Betta Breeding 2010
 Aqualand’s inside look at how bettas breed

 
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Betta Breeding Factoids

Housing

Half-filled 5.5-gallon aquarium with home-made glass divider

Female Security

Hurricane lamp glass chimney

Temperature

76F.  80F would be better.  Went up to 78F.
Male Selection Picked one from line up with a bubblenest

Female Selection

Picked one with obvious egg tube showing.

Conditioning Food

Live California blackworms

Water

Aged Des Moines water from an oscar tank
Bubblenest Helper Floating watersprite plant
Fry Food Infusoria started earlier
Follow up Food Microworms restarted

Prologue:

Maria Lígia Conti, São Paulo, Brasil, May 1,, 2010
Well, I don't figure -- how do they mate if they are fighters? ?And in Nature, are they lonely poor things? -- so cute and no friends...

A:  It's easier to show you how they mate than to explain, so I'm taking some photos to get the info across.  This may take a week or so.  LA
PS 
You can watch their progress at Betta Breeding 2010.

LA
Each male lives in his own separate quarters with a bit of Java fern.

Selecting of Your Breeders:  It's fairly easy to choose a male when you have a large line up to choose from.  We only have a few females to choose from so our female is larger than our male.  Sometime larger females choose not to cooperate,  She's big enough to whup him if she so decides.

LA
Pick a healthy male that's already building a bubblenest.

What's a Healthy Male:  Look for a male that flares his fins and gill covers at his neighbor (or his reflection in a mirror).  If he has clamped fins or constantly lies on the bottom, don't pick him -- or prepare to condition him for a while.  Give good food (but not too much), exercise (swirling in a round container), and mirror exercise (flare time).  If he's already building a bubblenest, that's a big plus.

LA
Our male star -- a fairly easy choice.  Torn or weird shaped fins are in no way a disqualification.

LA
Well, we didn't have a lotta females to choose from.  She's a little larger than we'd prefer.

What's a Healthy Female:  Look for a full abdomen and there's a hard to see breeding tube to look for.  Usually these are easier to see when she's full of eggs.  Torn fins are immaterial -- as long as they've healed.  This is a "Cambodian color," so she has no black in her body.  Regular betta females often show a black stripe most of the time.  In the presence of a male, they will show vertical bars indicating their willingness to breed.  No such clues on this female.  

LA
Short delay to introduce an infusoria culture.

First Fry Food:  If you intend to raise your betta fry, you will need an infusoria culture, maybe several.  You need to get your infusoria culture(s) going about three weeks before you pair up your breeders.  See Infusoria for details.

LA

Second Fry Food:  As your fry grow, they will need larger foods.  Newly hatched Brine Shrimp work best.  Microworms work almost as well.

LA

Adult Food:  We conditioned our breeders on live California Blackworms.  Yes, I know they look red, but they are called blackworms.

LA
The honeymoon suite -- a 5.5-gallon aquarium half filled with aged water.

Breeding Quarters:  You don't want lots of room.  And you want the new couple to see each other to increase their urge to merge.  The female's housed in a hurricane lamp's glass chimney.  You can lift it out without raising or lowering the water level.  This helps protect his bubblenest.  That small bit of foliage in there is a piece of Java fern which we keep in most of our male's containers.  It grows very well in limited light situations.  There is no filtration because it breaks up the bubblenest.

Why Half-Filled?:  Shallow water makes it easier for the male to locate and gather the eggs.  Ditto with the bare bottom.  Shallow water also makes it easier to add infusoria-containing water.  (You will be adding more daily once the eggs hatch.)  Again, no filtration during the breeding process.

Foods During the Process:  To help control unwanted bacteria, you'll want to feed limited quantities or clean the bottom often.  Mystery snails make a great clean up crew.  If you feed live foods, you have fewer clean up problems.  Our breeding pair dined on live California blackworms.

LA
Bit of a bubblenest here at the beginning.

LA
So we added more foliage to help save more bubbles.

Bubblenest Helpers:  In the wild this guy would collect his bubbles under a floating leaf.  You can use a floating convex anything -- like a plastic lid.  Here we've added watersprite because it's prettier.  You can also cover the tank top with Saran Wrap to hold in the humidity.  Or all of the above.

LA
The male flares and dances to impress his future mate.  Note the female's breeding tube.

Building Their Enthusiasm:  He will constantly display in front of her to get her in the mood.  When you see a breeding tube as prominent as hers, you know she's probably ready.  Occasionally a female will expel her eggs prematurely, so we want to get them together as soon as possible.  Unfortunately, the male is not putting much energy into nest building.  He's more of a dancer than a home builder.  He's young.

LA
Our male constantly flares for the female.

LA

LA

LA

LA
One day later, he's put much more effort into his bubblenest.

LA
Top view.  Lots more effort.  He will continually add to his efforts.

LA
We removed the chimney and now he tries even harder.

LA
She's checking out his nest -- and she's not impressed.

LA
He flares in front of her trying to entice her into his specially built private boudoir.

LA
She checks it out but is still not totally sold.

LA
Still a ways to go.

LA
She's looking a little beat up.  Probably about ready to give up.

LA
He, on the other hand, still looks fresh as a daisy.

LA
He eventually buils a very nice bubblenest.

LA
Still no eggs.  We may need a different female.

Bit of a Bump in the Road:  I take Tuesdays off.  So naturally, the pair spawned on Tuesday.  So I missed the action and just came back in time to see the cleanup crew cleaning up.  One of our troops had added flake food and so I had droppen in a couple of mystery snails to clean up the floor of the tank.  Bad move.  Here's what I saw when I returned on Wednesday:

LA
One of the mystery snails ate the bubblenest.

An Unexpected Marauder:  This varmint decided to make a funnel and consume the bubblenest.  Since the male and female were both depleted, it was time to call in the second team.  Same set up and parameters.

LA
Young male half-moon betta on the job.

LA
Long-fin blue female.  Note the quite visble breeding tube.

LA
Note the bars starting to show on her body.  She's readier than he is.

LA
No real bubblenest yet, but he puts plenty of energy into displaying.

They Did not Agree:  They pretty much tore each other to shreds.  So we kept her and put in a new quarterback to complete the play -- a roundtail..

LA
Our new (take no prisoners) Romeo.

LA
She's still loaded with eggs so we left her in there.

LA
They do their thing (at last).  Unfortunately, they ate the eggs.  So we're giving everyone a week off.

Not Every Pair Works:  We might re-visit the breeding process at a later date.  Right now we're taking pictures of some new bettas.  LA

LA
New double tail female.

LA
New male.

LA
Same guy and his reflections three hours later.  He's an enthusiastic "bubbler."

LA
Sha almost has the bars we're looking for.

LA
This is the change we're looking for in a willing female -- starting with a horizontal stripe ...

LA
... same female developing the vertical bars.

LA
Impressive nest.

LA

LA

LA

LA

LA

LA

LA
Once they begin swimming, feed them infusoria straight out of the culture jars.

LA
After a week or so, start feeding them newly hatched brine shrimp ...

LA
... and/or microworms.

The Hard Part's Over:  Baby bettas are very small.  They will not eat finely ground flake food.  Betta fry needs a food that twitches to attract them.  They need infusoria first.  Then move them up to brine shrimp and/or microworms.  Brine shrimp work best.  Betta fry can't eat the whole shrimp at first.  They just grab one of their swimmerets and bite them off.  Somewhere around three or four months you can convert them to shredded adult brine shrimp or beef heart.

Last Words:  You can keep your young bettas all together at first.  Sooner or later, some will start to argue and want to spar.  It's best to sort those out and house them separately.  Once you house them separately, you won't be able to house them together again.  Some times even the females turn pugilistic.  LA


© 2010  LA Productions
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