Last Updated: May 26, 2022 by Dave Gibbins
Breeding betta fish, whether you’re looking to produce fish to sell or hope to achieve a desired color or fin shape, isn’t too tricky. However, it must be undertaken carefully so that these extremely territorial fish don’t injure each other.
Is breeding betta fish at home a possibility? Yes it is; however, you should follow several key steps outlined in this article to ensure that all the fish remain safe and will reward you with many healthy betta babies.
- Tank Setup for Breeding Betta Fish
- How to Choose A Successful Breeding Pair
- Breeding Betta Fish
- Breeding Betta Fish Summary
- Additional Betta Breeding Tips
Tank Setup for Breeding Betta Fish
Setting up appropriate tanks will increase your fish’s health and aid in successfully breeding the betta fish.
How to Set Up a Permanent Betta Tank
First of all, you will need to consider where you will be keeping the betta fish you would like to mate. These tanks will be the permanent aquarium home for your fish.
Bettas are incredibly territorial, so if you’re planning on keeping both male and female betta fish, you’ll need at least two permanent betta fish tanks.
Male bettas should be housed separately from other males (possibly with a few compatible tank mates). Females can be kept in groups called sorority tanks. The group should be a minimum of four.
Betta fish require a tank that is a minimum of five gallons. For groups of females, you will need a tank of about 20 gallons or more.
Betta fish aren’t comfortable in water with a strong flow, so when choosing a filter to pick one that has an adjustable flow or is very gentle.
Betta fish also prefer water that’s between 77 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, so unless you live in an area that has a warm climate all year round, you will need to install a heater. Warm water also aids in breeding betta fish as it stimulates their urge to reproduce.
Once you have a permanent tank set up to that size, with a heater and a filter you will want to make it entertaining for your fish. Including live plants for betta (or some silk plants) will provide areas for your betta fish to hide and rest their fins on.
How to Set Up a Tank for Breeding Betta Fish
To set up a betta fish breeding tank, you’ll need a slightly larger aquarium. An aquarium that’s about 10 gallons is perfect. The betta breeding tank should not have any substrate, but you will need to provide plenty of hiding places in the form of leafy plants.
In addition to hiding places, you’ll also want to provide something at the water’s surface, on or around which the male betta can build his bubble nest before mating. A plant with broad leaves that touch the surface, an Indian almond leaf, or a small piece of Styrofoam all work well. The bubble nest protects the fry, so this is a crucial step in breeding betta fish.
Betta fish prefer to have a good deal of privacy during mating, so when you select a space for your breeding tank, be sure to pick a quiet area, away from other fish.
It’s also important to choose a space that doesn’t get too much light. The tank for breeding betta fish shouldn’t be dark, but it shouldn’t be brightly lit, either.
The water in the betta breeding tank should only have a depth of about five inches. It should be in the same temperature range as your permanent betta fish tanks, with 78 degrees Fahrenheit being ideal, so you’ll want to install a small heater.
A filter can help keep your tank for breeding betta fish clean, but it can also damage the bubble nest, so if you decide to use one, pick something with a very gentle flow. You’ll also want something with a fine intake so it won’t accidentally pull in the fry.
How to Choose A Successful Breeding Pair
When it comes to the ‘secrets’ of how to breed betta fish successfully, selecting the perfect pair is crucial.
It’s essential to choose a mating pair that is healthy and also features the colors and fin shapes you hope to achieve. For example, if you want to raise veil tail bettas, you’ll need to select two healthy veil tail fish.
It’s often best to purchase your betta fish from a reputable breeder because a breeder can tell you how old the fish are. Breeding betta fish works best when both mates are between four months and one year old.
Breeding bettas that are over 14 months old is often unsuccessful.
Your breeding pair should also be at the peak of health, so choose betta fish with no deformities, injuries, or signs of disease, such as white spots or a lethargic nature.
Breeding Betta Fish
The answer to how to breed betta fish comes down to choosing a healthy pair and ensuring that conditions are perfect for mating. In addition, carefully introducing the fish and monitoring them as they mate will ensure that all of the fish, including the baby bettas, remain healthy and safe.
The Perfect Conditions for Successfully Breeding Betta Fish
Before adding the betta fish that you want to breed, you’ll want to ensure that your betta breeding tank is fully cycled. This will help prevent chemical spikes, which can cause health issues while breeding the betta fish or even killing the betta fry.
Successfully breeding betta fish often depends on whether the breeding tank environment is correct for constructing a lasting bubble nest and the hatching of the eggs.
To create an ideal environment, the air at the top of the tank should be quite humid. To ensure that it is, use a large piece of plastic wrap to cover the tank’s top. You can easily secure plastic wrap by wetting the tank’s edge and smoothing the wrap over it.
Conditioning the fish for breeding
It is not just the tank, you will also want to make sure that your male and female betta fish are ready to mate. You should condition both fish for about two weeks before adding them to the breeding tank.
To condition the fish, provide rich, meaty foods, such as bloodworms, tubifex worms, or daphnia for Betta. These foods can be frozen or freeze-dried, although live foods often offer better nutrition. You can feed your betta breeding pair between two and four times each day, but only give small amounts during each feeding.
How to Add the Female to the Breeding Tank
When introducing the female to the tank for breeding betta fish, it’s essential to keep her separated from the male until the fish are ready to mate.
You can do this either by floating the female in a clear container, ensuring that the male can’t enter, or using a divider such as a standard aquarium divider or a tall glass lantern, which is open at both ends.
Give the female time to explore her new surroundings before you introduce the male to the tank. Remember that successfully breeding betta fish often comes down to ensuring that both fish are as comfortable as possible.
How to Introduce the Male to the Female Betta
Breeding betta fish really begins when both fish have been introduced to the breeding tank. This is when the male and female will get to know each other, even though they can’t yet interact, and will begin to display that they’re ready for mating.
Once the male betta fish takes notice of the female, he will begin to flare his fins at her, dancing around her in order to attract her attention. His colors will also deepen and become more vivid.
The changes in the female betta will be even more noticeable. Her colors will also deepen, and dark stripes will appear on her body. These stripes should be vertical. If they’re horizontal, the female is not ready to breed.
A small white tube behind the female’s ventral fin will also become noticeable. This is the ovipositor, and it is where the eggs will come from. These changes are a key signal that she is ready to breed.
The Bubble Nest
One of the most fascinating aspects of how to breed bettas is the bubble nest. Once he becomes interested in the female, the male betta fish will begin to construct this nest.
The nest is, as the name suggests, made of air bubbles coated in saliva. Each betta fish, such as the Imbellis betta builds a nest that he likes, so there can be big differences in the size and shape of the nest from fish to fish. You’ll know the nest is complete once the male stops working on it.
The bubble nest serves two purposes. First, it helps a female betta judge whether the male is a fit mate for her. She will carefully inspect the nest before breeding. The nest also helps to protect the eggs until they hatch.
After between 12 to 24 hours, the betta fish bubble nest will most likely be complete. This is the time to allow the male and female betta fish to interact. Once the female has been released, she should swim directly to the bubble nest. If she disapproves, she will either leave or destroy the nest.
If the female doesn’t like the nest, you can return her to her floating container or put the divider back in place. The male may work on the nest again, perfecting it, and you can try breeding the betta fish again. However, if the female decides again that she doesn’t like the nest, the pair is likely not suited for breeding.
How Do Bettas Mate?
If the female stays near the nest, it means she approves of it. At this point, the male will swim to her and begin dancing around her. He will also start to chase the female around the tank. Although this is part of breeding bettas, it’s important to keep an eye on the pair to ensure the female doesn’t get injured.
The male and female will swim close to each other, potentially flaring their fins at each other every so often. This pattern of chasing or swimming next to each other can continue for up to three hours. During this time, try not to disturb the betta fish. This means that you’ll also want to hold off on feeding the pair.
Once the female signals to the male that she’s ready to mate, they’ll move closer together and may move towards the nest. The male will turn the female over and wrap himself around her.
The eggs may not be released during the first embrace, but the male and female will embrace several times until all of the eggs are released. While she’s laying the eggs, the female betta may seem sick or limp, but this is normal.
As the eggs release, the male will pick them up and bring them to the bubble nest.
Removing the Female Betta Fish
The egg laying process can happen quickly, taking only a few minutes, or may go on for a few hours.
Once the male and female bettas stop embracing, the female will need to be removed from the tank. Most females will eat the eggs they’ve just laid, so it’s best to let the male handle all of the egg care. At this point, the male will also become territorial once again and may attack the female.
Egg Hatching & Caring for the Betta Fry
The male betta will spend the next few days after the eggs have been laid caring for them and keeping the bubble nest in shape. He’ll collect any eggs that drop to the bottom and return them to the nest. You may also see him eat an egg every now and then. This isn’t a sign of aggression, but a way to dispose of any unfertilized eggs.
Betta eggs usually hatch within two or three days. The baby bettas, or fry, will wiggle out of their eggs and drop from the nest. The male will collect them and put them back. The fry can’t swim on their own yet and will need time to develop.
Once the fry begin swimming on their own, the male can be moved back to his own tank. The young fry should be fed nutritious foods such as microworms, infusoria, or vinegar eels.
Provide plenty of food, but ensure that there isn’t too much waste, so as to keep the tank as clean as possible. As the fry grow, they can be offered slightly larger foods, such as baby brine shrimp.
After about two months, the fry will begin to mature. This is when you’ll notice colors appearing on the fish. At this point, it’s best to separate the fish, as they will soon become territorial. Give each fish its own aquarium or jar. If you’re jarring the fish, be sure that they have homes waiting, as it’s not healthy to keep fish jarred for long.
Breeding Betta Fish Summary
In the long run, how to breed betta fish comes down to carefully planning the betta breeding and ensuring that your fish are always healthy and safe.
First, make sure that the fish you’ve selected are healthy and of an appropriate age. Then, create the perfect breeding environment by setting up a betta breeding tank.
Introduce the fish to each other carefully, keeping the female separate until the bubble nest has been constructed and both fish are displaying breeding behavior. Once the female has been released, monitor the bettas’ behavior while you observe the mating ritual.
Once the eggs are laid, the female betta should be removed, while the male betta remains to take care of the nest and eggs. After the fry become free-swimming, the male can also be returned to his tank. This entire process usually takes about a week.
The baby fry can be fed on very tiny foods such as infusoria, moving on to larger foods as they grow. Once they begin to show their colors, which usually happens at around the two-month mark, the bettas can be separated into their own tanks.
How many babies do breeding betta fish have?
Most betta fish will lay between 40 and 50 eggs per spawning. However, this number can vary greatly depending on the fish. Some aquarists who have experience breeding betta fish may find that their fish lay up to 500 eggs.
How do you know when your betta fish is ready to mate?
When the female betta is ready to mate, her colors will darken, her ovipositor will become more visible, and she will develop vertical bars along her body. She will also accept the male’s bubble nest.
A deepened color is also a sign of readiness in male bettas. Males will also flare their fins at the female, and they will build a bubble nest to impress her.
How do you breed betta fish successfully?
How to breed bettas successfully often comes down to providing the right environment for the fish. You’ll also want to carefully condition your breeding betta fish by providing nutrient-rich foods to ensure that they’re healthy enough to breed.
Study the mating process and learn what behaviors are normal and what are signs of aggression. Most importantly, it’s crucial to always monitor your betta fish so that no injuries occur.
Can you cross-breed betta fish?
All betta fish varieties, such as crown tails, veil tails, halfmoon, or delta bettas, are all the same species, so they can be crossbred. However, this can often create undesirable fin shapes.
Also, because betta fish are often bred so selectively within their variety, cross-breeding different types may raise the risk of health issues or deformities in the fry.
Additional Betta Breeding Tips
Always be prepared for many fry when breeding betta fish. Although you may only end up with a few dozen, the number could be much higher, so gather a large number of suitable containers in which to place the betta fish fry once they mature.
Some young male betta fish may accidentally eat the eggs or fry during their first breeding experience. This can be discouraging, but it doesn’t mean you need to give up on breeding that particular male. After the first attempt, he may figure things out and become a caring father.
While breeding, feeding the male betta just before releasing the female can sometimes help to stem aggression and keep him focused on the task at hand.
Breeding betta fish can be complicated, but when care is taken and the proper environment is provided, it can be achieved with relative ease in the home aquarium.
As long as you select healthy fish and are prepared to observe them during the breeding process, you may soon have dozens of young bettas to keep, sell, show, or trade within the betta community.
- Set up a breeding tank with five inches of water and no substrate
- Ensure that the tank is fully cycled and at the correct temperature
- Select a healthy breeding pair
- Keep the female betta separated by using a divider until both fish are ready to breed
- Wait for the male to build the bubble nest
- Carefully observe the pair after the female has been released and as they breed
- Remove the female after the eggs have been laid
- Remove the male after the fry become free-swimming
Do you have a question about breeding betta fish? Let us know by commenting below.