So You Want to Breed Bettas, Huh?

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To many, spawning bettas has a huge emotional appeal. It’s like what the world needs now is more veiltail bettas rather than love sweet love or something. But they gamely plow forward anyway. More or less making it up as they go. Not exactly sure how to go about things but certain they’re going to give it the ole college try anyway.

Given the draw betta breeding presents, this video gives you an up close and personal view of betta splendens courtship. The pair involved are just gorgeous by the way. You will see how mating behavior tends to follow distinct rules played out on the edge of you might consider suitable for family viewing. Or so it seems. But it works for them. At least most of the time. But you might have to rate this vid PG for some violent content – males don’t always play nice as you’ll see. Anyway so warned here are the ten phases of betta courtship.

Courtship Phase 1: Initially you want to let the pair occupy the same water without actually doing so. That bit of double talk means both want to be in the breeding tank so they can sense each other, yet safely. You do this by keeping the female in the glass globe of a hurricane lamp. You’ll know things are going well if you see a lot of showing off. Meaning flaring by the male and desirable wriggling by the female directed at the male. Ideally the male should also be building a bulging bubble nest during this 1-2 day get to know you period. The nest shown here is rather unimpressive actually. But just goes to show bigger isn’t necessarily better when the comes to betta breeding.

Courtship Phase 2: Release the female into the tank. As in this video she may well check out the bubble nest and otherwise get to know her surroundings. Yet this is the calm before the storm more or less. As shortly the courtship ritual will come down to a high speed game of Tag You’re It. As the male seems to relentlessly chase the female around the tank nonstop. Not all pairs do this to this degree. Yet this is why it’s good to have plants and other hiding places for the female to take refuge in around or behind. Giving her a brief break from of her own personal terror in this fighting fish version of hide and seek.

Courtship Phase 3: The female will show signs of being ready to get down to business when she tilts her body downward submissively. Still the male in this case goes after her. He evidently can’t read the signs too good. Clearly, visually brutal betta courtship is not for the faint of heart. As whenever the male spies her, he goes after her like a football linebacker with a bead on the quarterback. Is this anyway to treat the mother of your offspring?

Courtship Phase 4: You might call this the Follow the Leader phase. This is where the tables have turned and now the male tries to lure the female to the vicinity of the bubble nest. Although this guy acts like he’s not sure exactly what he wants, even if he has a willing dance partner. The overall idea is to hang out around the nest so any resulting eggs can be deposited there easily.

Courtship Phase 5: Just when you think this guy could use some serious relationship counseling, things settle down. We might interpret what’s going on as a loving embrace. Not sure how the fish see it. And notice no eggs have dropped yet. And yes that is typical behavior for the female after the embrace. She acts kinda stunned or maybe it’s just that she’s intoxicated on his love.

Courtship Phase 6: Repeated attempts at the embrace occur apparently because if you don’t first get it right, try, try again. This too is typical in an inexperienced pair bonding.

Courtship Phase 7: Eggs! Finally. Or was that one egg? Followed by a couple two three more the next go round. Not exactly an abundance of riches.

Courtship Phase 8: As the number of eggs produced multiplies the female may not, or in the case of this one, may help retrieve the them and attempt get them into the bubble nest. Her effort was rather lame.

Courtship Phase 9: Intense scenes of intertwining fish can go on for hours. Perhaps now you can better understand why the emphasis on conditioning that occupied during the two weeks previous.

Courtship Phase 10: Game over. You want to remove the female at this point because all she’ll do is get in the way of the male as he tends to his brood. He doesn’t really need any distractions at this point anyway.

As you can see, betta fish breeding is definitely a contact sport. But as long as the male isn’t literally shredding the female, spousal abuse in the form of frayed fins is to be expected as standard courtship behavior. Yet it may not be super easy to detect the bright red line that suggests the male is going beyond the normal courtship chasing ritual to actual life threatening behavior. Although you probably will get better at judging that based on experience. Oh and just don’t think that once you see free swimming fry you’re home free. Actually your end of the bargain is just beginning.

About Lucas
Putting a name with a face I'm Lucas Smatana. Like you I'm passionate about betta fish and hope to share my enthusiasm. The idea here is to make sure you get helpful info and useful ideas on betta fish care that really work. To insure your betta keeping experience is a good one both for you and your fish. So that you and your pet enjoy a long, happy and healthy relationship.

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