In this article, I’m going to share with you a method that has been proven effective in breeding desirable and healthy Bettas—without putting their health at risk.
You may be surprised by how many times the same basic strategy works! And don’t worry: It’s perfectly normal for your first attempts not always produce desired results or end up being ideal conditions.
Set up your Betta Tanks
Ideally, the breeding tanks are located in a secluded area of your home, where they will remain undisturbed.
Tanks usually need to be at least 10 gallons and should be reserved for just this purpose. Keep them simple: You won’t want to decorate these with plants and such as the Bettas will likely damage them.
Let’s move on to stocking the tank.
Betta Fish Breeding Tank Setup – Buying Equipment
You are going to need the following equipment for each tank:
One Betta fish (Male or Female) that is at least 6 months old. You can get them from a local pet shop if you don’t have any Bettas of your own. “Wild” Bettas caught in ponds and streams cannot be used because they carry diseases and are not raised in safe conditions.
This is a one-way device that you attach to the air tube to prevent the water from draining out of the tank through the air tube.
Bettas come from shallow waters where they cannot get enough oxygen, so an airstone will provide them with plenty of air, just as they would have in nature.
The airstone pump goes into this to provide an easy air source for the Betta fish.
PH testing kit
This is a test kit that will tell you what kind of pH level your water has.
Water testing kit
A water test kit that will tell you if there are any dangerous contaminants in the water.
This is an optional item, but it can help you track temperature changes during breeding season.
Airline (air hose)
You need this to attach everything together. Just make sure that your check valve is attached to the air tube before you attach it to an airstone pump or else your tank will leak.
This is necessary if you plan on breeding Bettas during cold weather, as they cannot survive in water that is less than 77° F (25° C). If this is a problem, you may need a backup heater, too.
Seasoned sponge filter
This will assist in aerating your tank and keeping the water clean.
The pH level should be between 6.8 and 8.5 (neutral). If it is not, you need to add this yourself; the Bettas will not survive in acidic or basic water for very long.
Betta Fish Breeding Tank Setup – Setting Up The Tanks Themselves
The water in the tank should be at least 2” (5 cm). You can use tap or bottled water , depending on your local environment. If you are unfamiliar with the quality of your city’s tap water, consider investing in bottled water.
It is not necessary to use treated tap water unless you are planning on breeding Bettas during extreme weather conditions. Treating the tank with an appropriate dechlorinator is already sufficient for most situations.
You should also test your water quality with a basic test kit before introducing fish into the tank , especially if it’s your first time setting up a Betta breeding tank. Most test kits will tell you about the following:
Temperature pH level Ammonia and nitrate levels Hardness Total dissolved solids (TDS)
A typical tap water can have a pH level between 6.5 and 7. The closer to neutral, the better. If there is a problem with
Choosing The Perfect Betta Breeding Pair
When choosing Bettas for breeding purposes, you are looking for the following characteristics :
Unblemished scales. The perfect Betta will have full-body coverage and no missing scales or spots of any kind.
Clear eyes. Look at the eyes of the fish; they should be clear and not swollen or cloudy in appearance (except if your Betta is sick or has recently had some kind of illness).
A healthy appetite. A good breeding Betta will always be hungry and never miss a meal. If your fish doesn’t eat, it may not survive long enough to reproduce.
Choosing A Female Betta Fish
When choosing a female for breeding, it is best to choose one that has never been pregnant before. This is because Bettas are susceptible to infections after giving birth or being bred. A new fish will be healthier overall and will not be as open to disease.
Female Bettas are typically skinnier than their male counterparts; they can also be slightly smaller in size. A healthy female Betta will have full-body coverage on her scales, clear eyes, normal fins, and a rounded belly that is full of eggs.
Choosing A Male Betta Fish
After deciding on your female Betta, it’s time to decide which male you are going to breed with her. It is best to go back to the pet shop where you bought your female and buy a new male that they have for sale. The reason for this is that Bettas that are already be breeding will still eat their own offspring. You can also choose a random male from your local pet store if you want.
A good way to see if a Betta may be interested in breeding is by watching how he reacts to other fish around him.
If they are swimming around the tank like crazy, you know that they are ready to breed.
A male Betta is more likely to fight with other Bettas when he wants to breed; this is good if you already have a female in your tank.
A male Betta’s colors will be more vibrant and his fins will flare (open up) when he is interested in breeding.
A male Betta’s fins should be, at most, slightly ragged. This is because they are the result of natural wear and tear. If your male has frayed fins that have no color to them, he may have an illness or genetic problems.
Breeding Betta Fish
How To Create Perfect Breeding Conditions For Your Bettas
The first thing to do is make sure that you have plenty of clean water for the fish. Change at least 40% of the water every day; bacteria builds up faster in small spaces, so keeping your tank clean is really important.
If your Bettas are being shy about breeding, try increasing the temperature, which can help them become more affectionate.
As well, the general rule for Betta tank size is 1 gallon per one inch of fish length or 10 gallons for every inch of fish length. So if your Betta is 6 inches long, you need a 60-gallon tank to breed him/her in. However, this rule does not apply to Bettas at all; because they require so much room to swim in, keeping them in a small tank is not recommended.
Bold Bettas can be kept safely in a community tank with other fish species, but timid Bettas may get scared away from their breeding cave and become injured if other fish are too large or too aggressive.
All of these tips will help you with getting your bettas to breed, but there are some other things that they need for breeding purposes.
A water temperature of 78-80 degrees is best for breeding Bettas . Temperature can be controlled by having a heater in the tank or using an aquarium thermometer to measure the water temperature.
Bettas will need an air pump that can sustain life for them if they get trapped in the cave. An air stone is also suggested because it keeps oxygen levels high.
The water needs to be smooth because Bettas like to dart around their tank, an aerator will help scare fish away if you want other fish in your tank, but it won’t scare Bettas away, so they won’t disrupt the breeding process.
Bettas will also need a cave to breed in. You can buy them at any fish store, or you can make one yourself. A good cave for breeding is one that will be large enough for both Bettas; however, some experts believe that too large of a cave can cause Bettas to injure each other. First, you will need a jar or any other cylindrical container that is at least 2 inches in diameter and 4 inches tall with plenty of air holes drilled in it.
How to Add the Female to the Breeding Tank
Next, you will need to add your female Bettas. Females are typically larger after they have been through the breeding process.
Adding a female is as easy as putting it in with the male Betta and waiting until they breed. However, if she does not want to go into the cave or attack him, try using a net to gently guide her into the cave. If you try to force her into the cave, she may injure herself or kill your male Betta.
It is very important not to disturb the fishes while they breed; after all, Bettas are solitary creatures and like their privacy. It is best to give them time alone until they come out of their caves. If you are breeding your fish in an outside tank, make sure that they have plenty of space to hide.
After five to six days the female will become pale and develop some white spotting on some fins. This means that she has spawned. You can then take her out of the tank.
How to Introduce the Male to the Female Betta
Now it is time for the male to mate with your female. To do this, you will need a jar or any other cylindrical container that is at least 3 inches in diameter and 6 inches tall with plenty of air holes drilled in it.
Next, put the female Betta in one end of the tank while putting the male in the other end. Let them breed for a couple of days, and then move the female Betta back with the male.
If they continue to ignore each other, you can try putting another female Betta in and after a few days take her back out and repeat the process until your pair starts breeding with each other.
After a few days , you will notice that the female Betta has gotten considerably larger and her color has become duller. This means that she is heavily pregnant, and after another day or two she will start to get white spots on some of her fins.
This is all the information that you will need to know about breeding Bettas . Just remember these steps, and you should have no problems breeding your own Betta fish.
The Bubble Nest
After two to three days , the male Betta will start making a nest out of his bubbles . He will build this nest on the side of your cave, so you may need to help him by providing another surface for him to attach it.
The female will also start laying eggs after two or three days. She is only able to lay between 15 and 40 eggs per day, so do not get your hopes up for a high number of new Bettas. You can tell when she is about to lay an egg because her stomach will turn bright red .
Cover Your Tank With Plastic Wrap
When your female Bettas lay their eggs, you can cover the tank with a plastic wrap to cut off the oxygen supply. This will prevent bacteria from getting into the water during spawning and also help stop other fish from eating the eggs while they are unfertilized.
You should only leave them under the plastic for 24 hours because after this time they will no longer be fertile.
After you take the eggs out of the tank, leave them under a light for two or three days to keep them from rotting. Then you can either put these eggs into a new tank and let them hatch, or just throw them away .
If You Add a Second Female
Now that you have set up a breeding tank, the only thing left to do is add a second female to help keep your male entertained. The ideal number of females for your breeding tank is two so that they can take turns at being with the male and spawning . This also cuts down on the amount of water that you have to change after they spawn and lets you keep the tank for a third female if needed.
After a few days, your male will become considerably more aggressive and start following your females around . This is when it’s time to introduce the second fish , so that he doesn’t injure either one of them before she can lay her eggs.
However, once you add in the second female and they become familiar with one anther , the male will not want to leave them alone. This is when it’s best to take your other female away from him for a couple of days before bringing her back into the tank .
Chasing & Biting
Your male will now start chasing your females around the tank, puffing out their gills and fins to look bigger. He makes a lot of noise doing this , so you may want to cover the top of the tank with paper or something else that can hold in some heat .
Keep an eye on him because he might end up injuring himself or one of your females if they are not breeding.
If you see that he is chasing them but they are not interested, then try moving him back to his own tank after a day or two.
However, if they do become interested , then it will only be a matter of time until they start spawning with each other . If this does not happen after a couple of days, then it is unlikely that they will spawn with each other .
If this happens, you can keep trying with them by moving the male back and forth between his tank and the female’s cave. Also be sure to increase his feeding schedule so that he has enough energy to build a bubble nest for breeding purposes.
After a day or two of this, your male should finally be able to convince his female to breed with him . At the end of the laying process, one male will fertilize all of the eggs that were laid by both females .
This is why it was important for you to have a second female in the tank , because otherwise you might end up with a lot of unfertilized eggs and dead fish. You should start to see them spawning within an hour or so, then the male will protect his nest until the fry are about four days old .
The first signs that your female is ready to spawn are that her belly becomes very red , she starts following him around everywhere, and she will let him chase her into the cave. If you see this, then set up a tank to house your fry and remove both of them from the main tank . The next thing that they will do is spawn , which means that they lay their eggs .
The Betta Fish Mating Dance
When you first see them going through this process, it will appear as if they are just darting around each other. However, after a few minutes of this activity, the male will steer her into a cave under some plants . Once they have both entered the cave , she will let him fertilize her eggs.
After he has fertilized all of her eggs , she will start to lay them one by one . After each egg is laid, he will fertilize it and suck the egg mass into his mouth . This way, once they all hatch, there will be food for the fry .
When your female has finished spawning , you need to remove her from the tank. If you leave both of them in there together, then she can eat all of the eggs .
After you have removed her , give your male some time to tend the eggs until they are ready to hatch. Four days later, the fry will be fully developed and you should start testing for their availability. This is when it’s best to move him over to his other tank.
The first sign that they are ready to hatch is that they will start swimming around the jelly lump . When this happens, you should take him out of the tank and scoop out all of the eggs with a turkey baster .
When you have gotten rid of all of them , just pour water into the nest until it’s mostly gone. Then, put your male back into the tank with fresh water and feed him a lot of frozen brine shrimp. This way, he will have enough energy to care for his young when they are born .
Removing the Female Betta Fish from the Breeding Tank
If you have to remove the female from the tank, then you will want to do this as carefully as possible. If she is hiding in a cave or under some plants, then you can use a net to catch her and bring her out of them .
As soon as you catch her, return her to her own tank to prevent her from eating any of the eggs . This is the main reason that you need to have a second female in the tank, because you want one male to fertilize all of the eggs and not two.
When removing your male betta fish from the breeding tank, then try and catch him with a net as well for safety reasons. If you leave him in there, he will continue to guard his nest and could die from exhaustion .
The next thing that you need to do is remove the other female as well. The reason for this is because she will eat all of the eggs if she can get them , so don’t give her any opportunities to do so.
After your male and female fish have been removed from the tank , then you can just give it a good scrubbing to get rid of any dead eggs or fecal material . This will prevent your water quality from getting too low.
After about four days, your fry should start floating up near the top of the tank . When they do this , you should scoop them out with a turkey baster like you did with your male , and put them in their own tank . If you want to, you can also take the eggs out of the nest using this method as well.
Egg Hatching & Caring for the Betta Fry
When the betta fry hatch, they will be pale with dark bands on their body. They won’t actually be able to swim very well, so you need to make sure that you don’t put them in any strong currents .
During this time , they are very vulnerable to getting sucked into a filter or eaten by adult fish , so keep them in a tank that is very peaceful . In this case, a bare bottomed tank with no ornaments works best. If you don’t want to do this, then you should at least secure any large objects so that the fry cannot get underneath them and be sucked into your filter.
During the first week after they hatch , you should give them a constant flow of dark water from the tank made using a siphon . This will help to give them color and make sure that they are getting enough oxygen out of the water .
Feeding time should also be done very carefully, because their bodies are still soft , and they cannot swim away yet. Try feeding them by hand for this reason. If you must use your siphon to get food into their tank , then make sure that the flow of the water is very weak.
After about a week (five days) , your fry will have grown gills . At this point, they are safe from almost all dangers in your aquariums . You should still keep them away from any filter intakes though.
Once your fry are about a month old, then they will be able to swim upwards by themselves . Now, you can put them into a tank with some more advanced betta fish , but make sure that the other stock is around the same size or larger . If you have a lot of fry and only one mature male, then you may have a problem with him eating them .
Feeding the Fry
If your fry are using an air stone as their source of oxygen , then they can eat very small amounts of food . This is because they are able to breathe tiny bits of food particles out of the water.
They cannot eat anything but live foods though, so you should feed them brine shrimp or daphnia . You can also try crushing up flake food into a fine powder , and setting it on the tank bottom. They will pick at this when they get hungry.
When you feed live foods to your fry , then they are not able to eat very often . This is because of the amount of oxygen that it takes for them to digest their food, and one brine shrimp can only provide enough oxygen for eight minutes .
For this reason, try feeding only two or three times per day if you can. If you can’t, then just make sure that the food is as fine as possible, and gets eaten within five minutes or so .
Getting Rid of Unwanted Fry
In some cases , you will have to get rid of any extra fry that you have in your tank . This is because they will eat a lot more food than they can possibly get out of the water , and this will be bad for your adult fish.
If you want to sell them , then your best bet is to put up an ad online or contact a local fish store about adopting them . If you aren’t able to do that though, then there are some other options available.
One way is to start feeding them live food , but only feed them very tiny amounts of it . This will stun the fish, and make sure that they stop growing until you can find someone willing to take them.
Another way is by putting them in their own tank with nothing but some plants . All of the plants should be fake though, because betta fish will eat live plants . In this case, you should add a few very tiny air stones that can release enough oxygen for all of the fish in the tank.
This won’t work with a lot of fry though , because they will be able to escape from low powered air stones. You should only try this if you have at least six or seven fish .
If you have a smaller tank , then you should be able to get it ready for the fry after they are about a week or so old. You will have to have some sort of mesh lid though, because betta fish can jump very high .
The only other problem that occurs with breeding betta fish is when an adult fish eats the fry. This is very dangerous because the adult fish will then become a threat to any other male betta, and it could even attack another female later on . You should watch your male betta carefully during this time , and remove him from the tank if he starts trying to eat the fry.
As you can see, breeding betta fish is fairly easy once you get the hang of it. Just make sure that you have a tank that the fry will be safe in , and then they’ll be able to grow up into healthy adult fish. If you have any other questions about breeding betta fish, then leave them in the comments section below.
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