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You can't breed bettas or most fishes on a diet of flakes or pellets.
Natural Foods. Condition your breeders on a variety of foods. In the spring, those tiny earthworms you dig in your garden make one of the best conditioning foods. In the summer, mosquito larvae also work great. (Keep the extras in your fridge or prepare to scratch a lot.) Year-round, the squished-out insides of mealworms are also greedily devoured by potential betta parents.
Frozen Foods. Not everyone wants to emulate Corwin gone wild to capture live foods. So, for convenience, several frozen foods also make excellent choices:
· Tubifex Worms
· Brine shrimp
Canned Foods. Not too many breeders have attempted to breed their bettas on an exclusive diet of the new commercial betta foods. Perhaps they work. Perhaps not. We just don’t know at this time. We know the frozen foods work. And we know the live foods work.
Conditioned Males. Males show their readiness to breed by building a bubble nest. Males in good condition are ready to breed most of the time.
Conditioned Females. Females are full of eggs when you see a white breeding tube showing between their two pelvic fins. Conditioned females often show darker horizontal stripes. They fill with eggs in a week or two if fed a good diet.
Temperature. Condition your bettas at 80o. Bettas also breed best at 80o. You will need a heater unless you breed them only in the summer. In tanks with low water levels, put your heater in a quart jar sitting in the water. Or, use one of the submersible heaters.
Container. Small tanks work best. Use a 10-gallon or smaller tank with four to six inches of water. Use no filtration. Moving water breaks his bubble nest.
Plants Help. Add a large watersprite plant for the male to build his bubble nest under. (Or use half a Styrofoam cup cut lengthwise.) Add bushy plants, so the female can hide from the often over-amorous male. If she cannot get away, he may kill her.
Breeding Process. Do not distract them with food during the breeding process. After he coaxes her under his nest of bubbles (often by biting the heck out of her), he wraps around her and appears to “squeeze” the eggs from her. She drifts off semi-conscious as he gathers the eggs and hides them in his bubble nest. The eggs (unlike most fish eggs) are white. Remove the female once he starts chasing her or you will lose her (and possibly the eggs).
Incubating the Eggs. Betta eggs hatch in 24 to 48 hours. The male carefully replaces any eggs or fry that fall from the nest. Baby bettas cannot swim and will usually die if the male does not care for them. Feed him during this period, so he is not tempted to sample any caviar or fresh baby fish. Once the babies start swimming, remove him from the fry tank. Add a large snail to help clean up scraps.
Option # 1. Feed them Infusoria. Breeders who start their baby bettas on infusoria usually rear 90% of their spawns -- some 400 to 600 babies. Get your cultures started at least two weeks before you set up your breeders. Raise it in non-aerated quart jars filled with aged water. (Ask for Aqualand’s “Infusoria Fact Sheet.”)
Option # 2. Feed Newly
Hatched Shrimp. Breeders who
start their betta fry on newly hatched brine shrimp
will rear spawns about half the size of those who start theirs on infusoria.
Try your hatching methods early so you know they work, and you know your
“eggs” (really cysts) will hatch for you. (Ask for our “Hatching Brine
Shrimp Eggs Fact Sheet.”) For best
results, feed infusoria their first two weeks and start adding brine shrimp
their second week.
Option # 3. Powdered or Liquid Fry Food. You will successfully rear about 5% to 10% of your spawn if you start them on powdered or liquid fry food -- about 50 bettas. Your betta fry don’t eat those foods. Actually, the infusoria naturally occurring in your water eat the bacteria that eat the liquid food, and the baby bettas eat the infusoria. There are just not enough of the infusoria surviving this way to feed many baby bettas. Only the strongest survive.
© 1998, © 2003, © 2004 LA Productions
Steve Bell, December 21, 2005
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