Breeding Betta Fish – The Challenge!

The betta fish is among the most popular freshwater aquarium fish. Bettas are known as the “jewel of the orient” because of their brilliant colors. The males particularly sport long, flowing, beautiful fins. As a result, bettas in pet stores are usually males. People like the beautiful colors and usually purchase one at a time as “pets”.

These fish are very aggressive. Males readily fight other males. Females may also fight.

Breeding betta fish is often a challenge taken up by betta fans.

1. Separate care of males and females.

It’s necessary to distinguish between adult males and females, but it isn’t always easy to do. It’s important, since two males in close quarters will engage in fish-to-fish combat to the death. They don’t get along very well with most other fish either! Very foul in disposition, aren’t they?

Each male should be kept in his own bowl or tank. Two males in the same tank will usually fight until one is dead. Even a male and female should be together only briefly at spawning. Otherwise the male will often treat the female roughly and do permanent damage.

Several females can sometimes be kept in the same tank, provided there is plenty of room. However, there should be more than two females, otherwise one will dominate and continually chase the other female. Some aquatic plants in the tank make it easier for the fish to maintain some separation.

2. Water conditions.

The betta’s native habitat is the vast, shallow freshwater paddies of Southeast Asia. The fish must have access to the surface of the water, since it takes oxygen directly from the atmosphere as well as through their gills. Since they can get oxygen from the surface, they can survive in smaller spaces and poorer condition than other aquarium fish. The little cups that the fish are purchased in at a pet store certainly aren’t adequate. They actually do best in clean, filtered water.

Male fish are often kept in bowls of about one and one-half gallons without supplemental heat or oxygen. If kept like this, the water should be changed when it becomes cloudy, every one to two weeks. Or you can change about 20 percent of the water every day or two. Then every few weeks completely clean the tank including all the gravel.

The general recommendation is to allow about three gallons of water per fish. With a ten gallon tank three or four females would have plenty of room. It’s recommended to have a minimum tank size of six gallons so a heater can be used. With smaller tanks a heater can cause more temperature variation than the fish can tolerate. The right water temperature is 75 – 84 degrees F. At those temperatures the fish will be quite active.

The fish can also do well at 65 – 75 degrees F, though they will not be as active at the lower temperature. Since they aren’t as active at the cooler temperature, the bowls will stay cleaner.

3. Feeding your breeding betta fish.

Bettas are carnivorous, but can usually do well on food labeled for betta fish. The addition of live or frozen blood worms (mosquito larvae) and live or frozen shrimp brine is recommended. Most aquarium bred fish will also accept dried flaked aquarium tropical fish food.

Some breeders recommend black worms as supplemental feed especially for spawning females. Black worms are Lumbriculus variegatus. The worms can be kept in cool, clean, unchlorinated water. Some breeds of fish do not like these worms, but bettas prefer them.

4. Mating betta fish.

Males bettas build a nest of air bubbles for the baby fish or fry.

For spawning, a female is introduced into the male tank. If conditions are right for mating, the male fish will squeeze the female. Eggs will be expelled, then fertilized by the male. The eggs will float into the bubble nest. The female should then be removed to her tank to prevent her injury by the male fish. Even if spawning does not take place, the female should be removed.

The male fish will care for the eggs until the young emerge in a few days.

5. The fry.

The released little fish or fry are very tiny and vulnerable. Most often they are raised in special ponds where they feed on tiny microscopic living creatures. Some have success raising the fry in bowls or aquariums. But the conditions must be right, similar to the usual pond environment.

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