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Old 02-22-2013, 05:53 PM   #1 
Xaltd1
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What is "Conditioning"?

I'm confused. All advice says to "condition" your breeding pair in advance of the "introduction". Is this anything that I don't already do? I keep my male & female bettas in heated tanks (76-80 degrees), monitor water conditions daily, and feed a varied diet.
I have my yellow HM male moved into my hopeful breeding tank-10 gal cycled- I moved 7 girls out of it and moved him in today (he had been in a QT tank). I left my mate for him, my gold/yellow HM. They seemed to adore each other. No nipping, just lots of posturing by both. I watched them flirt for about 2 hours b/f moving her. She'd let him get close, then zoom away. I was worried she'd be exhausted, so I acclimated & then reunited her w/ her former tankmates in the 29 gal.
I'm leaving the yellow male alone to see if he builds a bubble nest. I shut off the filter. I'm going to go shopping for a sponge bubbler tomorrow.
What more should I be doing b/f trying again? Should I pull the yellow girl & put her in a tank alone? Right now, she's showing some stress stripes.
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Old 02-22-2013, 05:58 PM   #2 
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Oh, dear, after an afternoon of courtship, Mr. Bananama Jack seems SO SAD in his 10 gallon, all alone. No puffery, just dejected swimming :0(
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Old 02-22-2013, 06:33 PM   #3 
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Place both into smaller, heated tanks.. a gallon or less even if you can keep the temp roughly 76-78F.

7-14 days is average of how long it will take to condition (some can do it in 3-5 days depending upon the fish/experience).. the way that tends to work the most is keeping them separated from all over fish, don't even let them see another betta during the 1-2 weeks of conditioning. Only allow the pair to see one another for 10-20 minutes once a day. It's commonly called "carding" them.. keep a paper or card between the two containers and remove it to let them see each other once a day and then replace the paper/card.

During that time you will feed them lots.. roughly 3 times a day of high quality pellets.. to get her stimulated even more offer live or frozen foods such as bloodworms. Feed lots, but not too much - want her to bloat up with eggs but not bloat up and have health issues.

Then place the male into the tank and the female in the tank - if she looks to be ready to pop with eggs you may not have to separate them.. but it's still ideal to for a time (anywhere from a couple hours to a day).. when she is showing her breeding stripes (if she is dark color), and/or they are flirting and she is showing submission then you release her into the tank with him.

If she is not full of eggs and ready to breed, after a little while together they may end up hurting one another because neither wants the other around if they aren't in breeding mode.

Conditioning is basically preparing them with extra good food such as live/frozen (I personally haven't had luck just using pellets), getting them mentally ready (such as carding them and keeping them separated during the conditioning period). To just throw them in together without either of them being ready can result in harm/death to one/both. Even when they are ready there may still be trouble.. they may be fine at first, but it can turn quickly once the male sees the female isn't ready to breed.

Make sure to know if the female's big belly is eggy or just from food..

Your 10g doesn't seem to be ready for breeding.. you said cycled so I'm going to assume you have it full of water and with a filter.. I would also research ways to breed.. a full tank of water is doable, but you don't want a filter going on.. and after the fry have hatched and are swimming you will want to use a sponge filter. Make sure the temp is set at 82-85F

They will chase off and on.. the male should of built a bubble nest and will be trying to lead the female to the nest if they are ready. If anything, he should also be trying to "play follow the leader" and the female should be following him around the tank. Some chasing will happen, but it shouldn't be constant.

After she is completely ready and full of eggs and they are together you will have to leave them alone.. the female may end up beaten up badly, etc.. sometimes they perish.. but it happens unfortunately. The male wants a submissive female.

Here is a picture of how I "card" my pairs - can't see them, but the first 2 rows are 3 pairs I was conditioning.. the black are plastic folders I found at the dollar store and cut up to slide between the fish and I pull away the pieces separating the male/female to let them see each other for roughly 15 minutes a day. Otherwise they are alone in their containers.
The second is one of my breeding set ups - what most would consider "standard" I guess... I don't do it this way anymore, but it does work for many/most people, and it gives you an idea of what the tank should look like - only thing missing here is the sponge filter, which would be added later.
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Old 02-22-2013, 06:59 PM   #4 
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THANK YOU for your input!!!
I purchased the male on 2/1/13 & have been keeping him in a heated tiny 1/2 gal heated tank since. He's had high quality food & moss ball.
My 10 gal has been housing 9 female bettas for about 2 months. I lost 1 on Wed. I've been cycling their 29 gal final soroity for 5-6 weeks. The params on the 10 gal are perfect, so I thought it the ideal spawning tank for a 1st try at breeding.
Why is lowering the amount of water in the 10 gal spawning tank necessary? What advantage to pulling the male from this tank be beneficial? "Glow" (the female) is occupied keeping her place in her sorority, so I can see the advantage to pulling her to an individual tank (no other bettas in sight).
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Old 02-22-2013, 07:31 PM   #5 
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Welcome - keep in mind, breeders will do things differently, but I'll let you know some options..

Keeping the water level lowered will help the male when he collects the eggs during spawning.. they will breed under the nest, the eggs drop and the male will rush down to grab them and to bring them up to the nest. So it helps give him less distance to swim up and down from.
During the incubation and first days of life the male will be constantly picking up eggs/fry from the bottom and going back up to replace them back into the nest. This is why giving lots of food right beforehand helps - gives him energy as he won't be eating during the 3-4+ days he is with the eggs/fry. So him having less distance to go up and down will make it a bit easier on him.
Also most tend to prefer bare bottom breeding tanks - easier to see/collect the eggs, and easier for fry to see the food and for you to siphon out the daily water changes. Helps keep the tank a bit cleaner.. but some breeders do it with substrate - but when they do that the tank tends to be heavily planted with real plants to help keep the water cleaner.. the live food you feed the fry die off after a couple hours in the tank, so you will need to siphon it out daily and bare bottom makes it easier.

Another consideration, do you have a grow out tank? The 10g won't be enough room for the fry, unless you plan on culling (killing) off most of them. And all the individual jars you will need to separate all the juvenile males (and a way to keep them all heated).

So if you are serious about breeding.. make sure to set up the breeding tank without a filter (normal filters will kill the fry and make it near impossible to keep the nest in tact), make sure to have the right live foods - BBS/hatchery and cultures going first. Make sure to have a grow out tank, and up to a 100 jars for juvenile males when they need to be separated.

It can be expensive, it's a lot of work, but it's a ton of patience.. so when you do have everything ready, the pair are in the tank.. just got to let them be. Sometimes a virgin pair can take a day to breed, other times it can take a couple weeks.


Sorry for any incomplete responses.. in the middle of making dinner so getting up and down :P

Last edited by Myates; 02-22-2013 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 02-23-2013, 05:32 AM   #6 
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Myates got that covered.

So basically it's getting them healthy and in the mood. Isolate with lots of high protein foods. You see, the male will probably fast during the whole breeding and rearing process. And the female will take quite a beating. So they have to be in prime condition.
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Old 02-23-2013, 08:56 AM   #7 
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My poor male last time didn't eat for days after I pulled him.. he's back to normal now after almost two weeks. But if he didn't get lots of good food first it could of ended badly. He refused to eat for about a week - and during that time he was so busy with a few hundred eggs. So the stress + energy spent to woo the female, care for the nest, etc can take it's toll on fish who weren't properly conditioned. And the poor girl.. yeah definitely need added nutrition outside of the "regular" feeding.
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Old 02-23-2013, 12:24 PM   #8 
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Thank you, Myates, et al.
I am serious about my fish, but not about becoming a "big time" breeder; this a "training wheels" test. I plan on culling at least 1/2 of the eggs (if not more) right away.
I have purchased so much stuff for just a few fish that I have 90% of what it would take. My goal is to have 3-5 yellow(ish) HM girls to add to my sorority and 3-5 males to adopt for postage/sell. I've paid $20-$35 for my best girls. 5 new ones would be $100 + postage, so, by the numbers, it makes sense to try. By the emotons, it would be fun to try! (More gratifying than sending another PayPal payment!)
I've done a "wet run" on live food. I've tried growing microworms & brine shrimp. I made some mistakes, so I can be realistic about doing that (the adult bettas couldn't be less interested in microworms, IME, so they went to waste.)
Besides my occupied 29 sorority, I have the 10 gal, a 5 gal, plus 2 dividable 2.5 betta tanks. All have filters & heaters. I have 2 spare heaters. In addtion to a pack of mason jars, I have 5+ of those neat divided plastic betta .5 gal "tanks" that they sell for around $4 @ Walmart. I use these as QT tanks: I place them in a shallow plastic storage bin w/ water & heater (in the bin) just below the fish container edges.
If I wanted, I could buy a 10 or 20 gal breeding tank from Walmart, or clean out the 10-gal I have as a grow-out. I have Betta Spa, Indian Almond leaves, plus my own oak leaves... I an uncertain how you use the leaves.
If my goal is, say, 10 adult fish (maybe ambitious for a beginner?), what is the math in terms of culling eggs, culling fry, & size of grow-out? # of "jars"?
(Sorry to make you jump through hoops. What is "dinner", btw? I'm a jaded former housewife who had to cook 3 meals a day for 27 years. Now I live out of a microwave!)
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:52 PM   #9 
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This really gave me lots of info! I'm interested in starting spawning so I'm doing lots of research.
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Old 02-23-2013, 10:36 PM   #10 
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Feeding the proper live foods to both adults & fry seems to be a big problem. IF you can get the correct live food, how on Earth do you time it correctly?
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