Breeding Betta fish is more than just sticking a male and female Betta together in the same tank and hoping for results; it’s about clever preparation and planning, as well as some small financial outlay. In this article, we will be looking at how to breed Betta fish, how Bettas breed and what you can do to make yours breed successfully, as well as a section on how to raise the fry and selecting the right fish for spawning.
Selecting and conditioning Betta fish for breeding
Before you can breed Betta fish you will need a good pair of Bettas to breed. If you are just thinking about breeding Betta fish and have little experience in keeping them, you must gain experience in keeping Bettas beforehand.
You should select a Betta fish to breed that is healthy, of a good size for their age and not too old, ideally from a reputable dealer. You should also decide what colours you want to be breeding and if you are looking to make money from your Betta fish breeding program, finding out the most popular Betta colours and those that are in the lowest supply are both useful undertakings before setting up your Betta fish breeding equipment.
Once you have selected some healthy male and female Bettas, it’s time to condition them. This is the process of bringing them into the healthiest state possible and ready to breed. This involves keeping the water very clean and free from ammonia, nitrates, nitrites and any decaying matter. You must also ensure their diet contains live food.
Preparing for the fry
That’s right, despite the fact that Betta fish fry are very small, you need to know where you’re going to put them once they appear or else things could get messy. Don’t forget that Betta fish can lay up to 500 eggs in one go, and if only half of these are males, you’ll end up with 250 angry male Bettas cooped up in a small breeding tank, sounds like a massacre.
Caring for Betta fry requires space and you must establish a good fry tank before breeding Betta fish. This ought to be a larger tank with divisions, either made by hand or bought. There are simple tank dividers on sale and your local aquarium store staff should be able to help you. Such a tank can only support your Betta fry if it is filtered, and this should be a sponge filter only, as power filters will mince your fry in their impellers.
Betta fish breeding
Now comes the breeding process. With everything ready, its time to set up a breeding tank and introduce your Bettas to each other. Your breeding tank should be clean and have no substrate. No plants or decorations are necessary either. A gentle sponge filter would be best in this tank. The temperature could do with being a little higher than room temperature in your Betta breeding tank. Some people believe that adding catappa leaves to the breeding tank will encourage Betta fish to breed. This does have some truth in it however it is the antibacterial properties of the leaves and the effect they have on the water that results in better Betta health and therefore leads to reproduction.
You should keep the male and female Betta fish separate, yet in view of each other, with a glass or mesh divider for example, until it is clear that they are both ready to breed. When the male Betta begins to build a bubble nest, you know its time to make some fry. This is the point at which you should release the female Betta fish so that she can mate with the male. Those that have witnessed this process would agree that the Betta breeding ritual can seem a little aggressive when the pair appear to engage in a spot of fin nipping but this is perfectly normal as the Betta pair will soon commence breeding after this ritual.
After the Betta pair have finished breeding
After the breeding has taken place, and when the female has retreated from the bubble nest, you should remove the female Betta and place her in a very clean tank as she will be slightly injured from the breeding process; this is perfectly normal. The male Betta should be kept in the tank with the bubble nest; he will probably continue to pick falling eggs up and reconstruct the nest for a while, and should only be removed when he has finished doing this.
Caring for Betta fry
Before Betta fry have even hatched, you must ensure you have a ready supply of very small food for them. One good food source is a micro worm culture which can be maintained and cultured at home with very little space or effort. Banana eels are also a good source of food, as it egg yolk. Whatever you do, don’t start the process of Betta fish breeding before you are prepared to look after the fry or else they will perish, wasting your efforts.
You can also buy ground up fish food which is satisfactory most of the time but expensive in the long run. An even more effective source of Betta fry food is infusoria. You can make your own infusoria by leaving a jar of water in direct sunlight with some grass cuttings in the water. Believe it or not, this will produce tiny organisms for you to feed your Betta fish fry with. Newly hatched brine shrimp are very cheap and easy to feed to fry as well.
As soon as reasonably possible, you must remove the Betta fry from the breeding tank and place them in a fry raising tank where they wont be eaten by adult fish. Remember only sponge filters and well established sponges.
The space consuming part is when the male Bettas begin to grow to the size at which they become aggressive. At this stage you must separate them, and be prepared to either house over 100 young Betta fish for every breeding pair or cull extensively to keep only the best specimens. It is better to cull deformed fry than to allow them to grow into unhealthy adults. The kindest way to do dispose of Betta fish fry is to put them in a watertight container then freeze them, so that they gradually lose consciousness.
Where to sell your Bettas
Once your Betta fry have grown and they are looking more and more like a fully sized fish, you are going to have to find an alternative home for them. You should think about arrangements with distribution channels, such as your local aquarium shop, or online sales before you breed your Betta fish. Alternatively, given their relative ease of care, you can try selling your Betta fish amongst family and friends, or on local classifieds. Betta fish breeding can be profitable but a lot of space and investment is needed beforehand.