Breeding Bettas - My Way

Discussion in 'Breeding' started by solex69, Sep 10, 2008.

  1. solex69

    solex69

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    Ok, here are the basic guidelines I follow when spawning Bettas. Please note that everyone does it differently but here is what has worked for me and the method that I feel comfortable with

    WHAT YOU'LL NEED

    • Spawning Tank (I'll recommend 45cmx22cmx28cm but you can also use a see-through plastic container with similar dimensions)
    • Small 25w Heater
    • Styrofoam cut vertically in half (or you can use a cube of normal bubblewrap) *bubblenest location*
    • Middle part of a normal 2l plastic coke bottle (punch a few holes in it for water circulation) *protection for female*
    • Small sponge filter (you can spawn without a filter but rather don't*
    • Java moss or Guppy grass *for female to hide in once released into the tank*
    • Culture of microworms *essential for fry's first food*
    • Baby Brine Shrimp (BBS) *essential for good fry development*
    • Aquarium Salt *to keep fry-attacking bacteria at bay*
    • Plastic or glass jars *to separate the males once they show aggression*
    • Anti-chlorine & bio-med (eg, tetra aquasafe & Nutrafin cycle)
    • Healthy Betta male & female
    Optional extras
    • Indian Almond Leaves *makes the bubblenest more solid*
    • General anti-fungal medicine *keeps fungal bacteria at bay*
    • Daphnia *alternate food for fry*
    BASIC GENERAL INFO ABOUT BREEDING BETTAS

    Bettas can be a bit challenging and at times, frustrating to breed. The more you attempt breeding, the more you will get to understand certain key factors in the success of breeding Bettas and raising fry.
    Bettas are bubblenest breeders. This means that the male creates bubbles in his mouth (mixtures of air and a special saliva content) and 'blows it' on the water surface. This nest will act as the house for the eggs and developing fry.
    Bettas are quite aggressive breeders as well, so it is important that you become familiar with their general behaviour first (pls research this on the net first). You can't possibly explore breeding these beautiful fish without knowing what they are like in general.
    Once in the spawning tank, the male will (or should) build a bubblenest at a location of his choice (which you can actually manipulate). The male will 'court' the male by flaring at her (basically he's trying to show her just how much of a man he is :p) and also be attacking her for a few days. After a couple of days, this whole aggression attitude will disappear and the two will be under the bubblenest together when they have accepted each other and are ready to spawn.
    During the spawning process, the male will embrace the female and squeeze the eggs from her; as this happens, he fertilizes the eggs. Once the he is done squeezing, he will collect all the eggs as they falls and from the floor-bottom. During this, the female will float and appear as if she is dead (don't ask why this happens) but will come-to after a while. Good females will normally help the male collect the eggs once she is 'conscious' again. This process will be repeated until all the eggs are out of the female...this can last for several hours.
    Once the spawning is done, the male will see the female now as a threat to his nest/eggs/fry and will chase her away. Now I've read all over the net that he will kill her but I am yet to encounter a female's fatality...I personally believe that she gets the hint and stay away from the nest once the spawning phase is over. It is at this stage when you remove the female as the male will guard the nest and ensure the fry makes it to free-swimming stage (well you hope at least ). Once the fry reaches this stage, it is now that the male is removed. From here on, you become the daddy and make sure the fry reaches maturity Let me now outline how to get from point A to Z

    SETTING UP THE TANK

    • Place the tank on a solid surface out of direct sunlight.
    • Do not use any substrate at all; the tank must be bare else the falling eggs from the bubblenest will get trapped in the substrate and rot because the male cannot see it.
    • Put the sponge filter in a back-corner but do not switch it on...this only happens once the fry are free-swimming
    • Put the heater diagonally or horizontally in the bottom-back of the tank and set the temperature to 24 degrees Celsius
    • Fill the tank with normal tap water only a 1/4 of the way (can be slightly less as well)
    • Place your java moss or guppy grass on either the left or right side of the tank (stick the dry Indian almond leaf in between of this if you have)
    • Now add the 'coke bottle' directly next to the java moss/guppy grass
    • Take the styrofoam cup/bubblewrap and tape it on the water surface against the front of the tank in the opposite direction of the moss
    • Add one teaspoon of aquarium salt (if you have the anti-fungal medicine, add 3 - 5 drops only as well)
    • Add anti-chlorine & bio-meds to the water to remove ammonia and to speed up the nitrogen cycle (if you're in CPT, our water isn't hard, so anti-chlorine won't really be necessary but I'll recommend you rather do it)
    Once you've done the above, I will recommend you add an airstone into the tank temporarily just so that there is some water movement. Let the tank stand for a minimum of about 3 days but I'll recommend 7 days. The reason why I say 7 days is so that you can allow time for infusorians to develop in the java moss/guppy grass so that they fry can also munch them when they are free-swimming.

    It is very important that you condition your male and female for the spawning process. By this I mean that they will need to be fed a very good diet for at least a period of 2 weeks. Food I can recommend is Hikari micro wafers for small tropical fish, BBS, etc etc. On the day you will add the fish to the tank, feed them very well as you will not feed them again until the spawning is completed and they've been removed from the tank.

    After you've left the tank for a couple of days so that it can mature, add the male tank. Leave him in the tank for about a day. You should find that he started to build a bubblenest by the following day. Now, add the female into the chamber of the coke bottle. NB - When adding the fish, be sure to acclimatize them properly.

    Once the fish is added, you must leave them the heck alone. It is during this stage that you'll notice that the male will continuously flare at the female around the container and head back to his nest to continue his nest-building. You can release the female (just lift the coke bottle out of the water gently) at one of the following stages:

    1. The male's nest is half-built or more
    2. The female is showing readiness of spawning (vertical bars on her body if she is dark-bodied)
    3. After 1 - 2 days after you've added the female to the tank
    At this stage, the male will now aggressively pursue the female and nip at her. I believe that his is him showing her that he is indeed a healthy/strong mate for her. She will hide from the male in between of the java moss/guppy grass or even perhaps behind the filter. She will observe the male and the nest quite often. Periodically (if she is ready), she will show interest by swimming to the nest and inspect it. If the male is not ready to spawn, he will attack her so that she flees. This process will go on for 3 to 6 days, depending on the male's readiness. In my experience, spawning usually happens after the third or fourth day once the female is released into the tank. If you reach day 7, toss the spawn and retry from scratch.
    Note that the pair has to accept each other. Most of the times, this comes naturally, but if you are unsuccessful after a few tries, retire them from each other permanently and try to find different mates for them.

    Let's assume that you are lucky and the pair accepts one another. At this stage, they will swim around each other underneath the bubblenest. The female will be swimming with her head down in an S-direction movement; this is a sign of her submission to the male and that she is ready to spawn. The male will embrace her and squeeze the eggs out of her, during which, he fertilizes the eggs. Once done, she will float as if she is dead while he collects the eggs with his mouth. Once the female snaps out of her little trance, she will normally help the male collect the eggs and both of them will put the eggs in the nest. Once all the eggs have been returned, they will start the embrace process again. This can last up to 6 hours. You will know the spawning process is done when the female is no longer by the nest...this means the male would've 'turned' on her. Note that he will not go after her in the tank as he will stay by the nest and protect it to the death from any threat (including the female). It is at this stage that you remove the female very gently from the nest because you don't want to disturb the water surface too hard as you will knock the eggs out of the nest. Once the female is removed, give her TLC as she needs to recover from her wounds and must be fed well as she hasn't eaten for days.

    Ok, now you're only left with the male in the tank. If he is a good male/parent, he will spend most of his time fixed underneath the nest. Time and again, he will wander away from the nest but not for a long period. You have a problem if your male doesn't show any interest in the nest at all. If this happens, toss the spawn and retry again at a later stage.

    The eggs should hatch in a period of 36 hours. They will feed on their yolksac until they are free-swimming. Note that some fry will hatch earlier than others...this is normal. When the fry hatch, note that they will constantly be falling from the nest as their swim bladder has not yet developed. Your male will be gathering them as they fall and put them back into the nest. After about a day or two, most of your fry should be free-swimming. It is only at this stage that you remove the male gently (be careful not to net any fry as well). Give him extra TLC as he has been in there longer and been doing way more work than the female has. Please note that some males tend to become vulnerable to infections and diseases after spawning, so make sure his courters are uber-clean and you look after him very well.

    Ok, now that both fish is out, it becomes your job to raise the fry. Here is where the fun starts. Once the male is removed, you need to feed your fry immediately. Give them a very small portion of microworms. Although there are infusorians in the water, don't depend on this as they are only there as a 'backup' (in my opinion) between different fry hatch periods. IE, for the fry that hatched first, their yolksacs should be depleted by now and you would hope that they will feed on the infusorians from the plants until the bulk of the clutch 'catches up' (hope I'm making sense here :wondering:)

    For the first week, feed the fry at least twice a day for 7 days with microworms. After the first week, you should switch to BBS as this is the real food to accelerate their growth. Only at this stage do you switch on the filter (not too violent as major water disturbances will just throw the fry left, right & centre)

    As for water changes, once you've switched to BBS, only add aged water with similar temperature one day at a time until the tank is fill up. When you start the water addition, please remove the bubblenest holder (styrofoam cup or bubblewrap). Only once the tank is filled up to the top do you siphon water out of the tank with normal airline tubing. This is where it becomes very time consuming to raise Bettas. For maximum growth speed, daily water changes are needed at this stage. You should at least drain 50% water and replacing with same. At week 4 - 5 you can try crushed granulate foods...this is very important as the fry has to learn to eat this. If they don't, you will have to feed them live foods for quite some time...so, do not make them accustomed to only eat live foods.

    In between all of this, you will find dead fry. This is normal as some are just weak and malformed. If you lose lots of fry on a daily basis, then you might have an assassin in the water :amazed:.

    Note that a lot of other things can go wrong during spawning/fry development (excluding Eskom power failures), so please post on here your problem and I'll try to assist as best as I can. Here are some pointers/tips for breeding:

    1. In my experience, 24 degrees Celsius is the magic temperature to breed Bettas. I've tried 26 and upwards but only had failed attempts although European Breeders I've communed with recommend I only spawn in 28 degrees. What I can say to this is that I can recommend to perhaps turn the temperature up to 28 once your fry is free-swimming
    2. A lot of males or egg/fry eaters. So if you notice one day that most of your fry is missing while the male is still in the tank, I've got bad news for you my friend. A lot of people have different opinions on this but it is my opinion that the egg eaters are usually a sign of males that are either poorly conditioned, or too inexperienced to breed.
    3. When selecting a pair, ensure that they are more or less the same physical size of one another. No point in having a small male and a big female as he won't be able to squeeze the eggs from her body. More than likely, she will show him who's boss and attack him instead. Vice-versa applies
    4. Patience is the key. Yes I know....most of us don't have patience when it comes to fish but seriously, this will save you a lot of frustrations if you just do it by the book and have patience.
    5. Develop your own spawning style. I know many novice Betta breeders will have tons of questions surrounding the breeding of Bettas, but I will say that you only need to know the basic 'framework' (if I can use that term) and discover the rest on your own. Your eyes will be trained with Betta behaviour the more you observe them. Bettas are very interesting and curious fish, so take the time to study them and become familiar with their personalities; believe me, each on is different.
    Ok, that's me for now. If I've missed out something, please feel free to shout. I am here to help anyone that attempts to breed Bettas so please don't be afraid to ask...there is no such thing as a stupid question. I have done many spawns (and lost many due to Eskom power failures) and I am happy to share what I know with anyone who is interested

    Cheers for now ppl
    Dale
     
    Henk Hugo likes this.
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  3. Henk Hugo

    Henk Hugo

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    WOW! what a read... awsum stuff man! any photos of the spawning process?
     
  4. OP
    solex69

    solex69

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    Yeah, got some....just need to post them. Gimme some time quickly
     
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  5. OP
    solex69

    solex69

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    Ok, here are pics of my tank setups when I breed (obviously the airstone is removed once I add the male)

    [​IMG]


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    And here are pics of the spawn happening

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    And here are pics of daddy looking after the hatched fry

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
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  6. Henk Hugo

    Henk Hugo

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    wow! thats great!
     
  7. OP
    solex69

    solex69

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    Thanks Henk, I'll be trying breeding again hopefully within the next month

    Cheers
    D
     
  8. Slummies

    Slummies

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    2 Questions:

    i understand you dont feed them during this time, but is there not a build of ammonia?

    2: do you even use methylan blue?
     
  9. OP
    solex69

    solex69

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    Hence the guppy grass + java moss + duckweed (mostly the guppy grass & duckweed) & allowing your tank water to age first before you add Mr & Mrs Betta. Water addition & changes will come into effect much later during the spawning process anyway, so no need to worry about it if you set your tank up properly

    No, never used it before, but I do add about 3 - 4 drops of anti-fungal medication into the breeding tank when setting it up. Give methylene blue a try and see what it does for you

    Chiao
    D
     
  10. Chris

    Chris

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    FIRST
    tahnx for schweeet info. just wondering where can i get my Indian almond leaves?. i live in Somerset-West, studying at Stellenbosch.


    FOR WHEN U HAVE TIME
    :bigsmile:
    This has been the best source of info so far... (been reading quite a bit) - should've known to set it to pages in South Africa, hehe. got my tank yesterday and fish today... dunno if I'm doing everything right, got female in glass vase inside tank 22x45x25 (close to yours) they sorta getting used to eachother, male making his gills open etc but he's quite a bit bigger than her... dunno if this will be a problem. Fed them bloodworms twice today.

    I've created the nest and stuck it in so long but, seems you say i have to wait a week or 2 so will do. my tank is still full for now will empty it later, feels like waste throwing out all the anti-clorinated water tho. wondering if i should keep them apart for the next to weeks and condition them as you say or if its okay that they see eachother. i only have one tank and like 3 glass vases to put them in.

    got filter in tank and filter stone in vase... and just a few plastic plants... hopefully it will do for now, didnt add gravel. think its necessary to add real plants? is it worth the maintenance?

    -not really sure when filter is needed and when not, like when i take them out of the tank and put them into vases, and if they need plants in there or sumthing... basically just how to maintain them. and if u think it's necessary to try find a larger female or more suitable size male.
     
  11. OP
    solex69

    solex69

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    Hey Chris

    I have some Indian Almond Leaves if you want, just come and collect.

    From the sounds of it, your female might be a bit too young to breed with. How small is she? Picture of both fish perhaps? The male should at least be the female's size or a bit bigger, but never the other way around for two reasons: 1. The female will most likely dominate the male if he is significantly smaller than her, and 2. If they should breed, he won't be able to embrace her properly during the spawning process.

    Conditioning period is recommended for 2 weeks minimum with a variety of different foods. While conditioning, they shouldn't see each other as you're trying to get both fish in the best physical condition possible. If the male sees the female, he will go to work on his nest building and flaring at her etc etc....rather save that for when they want to breed, not during conditioning.

    Definitely get yourself some real plants in there. You can get some from me as well.

    The filter (assuming its a spunge filter) is only switched on after the fry is free-swimming, but gently as well....don't want the fry going in all different directions in the tank.

    One more thing, I have now stopped using microworms as the fry's first food thanks to Prof. Dirk Bellstedt. I only use frozen rotifers for the fry and they are luvvin it and growing up much quicker as well. My last surviving fry were only fed on this and grew at a rapid pace.

    Let me know if you want to collect the plants and some Indian leaves this Saturday. Will also show you the fry of my latest spawn as well as another breeding tank that I setup last night.

    Cheers mate
    Dale
     
  12. Scaly

    Scaly Therapeutic

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    Will this technique work for gouramis?
     
  13. OP
    solex69

    solex69

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    It should, don't see any reason why it shouldn't as the two fish species share very similiar behaviours. I know that Gouramis do yield much larger fry quantity than Bettas.

    I bred Golden Gouramis but that was by accident...I just tossed the pair into a 80l with plants & duckweed...they did the rest :)

    Cheers
    Dale
     
  14. Chris

    Chris

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    Jo! that would be great :smile1:. Will let you know if i'll be able to make a mission that way if thats okay, will check for this Saturday, pretty keen to come and check out what you've done. Lemme know if you're headed this way tho, if you'd like to make a stop, check out my tank and share some of your knowledge etc. I live in Somerset-West and study at Stellenbosch. :bigsmile:

    Ye, female is quite small. Don't see any stripes on female, her fins are spread, she's blowing bubbles and has the white dot under the belly... hehe. Struggling with the patience :push: they're body language shows potential, probably just me.:wondering:

    It okay if they dont have any filter and in small vases (more or less diameter of a cd)? how regular do i have to change the water then and feed them? Smaller meals more often better? I only got bloodworms and stupid flakes, dont think they like them... 2 weeks are long... sigh
    water not as clear as yesterday, dunno if i can/should do anything bout that. can probably leave filter on till i want them to start making the nest?

    Male blowing bubbles but they dont last as long as females...

    taken photos, can't find my cable... :push: will keep on searching.

    Thanx man!
    appreciated
    peace
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2009
  15. OP
    solex69

    solex69

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    No probs, come around and then we can chat further. Let me know how it goes.

    I might come to Somerset West this weekend anyway, so I'll let you know bout that too

    Cheers mate
    Dale
     
  16. Chris

    Chris

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    Awesome, plz do. take my no. for now, then gimme a call if u in the area. it would be appreciated if you could bring some of those leaves :p - if u remember, wouldn't mind paying for them.

    lol, shot...
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2009
  17. Chris

    Chris

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    can't put no. on forum or PM you, hehe will stay in touch.
     
  18. Chris

    Chris

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    Hey bro,
    don't think will be able to come through this weekend :( , maybe next. plz lemme know when u in the area and keen to make a stop. ;)

    - i'll send u my no tomorrow.

    thanx,
    chrz

    btw - what are "frozen rotifers"? where you get them? saving time now that u don't have to breed bbs?
     
  19. OP
    solex69

    solex69

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    you might be in luck, I'm heading to Somerset West later today, so I can come and drop off some plants for you. Call me on 082 941 8419 so that I can get directions. Bagging ur plants now

    Rotifers - http://dmc.utep.edu/rotifer/info.html

    I buy them from the Prof.
    Saving time - Indeed, and it give my fish babies all the nutrients they need :)
     
  20. Chris

    Chris

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    Hey Dale,
    lol, still not qualified to PM so have to post here...
    Thanx so much for coming man, it's really cool. The plants are sweeet and the knowledge priceless, shot alot!
    ;)
     
  21. Chris

    Chris

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    I still have lots of questions and really keen on learning, realise that will have to do research and learn from experience, but i'm not gna hold back with my questions :)
    so if you don't have the time to answer them, dont feel obliged, hehe.

    Was wondering how to clean the sand properly, i know how to clean the gravel, but the fine sand will prob be a different story...? also, if u have a link of where i can read up on those plants u gave me that'd be neat, don't go through any trouble for me though.

    struggling to remember their names. Sorry to say that all i remember is guppy grass and japanese something... hehe, but u reinspired me for sure, i'll start doing some reading.

    also, the male is still chasing her around like crazy, even chasing the neons now and then, seems to have endless energy, just hope the female doesn't get hurt or too exhausted... he's starting to blow lots of bubbles tho, i'm curios to see where all this is going... :p

    keep me posted on how things going on your side and whats going on in those 11 tanks of yours, flippen curious, will have to come check it out some time! i want to know everything about all of them! haha.

    goodnight bro.

    thanx for rotifers link ;)
     

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