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Best Method to Successfully Breed Bettas?


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Been researching different ways to breed my Betta fish.. but I'd really love to hear from some people who have successfully went through this breeding process first-hand, please?

What are some good, helpful tips and what are some dos and donts with Betta fish breeding for beginners?

Thank you!

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I am on this journey presently, after having failed a few times and after having bred many other species successfully. Here's a short list:

(1) Be ready with a plan in the event of success.

- Fry will need very small live foods. I culture Banana worms. After they're large enough, I hatch out live Artemia nauplii (baby brine shrimp). 

- You'll need to have a plan to keep the air above the water surface as humid as possible for the first two months. Bettas develop a labyrinth organ (as do other anabantids). If that doesn't develop, they can crash at about 6 weeks.

- Male and female fry can live together for a few months, but male v. male aggression begins to pick up and males need to be separated to grow in isolation. For my males, I plan to use a 20 gal. long with custom cut Darrice mesh dividers. That allows one common filtration system in subdivided sections. I also have a jug rack that I can repurpose if necessary. Females can grow out as a sorority.

(2) Be sure to acquire a healthy male and female pair.

- I am just going with a couple that look close enough to pass. Fry I raise will always look better than adults. I selected a Magenta + Lavender + Silvery-pink looking male. Female is the same, with long fins. You'll easily spot the white egg spot between the ventral fins of a mature female.


(3) You will want to set up an adequate breeding space.

- I use Sterilite -- ca. 15 quart / 3.75-gal tubs that have already long been seasoned, cycled, have kept fish for a long while. I get my clip boxes from WalMart.

- I put my male in one, and my female in another. I have peat moss in the bottom, and Java Moss clumps in both. I float large Catappa leaves for the male to build a bubble nest under.

(4) Ensure that water and air parameters are all good.

- Temperature should be 78-82 F

- Water needs to be covered with a lid or wrap to keep the air above the surface humid. This is crucial for Anabantid fry development.

(5) Prepare the pair.

- Feed with lots of live foods. I use Daphnia and live baby brine shrimp.

- I supplement with a variety of frozen foods. Do not overfeed, but be sure to keep them well fed.

- I put a small hang-on breeding net  cage into the male tub, and add the female there for a few days. She is separated from the male, but easily seen. The male should get excited, and build a bubble nest.

- I leave the light on low, non-stop for the next 72-96 hrs. Maybe even longer. This is because fish sometimes “snap” when lights go completely off, and forget their parental duties. This is especially helpful when breeding Angelfish, BTW. Everyone wonders why they eat their eggs. This is one possible reason.

(6) When ready, add the female.

- Male should have built up a full Bubblenest before a female is added.

- Some females will clearly indicate they are “ready” by displaying vertical bars along their sides. However, due to massive ornamental breeding techniques, the wild-caught appearance of many females has been overshadowed by iridescent scales that keep this signal from being easily seen.

- Bear in mind that once she is added, he may be very brutal towards her for the next few days. I do keep some added plants in there for her to hide (Wisteria, Indian Swampweed).

- Limit distractions, lights, shadows, stresses for next few days.

- Keep the lid on full. You want to maximize humidity -- especially tricky in the winter months. 

- Minimize any airflow (they're Anabantids . . . they can breath air from the surface). This requires a very seasoned, fully cycled breeding tank because the flow will be low and aerobic bacteria colonies that convert ammonia to nitrite and nitrite to nitrate will be low on O2 for a while. I do keep _very, very light_ air flowing through the tiny sponge filter, and through an airstone. Just enough to keep bacterial scum from covering the surface of the water, but light enough that the bubblenest is never in danger. I will add that having peat moss as substrate and Catappa leaves on surface will tend to lower pH, which (along with temperature) may affect the sex-ratio of fry.


The pair should bond and spawn within 48 hrs. Once they have spawned, and the male is guarding the nest, the female needs to be removed. Male stays in until enough fry are free-swimming that it is obvious they are viable. Because the Sterilite bins I use are shallow, there is not too much concern about fry falling away from the surface. I remove male to a separated area in the female tank (I use the breeder net). Fry are fed banana worms, and Artemia. I do not overfeed, and try to change water a fair bit. To set up a water change system . . . I am also trying to preserve the air moisture as much as possible. So, I will be hand-drilling small holes in the top to insert pieces of rigid airline through. These I'll attach to normal airlines, and siphon out stale water / add fresh water with large syringes. I will also use the rigid airline end to feed the worms and Artemia.

Here are videos and photos from my most recent set up...




I'll add that the Catappa leaves produce a degree of tannin (the tinted water). But I also use pure Rooibos Tea bags to get a desired tint. 

Here's one of my Daphnia tank set ups...

Here's a look at some of my miniature nematodes for feeding fry...

And here's how I hatch out baby brine shrimp...


Edited by Fish Folk
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