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Bettas and Bubblenests

Badmans Tropical Fish Message Center: General message area: Bettas and Bubblenests


Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 04:40 pm
I've been keeping FW fish for a long time, and got into SW about a year and a half ago. I've come back to FW on a mission to successfully breed the betta. I had tried before, but wated to take things a bit quick, and failed. I've bred livebearers, but really want to breed bettas. Now I have decided to take things slow and do them right. But I have a problem. I have tried several males and none will build a bubble nest. I am trying the styrofoam cup and floating plants. I introduce the female in a breeding trap so the male can't get to her. I don't really want to introduce her until the nest is built, as I know she can get injured. Could it be that the female is the problem, or just that the males can't build nests? When I got them, I made sure to pick out the ones who built nests in their little cups, so i'm pretty sure they're capable. The water is 80 degrees, pH 7, parameters all ok, and I've done waterchanges to try to help. It's a 5.5 gallon, three quarters full, w/ sponge filter, little water movement, bare bottom, and 1/4 of the tank has rocks and plants for the female(if i ever get to release her). Can someone help me out? Thanks in advance,




Wednesday, January 23, 2002 - 08:25 am
As I am sure you have figured out, there is a big difference between breeding livebearers and breeding bettas. You gave a good description of what you are trying to do, and you have a pretty good start, but there are some things you will need to correct.

First of all, remove any rocks that are in the tank. On the chance that you do get fry, in the first few weeks the little guys spend several days on the floor of the tank. If the rocks are present, the male won't be able to find them to replace back in the nest or they will get trapped and will not be able to swim back to the nest by themselves. The water in the tank should not be any more than about 4 to 5 inches. The tank being 3/4 full is probably too deep. Having a couple of "fake" plants in the tank is good so that the female can hide from the male to keep from possibly getting hurt.

From your post, I take it that you have not gotten as far as the above yet, but you need to have the tank set up correctly for success. Now on to the fish, but first a couple of questions.

No. l: Do you have something to feed the fry on the chance that they do spawn? This needs to be thought out. They are very, very tiny when they are born, and either live baby brine shrimp or microworms need to be available. Infursoria is also a possible food, but they do better with very tiny, "moving" food. Liquid fry or dry "fry food" is really not an option. The liquid fry fouls the water really fast. The dry fry food is too big in the beginning for them to eat. The plan for food needs to be decided ahead of time.

No. 2: Are you prepared to take care of up to 100 or more fry? After the fry arrive, you will have to be steadfast on keeping the tank clean. This means removing any debris on the bottom of the tank, probably every other day. Also you need something to cover the top of the tank other than a hood, such as a plastic lid or saran wrap to seal the top. Any cooler air that might be allowed into the tank can cause pneumonia and illness in the fry. It is very important to keep the temperature of the tank constant.

No. 3: Have you been "conditioning" the pair before putting them together? This means feeding them both a diet rich in protein such as brine shrimp, blood worms, etc. for about two weeks before attempting to breed. Also have you "allowed" the two to see each other before hand while keeping them separate in their own bowls. Now on to try to help you be successful.....

While they are still in their separate bowls and feeding the diet recommended above, place them so they can see each other. If they pay attention to one another, and he starts building a nest in the bowl or she watches him and "flits" around her bowl, you will be able to tell if they are interested in each other. If none of this activity takes place, pick other fish as they probably are not compatible and will never spawn. If you do see activity, and they appear to be "interested" in each other, after about a week of watching each other, remove one or the other from the other's site for 4 or 5 days and prepare the tank.

After this time, place the male in the prepared tank to swim freely with no restrictions. A breeder net for her is not adequate because his view of her is obstructed. I use a hurricane globe (the kind that is used on lamps that has 2 open ends. Place the globe into the water and then dip her into the globe. He has perfect site of her, however, keeping her from getting hurt until the time is right. You need to keep a close eye on both of them, and if you do the above, they should be ready in a couple of hours, especially if she is full of eggs. You can also tell when "she" is ready as her stripes will change from horizontal to vertical. She will also "stand on end" with her head pointing down toward the bottom of the tank.

The male "may not" make a nest beforehand. Sometimes they make the nest "while" they are spawning. As they blow the eggs into the styrofoam cup, they surround the eggs with the bubbles. You will know when they are done because the female will go and hide and he will be working studiously picking up the eggs from the floor of the tank and blowing them into the nest while being completely disinterested in her.

You need to leave the male in the tank for about 2 days or so. Any longer than that, and he may start eating the eggs himself. While I think of it, don't be too concerned if you see "her" picking up eggs. Sometimes they will. Remember to keep them both well fed during this period or they may "snack" on the eggs.

As soon as they are done, you need to add some type of medication to the tank to prevent fungus from attacking the eggs. My preference is Maroxy, and just a couple of drops should do.

And now is when the work begins for you. I hope that you are prepared in trying to keep these little guys alive. The tank must be kept as clean as possible. It will take a couple of months, but you will notice that the males start to fight. This is when you need to remove the males to their own quarters. Just to give you an idea, I have had as many as 50 mason jars ready to house the males. And these must be kept clean on regular basis in order for them to survive. The females "usually" can be left in the main tank, but even they, sometimes, decide to fuss and will need to be removed.

I think this abou covers it all. If you have any more questions, you may email me direct. I will tell you that this is not a easy undertaking. But when those little devils start to get their colors, you will really feel like you have accomplished something. Good Luck!!!



Saturday, January 26, 2002 - 10:29 am
pat: Everything Kick said (that I read anyway, LOL) is true, in addition, some males are just worse at parenting than others. I've had some that were just insistent on beating up females regardless of what I did, and some that were such frantic neurotics that they would destroy their own bubble nests in their fussing over getting every single egg in just the right place. In addition, one other thing... hard water can make it more difficult to get the bubbles, made from saliva, to stick together. Fast running water and agitated water is also counterproductive, but you probably already thought of that.

Here's a site run by my friend Sherri which gives some advice on betta breeding:


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