breeding - AH! Is this normal?

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emilai333

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OK so I'm trying my hand at breeding my bettas for the first time. I set up the tank as directed onbetta talk, and then introduced the two fish I want to breed. I kept the female seperated as directed... although she's pale colored so she doesn't get the vertical bars (I've seen them on my other female when I first got her); then when the aoSul seemed ready and Deisy was acting interested, I released her into the tank. Everything has been going really well... At first I was terrified that she would be shredded because he's a crowntail and they're supposed to be very aggressive, and I haven't had him in a position to test his aggressiveness (my other guys have all been allowed to flare at each other, I guage their aggressiveness by - well Notus flares at anything at all, even fingers; Indra flares at bright colored things and other bettas, Kiakias never flared at anything except Deisy). AoSul, however, has been almost respectful of her. He chased her about for a while (with me standing over them with a net, ready to save her if things got too rough) - then when she hid behind a rock, he swam around for a moment as if to say, "Aw what the heck!? My new girlfriend disappeared. Oh well, gotta go work on the house some more" and went to add to his bubblenest. So, she comes out once in a while, and he has hardly nipped her at all. Sometimes she will swim over to him in "passive" mode, and it looks like maybe she's ready, and he goes into full display mode... but if he so much as moves, she flares and runs away. They've only been together (meaning her released) for one day, and since she doesn't seem to be in any danger at the moment, I plan to allow them at least another day... But I'm worried about the behavior of her approaching and him being all happy about it, and then her flaring and running off. He doesn't follow her too far, for the most part. Anyway, like I said, I'm new at this, and I could go for either some reassurance that yeah, this is normal... or someone to scream at me that no this is NOT normal, and I should remove her.
 

chickadee

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Okay here is what is normal. the male will react at first by circling her and displaying a frantic motion and trying to lead her to the bubble nest while doing a mating dance so hard that it has been described as looking like he may break his back. If the female is receptive she will follow and they will embrace but the first few embraces are never successful, just attempts at finding the right position. If she is not ready she is going to hide and try to leave the tank, but if she eventually follows him to the nest it says she has changed her mind and is ready. This is not something you can hurry and it may take up to a day but probably not much longer. There will be several "false spawnings" that do not produce any eggs before they finally get into position and produce about a dozen or so eggs. They will immediately break apart and one of them will catch the eggs and either eat them or attach them to the bubble nest. (the female is more likely to eat them , the male take them to the bubble nest - he is usually the faster) then they will repeat the process several times before they are spent. Each time they go back to release more eggs it can take up to an hour or as little as 15 minutes. WHEN THE FEMALE IS FINISHED AND HAS NO MORE EGGS TO LAY SHE IS GOING TO TRY TO GET AWAY FROM THE MALE AND SHE WILL NEED TO BE RESCUED IMMEDIATELY OR SHE IS IN DANGER OF BEING SERIOUSLY INJURED OR KILLED BY THE MALE. You will need to have a hospital tank set up for her with very clean conditions (not the tank she came from unless she is alone - but needing all new clean conditions but cycled) You will have to keep her warm and clean and calm and away from flaring and stress as she recovers her strength for at least 10 days to two weeks. The heat needs to be around 80F or 29C and feed her very lightly and siphon the bottom of the tank daily. The tank bottom should be bare preferably to make it easier to clean and she should have an airstone running. She will heal faster with high protein foods like freeze-dried bloodworms rather than pellets. The male needs to be left with the eggs to tend them for a while until they go free swimming.
This is not a task for the faint of heart and I hope you have many individual containers warming up and cycling at this point as you are going to need them for the little males. It will come sooner than you think and at least a 55 gallon for the little girls to grow up in as they are going to need room to grow up in and the less room they have the more aggressive they will be toward each other and will turn on each other. When the male is ready to be removed, he is also going to have to go into a tank comparable to what you put the female into and give him the same treatment as the spawning process is hard on the fish and you need to give them tender loving care afterwards.

I am really concerned with the late rash of people breeding bettas who are not doing more studying the process and possible problems before starting the process. It does put two very lovely and in my opinion valuable fish at severe risk. This is not directed at you specifically but to those who are tempted to get into the middle of things and find they are not at all ready. As I said it is a big and hard job.

Rose
 
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emilai333

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Hi, Chickadee, thank you very much for the response and the description of what should happen. The more different descriptions I read, the better I feel about the situation. ! Nervous mommy being paranoid about the health of her babies.

I would like to mention that I read about a method of "birth control" - that is, to remove some eggs so that the spawn gets down to a number that will be easily cared for and given away. I am prepared for a substantial number of babies (I haven't counted my jars because I'm lazy). And, to reassure you, I am completely ready for when Deisy needs to be removed; and then for when aoSul needs to be removed.
 

chickadee

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Good for you. As I said, the comments were not necessarily meant for you if the shoe didn't fit; but breeding bettas when the proper knowledge and care is not taken is a VERY big pet peeve of mine and it nearly makes me crazed when folks take such badly planned risks with two beautiful creatures. It makes me feel so great to know that at least one of you has taken some precautions. There are hardly any who do. All they want to do is get some betta babies to sell and make some money.

My only caution to you now is to watch inbreeding as it is a danger. I have had fish who were the unfortunate victims of inbreeding and did not live long and while they were beautiful, I still find the vendor selling fish that look just like them on a shopping service. I have in the past recommended vendors for online ordering of good quality bettas as I buy my bettas online, but I will not recommend this person as his fish always look alike and I am sure he is using the same gene pool all the time.

Rose
 

Butterfly

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The females belly should be fat and her oviposter(breeding tube) showing (looks like a little white pimple on her belly). This is how you know she's ready if she has no bars. If the oviposter isn't out she's definately not ready.
Carol
 
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emilai333

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The oviposter is out, and she does definitely look plumper.
 

Butterfly

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Cool, your on your way. My only efforts at breeding Bettas was years ago and my female Betta would get ready, spawn with the male then kill him before I could get her out. Her name was sassy(my husband called her "black widow") after the deaths of two males we never made the attempt to breed her again. All that said to let you know you practically have to be in the tank with them to protect BOTH of them.
Carol
 
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emilai333

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For future reference, is it OK to place the female out of the male's reach (but still in view) either at night or when I have to leave the room for an extended period (meaning a few hours). I haven't heard anyone suggest this, so I'm guessing its not recommended... and I'm guessing that if I do this a few times I will become accustomed to just giving it a chance; but for now, this is exhausting - I wake up at least once every two hours (and its hard to get to sleep with the light on); I run back and forth to check on them constantly because I won't leave them alone for any period... Its so stressful!!! but if I'm successful it will be worth it.

Current update - Deisy's fins are getting much more tattered - she doesn't run away and hide anymore, she just moves across the tank. She then sneaks right back up to him, but when his attention shifts to her, she still retreats again. Sometimes he chases her, sometimes he doesn't. Other than that, they both seem to be in very good shape still, so I'm forcing myself to be patient, assume the best, prepare for the worst, and be ready for anything.
 

chickadee

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One recommendation I have heard is to put the female in a long tall jar that is clean and not wash with detergent and put it in the tank with the male but make sure it is tall enough that he cannot jump into it or she cannot jump out and then you can keep them apart until they are REALLY showing signs of wanting each other, but I am like Butterfly. It is going to be VERY hard to keep them safe from each other. Like I said, Betta breeding is not for the faint of heart. It is a hard and dangerous matter and this is why it is usually done professionally where they have a staff on hand 24/7 to watch out for things. It is going to be more work than you have probably ever planned on, but you must decide if the risks outweigh the rewards. I would say that you are too far along to back out now.

This is a situation that I do not envy you to be in but you can try to do the jar or a breeding net situation if you want to but you will need to have a pretty good size tank and a nice LFS to be able to find a breeding box. I would get one with mesh sides so it can share the water and filtration and all from the tank without a seperate hook up for everthing. The only thing you may want is a seperate air stone. Then after the spawn starts and you need to protect her you must remove it so you can get to them quickly to remove her from the tank to the one set up for ther.

Tell me is this makes any sense at all as I am having a headache and am on medication so I may be a little confused in writing. My thoughts are okay but the words may be confusing.

Rose
 
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emilai333

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Yeah thanks, it does make sense.
I agree that I am too far along to back out now, nor do I want to... I'm just looking for better ways to do it next time. I understood when I started that I was risking the lives of my fish. I just had to hope and pray that I would be able to keep them as safe as possible. The jar thing is what I did to begin with, but I must have misjudged the way they were acting. anyway, I'll keep you posted on how things are going. If nothing happens by the time I leave tonight, I will put her back in the glass while I'm gone (I have to drive home for a couple hours; if I'd known I was going to have to, I wouldn't have tried breeding them this week) or leave my roommate in charge.
 

chickadee

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One thing I would recommend to you to have on hand if you ever decide to do this again is a breeding net. It is a soft sided little box like thing that hangs over the inside of the wall of the aquarium and the top is even with the surface of the water. The female can be kept in there for the time you need to keep her seperated until they are both ready and it is easily removed when things are ready. Don't purchase the ones made of rigid plastic as they are not nearly as affective and may not allow the free flow of the filtered water and oxygenated water and maintain the same temperature levels.. They are fantastic. While I do not breed my bettas, I do use one to seperate my naughty little ones when I get a little bully in the bundh once in a while. A couple of days in one of those and they think they are the new kid on the block and settle down considerably, yet they have never been out of their own tank.

The only time I take a bullied one out is if it is injured.

Rose
 
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emilai333

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Thank you to everyone for your help.
I ended up deciding to give up on them this time, as Deisy was starting to respond aggressively to aoSul.
 
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