Breeding Betta Fish is task that is more difficult than it sounds, so you need careful instructions on how to do this. Many Betta Fish books dedicate entire chapters to breeding, in fact there are entire books just about breeding properly. So be prepared for some work if you are serious about this, otherwise its something I actually don’t recommend the casual fish owner to try.
If you already have a male and female Betta and have put them together its possible things might happen on their own. But if you’re not at this step yet here’s some important tips to keep in mind:
- First: get your Betta Fish from a breeder. Assuming your breeding to sell some of your betta fish you want as pure a breed as possible. Fish you get from the local pet store might be exactly as advertised. And fish from a breeder will generally be much healthier than a pet store fish. You wouldn’t breed a dog from the dog pound, would you?
- Breed with young fish: preferably less than a year old fish is perfect for the task. Betta’s from a pet store are probably a year or older, and its tough to know. So again getting your Betta’s from a breeder if you are going to breed is a great idea.
- Healthy Large Male – make sure it’s bigger than the female, males Betta’s prefer it this way
- Breed the same strain of Betta’s- don’t try crossing breeds or strains, you’ll have better luck keeping it the same breed
- Increase your odds - some people will get a few females and males before starting the process since they have to find the right “match”, and don’t want to be disappointed if for some reason the male and female aren’t interested in each other
Here is your “action plan” for Breeding Betta’s. This covers the basics, if you are interested in more details on how to breed Betta fish I’ve put some book recommendations on breeding at the bottom of the article.
- Get a Breeding Tank – get a 10 gallon tank, set it up in the same manner as your regular Betta Tank. Make sure it has a heater and is about 80-82 degrees before you start. Adding a plant or decorations is actually helpful, just don’t add any tank gravel. For instructions on setting up a betta tank read our article: Betta Aquarium Setup in 4 Easy Steps.
- Get your male Betta “in the mood” - Betta fish are carnivores and love either live or freeze dried blood worms, brine shrimp or other food high in protein. Start feeding this to your male betta around 2 weeks before you want to start breeding (this should be around the time you start setting up the breeding tank).
- Place the male Betta in the breeding tank – place the betta in a cup of his own tank water. Float the cup in the breeding tank to get the temp to normalize. Add some water from the breeding tank and let the Betta adjust for a half hour or so. Then pour the betta from the cup to swim freely in the breeding tank
- Place “the girl next door” – you don’t immediately add the female betta to the breeding tank. Instead you place the female in its own tank next to the breeding tank so they can check each other out.
- Look for “magic” - if the male is interested in the female he should “flare” at her within a few hours. If he doesn’t, or worse she flares at him its probably not a match. So maybe try again with a different male or female. If the male is interested he’ll start working on his “bubble nest” in the next day or week.
- Introduce the new couple – now its time to add the female to the breeding tank of there is interest. Prior to doing this remove water from the breeding tank leaving about 5 inches remaining. Now add the female to the tank, following the same instructions above for adding the male to the new tank. Also make sure your filter is still working since there is less water, you may need to adjust it.
- Watch them carefully for a few hours - make sure there is interest, interaction – but also that they are not flat out fighting or ignoring each other. The male may swim around her in circles, even nip at her, or continue working on the bubble nest.
- Is the marriage consummated? At some point the male and female will swim together, the male will wrap around the female and embrace. Shortly after the female will release some eggs, and if she does not they will “do the deed” until it happens.
- Time to fertilize! Once the eggs are released its the males job to fertilize them. He will be picking them up from the bottom of the tank with his mouth and carrying them up to the bubbles next. This can take quite some time as up to 500 eggs can be released by the female! Once the eggs are released you may want to remove the female and put her back in her own tank as she may start to eat some of the eggs.
- Time to “fry” – baby Bettas (fry’s) will start to appear in the bubbles next in about 36 hours, looking like black tiny dots. Initally they live off the egg sack so you don’t have to feed them or worry about them. But once they start to swim you’ll need to feed them “microfood” which you can get from your pet store. After a few weeks you can start to feed them live brine shrimp or blood worms. Wait until they’re at least an inch before giving them the freeze dried variety.
There’s many more tips, tricks, and care that can be put into breeding Betta Fish if you really want to breed like an expert and not waste your time and money. Here’s some book suggestions on breeding:
- Betta Fish Secrets - by Mike Worthington. A great instantly downloadable ebook about Betta Care with a very in-depth chapter on Breeding
- Taking the Mystery out of Betta Breeding – an entire ebook on breeding Betta Fish to keep or sell for profit. In fact the author lets you download the 1st chapter for free.