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Old 06-22-2013, 08:16 PM   #1 
Riverotter
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What we've learned...

Our summer project this year is betta genetics and breeding. Our first spawn was last week, and this is what we learned so far;

We set up 2 pairs, a yellow male with a red female and a pair of iridescent multi-colored crowntails.
~BTW, before anyone asks, yes, we did make plans for all the fry before this project began. Show type bettas will not sell better locally then multi-colored "mutts". In fact, I will find it easier to sell bettas who are all different than 50-100 red ones.~

The females were full of eggs, the males fat and sassy ... but neither boy was even remotely interested in building a nest.
When we released the females, the 2 pairs had totally different reactions.
With the crowntail pair, the female went absolutely spazzing hiding. No hiding spot was good enough. She would dart madly around the tank, sometimes jumping out of the water, to end up back under her leaf.
The male, on the other hand, went happily and contentedly to a slow courtship, dancing seductively and blowing the occasional bubble as he tried to lead her under the cup.

The yellow male would NOT stop flaring at the red female, and began a long, slow chase of her around the tank, flaring the whole way.
She was entirely confused at the whole thing. He never dashed after her or hurt her, he just aggressively (and endlessly) flared at her and kept her in constant, yet slow, motion. Finally, she started flaring back, and even began to shred his tail - he would slowly advance, head first, gill covers out, looking for all the world like he was going to dive at her any second .... and she would decide she had too much and dash past him, taking a nip at his tail as she went past to the other side of the tank. I can not describe well enough how ssssllloooooowwwwlllyyyy yet relentlessly he chased her.
We had just decided to separate them when he seemed to give a gasp, arched his back up .... and sank slowly to the bottom of the tank, stone dead. We think he had a heart attack!

~Things we learned; Never attempt to spawn a betta you aren't prepared to lose. Even if you are sitting there watching to make sure they don't seriously hurt each other, they can have a heart attack and die from the excitement.

In the meantime, the crowntail female had stopped freaking out, noticed that the male was doing everything in his power to entice her, and courtship went text-book perfect from there on, except for the pitifully small nest he built.
Finally, they began to embrace and the eggs started coming. Oh. My. Goodness did she lay eggs!! Dozens at a time, he couldn't pick them all up though he tried manfully. They both ate some, but there were so many it didn't make a dent. His tiny nest became WHITE with eggs before they both decided they were done with each other and we removed the female.

~Things we learned; Their mating ritual is beautiful and complex, and can take hours
~When they are done with each other, they are DONE
~The number of eggs possible is no exaggeration.

The female spent some recovery time in a QT jar with some Stress Coat before happily going back to her tank and is fine.
the male began to move his endless eggs from his pitifully tiny nest to a New And Improved - and still impossibly small - nest. He was hugely dedicated, even though his moving made eggs fall from the nest, 20 - 30 at a time, and he would patiently go down and pick them up and blow them back, before moving the next mouthful.

In about 36 hours, the eggs began to hatch. We were so excited!!! the male, not so much. He did not approve of anything happening to his eggs, and the way they now persisted in falling irritated him. But his dedication was impressive, and he made endless 5 inch trips to the bottom of the tank to retrieve them, even though every motion of his fins knocked still more babies out of he teeny nest.

~ Shallow water and a bare bottom is the best favor you can do for your breeding male.

A day later, we saw the first fry swimming. WOOHOO!! We also saw that, myriad though they were, there were noticeably less of them. We were not in a rush to begin feeding, as the water was well aged and cycled, and teemed with infuoria and micro-life....

~ A microscope is a wonderful, wonderful thing

...so we decided to leave the male in until more of them were free-swimming, as there was still a steady rain of fry falling from the nest.

The next day, we were certain. The fry were full and round (tiny little dots though they were) and the male, no doubt out of desperation in wrangling his errant and endless children, was swallowing about every third mouthful of fry that he picked up, so we decided to remove him, even though there were still some fry hanging from the nest.
I carefully washed my hands (no soap!) and went to lift him from the water. The first time he literally leapt from my hand, and the second time managed to wiggle free and dashed for his nest, where he went to fight me! Not wanting to totally destroy the nest, I thought I'd let him calm down for a couple of minutes.

~When you decide to remove the male, a deep net may actually be the best way to do it.
~If you think he needs to be taken out, go on and wreck the nest.
~An upset male is capable of hoovering up fry like a commercial shop vac.

A minute later I looked and saw him totally destroying the nest and devouring fry left and right, inhaling them dozens at a gulp. I took a cup and caught him in it, even though this action scattered the few remaining slow and clumsy fry all over the place.
We put him back in his old (cleaned, of course) home and fasted him for a solid week.

~ In spite of appearances, an overfed betta will not, in fact, explode.

The few remaining fry, who had been in a cluster near the nest, were now scattered across a 15G tank with many plants in it. Staring hard, I got the occasional glimpse of a moving speck, but mostly just put tiny droplets of egg food here and there in the water daily, and hoped.

~ Not only are the fry really, truly that small, they are even smaller. They will vanish into a tank, especially one with plants.

4 days later, my daughter managed to see 5 fry at the same time. Yay!! A far cry from hundreds, but we were happy with it. The fry had progressed from a miniscule black eye with a hair, to in incredibly teeny silver bubble of full belly, with a hair. So I thought it was time for microworms.

~ Microworms smell incredibly boozy.

It is now day 10 since The Incident and the fry are easier to see. Whenever I spot one, which I can now do every time I look into the tank, it is fat and round. I've still never yet to see more then 5 at the same time, but I'm hoping there are a few more then that.

Other things I have learned;

~ If your fish room is in a shop building (like a garage, for those of you not out in the sticks) a screen on the fry tank is a great thing to have. Otherwise, you will not only be raising betta, but mosquitoes.
~ I am a coward when it comes to siphoning out a fry tank.
~ Mosquito larvae are impossible to catch with a siphon.
~ That air-stone on the siphon trick is a good one.
~ Box filters are our friends.

I have also learned that I am delighted and fascinated with the process so far. I'll try to update this weekly - I can't wait to see these little guys grow and develop! I'm hoping that what we learned so far helps us have more success with our next planned spawn.

Last edited by Riverotter; 06-22-2013 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 06-23-2013, 01:06 AM   #2 
whatsupyall
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Great and entertaining read. Heart attack write up killed me lol.
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Old 06-26-2013, 09:02 PM   #3 
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The fry are easily visible!! Comparatively speaking anyway... it is a planted tank.
I might have as many as ... drumroll please ... six! Yeah, yeah, it's pitiful, but everyone starts somewhere, and they're teaching us a lot about raising fry.

Ok, not really. We've learned that if you have about 6 fry in a 15 gallon tank in an open space (where mosquitoes and other bugs can get to the water) they'll be basically invisible, deliriously happy and want for nothing from you.
I give microworms once a day, mostly to feel like I'm doing something, siphon a bit out, put a bit in - but mostly peer into the tank trying to catch a glimpse of one. I've never seen them actually eat a microworm. But everytime I see one, it looks fat and bigger then last time.

So we tried another spawn! A blue VT male and a black female. We set them up in a large, disposable tupperware that can float in a tank with a leaf, a sprig of plant and a cut-off cup. They taught us;
~every pair can act very, very different
~a pair can be ready, and still have no interest in each other
We left them together for 3 days. Which I was very, very nervous about. But the chasing that was done was minimal, and they seemed very inclined to leave each other alone, so we left them to it.

Finally, on day 3, they both decided they needed some relief, and if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with.
And that's when we learned;
~fish can practice safe sex.

They mated for 2 hours with no eggs. I had no idea they could do that.
I gave them a few freeze-dried bloodworms, to distract and separate them so I could take her out, and they grabbed a quick snack and dashed back under the nest and finally - eggs!! Woot!

It was not a big spawn, but we're happy with more then 6. I haven't tried to get a good count of the eggs, but the male is tending them faithfully. They are 24 hours old, and we're hoping they'll hatch sometime tomorrow.
The parents were very gentle with each other and the female is back in her old tank, with just a teeny fin tear to show for her adventure.
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Old 06-26-2013, 09:36 PM   #4 
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I'm loving your take on the breeding experience!!
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Old 06-26-2013, 09:54 PM   #5 
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Haha, that's another great write up Riverotter! Let me teach you something that you will learn later with breeding. Feed bbs at least the first two weeks! Lol. You will have ventral-less fry's using microworms only. You probably don't even need to bother with feeding for the first few days as there are plenty micro organisms for 6 fry's to share lol.
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Old 06-26-2013, 11:54 PM   #6 
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I'm cracking up with all of your 'learning experiences' :'D *subscribed*
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Old 06-27-2013, 08:26 AM   #7 
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Interesting read Riverotter. Good luck with your fry!
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Old 06-27-2013, 01:32 PM   #8 
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Very informative and entertaining reading. Lol
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Old 06-28-2013, 06:09 PM   #9 
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Sounds like your having as much fun as we are

Our fry hatched June 14, and we too are learning alot.
I have started feed bbs to mine couple of days ago. alternating with microworms. Seems to be working well.
This has ballooned into a lot bigger project than we original thought.
one tank for her , one for him, one for the fry, a brine shrimp hatchery, a brine shrimp grow tank to raise for the adult bettas. not to mention the microworm cultures.
But it has been a lot of fun and I can't wait to see the fry start to show there color.
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Old 06-28-2013, 06:39 PM   #10 
Riverotter
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The mystery of the vanishing fry

Yesterday I had a little write up on the new VT spawn, but the kids distracted me, the kittens hit the keyboard and it vanished

Now, somehow, the actual VT spawn has followed suit!
I took the father out, as he was eating babies as they hatched. He seemed to think eggs are great, but wiggly things were intruders/food. As the babies hatched, we learned the importance of the bubble nest.

~The babies need to stay near the surface, but the surface tension actually repels them, pushing them away. But, anything touching the surface arcs the water, and then surface tension works to push the babies up into that arc. The bubbles create many, many arcs, and then surface tension will actually kind of pull the babies up into it, keeping them safely at the surface, where the gas exchange is better.


Before bed, we saw that a few late eggs had fallen, but it was only 3 or so and the rest of the babies had hatched and were fine, and the first few were starting to swim. So we gave them a drop of egg food (hard boiled egg yolk, mixed in water, fine particulates only) and went to bed.

This morning, the fry are gone. There were at least 20-30 of the little guys last night, and this morning, 3 dead fry on the bottom and nothing else in there. They are just gone, vanished. The obvious answer is that there is something in there that ate them, but after much searching, I found only a tiny planaria on the leaf. Nothing that could eat 20+ fry.

It is a mystery, and one I hope to solve before our next spawn. We've been re-conditioning the crowntail pair, and will try again next week. This time, we will make sure that the male is totally undisturbed and hopefully he will not eat all the fry again.

The first crowntail fry are doing great! They are starting to look like teeny tiny fish and look faintly shimmery.

My betta picture taking skills are awful, but when we try to spawn them again, I will try to get some decent pics of the parents, and maybe of the fry too.
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