How to Breed Betta Fish? Step-by-Step Beginner’s Guide!

Betta fish are interesting little goofballs that will make a great addition to your aquarium.

Moreover, the care instructions for these exciting creatures are more straightforward than most fish.

Beginners should have no problems in taking care of them.

For the most part, they are hardy and can easily adjust to their new surroundings.

Due to their popularity, many fishkeepers are interested in breeding Betta fish. If you plan on breeding them, you should face no problems whatsoever.

Learning how to breed betta fish will teach you valuable lessons for other fish species.

Ever wondered why betta fish in the wild have a relatively dull appearance?

It’s because captive betta fish are interbred extensively, resulting in hundreds of color combinations.

You’ll notice their colors sparkle and intensify during courtship. Betta fish are sexually dimorphic, so it’s easy to distinguish males from females. Males are brighter with uniquely shaped fins and tails.

Females are not as colorful and their fins are more simplistic.

To kickstart the breeding process, you have to first create ideal environmental conditions.

The first step is to choose the ideal mating pair.

Choosing a Betta Fish Mating Pair

For best results, it is important to select the best male and female fish.

Find betta fish with characteristics you want your juveniles to have. For instance, if you want Rosetail betta fish, choose a pair with similar characteristics.

Make sure to select fish that are healthy and not sickly. They should show no signs of infection and must be free of parasites.

In general, healthy betta fish are prolific swimmers always darting about. They are never lethargic or lurking on the tank’s bottom.

Healthy Betta fish eyes should be clear and not bulging. You should check their scales for signs of damage, tear, and fungus.

In ideal circumstances, betta fish should be no more than 12 months old. You can still breed older fish, but your chances are better with younger fish.

Pro tip: You also need to check the size of each betta fish. Ideally, they should be of the same size. Females can be a bit smaller than males. Never use larger females because they will frighten the males.

Setting Up the Tank for Breeding Betta

Betta fish are shy creatures and have solitary natures. They will typically not breed in community aquariums due to this fact.

For best results, you will need a new tank to control the water conditions.

It is worth pointing out that betta fry is very fragile and needs pure water conditions.

Also, they should not be left in the same tank as their parents. The fry will be viewed as a threat b the parents and dealt with accordingly.

It is recommended to get a 10-gallon breeding tank with a divider.

Make sure the location of the tank is quiet. Betta fish like their privacy and don’t like busy areas.

Fill the tank up with 3 to 5 inches of water. Now install the heater and filter. Keep the temperature around 78°F, and do not let it exceed 80 °F.

For the filter, use something that won’t create a huge disturbance in the water. Avoid using any gravel substrate because the eggs may get buried inside.

Add lots of hiding places to keep the aggressive nature of males under check. Use plants to provide hiding places for the fry and female.

Plants also facilitate the growth of small organisms that the fry can feed on. A good starter plant is Java fern due to its low maintenance.

Alternatively, you can add plastic plants if you don’t want to care for live ones. Just make sure that there are no sharp edges that can hurt your betta (in case they brush against the plants)

For the lighting, use very dim light. If the conditions in the tanks are too bright, the Bettas won’t spawn.

Caution: Make sure your new tank is properly cycled; this could take 6 weeks to complete.

Conditioning the Betta Fish Pair

Betta fish are easier to breed than most freshwater and saltwater fish. This doesn’t mean doing so will be easy.

The fish must be conditioned first so they have enough energy for courting.

Conditioning ensures that the female produces enough eggs in one cycle. It also ensures that the male has enough stamina to provide for the eggs.

One of the precursors of good conditioning is feeding them high-quality foods. Feed your betta fish live foods around 2 to 4 times per day.

Use tubifex worms, finely chopped meat, bloodworms, and smaller insects such as roaches and crickets. If you don’t have live foods, you can use frozen foods instead.

Adding the Female to the Tank

You have to make sure the male doesn’t see the female as a threat. A good trick is to introduce the female to the male gradually.

If everything goes fine, the male will turn a darker shade of color. They’ll begin flaring their fins to impress the females.

Interesting females will also darken in appearance and display colorful stripes around their bodies.

You may also notice her wagging her body at the male.

During the courting process, the male will create a bubble nest in the next hours. The Betta will coat the bubble nest with his saliva to increase its durability.

The bubble nest is mostly built near the tank’s surface or just below floating objects.

Pro tip: Use a divider to keep the males and females separate. If that’s not possible, float her in a see-through container first. Interested males will respond as described above and create a bubble nest. This will help you gauge the male betta fish’s interest.

Releasing the Female Betta

Once you’ve determined that both fish like each other, release the female into the tank.

The female will immediately swim to the bubble nest the male just created. If the bubble nest is not up to her standards, she will reject it.

If she destroys the nest, remove her and repeat the process all over again.

If she destroys the bubble nest a second time, you should find a new pair (as the current one seems incompatible).

When the male has realized that the female is reciprocating, he’ll begin courting her.

It’s normal to see the fish biting and chasing each other for a few hours. You’ll still need to keep an eye on the two should things turn ugly.

They’ll perform a mating dance where they swim around each other and flare their fins.

The male will nip at her fins if she doesn’t respond. In some cases, she may need to find a place to hide. 

This process repeats until the female is ready to spawn.

It is imperative not to feed the fish during the courtship process.

The Betta Mating Process: Signals & the Ritual

Before the act of mating itself, the male and female Betta fish give out signs to each other that display that they are in favor of mating with each other.

Male Betta Fish Signals

When a male Betta fish sets his eyes upon a female, he will most likely begin to flare his fins and dance around.

His colors become deeper and more vibrant to attract the female’s attention.

Female Betta Fish Signals

On the other hand, a female Betta shows noticeable changes as well.

Her body begins to show dark vertical stripes as well as a small tube behind her ventral fin. These changes are a sign that the Betta female is ready to mate.

Male Betta Makes The Bubble Nest

A male Betta fish needs something on the water surface to build his bubble nest before mating.

This could be a broadleaf, even a small piece of Styrofoam that stays on the surface of the water. The male betta will make a bubble nest attached to this object (in the wild, they do it with leaves or broken floating branches)

The bubble nest is a crucial step when it comes to Betta fish mating because it protects the fry.

It is a customary thing for the male Betta to start creating his bubble before mating. 

A male Betta fish will only create a bubble nest if the environment is ideal.

This means that the air at the top of the tank needs to be humid so that the bubble nest can stay put.

Why Do Betta Fish Make Bubbles
Betta Bubble Nest

The bubble nest is made up of several air bubbles covered in saliva. It can be as big or as small as the male Betta fish would like.

The shape or size of the bubble nest depends on the Betta’s discretion. Once the male Betta stops making the bubble nest, you can consider it to be complete.

Other than protecting the eggs, the bubble nest helps the female Betta decide whether the male Betta is going to be a fit for her.

In most cases, a female Betta will meticulously examine the bubble nest before deciding to breed with the male.

The Foreplay (Female Betta Checks the Bubble Nest)

It takes a Betta male around a day to complete the bubble nest. Once the net is complete, the male and female get to interact with each other.

The female swims to the bubble nest in order to inspect it. If she does not approve, she will destroy the nest or just leave.

There is a possibility that the male Betta fish may make the nest again in order to perfect it for the female, and they might try to breed again.

However, if the female does not like the bubble nest for a second time, it is most likely that the pair will not be suitable for meeting with each other.

The Mating Begins

If the female approves of the nest, she will stay near it. This is when the mating ritual actually begins.

Once the female Betta fish is close to the nest, the male Betta fish will come close and dance around her.

The male and female will also swim around the tank, where the male will start chasing her.

Even though this is typical Betta fish behavior, it is essential to keep an eye on both of them because the female may get injured.

There will be times when both the male and female Betta fish will flare their fins together and swim close by.

This can go up to two to three hours while they chase and swim next to each other.

In this time period, they do not want to be disturbed, nor do they want to be fed.

When the female is ready to meet, she will signal the male and move closer to him.

Both male and female Betta fish will approach the nest, where the male will wrap himself around the female Betta fish.

One can consider it as an embrace, which allows the eggs to be released.

The eggs may not release during the initial embrace. Hence, the male and female Betta fish embrace more than once to get the job done.

This will help the female Betta fish to release all her eggs.

The male may also flip the female upside down in his attempts to fertilize the eggs.

Once he has done this, they’ll both gradually float to the bottom of the tank. The female will rest for a few minutes before trying this again.

A few attempts later, the female will begin dropping her eggs. She may float sideways and appear dead while laying her eggs, but that’s completely normal.

A female Betta fish can seem sick and weary while she is laying her eggs.

In general, this process should take a few hours to complete. Most bettas lay around 40 to 50 eggs per spawn.

Some females can lay up to 500 eggs.

As the eggs are released, it is the male Betta fish’s job to secure them and bury them in the bubble nest for safety.

The male will catch all the eggs and carry them to the net. Some females may help with this process when they’ve recovered.

However, some will just eat the eggs – they can’t help it! It is recommended to remove the females from the tank once they’ve recovered.

Note: The male will not hesitate to attack the female if she becomes a threat.

Hatching and Caring for the Betta Juveniles

Now for the difficult part: caring for the juveniles.

Once you’ve removed the female, cover the tank with plastic wrap. Doing so will retain moisture and heat to develop the fry.

During the next several hours, the male will blow more bubbles and fertilize the eggs.

They might build more nests and shift some of the eggs there.

Some males may eat the eggs if they’ve determined them to be unhealthy.

How to Care for Betta Fry

The betta fish fry will derive oxygen from the bubbles, which disappear gradually. As they begin to hatch, they’ll fall from the bubbles. The male will catch them and put them back.

The fry should be ready to swim freely around the tank after 4 days. At this stage, it’s best to remove the male because they could eat them.

The juveniles are extremely delicate and will need plenty of food to survive.

At first, they will survive with small nutritious foods such as micro worms and brine shrimp.

If you do everything right, your juveniles will grow into healthy adults in 4 months.

Mating Age for Betta

Betta fish prefer to mate when both the male and the female are between four to twelve months.

Betta fish may try to breed even when they are 1-4 months old, but their attempt to breed may not have successful results.

Generally, a Betta fish pair is successful in mating only when they are healthy.

Hence, if any of the Betta fish has any injuries, deformities, diseases, or an inactive nature, then mating may not be successful.

Wrapping Up

In general, it’s relatively easy to breed feta fish for aquarists of all skill levels. If you’re a beginner, you’ll learn important insights into fish breeding.

Experienced aquarists should be able to improve their skills and hone their craft.

As a quick recap, you’ll need the following crucial ingredients for successful breeding:

  • Ensure the tank conditions are ideal
  • Both fish are fed high quality, nutritious foods
  • The female is introduced gradually
  • The fry are fed properly

Before long, you’ll become an expert in breeding and raising betta fry. 

We hope this guide on ‘how to breed betta fish’ provided you with insightful tips. If you want to add something to it, do send in your comments.

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