Betta fish are one of the most popular breeds of fish on the planet. They are beautiful pets that make a great fixture in any tank! That being said, breeding them can be very tough. Make sure you do it right, or you could end up with dead fish, sick babies, and a whole lot of wasted money!
So, what are the most important parts of breeding betta fish? Well, the most important things are to have a separate tank for your fry, choosing the right breeding pair, and keeping your water conditions for optimal breeding. However, there are many more important things to pay attention to when breeding betta fish.
Breeding bettas doesn’t have to be super hard, as long as you do it properly and follow the steps outlined below. Read on to find out everything you need to know about how to breed betta fish!
How To Breed Betta Fish
Bettas can be quite difficult fish to breed. Between their aggressive temperament, specific environmental requirements, and the materials necessary for safely and effectively breeding them, there’s a lot that goes into getting started when it comes to breeding betas.
First, you’re going to need to set up your tanks. You’ll need one to use as your permanent Betta tank and one for use as the breeding tank. Separating these is quite important when it comes to efficiently and effectively breeding Bettas.
You’ll also need to choose a pair of bettas to breed. This isn’t as simple as just choosing two fish, as there are specific things you’ll need to look for to get the betta fry that you’re looking for.
You’ll also need to set up optimal breeding conditions, ensure the bettas are fulfilling their roles properly, and ensure the fries are taken care of after birth. This might all seem like a lot, and it sort of is. Luckily, you have this guide! Read along and follow the steps to get started.
Step 1: Set up your Permanent Betta Tanks
First, you’ll need to set up a permanent home for your male and female betta fish. Although it’s commonly said that you can use smaller tanks for bettas, this is actually just a common myth. In fact, betta fish do far better in larger tanks.
Your tank should be at least 5 gallons, but that is still on the small side. The bigger the tank, the better off your bettas will be.
You will also need a filter. Bettas come from still water, but this doesn’t mean you don’t need to filter their tank. A filter will keep their water clean, which in turn will keep your bettas healthy and happy.
You’ll also need a heater. Betta fish come from the tropical waters of Thailand, meaning they like to live in water that is heated to between 78 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make sure that your tank’s bottom is outfitted with small, smooth gravel. Bettas like to swim near the bottom of the tank, so having gravel that won’t hurt or scratch them in any way is a must.
Finally, make sure there is plenty of plants and cover at the bottom of your tank for your Betta. This will give them somewhere to hide and swim in, which fish tend to like.
Remember, this tank isn’t for breeding but is simply for keeping a betta fish in before it’s ready to breed. Keep the male and the female in separate tanks, so they don’t get aggressive with each other.
Step 2: Betta Fish Breeding Tank Setup (Buying Your Equipment)
Next, you’re going to have to set up your breeding tank as well. While your permanent tank is for your adult bettas to swim around in (particularly, it is the territory of the male Betta), your breeding tank will be somewhere for the mating to occur; and then for the fry to exist safely, where the male Betta will not perceive them as a threat.
Get a ten-gallon or so tank separate from your main tank. DO NOT attempt to allow your fry to swim in your male Betta’s main tank once they are free-swimming.
Not only could the male Betta hurt them, but they also prefer different water and tank conditions. This is why it’s the best-case scenario to have them separated. Don’t add substrate to the tank, as the male will have a hard time retrieving eggs out of it.
Until your fries are free swimming, the male Betta is the one who will look after them. Put a submersible 25-watt heater in the tank with a thermometer on it. This will allow you to heat your breeding tank to the optimal temperature.
Make sure to add plants such as Indian almond leaf and Christmas moss to your tank. These will provide proper water conditions and cover for the fry as they grow. You’ll also need lighting, plastic wrap (to increase humidity), and a tank divider to introduce your breeding pair without the risk of immediate hostility.
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Step 3: How to Choose Your Betta Breeding Pair
After you’ve got your main betta tanks and your breeding tank prepared, you’ve reached the most crucial step. At this point, you’re ready to select your breeding pair. Your breeding pair is the most important part of having success with breeding bettas.
First, you’ll have to choose to procure your bettas from either a reputable breeder or a pet shop. This is mostly a question of what you can afford. Pet shop bettas are certainly far cheaper, but your chance of successful breeding drops drastically if you decide to use them.
Still, it isn’t impossible, so if pet shop bettas are all that’s in your budget, for now, that’s fine. However, bettas from a reputable breeder are vastly preferred.
The most important reason to buy from a reputable breeder is that you’ll have access to information about the age and health of your Betta fish. You’ll want to get young bettas, as this is when they breed most successfully. Between 4 and 12 months is ideal, and over 14 months is too old.
First, choose your male Betta. Choose a betta that is energetic and active. This will let the female partner know that he is healthy and not infected with any parasite or illness. Female bettas avoid male bettas they think might be sick because poor immune systems are often inherited in betta fish.
Pick a brightly colored Betta, as females tend to choose these. This is because the brighter the Betta, the more carotenoids he’s eaten. These not only support the immune system but tell the female that he is a capable forager.
Red males tend to perform better with females than blue males do. You should also choose a male with long, undamaged fins, as this is a desirable trait for the female Betta as well.
Next, choose a female betta. Pretty much any healthy female will do! Try to get one that is within the proper age range and has a solid amount of energy. This will tell you that her immune system is solid, and she is ready to become pregnant!
Step 4: How to Create the Breeding Conditions
Creating optimal breeding conditions is very important for ensuring that your bettas will breed properly. Not only will optimal breeding conditions make the breeding process easier to accomplish, but it will also make it safer for your female fish and your fry.
Having the proper conditions is extremely important. Cutting corners may seem like it will save you time in the short term, but in the long run, it might cause significant setbacks, making the breeding process take even longer than it already does.
Place your breeding tank away from any other tanks with bright fish, away from too bright of lights, or any other distractions that might make your fish not pay attention to one another. Try not to be active in the room very often unless you are feeding your fish. Distractions will slow the breeding process down.
Add 3-5 inches of water to your tank. This shallow amount is great for fry to swim up from the bottom and eat without having to move too far. Next, add your sponge filter, your air pump, and your water heater. These will allow you to make your water condition optimal for breeding.
Find out how to help your Betta acclimate in the tank successfully.
Add some almond leaves, moss, and other plants to the tank. These will make the environment comfortable for not only breeding but for the fries that come afterward. Let it sit for around 24 hours. This will allow you to know that your water conditions, especially the heat, are stable.
Step 5: How To Introduce Your Male To Your Female Betta
You’ll want to separate the male and the female at first, as stated above.
Add the female Betta first. Let her get used to the conditions of the water before adding the male. This will take around a half-hour, so be patient!
Next, you’re going to add the male to the other side of the divider. If you don’t have a divider, use a tank with an open-top vase. Allow the male to swim freely either in his section (divider) or throughout the tank (open-top).
Once he notices the female Betta, he will begin extending his fins and deepen his color to attract her to mate. A receptive female will darken in color as well.
Let your bettas settle into the environment of the breeding tank for a bit before lifting the divider. This will get them used to each other’s presence, preventing any aggression. Ensure that your bettas are healthy and active during this period to ensure that the breeding goes well.
Feed both of the bettas live food. This will help support the female’s health leading to an active reproductive system, and give the male carotenoids to make him look bright and healthy!
Eventually, your male will begin to build a bubble nest. Once he starts doing this, you’re getting close. However, leave the fish separated overnight.
Step 6: Breeding Your Bettas
After the nest is built and you have your bettas wait a night, it is time for the breeding to begin! First, release your female. She will probably inspect the nest to make sure that it is up to par. She may swim away or destroy it if it’s not.
Your male will begin to chase your female around the tank once he notices she’s engaged with the nest. This is a sort of mating dance for bettas, so don’t worry, he’s not trying to hurt her.
Make sure that your tank is wrapped in plastic to keep it humid. This will help the health of the eggs and fry that come after the breeding process is complete! A humid tank is best for young bettas to grow in.
The next couple of hours will consist of a lot of chasing and biting. This is very normal but can get more aggressive than it needs to, so keep an eye on your bettas while they are in the process of breeding. This is where the vegetation becomes important. If your female feels like the male is too aggressive, she will need somewhere to hide.
Soon, if all goes well, they will begin to stretch out their fins and swim side by side, flaring their fins at each other and letting each other know that they are ready to breed.
They will then begin to mate, which you should watch to make sure it doesn’t get too aggressive. The male should wrap himself around the female and squeeze a bit but shouldn’t bite her or thrash about in any way.
If the male gets too aggressive, take the female out of the tank as soon as possible. You can let them try to breed again later, but the safety of the female is the most important thing. Your bettas should begin to either float or sink eventually, and the female will begin dropping eggs when she is squeezed by the male.
Step 7: Male Betta Looks After The Nest
The female will spend the next day or so in recovery. Meanwhile, the male Betta will spend his time looking after the nest and the eggs.
Sometimes, he may even build a new nest somewhere else in the tank and move them there. He will spend most of his time looking after the eggs and blowing bubbles, building a nest that will protect them and creates optimal birth conditions.
Some males might eat the fry or the eggs, which can be very annoying and be a major setback. Sometimes this can be him just getting rid of defective eggs, but sometimes it can be eggs that are perfectly fine.
Step 8: Hatching The Fry
Soon, if all goes properly, the fry will begin to hatch. When they wriggle, they might shake the bubbles of the nest loose. The male will hopefully notice, catch them, and place them back where they’re safe.
Eventually, he’ll be darting around the tank, catching fry, putting them back, and looking around the bottom of the tank for any fry he may have missed.
For the first couple of days, the fry will hang their tail down. After those first couple of days, they will start taking their horizontal swimming position, meaning they are almost ready to start free-swimming around the tank.
Once all the fries have begun free-swimming, it’s time to remove the male from the tank. In nature, this is when the male will leave the fry behind. However, in the tank, this can’t happen, so he may simply see them as other bettas that are to be competed with. In this case, he can become a danger to them, so he should be removed.
This is when you should start the live feeding of micro worms, baby brine shrimp, and vinegar eels. These live foods will help them grow strong and healthy.
Are Bettas Easy to Breed?
Bettas are not easy to breed. As you can clearly see from the rather lengthy process above, bettas require a very specific set of steps to breed. There are a lot of very specific steps that need to be taken because bettas are very finicky fish. These specific steps, along with the aggressiveness of this type of fish, make them quite difficult to deal with.
However, as long as you’re careful and very deliberate with each step you take, you should be able to get the job done with no problem. That being said, there are many different things to watch out for when breeding bettas.
Not only do you need to worry about how aggressive they are, but you also need to get two separate tanks, make sure that their water conditions are proper, that the tanks are set up correctly, and that the fish you choose are healthy, young, and ready to breed.
Although it is a lengthy process that requires a lot of effort and care, it’s certainly not impossible! As long as you put the effort in and do things carefully while following the steps above, breeding betta fish is certainly doable, even for beginner fish breeders! So just because they’re an aggressive kind of fish doesn’t mean you have to be intimidated. Do your best!
Here are a couple of frequently asked questions that new breeders tend to ask about breeding betta fish! Read on to find out what they are and the answers!
Q: How Long Does It Take To Breed Betta Fish?
A: Breeding betta fish doesn’t take too long. Overall, the process will take a couple of weeks to a month, but most of this time will be spent waiting. The longest period of time allows the mating pair to grow accustomed to each other, which will take around two weeks.
Q: How Do You Breed Betta Fish Successfully?
A: Breed betta fish successfully by following the steps outlined above. Separate your main take from your breeding tank. Make sure the breeding tank is warm and humid, has plenty of vegetation and light, and is the right kind of tank for bettas to be bred in.
Put the male and female in separately and allow them to grow accustomed to each other. Then, allow them to mate, but watch them closely to make sure it doesn’t get too aggressive. Once the fry starts to hatch and swim freely on its own, remove the male at once.
Q: Can You Cross-Breed Betta Fish?
A: Betta fish can be cross-bred. All the different types of bettas are the same species. This means that they can be cross-bred and mate just fine with one another, no matter what type of Betta each of them is.
There is a lot to think about when it comes to breeding betta fish! It’s certainly not an easy task, especially for breeders who might consider themselves beginners. Still, it’s quite doable, so follow these steps, and you’ll be good to go!
Set up your permanent tank and your breeding tank. Make sure each is set up to be a proper environment for the types of fish that will be living inside of it. Then, choose your breeding pair carefully, making sure to choose the healthiest, most vibrant, and most active fish you can get from a reputable breeder.
Introduce the male and the female separately, let them get accustomed to one another, and then let them breed. Remember, patience is key in this process, and rushing it can lead the bettas to be more aggressive than you’d want. They’re quite aggressive fish by nature. Rushing will only lead to setbacks, which will make things take longer in the long run.
Overall, breeding bettas is difficult but rewarding. The process is slow but can be quite lucrative if done correctly. Whether you’re breeding for fun or for profit, carefully following the steps above will yield the healthiest, most vibrant, and most beautiful bettas you can get!