The Betta fish, also known as the Siamese fighting fish, is a beautiful and majestic pet. Fish of this species are usually kept in separate tanks as they can attack and kill others in the same tank. Some people like the idea of having multiple Betta fish and breeding them. In this case, you can be selective when breeding the fish, getting rid of negative characteristics and accentuating desired characteristics (for example, the color). By choosing the ideal fish and optimizing the breeding environment, you will be able to breed beautiful, quality Bettas.
Part 1 of 5: Choosing the Ideal Fish
Step 1. Buy Betta fish from a breeder
If you are buying Betta fish for breeding, it is important to get them from a specific breeder who has a good reputation. This will increase your chances of getting quality fish that will breed successfully.
- Be aware that Breeding Betta fish can be expensive. When a fish is more expensive, it usually means that the breeder has also used selective breeding techniques. Although these criteria do not guarantee the success of reproduction, the fish obtained will be healthy and of good quality (which will possibly also be the case for the offspring).
- The qualities of an ideal breeder include: success, longevity, experience, knowledge, professionalism, affiliation with organizations related to Betta fish, availability, reputation, activity record, hygiene and references.
- Ask the breeder for information about the parents of Betta fish. If he doesn't have that information, it might be a good idea to look for another breeder rather than risk it.
- It is possible to find quality Betta fish breeders through organizations such as the International Betta Congress. If you know someone who raises Betta fish or are familiar with them, it might be a good idea to ask that person for suggestions.
Step 2. Choose the ideal Betta fish pair
Choose a pair based on the characteristics you would like to enhance in the puppies. It is important to get the best quality fish possible. Finding the ideal pair will help ensure the health and beauty of your puppies, as well as be beneficial to you.
- The purpose of selective breeding is to accentuate certain characteristics in a Betta fish. For example, you might want the puppy to have stripes in the form of black bows. If so, it is possible to obtain such a result by crossing your Betta with one that has distinct stripes in the form of bows. You can also put this principle into practice to accentuate the color and size of the fins.
- Be aware that if you want to accentuate a specific trait through selective breeding, be it fin size or fish color, those traits can take a few years and cycles to fully appear.
Step 3. Check the size of the fish
Breeding fish is often difficult regardless of the measurements taken, but it is important to get fish that are approximately the same size. This will help prevent one of the fish from being injured. Paying attention to the size of each fish will help ensure healthy offspring and a healthy breeding process for each fish.
- Be aware that fish that are too small may not be old enough to breed. Try to breed Bettas that are three to four months old to ensure proper size and avoid offspring with undesirable qualities.
- The sexual maturity of Betta fish can be observed through the habit of assembling bubble nests, in the case of males, or a rounded belly and a white tube for reproduction, in the case of females.
Step 4. Examine the fins
Most people want to selectively breed Betta fish to obtain fins in desired sizes and shapes. Paying attention to the desired characteristics in the fins and the likelihood of the fish getting hurt is important to ensure greater chances of getting the ideal qualities in the young.
- Check how straight and curved the tail fin is. Betta fish that are ideal for breeding will have straight tail fins, curved in opposite directions. Avoid Betta fish with tail fins curved in the same direction.
- Look for roots in the fins. The more roots the Betta's fins have, the bigger, firmer and prettier the chicks' fins will be.
- Check that there are no signs of decay on the fish fin. The rotten fins have a messy appearance, with red tips almost tearing.
Step 5. Match colors that complement each other
Bettas come in many different colors. Look for Bettas with colors that complement your partner's.
- Betta fish can have colors like red, orange, yellow, turquoise, steel blue or royal blue. They may also have black or iridescent parts. By mating blue Bettas with Bettas that have black bow-shaped spots, you can get puppies with beautiful colors.
- Ask the breeder if you don't know what the ideal match is for your Betta.
Part 2 of 5: Improving Play Space
Step 1. Get a big aquarium
You can breed Bettas in smaller tanks, but it's ideal for the fish to mate in a tank of at least 20 to 40 liters. This will ensure that the delicate female has enough space and that the mating process is ideal for both fish.
Bettas will need separate aquariums until the time of breeding. This will keep them from hurting each other
Step 2. Use high quality water
Water quality is critical to the health and well-being of any Betta fish. This is especially true at mating time, so make sure your tank water is fresh enough and of high quality.
- Test the aquarium water with a test kit, which can be purchased at the pet shop. Use the kit to find potential water quality problems such as high ammonia levels, acidity, low pH or low oxygen.
- Fix any water problems. Ideally, the pH level should be around 7. If the water pH level is different, get a chemical neutralizer from the pet store to restore the ideal pH level. The oxygen saturation of the water must be above 70%. If the oxygen levels in the water are different, it may be necessary to clean the tank and fill it with different water or change the charcoal filter.
- The water temperature must be between 10°C and 25°C. This temperature will encourage mating among the Bettas and guarantee the quality of the young.
Step 3. Use a soft water filter
Betta fish produce a lot of waste, which can compromise water quality. Gently filter the water to preserve the health of mating Betta fish, promote the mating process, and help the eggs and chicks survive.
Prevent the filter from causing excessive water movement. The water is still in the Betta's natural habitat, so any particularly sudden movement can disturb the fish and their young
Step 4. Provide hiding places for the females
Mating can be stressful for females as well as hurting them. Provide hiding places made of plants to calm the female and protect the bubble nest in which the eggs will be located.
Arrange several floating plants in the tank to improve the mating space for Betta fish. You can use live or artificial plants. Both types can be found at the pet shop or fish specialty stores
Part 3 of 5: Crossing Betta Fish
Step 1. Check the fish for health problems
If one of the Betta fish shows signs of illness, it may be a good idea to offer them marketed fish medications. In addition to treating diseases and eliminating parasites, the drug will promote mating.
Step 2. Feed the Bettas
Mating can stress and tire the Betta fish pair. Provide a healthy diet before mating to improve the process and ensure the health of eggs and chicks.
Offer a mixture of brine shrimp and flaked feed. Feed the fish only once a day to prevent excess food from compromising water quality
Step 3. Introduce the Betta fish
After checking the health status of both fish and feeding them, it's time to introduce them. Keep Betta fish in separate tanks for a few days to familiarize the pair, avoid injury and ensure high quality eggs.
Place the male and female in separate tanks close together for a day or two. It is possible for one fish to show interest in the other during this time, which is a sign that they are ready to mate
Step 4. Place the male in the tank for the crossing
Transport the male to the mating tank when both fish have become acquainted in separate tanks. Keep the female in her tank for a few more hours so the male can prepare.
Check that the male is not showing signs of stress before placing the female in the same environment. Some signs of stress include bumping your body against the sides of the tank or swimming near the surface of the water
Step 5. Place the female in the mating tank
When the male has been in the mating tank for a few hours, introduce the female slowly into the same environment. Initially leaving her in a separate space in the tank will give her the opportunity to get used to her surroundings and will prevent the male from stressing her before she is ready.
- Use a large cup or cut a Styrofoam cup in half to use as protection for the female in the mating tank. Slowly insert the separate container into the tank and place it against one of the aquarium walls. Avoid pinning the cup or cup to the wall as this may prevent her from swimming to the male to mate. Provide enough space so she can swim out.
- Let the male see the female's container to encourage him to build a nest of bubbles.
Step 6. Detect the attraction between the fish
Watch the Bettas for signs of interest among them, such as flippers. In addition to indicating if the Bettas need another partner, this movement will indicate that the female is ready to lay eggs.
- Check if the fins are rotating or expanding. This is a sign that fish are interested in mating.
- Be aware that it can take Betta four to five hours to start showing interest in your partner.
Step 7. Identify the bubble nest
If the Betta fish are interested in each other, the male can start building a bubble nest. This is a sign that the female must be released from the barrier inside the mating tank.
Be aware that the male can build the bubble nest over the cup and the female can lay eggs before she is released. This is normal, so don't worry if it does
Step 8. Place the female in the bubble nest
When the male creates the bubble nest, he can also try to attract the female by expanding the fins. If it doesn't move, place it on top of the bubble nest to ensure the eggs are placed in the protected location.
- Make sure the female is ready to lay eggs. If so, it will have vertical stripes on each side of the body.
- Place the female on or near the bubble nest so she can lay eggs, no matter how much she has already started to lay them in the container.
Part 4 of 5: Hatching the eggs
Step 1. Take the female out of the tank
When she has laid the eggs, remove her from the mating tank. Put her back in the normal tank to prevent her from getting hurt in the presence of the male Beta.
- Be aware that the female may be still for a while after laying eggs. In addition, the male may try to pull her away from the bubble nest when she has finished laying eggs.
- Place the female in the old tank or let her rest for a few days in a hospital or reserve tank.
Step 2. Treat the wounds
Betta fish can easily get hurt during the mating process. Make sure the fish's fins are torn after mating to prevent them from dying or getting diseased.
- Add commercially available water treatment solutions to prevent newly mated fish from contracting disease. These products can be found at the pet shop or fish specialty stores.
- Separate fish if you notice obvious signs of stress or injury.
Step 3. Watch the chicks hatch from the eggs
After approximately three days, check that the eggs have hatched. Puppies will look like black dots with small tails. While observing the development of the young, remove the male to preserve their safety and health.
- Transport the male to the old tank or leave him in a hospital aquarium for a few days.
- Feed the chicks when they start to swim freely. Puppies can be given “infusoria,” a food that can be easily prepared. Just cook a potato lightly and leave it for two days in a jar of aquarium water to proliferate microscopic animals. Put some of the water with infusoria in the tank with the puppies twice a day.
- Leave the puppies together for about 7 months. After that period, they may start fighting and hurting each other.
Part 5 of 5: Selecting traits through inbreeding
Step 1. Watch the puppies
If you want to breed recently hatched Betta fish, choose the best males and females to continue the breeding process once they are of the appropriate age.
- It might be a good idea to sell other Bettas. Still, it is recommended to keep the second-best male and second-best female as a back-up in case the breeding of the first pair is unsuccessful.
- Track the degree of relatedness of each new group and the Bettas you would like to breed, based on the desired characteristics.
- Remember that by selecting the best puppies of each generation, you will be getting closer and closer to achieving the ideal traits.
Step 2. Introduce new genes
Although inbreeding should be used as much as possible to obtain the desired results, eventually it will be necessary to restart the process and introduce new genes. Buy a new male or a new female, which have similar characteristics to the previously bred lineage. Breed the new fish to your Betta and continue the inbreeding process with the new offspring.
Buy the new Betta from a breeder who has a good reputation. It might be a good idea to exchange your young Betta fish with one of the breeder's fish as payment. This will be beneficial to both parties
Step 3. Repeat the process
Breed inbred Bettas for six generations before introducing new genes. This will help bring out beautiful colors and fins in future strains.