Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
-How do I breed bettas?
Spawning bettas is not necessarily difficult if you know what you’re doing and are prepared for the outcome. The fish first need to be conditioned by feeding well with good meaty foods such as brine shrimp and live blackworms. The female should get nice and plump full of eggs during this time. Most bettas can be conditioned for breeding within about 2 wks. Once conditioned, the fish should be safely introduced to each other where they cannot yet come in contact with each other. Putting the female into a covered cup (with small air hole in cover) half full of water and floating that in the male’s tank is one method frequently used. Dividers can be tricky due to the betta’s ability to jump over it.) If the fish have access to each other too soon it is possible for them to fight instead of mate, which can be potentially deadly to either fish. Once exposed to either other by sight, the male will then build a bubble nest as he courts the female with frequent displays in front of her. They both will flare their gills at each other in their mating display. The female’s stripes will change direction. Once the bubble nest is in tact, then the female can be released into the male’s tank. It is very important that she be removed immediately after the spawning has taken place, and this must be done without disturbing the bubble nest. For this reason it is a good idea to use a long shallow tank (a 15 – 20 gallon long tank filled 2/3 of the way with water works nicely) with lots of shelter for the female to hide away from the male and his nest. Eggs hatch within 24 – 48 hrs. The fry are born with a yolk sac, and will feed on this for the first day or 2. Once the fry are free swimming, the male should be removed. Some males will eat the fry. Care for the fry is the hardest part of spawning bettas. Their water must be extremely clean at all times, yet they must be fed 3 – 5 times/day. Airline tubing works well for removing any solid waste and dirty water, but care must be taken to ensure the fry are not sucked up.
Bettas grow rather slowly, so they don’t usually show color until they are 3 – 4 months of age. They must also be watched closely, and separated as soon as aggression begins among them. This can happen as soon as 8 wks after hatching. Each betta should have a container of its own at this point, males and females both. Female siblings can sometimes be kept together a bit longer than the males, but females are just as aggressive as males, so this is only temporary.
A betta spawn can include up to 100+ fry. The difficulty in spawning bettas is usually in separating 100+ fry so each has a container of its own, with daily water changes and feedings 3 – 5 times/day until they reach the size of 1 – 1 ½ inches.
Proper foods for betta fry include daphnia, newly hatched and strained brine shrimp (this can be a difficult and messy process), and crumbled betta flake food. A combination of these foods is best.
It’s always a good idea to plan an outlet for betta fry BEFORE spawning begins. Many lfs’s won’t take bettas younger than 6 months – 1 yr old, or until they are at full size and color.
-What temperature should I keep my betta at?
Minimum 76 degrees farenheit. A safe range is 76-86. The important thing is that it needs to be stable. These are tropical fish that will not tolerate cold water.
-Why do bettas fight?
They are in the Ananbantid phylum, and mark their territory with bubble nests. Males will not tolerate other males who enter this area.
-Can I keep bettas with goldfish?
No. Goldfish require large tanks with massive filtration, and coldwater. Bettas are tropical and need very low flow.
-What fish can I keep my betta with?
Any fish that is tropical, is not nippy, and does not have long fins. Bettas are very slow fish and should not be housed with fish like Male Guppies, Tiger Barbs, Angelfish, Goldfish, and most Minnows. You can also keep ADF’s, some shrimp, or snails all depending on the personality of your betta. Bettas do best with peaceful bottom dwellers and/or inverts.
-My betta is bloated. What do I do?
Peas are not healthy for a betta and can cause permanent damage to their digestive system and shorten life span. If a betta is bloated then it is time to take a look at water quality and feeding habits, as well as temperature. An overfed fish is an unhealthy fish at risk of bloating. An adult betta should be fed once/day and should be able to finish all food within 2 minutes. Bettas have very small stomachs and need time to digest food before consuming more. Improper foods can also cause bloating, as can digestive tract problems and intestinal parasites.
-What kind of water do I use for my betta?
A reliable source of spring water can be used safely for a betta. The use of RO/DI water will require the addition of needed minerals & nutrients, as would distilled water. The purification process done with distilling makes distilled water the most pure, and thus the most dangerous for a fish. The process of RO and DI will also remove many minerals and nutrients the betta fish need for their organs to function properly. Tap water is usually the safest, but use of water conditioner is very important. Water conditioner will neutralize chlorine and chloramines, as well as toxic heavy metals that may be found in tap water sources. Testing tap water before using it for a betta is important. There are other, more complicated ways to make tap water safe. If you find you have high ammonia, nitrite, and/or nitrate in your tap water, and can’t find a good source of bottled water, then those other options should be considered. (other options include using a bucket, filter, and filter media to clean the water before using it in the betta tank)
-My betta wont eat!
Bettas can get bored with the same food every day. The best way to get your betta to eat is to try a variety of foods. When he is hungry, he will eat if the food is proper. Brine shrimp, live blackworms, and very small snails can often tempt even the fussiest of bettas. By keeping a variety of foods in the diet, this will prevent the fish from becoming bored with the food, and will also prevent any risk of malnutrition. Food sources should be meaty foods, such as small insects, insect larvae, small worms, brine shrimp, etc. Vegetables such as peas can cause severe damage to a betta’s digestive tract and should be avoided.
-Why did my fish change colors?
A mature betta shouldn’t change colors other than to get a bit brighter during spawning, and the stripes on the females will change direction. Faded color in a betta is a good indication that something is wrong. A sick fish will lose color and luster, as will an old fish and/or a stressed fish. If you notice a color change in your betta, it is then a good idea to do some water testing, check temp, be sure there are plenty of decorations, air is easily obtained from the surface, and be sure he’s getting the proper diet. If all needs are being met, then it is time to begin looking for other signs of illness.
-Why are there bubbles on the top of my tank?
These are made by male bettas. This means he is happy, healthy, and ready for spawning (but doesn't mean they have to spawn).
-How long do bettas live?
Anywhere from 1 year to 6 years, but a healthy betta is generally 3-5 years.
-My betta is laying down on the bottom of the tank!
Temperature is too cold. A heater will fix this up. Bettas become very lethargic when kept at low temperatures. This can also be a sign of illness and/or stress. Be sure the fish has plenty of hiding places, water params are in good standing, and there are no other signs of illness such as tattered fins, fins with holes in them, white patches on the body, fuzzy growths, swelling of the eyes or abdomen, or anything else that appears to be “off”. Laying at the bottom can also be a sign of old age. As bettas mature into old age they slow down, both in metabolism and activity level. It is often necessary to lower water levels for older fish so they don’t have as far to swim to obtain oxygen.
-Can a betta’s tail grow back?
Yes, when kept at proper conditions. However, that is also largely dependent on why the fins were lost in the first place. If it’s an infection such as fin rot, medications would be needed before healing could begin.
-Does my betta need a filter?
Need, no. Recommended, highly. The only reason that people don't like bettas with filters is because they are often found in still-water rice paddies. But why would a betta be so special as to not receive proper care? The Azoo Palm Filter/Red Sea Nano Filter, as well as the Whisper internal filters are great.
I hope this information will help everyone keep their betta for as long as they can in thriving conditions.
*Many thanks to Bettababy for the new, extra information*