Well, it is now week nine and October. With just about everything out of the way, (vacations, trips, etc.) we are clear for take off! Or are we? There are many things to be done to prepare for breeding Bettas. Betta fish are bubble nesters, meaning that they blow bubbles to form a nest to keep the eggs in. Some betta fish that live in streams are called mouthbrooders due to the fact that they keep the eggs in their throats because bubble nests would be swept away by the currents.
To prepare Betta fish for breeding, you must first Condition them; this means to place the male and female where they can see each other. I would recommend putting the male in the breeding tank to let him get familiar with it and to claim it as his territory. Then place the female either beside the tank in another small tank or bowl or in a tall jar or tank inside the aquarium where they can see their partner but not get to each other. The temperature in the water should be about 80 degrees fahrenheit.
During the conditioning you must feed the fish high protein, high fat, high fiber food. You want to feed them as many rich foods (with other regular foods also) as possible to ensure you get a good, healthy batch of babies. Many people suggest using live food, but I do not have the time nor energy to raise live brine shrimp or mosquito larvae. There could also be many bacteria on the live food, so that is yet another reason I am sticking to frozen. The frozen bloodworms normally come in cubes, so it is easier to defrost them.
After two weeks to a month, your bettas should be ready to breed. The male will be flaring and building a bubble nest around a plant or other object. The female will display vertical bars on her body and be looking down submissively. At this point you gently tip the female into the aquarium with the male and watch them carefully. The male will be acting aggressive, this is fine as long as the female is not being harmed too much. She will most likely end up with a few tears in her fins from the “Courting” that consists of nipping, pushing and bullying the female. However, if the male is too aggressive, you need to remove the female and find another match.
NOTE: Try to keep the noise level down during breeding as betas feel the vibrations in the water.
Eventually the male will lure the female under the bubble nest and they will spawn. The male will wrap his body in a U shape around the female (this is why he needs to be a little bigger than she is) and they will embrace. After spawning the male will release the female, who will be in what many people call a trance (it’s okay, don’t freak out) and collect the eggs that fall down to the bottom. This is why it is important to not have any gravel as the male could lose some of the eggs in it. The female may attempt to help, but she normally eats the eggs.
It can take anywhere from an hour to an entire day to spawn and when the bettas stop spawning and the male chases the female away from the nest, you need to remove her. Place the female in another tank and feed her good foods. Take special care of her during the next week or so to make sure her fins heal properly.
The male will need light during the next four to six days to be able to rescue any falling eggs or fry that need the oxygen from the surface. Twenty-four to thirty-six hours after the eggs are placed in the bubble nest they will hatch. The tiny fry are a little bigger than the period at the end of this sentence. The male will return any fry that fall during the next two or three days until the fry start free-swimming. Remove the male once that happens and treat him like the female is being treated; with special care. He will be exhausted and in need of rest.
The fry will have used up their yolk sac by now and you will need to feed them. Brine shrimp are complicated to grow and feed them, so I am going to use micro worms. There are also vinegar eels and other foods you can feed them. If there is an emergency you can hard boil an egg and give them the yolk, but only as a backup. Feed the fry twice a day with moderate portions. Turn a sponge filter or other filter that a fry won’t get sucked into on after two or three weeks on the lowest setting. After another week or two you can up it and after a month you can change a tiny amount of water. I would say 10% or less.
The fry will grow rapidly for the first two months. A spawn can have anywhere from 10 to 1000+ (but not normally) so be sure you can house them all. I have two ten gallon tanks, two big fish bowls, two small fish bowls, one tall tank, three square tanks and a vase for emergencies. Male bettas secrete a chemical into the water while growing to stunt other males, so if there is one (or ten) particular fish that is huge, put it in another bowl or tank.
Update on Marbles: He is fine, added half a dose of Bettafix and his tail has not grown worse. His bloody tips have disappeared and I am teaching him to jump.
Barbecue Sauce: Moved to Afabelle’s tank.
Afabelle: Typical old fish.
Narine: Sassy as ever.
Sushi: I got another betta! His name is Sushi. He is a half-moon male that I got from a locally owned pet store. He is red and teal blue. Sushi is getting used to his home.
Hopefully I’ll have some baby bettas soon!