Betta Splenden Breeding Plan
- Selection of breeding stock
When selecting Betta's for breeding it is a good idea to look into the genetics of the different tail types, colors and mixing them, it isn't a good idea to just guess or you may end up with tanks full of undesirable fish you can't find homes for. Always make sure there is a market for what you plan to breed. There are many different tail types including veil tail (common type seen in most pet stores), crown tail, half-moon, delta, super delta, double tail, plakat and comb tail. A lot of them can be bred for a mix of two or even three different tail types, for example, and crown tail half-moon, or a crown tail half-moon plakat! There are so many colors to choose from including the traditional royal blue, red, marble, turquoise, Cambodian, opaque, steel, black, mustard gas, cellophane... and lots more! There can be many patterns bred in too, like opaque edging to colored fins (usually on half-moons).
Find a good quality pair which are healthy, active and have no deformities or abnormalities, e.g. a bent spine. The pectoral and pelvic fins should be paired and the dorsal and caudal fins single. Gill covers should be intact and gills bright red. 10 months + is a good age.
Do not breed veil tails, there are already too many unwanted veil tails in the hobby, don't contribute to their suffering.
- Legal things
There are certain breeders of high quality stock who ship internationally. It is illegal for us in the UK (and possibly other countries) to just have the fish shipped into the country without necessary quarantine and paperwork. However there are a few breeders in the UK who have their stock imported and will order specific fish in for you.
- Prespawning care
When you get your pair home, acclimatise them in separate tanks for the quarantine period (just because they are from some one's stock tank doesn't mean they are disease free). They should be kept isolated for a minimum of 21 days. After a week you can also start to condition them, as long as everything else is going ok. Feed them plenty of life foods so they can build up and store energy for the exhausting task ahead. After two weeks of conditioning the male should be active, bright and feisty and the female fat with roe.
Set up a ten gallon tank filled half way. Run an established/cycled sponge filter putting out two bubbles per second. Heavily plant one end of the tank, this gives the female a place to retreat to if things get a bit rough. On the other side tank a Styrofoam cup, cut in half so the male has something to anchor his bubble nest to. Heat to 27c. Introduce the male and female to the tank at the same time, but let them male have free roam of the tank and place the female in a glass chimney vase. This is so they can see each other but cannot get to each other and cause stress of harm. The male should start to display and flare to the female and even start to build a bubble nest under the cup. After a lot of dancing around and nest building (about 2 hours) the female should start to get interested she will be showing vertical bars down her sides (not visible on lighter colors, such as opaque or cellophane).
When the male is done building his nest, he will swim under it moving his body in an S shape; this is to entice the female over to inspect his nest. Once he is doing this and she is showing bars, you are ready to release the female from the vase. There will probably be some chasing and nipping but don't worry, they like it rough! If the female (or male!) is showing horizontal bars and seeks cover in the plants a lot you need to remove her as she is scared and not ready to spawn. If all goes well she will swim under the nest and give it a thorough inspection, if it isn't to her liking she will destroy it and try to kill the male. But if she's satisfied she will float in a head down submissive position with her fins clamped, ready to be embraced by the male. He should come over and wrap his body round hers and squeeze the eggs out, fertilizing them as they fall.
He then leaves the female floating in a paralyzed state while he goes to collect falling eggs and place them in the nest. The female recovers from the paralysis in a few seconds and may go down to help pick up eggs, or then again, she might decide to eat them! They will repeat this embrace until the female is out of eggs, the nest is full or something distracts them. The spawn can result in up to 300 eggs! when the female retires to the planted area you need to remove her promptly as they are finished and the male is now on guard to the protect the eggs, even from their own mother and he could easily kill her. Place her back in her own tank and leave her to rest.
- Eggs and fry
The eggs can take between 24 and 72 hours to hatch; the father will be guarding them and constantly replacing any which fall from the nest. Do not feed him at this time; it may give him an appetite for fry! When the fry hatch they will have a yolk sac attached which they will get all their nutrition from. these last around 3 days after which time the fry will become free swimming and you will probably have to remove the father, but it's best to try and leave him as long as possible, keeping a close eye to make sure he isn't feasting on them!
You need to already have a culture of micro worms and live baby brine shrimp for their first meal. As the fry grow increase the size of the brine shrimp accordingly. Fill the ten gallon tank to the top a week after hatching and perform 50% water changes every other day. After 2-3 weeks move the fry to a large grow out tank (30 gallons or more depending on brood size). When the juvenile males start to fight they will need separating into one gallon jars (minimum), with 100% water changes every other day. The females can all stay in the grow-out tank until they are re-homed/sold.
- Other important information
Always cull runts (if male is left in, he should do this) and deformed fry. An Indian almond leaf can be placed in the tanks to help replicate natural conditions. Keep a towel over the top of the fry tank to keep the air at the water surface the correct temperature and humidity. As Betta's are Anabaptist, they have a labyrinth organ which enables them to breathe atmospheric air and it can be damaged when they take their first breath if the air is too cold and dry.