How to Breed Siamese Fighting Fish
Inside scoop on breeding Betta splendens from Aqualand

 
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LA Pic
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

·         Bloodworms

·         Glassworms

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.

 

LA Pic
When you sort thru a selection of males, you can usually find some already building nests.

LA 
He'll energetically put bubbles into his nest.  This is his first day in the breeding tank.

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.

LA Pic
Look for that white dot between her pelvic fins.  California blackworm behind her.

LA Pic
When she gets her bars (not stripes), she's ready to breed.
LA
Quite ready to breed female betta.

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.

LA Pic
Female bettas showing stripes are not ready to breed yet.  Watch for bars.  Not all show bars.

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.

LA Pic
Ideal setup -- Styrofoam "tent" to protect nest.  Oil lamp chimney to protect female betta.

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.

LA Pic
She's in an oil lamp chimney to protect her from him.

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.

 


LA Pix

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).

LA Pix

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 # 2.5.  Feed Microworms.  Possibly better than Option # 2.  Use same as brine shrimp.  Better, use Option # 2 and # 2.5.  Best, go with Option # 1, then add #2 and # 2.5 two weeks later.

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.

LA Pic
Keep your eyes open for different looking bettas.


Last Words.  Try spawning one of the odder colors.  You may come up with your own strain of bettas.  Right, Derek? 
LA.

© 1998, © 2003, © 2004  LA Productions

Steve Bell, December 21, 2005
I see you have a terrific page on breeding oscars. I have just finished making a double DVD on oscars -- one about keeping oscars (50 minutes) the other is all about breeding oscars (57 minutes). I have also made a DVD about breeding fighters. Both have some amazing footage of the fish spawning and the fry hatching you can see some clips on my site at www.oscartropicalfish.com and www.siamesefighters.com. Perhaps you could put a link on the appropriate web pages of your site? Thanks

A:  Why not?  I hope you get rich.  LA

3600 Sixth Avenue

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