The One Inescapable Fact About Breeding Bettas

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The is one inconvenient truth about betta breeding. That is culling goes hand in hand with breeding and fry production. Which is why experienced betta breeders with vibrant and constantly improving lines live by the one golden rule, “Do not look for a reason to keep the fish, instead look for a reason to cull it.”

Some won’t agree with that and that’s okay. But if you don’t ruthlessly eliminate the weak, the imperfect, or the undesirable fry, you’ll be overrun with bettas. Most of which will be less than you’d want them to be – poor color, undersized, or have fins that don’t measure up to the standard form you are shooting for.

And let’s be clear. By culling I’m not talking imperfect fish, I’m talking imperfect breeding stock. And up to 85-90% of your spawn will fall into that category. They’ll be perfectly viable fish that simply don’t make the cut. You ready for that?

Sure you can fantasize that you’ll be able to give the excess away. But to whom? How many bettas can you stick your mother-in-law with anyway? Or do you know of some secret underground railroad for unwanted bettas?

Then too you may be able to sell some to a local pet store – but have you tried?

Of course they can always be feeder fish for some hungry Oscar but some are not comfortable with that option either – even though it isn’t all that different from feeding baby guppies to your hungry bettas.

Yet while there is no way around culling fish for any number of reasons, there are some things you can do to make the process less problematic if not less traumatic.

First have some worthy goals in mind for your breeding program. Breeding bettas for breeding’s sake is not a goal. You should be looking to create special fish in regards to color, finnage, size or whatever traits you are trying to achieve That way if a specific fish doesn’t meet your predetermined expectations it simply has to go. Honestly you WANT to be super picky and HAVE to be somewhat cold hearted if you are going to reach those goals. Weeding out those that don’t measure up is all part of the selective breeding process.

Second start with the very best breeding stock you can afford. (Many start with fish from Thailand.) And if you can’t afford a top notch pair, you really shouldn’t get into breeding. The world doesn’t need any more hapless veiltails crouching in tiny bowls at those stores whose name begins with Pet-something. You want to produce effervescent, healthy fish. Guys that sport truly awesome colors, with fins to match.

Third, don’t cull too early but don’t wait too long either. Remember you’ll have maybe a 25% natural die off as it is. Yet after three or four weeks size differences will be easy to see. Making it simple to distinguish the fast growers from the also rans who likely won’t be booking a date in a betta show any time soon. Still some will surprise meaning less than promising fry may surprise on the upside. You kind of have to develop an eye for genetic talent and not cull too soon.

Still the plain truth is you can’t possibly manage all the fish produced by your breeding efforts. It’s far better to lavish attention on 14 superb specimens than 223 below average fish that no one wants.

And if you don’t have a viable plan for dealing with the overabundance your pair may produce you should stop before you start. Keep bettas as pets but don’t take that big leap from keeper to breeder. Because the inescapable fact is you have to cull your spawns if you have any hope of responsibly raising superior bettas. Which would mean turning them over to guys like this to take care of. And he’s very good at what he does.

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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