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Breeding Betta Fish Lesson

Submitted by on 20 November 2010 – 13:23

We are Sorry to repeat this post about breeding betta fish. We think this is basic lesson on betta splendens hobbies. On this moment, we try to describe breeding steps on simply and systematically. So, let’s enjoy breeding bettas lesson bellow πŸ™‚

Preparation Step

First and most important on breeding betta fish step is prepare tank setup and equipment, and appropriate food for the newborn and growing fry. But also be sure that you are prepared to invest time and care. Betta fry are some of the smallest fry and they require special food unlike fish such as guppies whose newborns can even eat the same flake food their parents eat. Betta fry will benefit most from live foods but they must be microscopic! Preparation to the tank is needed and food cultures should be purchased and thriving before we begin the spawning process.

Prepare Your Fish

Another thing that is very important, especially to beginners to this process, is to properly condition your betta fish before spawning. Some more experienced breeders will not have to spend as much time with conditioning because their fish are already in top shape and are well cared for and are usually ready to spawn at almost any time. But there are things we must be sure to do before we spawn and conditioning will allow you and the fish to get prepared.

Conditioning consists of not only feeding the fish good, but also keeping their water even cleaner than ever (to improve their system). Also, many people will isolate the pair from view of other fish during this time, and will allow the pair to view each other for 15 minutes at a time, a couple times a day. This will last for a few days before the spawning process. The female needs to be in view of other fish prior to this conditioning phase all the time – this will help her to grow a belly full of eggs. A female is always going to have some eggs but she’ll be able to spawn better with more eggs! Her ovipositer will protrude out when she’s really ready because she’ll be so fat and full. Wait until this occurs, then start seperating them for the final stages of the conditioning period.

Prepare Your Equipment

We are going to need an appropriate setup for spawning. Bettas, being the territorial fish that they are, require a somewhat special setup. Be sure we get all of this straight before we start conditioning!

1. Tank "Hardware"
Take a 10 gallon tank and fill it half way. Doing this allows you to have room for adding water in the future as the fry grow up instead of trying to siphon water out which is very hard to do without sucking fry out until they’re a few weeks old! Add a gallon a week until the tank is full. Then you can start doing regular siphoning and water replacing maintenance. Good water maintenance is critical to the fry’s survival, as is proper and sufficient food.

We need a heater (this is an optional equipment that adjust to our neighbourhood temperature), submersible is better, a thermometer, a sponge filter and an air pump, and a lid over the tank. Saran wrap taped down at the corners works fine if you don’t have a lid. It’s important to keep the tank air warm because when the fry are 3-4 weeks old they start breathing the air and it MUST be warm, but also this helps stabalize the tank temp! Set the temp to around 80 for best results.

You will also need a hurricane glass for the female. This is the glass top part of an oil burning lamp; you can also purchase these seperately in craft departments at stores such as Wal Mart, etc. You can use devices other than an actual hurricane glass, but in this article that’s what it will be referred to as. A column without a top or bottom like this is best because you can easily remove it from the tank without disrupting the bubblenest. But you can use any type of glass bowl or seperator that would allow you to keep the female in the tank but away from the male’s reach. Make sure that whatever you use is taller than the water level so she can’t just swim right out! πŸ˜‰ This is another reason why a half-filled 10 gallon tank is perfect.

Infusoria are microscopic organisms you can culture for the tank just by dropping a lettuce leaf in a jar of water and leaving it in a windowsill for a few days. You’ll see cloudy stuff in the water – that’s them! Use an eyedropper to drop the cloudy water into the tank. You can use Liquifry or Liquid Fry (same thing) drops to the tank – 2-3 drops for a couple days before the spawn, then 1 drop a day until the fry are free swimming, then none at all. Liquifry feeds the infusoria so they will thrive and flourish in your tank. They feed on decaying matter (like the lettuce) which won’t be in a new tank so they must have food to survive. As mentioned in my spawning guide I highly recommend that you cycle your tank before spawning. This provides even more micro organisms to get established that your fry will eat!

2. Plants
Live plants in the tank are needed for two reasons: the male can sometimes use these for his nest base (he must have nesting material to form the nest around to help support it), and plants also offer the female places to hide from the male during courting. Plants like java fern or water sprite are great common favorites. Leafy plants work well also, and these have a second benefit: they provide the male with better additional nesting material. I love to add Pothos plant sprigs to the tank too (this is a non toxic plant often used in terrariums and aquatic setups which requires low light; as with any plant remove dead leaves if any occur). Duckweed covers the surface and is a big mess but is really great for the bubblenest.

3. Nesting Material
Without plants clustering at the surface we must also be sure to add something for the male’s nest base. Some people slit styrofoam cups in half lengthwise and use this. I’ve tried this but have also heard that the nest can stick at the top and fry will stick there after the bubbles beneath burst so just be careful if you use one, to wash the fry off if they get stuck. A small square of bubblewrap will work. Even a (very much cleaned) lid from a mayo jar floated on the surface works. The most natural choice is a leaf. I’ve even used a lettuce leaf. Indian Almond leaves are a popular favorite.

Fish Health

Never, ever, try to spawn fish who are not in good health. Spawning is a stressful enough process for the fish, especially the male, as it is and being in poor health will only put them at a higher risk of being susceptible to diseases and problems. If they’re already sick, they’ll probably die from the process andWe will be very disappointed. So to honor this rule, don’t ever breed new fish unless we’ve had them at very minimum 2 weeks with good conditioning, but it would be better to wait at least 1 month. This allows a quarantine period to ensure they’re healthy, gives them a week to adjust to their new home, then another 2 weeks of conditioning time.

Conditioning and Foods

Good food helps condition your fish. We should feed them good healthy food all the time. But during conditioning we should feed them a little bit extra. This can help induce the natural spawning instinct. In the wild they will stockpile food when it’s available, then use the stored up energy to undergo the strenuous process of spawning. They don’t really have time to leave their nest to go hunting food in the wild, due to the need to protect those delicate little fry from predators, you know. So helping them bulk up a bit will help kick this instinct into gear.

Note that when we feed pellets, overfeeding can be dangerous because these things swell up inside the fish. Be careful what foods we condition with, please. See below:

Live foods are best. When conditioning, live worms are great. If we can’t get live, frozen foods are my second suggestion. Blackworms, bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia are just a few selections. Variety is really the key! A high protein diet is also good during conditioning (during normal feeding you need to vary it more) so for this reason frozen bloodworms make a wonderful conditioning food.

The Spawning Process

It is our choice whether we cycle the tank before we spawn or not, although I highly recommend that you do for so many reasons. At this stage, it is applicable to note that the water will be able to more easily hold a bubblenest since it will be aged. Place the male in the tank for about day, then place the female in the hurricane glass in the tank. He will flare and dance for her and should start to construct a bubblenest.

Give him a day or two to get this done, and when he’s at least started one remove the glass and let them swim together. During this courtship he may chace and nip her (and sometimes vice versa!) and it is normal and fine for the female to want to hide. She will come around and start checking out his nest and he will flare more for her. Just leave them alone together for about 3 days as long as he does not cause any heavy damage to her (missing scales, damage to the eyes or etc; too much damage to the fins: down to the spines or large chunks missing are bad, some small chunks missing are usually going to happen). 3 days is usually enough but we can leave them in for a week or maybe even 2 if they are peaceful until spawning occurs.

When they’re done and we see eggs in the nest (seen by shining a flashlight underneath; they will be milky white spots), he will chase her away from the nest in most cases and then it’s time to remove her. Some females will actually help the male put the eggs back into the nest as they fall. Sometimes it may look like they’re eating the eggs, and there’s a chance they could, but usually they’re just tending the nest and putting the eggs where they go. Don’t fret if the female does snack on a few she manages to get… they will wrap quite a few times and produce additional fertile eggs. Making sure the pair isn’t hungry before they spawn might help prevent snackers!

It’s funny but true that not all pairs like each other or want to spawn with each other! Bettas are actually quite intelligent fish and each one has its own quirks. So always have a backup pair conditioned and ready in case this occurs. You can try changing out the fish who isn’t cooperating as expected, or you could try the whole process over again with the new pair. Experiment, and have fun with it. Remember that it’s not only a learning process for you, but also for the fish.

Take time to step back and enjoy. After all, betta fish breeding is a hobby and we should be able to enjoy it. If we’ve done our research and preparation, we should have plenty of time to sit back and watch the fruits of our labor! πŸ™‚ Enjoy this time while you have it, because you will need to spend lots of time soon on maintenace.

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