gather the eggs in his mouth and spit them up into the bubble nest. The female will float at the top, temporarily unconscious.This is normal, and she will soon recover, and often help the male gather the eggs. The pair will then repeat this process, often for a few hours. Anywhere from 50-500 eggs may be in the nest when they are done spawning, though 100-200 seems to be the average. You will know the pair is done spawning once the male starts defending his nest from the female, and won’t let her anywhere near it. If you weren’t around for a while, and aren’t sure whether or not their are eggs in the nest, you can shine a flashlight under the nest and usually see the eggs. You will also notice the male poking around in the nest, tending to the eggs, and as I said before, he will be extremely defensive about the nest, the female will not be able to get anywhere near it.