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Breeding Bettas

    In early July 2004, I decided to breed my male and female betta.  I also decided to keep a record of the important events.  This is that record.

6   Conditioning begins. Female moved to 1 gallon jar, male in 1 gallon tank. Male makes bubble nest for first time. Conditioning involves feeding a high protien diet. Blood worms, sun dried shrimp, brine shrimp, insect larvae, etc., are used as foods. Also during this time, water is changed 50% daily to keep ammonia levels as good as possible. 1 gallon tank has a ugf for filtration. A large apple snail is added to produce infusoria.

11   Female moved to 1 gallon tank. Male moved to 3 gallon sterilite container that will be used for breeding. It holds 4" of water. Since 5" is the maximum depth of the water, this should work. 50 watt heater is placed in the tank and placed on a timer. The thermostat on the heater is set for 76F and the timer turns it on for 20 minutes per hour, every hour. This tank has a homemade sponge filter with a sponge that has been kept in the filter of a well-established tank. The top is covered tightly with plastic wrap, held on with clothes pins.

16   Temperature in the 3 gallon is turned up to 80-82F. A cup that has been cut top to bottom, leaving the bottom, has been taped to the side of the container with the bottom out in the water and the top of the cup at the edge. This is where the male makes his nest. Green water is created by placing water outside in a container with organic material (grass or vegetable leaves that have never had chemicals on them). This water will be food for babies for their first week.

19   Snail is removed and replaced with ramshorns after it is seen messing up the bubble nest. Just before midnight the female is transfered to the 3 gallon with the lights out. This will prevent the two from seeing each other until the sun comes up.

20   From posts on About Freshwater Aquariums forum: 7:30 PM- The female was introduced last night. It has taken all day, but the male has 1/3 of a cup bubbled. The female looks miserable, but he has only chased her a few times that I have seen. He flares at her, and then blows about 3 - 10 bubbles. 11:14 PM- Well, the bubble nest is getting bigger. I would say about 75% of the cup area is filled now. I had to turn off my homemade sponge filter because it was disturbing it too much The female's fins look terrible, but she is still alive in a top corner. I just hope he don't kill her before it is over. I was, unfortunately, unable to keep her in the tank in a container. I made a device with an open top, but forgot that it had to be taller than the water level for her to get air. When I took it out, she hid in the plants, and it was late last night, so I just turned the lights out and hoped they wouldn't mind starting a day early. Looks like they did. They are both free in the box, and the lights are out and curtans open.

21   From posts on About Freshwater Aquariums forum: 8:12 AM- Now she is sitting on the bottom breathing fast. Still very little has been done to the nest. 11:50 AM- It only took 2 days, but they are laying eggs and he is putting them in the nest. No eating that I can see! I had to get Ronnie Milsap to help out. The male couldn't see the eggs, so I put the old record cover under the box. It is a really dark color, execpt the 80's red light glowing on his hair. :) I am very happy. Now I have to wait until they hatch. I have green water waiting for them, though. 7:14 PM- He has been grabbing them from the nest, and it looks like he is spitting them back up into it. I can see them well because they are all in a little spot at the side. Is it possible he is eating them and I need to remove him, or is it better to take the chance? 10:15 PM- I moved him. He was eating them, not spitting them back. There is about 20-25 eggs now, about half of what there was this evening. I hope at least a few hatch. I really don't care about looks or gender, I just want to see babies! :)

22   From posts on About Freshwater Aquariums forum: 6:50 PM- I just saw something come down from the egg area about 1/4", then right back up. Possible baby?

23   From posts on About Freshwater Aquariums forum: 9:39 AM- I have over a dozen babies at the top. Maybe 15-20.

25   From posts on About Freshwater Aquariums forum: 6:39 PM- Well, they all swam off into the hornwort, so I haven't seen many of them. They are still quite small, I don't know if they will be able to eat brine shrimp yet, but I will see. I have some hatched, if they can't eat them, I'm sure their parents and other fish will. :) This morning, there were still some head up, but they have all turned right and are swimming now, as far as I can see. At the last count befor they scattered, there were 25-30. I've been doing daily 50% water changes, and they are in a little more than 2 gallons. Heat is staying at 80-82. Ammonia has gone to 0, nitrite is just under .25, and nitrates are present. I am thinking the sponge and airstone I added are cycling the tank for them well. The water isn't full of infusoria as I expected, but there is some in there when I look under the microscope.

26   From posts on About Freshwater Aquariums forum: 12:36 AM- Nitrites are down to 0ppm now in the fry tank. The female is looking almost completely healed, so she may go back to the regular tank in a few days and the male can return to the tank she is in...I don't think they were eating the shrimp. Some of them looked fat, but not orange.8:19 PM-


Ok, to the left under the lamp is the 1 gallon tank where the female is and was conditioned. To the right is the bottles of flake, dried, and freeze-dried foods and the chlor out. In the middle is the 3 gallon sterilite box. You can see parts of the fish, the heater, the thermometer, the air stone, the cup, and a little pvc tube. Those are clothes pins holding plastic wrap onto the top of the box. I also use them to clip air tubes to buckets when I change water, or to pinch the tube to keep water in it.

30 From posts on About Freshwater Aquariums forum: 6:22 PM- Last night I had the fatest little bettas I'd ever seen. They were red, too.

2   From posts on About Freshwater Aquariums forum: 12:35 AM- How much will they eat? They get so fat I'm afraid they will bust, but they are always down to normal in the morning. Stupid me has it fixed so the new batch comes in in the evenings, so I only feed them from 3 pm to 11 pm. I am hoping they can still eat infusoria in the mornings. I've been having lots of left overs, so the fish in the 29 gallon are having shrimp every day. :) And they did hatch. I don't think the tube got too wet, just a little moisture. That order of supplies should be in soon...I think I am going to start making a journal of all of this using the posts I have put on here. I might start on that tomorrow. I have to get that uploaded to my Aquarium Group as a new page...I am starting to see a real difference in appearance from what the danio fry looked like. For one thing they are growing faster thanks to the shrimp and water changes...opps, I have to do that first thing in the morning. But it is cycled so it won't be too bad I hope. Anyway, they look more like guppy fry than danio fry did. I guess that would be expected though, wouldn't it. :)

3   Today I tried to feed crushed shrimp flakes. I am not really sure how much they ate of them.

14 They are doing ok.  Last night I thought I saw a flare from one of them, but probably not.  They are getting fins, but it looks like female fins so far.  I have no idea what they look like as they develop, which is the main reason I wanted to raise them in the first place.

15 Less than a month old, they have been eating crushed shrimp flakes for a week now.  Some of them are growing quickly, and have reached nearly 1/4 of an inch.  Others are about 3mm shorter and are growing slowly.  This is probably the point when some people would cull the runts.  I will not be doing that because I have enough room to keep them for now.  They are still in the 3 gallon sterilite.  They have a real sponge filter I got from drsfostersmith.com that seems to work well.  I now have a picture of the male. I was never able to get a good picture of the female because she moves too much. :)


18 I counted my fish and came up with 20.  There are probably more than that, but they like to swim behind the sponge filter, heater, and all of that hornwort.  Today, I fed them crushed flakes and they came to the top to eat them.  This was the first time they came to the top to eat.  I was very happy to see that.

26 Today, I finally got a 10 gallon tank ready to move the betta babies into.  It is on an old sewing machine with really good supports.  I filled it half way with fresh water last night.  This morning  I moved half the water by vacuuming the bottom to get the mulm, the sponge filter, the heater, and hornwort from the 3 gallon box, and a bag of gravel I have had in my main tank's power filter into the 10 gallon.  Then I removed the babies to a bucket with water from the 3 gallon box with a cup.  I then poured the rest of the water into the 10 gallon, and slowly added the babies.  This was no more than a regular water change for them as far as water conditions are concerned, in my opnion. 

    I then began thinking of which plants I was going to put in.  I have only a small amount of gravel, so I can't do much.  I have added 2 mini flourecent 6500K screw-in lights to the tank.  They are already eating bbs, so they must be ok.

     I observed two interesting things, both related to the hornwort.  First, when I removed the hornwort to the tank, I got my first count of the fish from above.  It was closer to 35 than 20!  I have nearly 15 more babies than I though, most are still runts.  Well, had 15 more, not it is 14.  The other interesting thing was that I saw the biggest fry eating the smallest.  Without the amount of hornwort throughout the levels of the tank, I guess they small ones had nowhere to hide.  I quickly tied some down with thread and a rock.

29 I did my first water change since moving the babies.

31 Today I noticed that there have been several strange deaths of the medium-sized bettas.  The cause is not known, but it could have been an attack.  I figure the biggest will be ok, and some of the mid-sized ones are starting to get bigger, but the smaller ones are becoming lunch.

1   I haven't seen any more dead babies.  I did see the biggest one is starting to get red fins.

19 The biggest one is getting redder now.  I think the fins are growing longer, too.  I still can't tell if any are males.  The smaller ones have either grown or disapeared.  I suspect they were eaten, but don't know for sure.  They could just be good hiders.  The most I have been able to count at once was 13, but I figure there are at least 5 more that were in the plants.  I added more gravel to the tank.  The plants are growing well.  I do weekly 25% water changes.  I should probably do more, but I always forget.  I will try to remember to do one tonight.  I have been feeding brine shrimp and crushed flakes and they all like to eat.

3   I did several water changes this week, until the city worked on the water lines and I was worried about adding that water.  Tomorrow I will have time to do a water change using water from our private well.  The red male is looking more and more like his father.  There are others that are also starting to look like males.  It is going to be very hard to decide which to keep and which to give away.  I already have promised two people bettas.

13 I finally got some pictures.  They aren't good, though.  I have to thank my sister for letting me use her digi cam, even though she didn't know it at the time. :)


24 Yesterday I gave away 3 of my bettas.  The others seemed to still be biting each other a lot, so I still need to separate more of them.  I have also decided that this went so well that I am going to try it again next june.

(As of August 30, 2011, I never tried it again.)