Betta Fish Breeding Step 3 : Spawning

The spawning process is a very fascinating thing, and to the untrained eye doesn’t have any kind of order to it. Fortunately for everyone there is a pattern, and once upon a time even I couldn’t tell, now i know when a pair is going to spawn almost certainly the day before they actually spawn. We’ll get to the behavior in a minute, but first you must know how to introduce the pair.

Once you’ve gotten that 10 gallon (or more) setup you need to have a hurricane latern glass. Put the glass in the tank, you put the female inside this and the male outside, the period in which they are seperated can be from 10 minutes to 24 hours. Soon as you put them both in their will flare at each other through the glass, yes the female will flare at the male, if she does not it may mean they will not spawn, but don’t give up hope if they don’t.

Many breeders swear that you shouldn’t release the female until the next morning and/or the male has built a nest, and some say that you should put her in every night. Putting her back in will just disturb their spawning process, and 24 hours may be too long and irritate the bettas, and some males will not build until the female is released.

I range from 10 minutes to 3 hours in this period, typically until the female is not trying to run away from the male. The female will show several behaviors to indicate that she is ready. If you manage to get a pair that will tolerate courting through the glass the female may not get any fin damage at all until she is chased away after spawning.

  • (Dark Bodied Females only) The female’s colors will change – she’ll have light colored vertical bars on her body, this is a very good sign
  • She will nose down at an angle around 45 degrees, this is a show of submissiveness and willingness.
  • She will no longer attempt to evade the male through the glass

Once she has shown all these behaviors go ahead and release her. Once she is released here is what to expect; (pretty much in order)

  • Flaring: The female will normally swim right up to the male and act tough, she will flare at him from the side and he will typically flare right back and after a few moments the’ll move on to the next stage (although if the female was isolated for a long time and they are both ready, and his nest is ready they may skip right down to the embrace).
  • Chasing: The male will begin to chase the female around the tank, she’ll probably try and hide in the plants you have for her to hide in, but he’ll seek her out and chase her. Many females will get bars running horizontally along her body during this period, these are agitation/submission bars. Eventually the male will stop chasing her so profusely and work on his nest, or she’ll actually turn around and flare at him to which he’ll try and get her to follow him tword where his nest is/will be.
  • Confused Lovers: or more appropriately On Again, Off Again the bettas will settle into a cycle where the male will work on his nest some, try and entice the female over, work on his nest some, entice the female over, wait a minute, chase her away, then start it all over. 90% of pairs that get to this point will spawn in my expirience.
  • The Embrace: [See Pictures Below] Sometimes jokingly called The Death Hug, this is the actually spawning, after a while of being confused lovers eventually the male will try and wrap himself around the female instead of chasing her away. They may not get it right the first few tries, of the first few hours. Frustrating may set in and they’ll nip gently or the male will chase her away for a while and stew over it until he’s ready to try again. Once they get it right the male will turn the female over, and wrap himself around her so there there ventral fins line up very close, the’ll sink a little and after each embrace the female will float to the top stunned, she’ll look dead almost, but don’t panic! She is just fine. The first embraces may not produce any eggs, but eventually they’ll start coming, slow at first, but pick up to anywhere between 5 and 30 eggs an embrace. The female will release them and the male will fertilize them externally, and they’ll fall onto his anal fin. A smart male will immediately know that he should pick up the eggs and get them in the nest before mother comes to, but some males will eat the first few releases of eggs, some will leave them lay until he figures it out and puts them all in the nest, some never get the clue and will either neglect the eggs or eat them all. Fortunately clueless bettas are less common than smart ones. The reason why the male has to hurry up and get them in the nest before mother comes to is she may eat them if they’re not in the nest. The female will do one of three things after coming to: help daddy put them in the nest (which may irritate daddy because she’s messing with the nest), do nothing, or eat any eggs not put in the nest! The latter females are annoying and may ruin a male, i had one female teach the male to eat them when he had to right idea at first.
  • Get away from my Nest! Eventually daddy will chase mother away from the nest, she may try and come back several times, don’t remvoe her immediately some times they are just taking a break, but if he chases her away three times in a row, never stops chasing her, or she doesn’t try to go back over then gently remove her, try not to disturb the nest.

Mother should be put in isolation, with some Melafix and a good helping of food, also COVER HER CONTAINER, females have a tendancy to get jumpy after spawning, best I can figure is they think they see bugs flying around so they’re trying to catch them since they’re so hungry. Keep her isolated for about a week, or until most of her injuries have started to heal, which ever comes first. Post-spawning is a prime time for adults to get opportunistic infections, so she needs to same high water quality she had before spawning during conditioning.

Now that your lovely Bettas are done with spawning you can move on to Daddy Duties.