Breeding Betta Fish 101:Everything You Need To Get Started is supported by our readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission.

Owning one or several betta fish can be a truly joyous experience. It can lead to the desire to begin breeding them. This can be done for strictly personal reasons, but some do take their breeding plans to the point of wanting to also sell them. While we can’t speak to one of those modes being superior to the other, we can say that when it comes to breeding betta fish, you are talking about a highly rewarding, extremely challenging endeavor.

A Word Of Caution On Breeding Betta Fish

Make no mistake: While breeding bettas can be fun, even profitable (let’s not forget those who breed betta fish for show), it can also be fraught with challenges. There is a potential for trial and error that you may need to accept now. You can be successful at betta breeding right out of the gate, but many find it takes some time to get a knack for it.

You can eliminate a considerable margin for error by doing as much research ahead of time as possible. That’s where this article becomes useful. We’re going to cover everything you need to get started, regardless of your ultimate goals with breeding. You may want to read up additional articles and books, depending on what you would like to accomplish as a betta fish breeder.

At the end of the day, we would suggest starting small. Having a long-term goal is fine, and you can set off at any pace you please. However, as a newcomer, it makes more sense in terms of time, money, and the necessity of building experience to start breeding on a small scale. The choice is ultimately yours.

Getting The Best Tank For Breeding Betta Fish

The first step is to establish permanent dwellings for your males and females. Here are the essentials that you’re going to need to keep in mind:

You’re going to need two tanks

At the very least. It is not a good idea to raise your fry (baby bettas) in the same tank with the males. At worst, the males will see them as a threat. They may also be devoured.

You will need one tank for a permanent home, and then a second tank to handle your breeding efforts. For your two tanks, we should suggest something in the 10-20-gallon range. 10 is just fine, but 20 might be better for more ambitious first-timers. Do NOT opt for any tanks smaller than 10 gallons.

Before you set out to buy your fish, make sure you’ve cycled both tanks thoroughly. This is not difficult to do, but should be taken care of first and foremost.

Make sure you also have all of your equipment ready before buying bettas, as well. In a moment, we’re going to show you a comprehensive shopping list to that end.

Essential Equipment For Betta Breeding

Let’s take a look at the equipment you’re going to need:

  • Tanks: To reiterate, you want at least two. You may want a third to separate bettas in special situations, such as one who has become sick, but that’s entirely up to you. Make sure all of your tanks have lids, as well.
  • Submersible Water Heater: A 25-watt heater will allow you to reach and maintain your ideal temperature.
  • Seasoned Sponge Filter: You want to keep your water clean, but you also don’t want a filter so powerful it can potentially scatter about the eggs.
  • Air Pump: This piece of equipment will be responsible for gently moving water from the tank to the seasoned sponge filter.
  • Cover: There are a few different options in this arena. Some choose a glass top to create a humid environment, but not so much that the water gets too warm. Others prefer plastic wrap, although this considered to be problematic for at least a couple of reasons. Some even believe you don’t need a cover. Perhaps not, but you will lose more water to evaporation, so you’ll need to account for that.
  • Plant life: This gives your betta fish places to hide, rest, and it simply adds texture and personality to the tank. There are a number of different options that are worth exploring.
  • Indian Almond Leaf: These products are designed to soften your water. They also give your males the much-needed ability to build what is known as a betta bubble nest.
  • LED Lighting: These should be kept along the top of your tank. Make sure you purchase lights that can be controlled.
  • Tank Divider: When the time comes, the tank divider will ensure your bettas can get to know each other, but not in a way that risks their health and/or lives.

Keep in mind as well that all of the suggestions we’ve made for products are merely that. Research all of these items, and find specific products that will match your needs and budget.

At this point, you are decidedly ready to shop for and choose your betta fish for breeding. This is where things can get challenging, but there are a number of tips and suggestions that can help you navigate your needs and possibilities.

How To Choose The Very Best Betta Breeding Pair: Pet Store Or Breeder?

It is not hyperbolic to suggest that this is the most important part of understanding how to successfully breed betta fish. As a beginner, you will find yourself looking at two distinct ways to buy bettas for breeding.

On the one hand, you can go to a pet store. On the other hand, you can get what you need through a reputable breeder. Our suggestion is to go for a breeder, and to find one as local to you as possible. Breeders give you a wider array of choices. This can be vital for situations in which you want to breed for certain types, colors, or fin shapes with your betta fish.

A pet store, even a chain like Petco, can make getting started pretty straightforward. If you simply want to get a handle on breeding betta fish, you can find everything from a single store. They also tend to be a little cheaper, when compared with a breeder, but this can be offset by the numerous benefits of choosing someone who has a focus on bettas. You can even buy betta fish these days.

Still, a local breeder means working with someone who is truly passionate and knowledgeable about bettas. You also stand to get the healthiest possible bettas, and perhaps even someone who can help you with other aspects of the enterprise.

How To Choose A Male Betta For Breeding

Careful consideration should be made with regards to choosing both the male and female you would ideally like to breed.

In terms of males, energy is one of the first things to look for. A male betta fish with poor energy levels will be seen as weak, possibly disease-filled by the female. The odds of the female choosing the male, based on this criterion alone, can drop dramatically at this point. You want an energetic male for breeding purposes.

Coloration is something else females are going to be looking for. While you are free to choose any colored betta you please, keep in mind that females tend to pick the brightest-hued examples. This is because such color indications good health, which also means they are a good forager. The brighter, the better is seemingly a rule of thumb, as well. One study suggested females were more apt to choose males with red coloration, as opposed to those with blue coloration.

Finally, we come to the fins. This is arguably one of the most important aspects of choosing the best male betta fish for breeding. You generally do not want bettas with damaged fins. This is another indicator of the probable health of the male to the prospective female. 

If they are a good forger, and if they have good energy, their fins are going to be strong and distinctive-looking. Such fins will also heal very quickly after suffering damage. This is generally no more than a couple of days.

Females also like a male betta fish with strong fins because it suggests they are good fighters.

How To Choose A Female Betta For Breeding

The truth of the matter is that female bettas for breeding are a little easier to choose, in terms of what you need to keep in mind while shopping. You still want a strong, healthy female. For this reason alone, it can be a good idea to choose legitimate betta breeders.

Females need to be strong. Beyond that, you really only need to choose one based on the personal criteria you are trying to achieve. In other words, based on the physical traits you may be trying to recreate in your fry.

Interestingly enough, female bettas can live together just fine. Males are going to compete with each other for space and mating opportunities. Not that you want your bettas to fight too much, but females do tend to choose males that win such fights.

A Few More Important Things About Choosing Your Breeding Pair

We cannot stress this enough: Buy from a reputable breeder! Anything less than the best almost certainly results in poor breeding results. At best, you’re going to be disappointed. At worst, your bettas will be dead.

The bettas will be anywhere between four and twelve months old, when you set about your task. Regardless of when you get your breeding pair, they’re still going to need about a month to get settled in.

The Best Conditions For Breeding Bettas

Time to set up the breeding environment! Here’s what you’re going to need to do:

Get your bettas ready

It will take at least two weeks for them to become comfortable and optimally healthy in their surroundings. It is better to wait for a month. This allows the female betta to build up their strength and eggs, as mating is rather stressful on them. You should also use this time to get them on a good live food diet. You’re also using this prep time to keep an eye out for any of the common betta fish diseases.

Get the breeding tank set up

This should be done in an area where your bettas can have peace and quiet from noise and any brightness. After filling the breeding tank with three to five inches of water, add the sponge filter and air pump. Fully submerge your heater, and then tape the almond leaf to the front of the tank. Add your plant life. Leave the tank to settle for at least twenty-four hours.

Put the female betta in the breeding tank

This would be a good time to use the tank divider. Your female should be left alone to hang out in the tank for around thirty minutes.

Introduce your star-crossed lovers

Add the male to the breeding tank. When the male becomes aware of the female, expect them to start turning deeper colors. Vibrant fin displays are something else to look for. The female will respond positively by turning a darker color, and by displaying vertical stripes along her midsection. You will be able to see the ovipositor a small speck of white between both ventral fins. The more your female flares up and waggles about, the more interested they are in your male as a breeding partner.

Look for the bubble nest

If the initial introduction has been good for all parties concerned, the male is going to start building a bubble nest. They will alternate between doing this and continuing to show off. Separate them for the evening.

Once Betta Breeding Begins

Once they’re back together, the female will check out the bubble nest. You want your female to be impressed. The male in turn will begin showing off even more. They will also probably start chasing the female around the tank.

Keep the heat and humidity inside your tank, using one of the suggestions we made earlier. Humid conditions are ideal for hatching and fry development.

Over the next several hours, expect lots of chasing and biting. This is pretty aggressive stuff, but it’s largely normal. Keep an eye out for extreme stress or physical harm. The female is going to continuously check out the bubble nest. The male will continue to show off, turning aggressive when it doesn’t feel as though the female is responding properly.

When both are engaged in a mating dance, you’re going to see them swimming side-by-side. They will stop sporadically to display sides, flare up, and so forth.

If the female betta swims up to the male with its head down in a submissive pose, or if it goes straight into the bubble nest, you’re in business!

What Happens During Betta Mating?

The male wants to be able to flip its female mate upside down, and then wrap himself around her at the point of her midsection. This creates a tight squeeze, which will cause them to float to the surface or sink to the bottom of the tank, if they are successful.

The male will eventually release the female, waiting upwards of five minutes before going again. It may take them a few initial tries to make the “connection”, in which the male is essentially positioning themselves to fertilize the female’s eggs.

Successful Betta Fish Mating And Beyond

The female will then release eggs, go into what will seem like a betta fish coma, and begin floating sideways. This is completely normal. While this goes on, the male begins moving the eggs to a safe location. It may even build a new bubble nest for this specific purpose.

The female will eventually wake up, and perhaps elect to help your male in this task. This is fine, but watch that the female does not eat the eggs. Furthermore, once the eggs have been moved, the female and male should be separated. Otherwise, the male will see the female as a threat.

For upwards of thirty-six hours after you’ve separated them, the male will attend to the bubble nest. They will wait for the eggs to hatch into fry. Once the eggs start hatching, your male will work towards catching eggs that fall from the nest, and other tasks along those lines.

After a few days, your betta fry are going to start swimming in the upright position. Congratulations, you have successfully bred your very own bettas! Now, you just have to go through the steps involved in raising your fry into healthy adults!

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Jeff Colt

Jeff Colt

Hello, I'm Jeff- an aquarium enthusiast with over 25 years of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish, including koi, goldfish bettas, cichlids and more! For me: Aquariums are like jello - there's always room for more!

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