Breeding Betta Fish – A Complete Guide

Breeding betta will certainly add an extra level of excitement to your fishkeeping hobby. Betta have become one of the most popular tropical fish for personal aquariums.  Male Bettas are not community fish and should be housed alone. The female betta is fine in a group of fish. The male Betta have bright and vivid colors with flowy fins and tails. The female is not as bright colored as the male.

Raising these beautiful little fish will bring much joy.The Betta originated from Thailand, where they made their homes in rice paddies, small ponds and warm streams. They used to be called Siamese Fighting Fish. Children in Malaysia used to collect these fish in droves, then host fights to see which fish would be the village champion. Betta also used to look different. They were not filled with vibrant color like they are now. Recently breeders noticed that the fish presented vivid colors when angry and stressed. They worked this to their advantage and bred them have permanent colors.

There are specific items that you need to breed betta. There are instructions that you must follow carefully. If interested in breeding Betta fish, you should have a good 6-8 months to give to the breeding process.  It will take that long for your fry to mature and move to new homes. They will need careful and devoted attention. The more closely you follow the instructions, the more successful you will be in the breeding endeavor.


Preparation for Breeding Betta Fish

You will need two fish tanks, a 5-10-gallon tank and a larger one. Contrary to what people might think, betta fish need more than a 1- gallon tank.

You will need a clear divider for the breeding tank. The divider will be in place while the fish are watching each other and until they are ready to breed.   You’ll need a heater and a light, along with many live plants for both tanks.

Opt for a small filter that will oxygenate the water but will not provide a real current that might disturb the bubble nest. The smaller tank will be for the breeding pair and then for the fry, after they are hatched.

The smaller tank allows you to keep an eye on the breeding pair, the bubble nest and then the fry. The larger tank, possibly 30-40 Gallon will be for the female Betta as they grow.

The male betta will each get an individual container. They should not be with any other male, or with the female unless it is time to breed.

A female can come straight out of the community tank and go straight back in after breeding is finished. The breeding tank will suffice for the fry once they are swimming around. There could be up to 300 fry.

As they fry grow, they will need more room. You will need to separate the males and the females. The males become aggressive and by this time they have their bright coloring and plume-like tales to distinguish them from the females.

If you don’t want to use separate tanks, you’ll need a clear divider to keep the male and female separate. They should be able to see each other until they are ready to breed.

During breeding times, it is advisable to have a secure cover on the tank. They are more aggressive than usual and may jump out.  This cover also serves as a heat retainer.

You want to set up your tank before purchasing the pair of Betta to breed.   This will ensure that you have a fully cycled tank, ready for the Betta. Cycling will take approximately one month.

How to Set up the Breeding Tank

This tank used for breeding will be much the same as the regular tank. It needs to be somewhere quiet. They like privacy, so keep it away from busy areas.

You should only fill your tank with three to five inches of water, then add the filter and heater. It is your choice of using a filter or not but there must be a heater.

Betta are accustomed to the tropical waters of Thailand.  The water must be at 82* F. The filter usually creates a small current in the water and it has the potential to destroy the bubble nest.

If you decide on a filter, make sure it is not very powerful.  A syphon will work well to remove a portion of the water for maintenance without disturbing the nest.

How to Set up the Breeding Tank

You must leave the bottom of the tank bare.  The eggs could easily fall into the substrate and get lost or damaged.

When breeding, the males sometimes get very aggressive, so it is ideal to have some plants that the female may hide in. The fry (babies) will also nibble on these as food later.

You must have something that will float on the surface to provide a place for the male to build his nest of bubbles. Some suggestions for this might be a piece of Styrofoam or an almond leaf.

Bettas need privacy and wont spawn if it is too bright. You should have a light that is diffused or very dim.

The ph of the water should be around 6.8-7. The hardness of the water between 8 and 10.  You may use half each of tap and demineralized water to keep the tank water levels within range.

It is crucial that the water temperature remain at 82*F. If it gets too warm, the eggs could be destroyed. If you think that filtration is needed, try a low-power filter that does no move the water too much. If you do, the eggs could possibly float out of the bubble nest.

The tank needs to be cycled before introducing the fish. Cycling adds a friendly bacterium to the environment of the new tank. This makes it easier for the fish to acclimate to the new tank and the bacteria can properly dispose of the waste from your fish.

If not properly dealt with, the waste can start to rot and produce ammonia. This is fatal for your fish. Using a filter from a previous tank and squeezing the contents into the new tank can provide these bacteria.

After about 4 to 6 weeks the new tank will be fully cycled and ready for your breeding pair. Now is the time to get your betta and make sure they get comfortable in their new homes. This will take about a month.

Choose the Breeding Pair

Choosing the right pair to breed is probably going to be the most important factor in your success. It is recommended that you buy your male and female bettas from a reputable breeder.

When selecting your Betta pair, consider the coloring and other characteristics that you want to see in a new batch. Make sure to ask them for a younger pair, six months to a year old. Betta will breed best when they are young.

Many fishkeeping hobbyists are interested in discovering different varieties of betta. A breeder will be able to give you important aspects of their background, such as genetics or how old they are. They can also give you some helpful information about the breeding process or answer any questions you may have.

Make sure that the male and female are roughly the same size; the female should be slightly smaller than the male. This could determine if the breeding is successful.

You don’t want a male that lacks energy and is lethargic.  This could mean that there might be a sickness and he may not have a good immune system.  You will want to pay close attention to the eyes, scales and fins.

The male should have bright colors. This means that he is getting all the nutrients that he needs and is probably a good forager. The bright colors are also what attracts the female.

A study has been done on the mating preferences of the female Betta. This study showed that they prefer the red-colored males over the blue ones. The red coloring shows the female that the male is in overall good health.

How to Breed Betta Fish

When you think that your Bettas are ready for breeding, start ensuring that they are fed live food every day for about a week before you introduce them. Bloodworms or brine shrimp are a good idea, as well as, crickets or roaches.

Then when it is time to introduce the pair, you want them to notice each other but not get too close. Have them watch each other from a distance for a few days.

There are two ways you can show the male and female to each other.  Put a clear divider in the middle of the tank or you may put one beta in a clear cup next to the tank.

If they are in the same tank, with a divider, watch to see if they are interested in each other, with the male not being overly aggressive.

When interested, the male might start to show off his fins and the female will display vertical lines on her body. She will also swim with her head angled down.

The Introduction

If you have noticed their interest in each other, it is time to bring them together. When the male is ready for breeding, he will start to build a nest of bubbles. This will take 2 to 3 days.

You might have to nudge the female toward him but watch out for the male as he can be a bully during this time. He most likely will chase down the female; ensure that he doesn’t hurt her.

There are bound to be some battle wounds. The foliage in the tank will provide cover for her protection.

When the female is ready, her small white egg tube on her underside will stick out. She may even chase the male. It is time to remove the divider.

Turn off the filter, if you have one, and release the female cautiously into the males’ territory. He will most likely nip at her fins and chase her. This activity may continue for several days.

On the other hand, the female may not be interested. If that is the case, she will destroy the bubble nest. If this happens, you need to try the introduction again.

Remove her and start the process all over.  If it happens a second time, a new breeding pair is needed.

The Breeding Process

After a few days, the male will lure the female over his bubble nest.  They will embrace and he will attempt fertilization by wrapping his body around hers.

The embrace will prompt the female to produce her eggs. This may not happen with the first embrace, but eventually she will bring forth the eggs.

When the female releases the eggs, the male stacks them on his bubble nest.  After the female has produced, she may be removed from the breeding tank.

Sometimes she will help the male stack the eggs, but she will also eat them. So, watch carefully. Now It is time for daddy to take over.  The male will stay in the tank with the eggs.

He will watch out and care for the eggs until they are hatched, and the fry start to swim.  They usually swim about three days after they’re hatched.

Caring for the Fry

The male Betta will care for the babies until they start to swim.  After hatching, the fry will cling to the nest for a few days and they will eat the remains of their egg. After a few days, they will start swimming around. Now is the time to remove the male and return him back to his container.

The fry need plenty of space to swim around. After all, there could be up to 300 betta fry. The trickiest part of breeding is caring for the fry. They are very tiny and fragile.

At this stage, they need to be fed regularly. In the beginning, you should provide them with Infusoria; the microscopic organisms that grow on the leaves within their tank.

These are cultured organisms that can be bought or made at home. It will also grow on the plants that were put into the tank when setting up.

As they mature, they will only eat live food; baby brine shrimp or micro worms. Feed them a small amount several times a day. They can be easily overfed, so watch to see if there is any uneaten food around the tank.

Where to House the Fry

After the eggs have hatched, there are options as to where they will live. You can keep the fry in the breeding tank or put them in a grow out tank. Perform frequent water changes and keep the temperature and water conditions the same.

As the fry grow, they should be moved to a larger tank. At 8 or 9 weeks they will start to show their color. The males should be moved to different containers, as they start demonstrating their aggressive personalities.

The females can live together in one tank. Just make sure they have plenty of room.

If they are properly cared for, within a few weeks, they will be healthy, young, adult Bettas. Healthy Bettas will come to the glass if you get close.  They are usually aggressive, and they will eat regularly. They will have fins that are not damaged.

If the Betta is sick, there will be a loss of appetite and it will be lethargic. A sick fish will have damaged fins and they will want to hide a lot.

Beta fish will jump, so they like access to the water’s surface.


Now that you know how to prepare for breeding betta fish, you are ready to begin the process. Gather the items you will need and start setting them up.

Carefully choose the male and female you want to breed, let them see each other from afar, then introduce them. Never place two males together, or a male and female unless they are breeding.

Females live peacefully together in groups of about 5 or so.  Prepare yourself, there could be up to 300 fry. Get ready to care for all these betta fish, so full of color and vibrancy.

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