In breeding bettas the point isn’t only to make pretty fish but you also need to decide if you want to contribute to the effort in creating ideal specimens – or if you just want to breed them to give to the LPS. Either way I suggest your start with fish from a local breeder.
It will take less time to condition them (explained below) and they are just generally in better health so they’ll have no problems spawning for you & you get nicer fish from the breeder. Whether you are contributing to betta-society, or just your wallet is the difference in the quality of fish you want to choose.
If you are just selling to the LPS ask the local breeder for a cull pair which they should be able to supply to you for free – $10 or so. If you want to create show-quality bettas you need to look for the best fish you can, don’t shy away from $40 pairs. They are the best to start out with and you will see some real return on your profit*
(*Breeder return= Bettas sold to other breeders are sold for alot more money then those sold the the pet store).
So know you’ve got your fishies home and nicely settled in (1 gallon tanks are a good barrack size), to get them ready to breed you need to feed them really well.
If this is your first time breeding and you are buying from a breeder, you could ask them to condition them first! That will save you alot of time.
Otherwise, you need to feed your bettas live or high quality frozen foods for 2 weeks to a month (or more if they are in bad condition), to get their fat-stores built up, the hormones flowing and allow them to produce their gametes (the good bits).
Food options include live or frozen forms of:
Adult brine shrimp
Bits of krill
Cut up earth worms
Live foods will condition your fish faster (and better) but aren’t as easy to keep as frozen foods.
The Luv Nest
A 10 gallon container or smaller is the best size to start breeding in.
What you will need is:
A few inches of water, nest anchor, heater, plastic wrap, hiding place, flask.
Indian almond leaves
Pretty much anything that floats
This just gives something for the male to anchor their bubble nest off, the male can build the nest right off the tank wall but they don’t stay together as well.
The optimal temperature for breeding is 80°F (27°C)
Is great for adding over the lid to increase humidity, esp. if you live somewhere dry. This will help keep the nest together (don’t worry the rain created won’t hurt the nest) but make sure you put a few air-holes in it!
This is your teaser. To introduce both partners you place the male into the main tank for about an hour & let him establish his territory as his own, then you place the female into the tank – INSIDE of something.
A really great thing to use is the oil-lamp plastic/glass pieces available from your local hard-ware store (I suggest plastic).
This allows the fish to see each other & really get their hormones going, but also gives time for the female to accept the male so they won’t fight and she can tell you when she’s ready.
In the wild, a male betta would hold a little territory where he’d have a nest, he’d chase other males out of his territory and show of to the females that just swim casually by. Females that are receptive to the male are chased away so they don’t, in turn, chase away females that are receptive. In an aquarium the female may not be able to get far enough away for the male’s liking & some males are very aggressive. After mating is finished females loved to snack on eggs & fry, so again the male chases her away when they are done – again she may not be able to get away far enough for his liking. Some females appear to be really good moms and may help transport eggs into the nest, or even add to the bubble nest – most of them are just pretending so they can get a snack in.
For the reasons above, it’s good to have an additional hiding space to behind the heater – I like to have my sponge filter in there (ready for the fry) but not turned on – that makes a great hiding spot!
A lot of breeders don’t feed either fish when they are in a spawn tank (don’t worry they will be fine for a week & 1/2 or so), so that the fish can’t learn to associate the spawn tank with food & thus fry with food.
It’s up to you what you want to do, I find males are usually too busy making their nests & showing off to eat anyway; and actually guppies have a special hormone that supressed their appetite right before they give birth – I’m pretty sure bettas have a similar hormone.
Releasing the female
You need to watch your fish’s body posture. It’s better that the female be in the container longer then too short a time. So if you’re unsure then just leave them be for another hour.
Sometimes fish are really RARING to go & you can release them within a few hours of introduction. Other times you may have to wait days.
Male is ready:
Showing off to the female
Darting back & forth between the flask and the nest location
Showing off to the sides of the tank or to you (so watch from a distance of a few feet for first-time spawners)
May or may not have already started a bubble-nest (to distracted by the pretty girly Laughing – this isn’t a problem) but should have picked a spot at least
Female is ready:
Showing her vertical bars*
Furiously trying to run into the sides of the tank so she can get out.
*Females (and sometimes males) will show white vertical bars when they are excited and ready to mate or fight. You can’t see these on white or light colored fish. Dark horizontal stripes are juvenile stripes or a sign of severe stress.