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Old 12-26-2010, 07:07 PM   #1 
monroe0704's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Arkansas and Minnesota
Natural Tank Setup

I can't find the forum that was mentioning this, but I'm interested in using as natural of a spawning tank as I can.. lots of plants, etc. I find most of my life's ventures do better in natural conditions, from breeding fish to raising my daughter.

How do you go about setting up such a tank? What plants have worked the best for you? What has been your success rate? Any advice or things you wished you you knew before attempting such a breeding method?

I look forward to learning as much as I can about this!
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Old 12-26-2010, 07:31 PM   #2 
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Colorado
I'm setting up some outdoor tubs this summer. VERY shallow water...3 inches or so, lots of IAL, some java moss and java fern spread around the tub, no heaters.
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Old 12-26-2010, 08:00 PM   #3 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
This is my outside spawn method

The natural spawning method I use that has worked well for me

10g tank, full to the top with water- natural planted with soil/dirt substrate and sand cap, 80% of the floor planted with stem plants, 5% rosette plants, 10% moss on driftwood and floating plants that cover 10-15% of the top. The NPT needs to be at least 3-6 month old-mature and stable

Half full tanks are for the male-not the eggs/fry-if the male is well conditioned and healthy he should not have any problems retrieving eggs during the spawning act. Once eggs are in the nest they should not fall unless they are bad and hopefully he will eat them to prevent spread of fungus to healthy eggs or if the nest is disturbed and healthy eggs can fall.

As the eggs hatch-some may fall, after hatch the healthy wigglers should be able to get themselves back to the nest with occasional help from the father

Eggs hatch at different times in relation to when they had been placed in the nest during spawning. It is common to have different size fry at different stages of growth and development.
An hour or two difference in age can make a big difference in the fish world.

I use lots of common snails-ramshorn, pond, trumpet-they help in the production of infusoria a great live food for the fry, they also clean up any bad eggs and dead fry that fall. I also keep shrimp in the spawning tank. Both the snails and shrimp are part of the natural set-up and have other jobs not related to spawning

I use water that has been steeped in native oak leaves, so the water is a nice amber color

The Betta will use either the floating water lettuce or a sword plant leaf for his nest

I don't add anything artificial in the tank

I keep the water temp at 80F for spawning and fry rearing-I found that at this temp I get hatch within 24-28 hours.
At higher temps my fry hatch too fast and tend to be weaker

I don't use any aeration or filtration

I add both breeders at the same time, the plants in the tank will work as a natural divider to prevent premature egg drops and injury to the female
Spawning will start from a minute to 3 days
Longer than 3 days and I start over

I don't wait on a nest as a sign for breeding readiness, often a male will not make a nest until he has eggs in his mouth

I condition them with live foods, usually mosquito larva, I feed them together in the spawning tank as well and I also feed the male after spawning and during egg/fry care.

I usually remove the female after spawning is completed

I leave half my lights on at night until the fry are free swimming and then I turn them off as usual, my lights are set on a 12 hour photoperiod-due to the plants.

I usually leave the male with the fry the first month or so-this depends on the male and known habits and how important the fry are as well
If the male is a known egg/fry eater I remove him once the fry are free swimming, if he is new and unknown to me I will sometimes leave him and watch unless I really need that clutch of fry.
Males that are know egg/fry eaters are given a chance to change this behavior, if not, they are culled after the third attempt.

I place a plastic veggie wrap over the top of the tank to keep the air above the water warm and humid for the labyrinth organ development

Feeding the fry and water changes

I only use live foods: newly hatch brine shrimp with yolk sac intact for more nutrition, HUFA supplement BBS after they absorb the yolk sac to provide the Betta fry with needed nutrition, white worms-small amounts due to high fat content, and daphnia, infusoria, seed shrimp other micro-critters that are either already growing in the tank for free range feeding or from green water cultured outside in oak leaf/rainwater buckets

You know he fry are eating infusoria and other micro critters in the tank by looking at their stomach-it should be round with little black dots

With NHBBS and supplemented BBS the stomach should look round and pink/orange in color

I start adding the live foods once the fry are about 6-7 days old or 3-4 days after they are free swimming.

Once I start adding the live foods I start making 50% daily water changes.
This is to encourage strong growth and development and dilute the stunting hormone produced by the larger/older fry.
I have since changed this and I only make weekly 50% water changes when the fry are about 1 month old.

I also will start to condition the fry to a "feeding tap"-I tap on the rim of the tank(not the glass) as I add the live food.
This helps to insure most of the fry are in the feeding area for food, counting and catching/netting when it is time to be moved and most important observation for eating, health, growth and development.

As the fry grow I will start to move the larger fry to other grow-out tanks, usually starting at 2-8 weeks of age

This can vary from one spawn to another, I am not strict with feeding or spawning...I watch the fish and they tell me what they need by their behavior.
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Old 12-26-2010, 08:31 PM   #4 
monroe0704's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Arkansas and Minnesota
WOW! Very thorough, thank you! I'll have to see if this setup will work with my first spawning..

This should be a sticky for the breeding section! I'm sure this method is asked about a lot :)
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Old 12-27-2010, 10:21 AM   #5 
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: The Gun Shine State
Here is a very great link from a well known breeder and award winning breeder.
There is about 4 or 5 different methods check it out. Then you tweak them to suit your breeding style...

But the way most breeders spawn is in a 10g aquarium, Half full of water,(bettas live in shallow water) Also when they breed it is a very stressful thing for the fish.. So when eggs are falling everywhere during the spawn and during the hatching of them the parent dont have to swim so much up and down trying to work his but off.. Anyway so a 10g, Half full, They float foam cups, Or bubble wrap, Or Indian almond leaves.. They use a heater, usally around 80 degrees, Also the Indian almond leaves make the betta think there in natural conditions and help the bubbles stick together, As for plants they use java fern and java moss, The female needs plenty of hiding spots... For a filter they use a sponge filter, This allows you to still have a bio cycle without sucking up fry and them dying. Also it is really a must to control the air flow so the sponge filter is not popping the bubble nest or making to much current...
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Old 12-27-2010, 12:53 PM   #6 
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia
I used to breed similarly to OFL, except for the soil substrate (I only used dried leaves) - full stem plants evenly distributed, full floating water lettuces and some pond snails. Let the water age then spawn. The problem with this method is control - the floating plants and dried leave substrate make it difficult to control fry growth (I breed in plastic tubs).

Now I only use stem plants (anacharis), packed together half of tub which I distribute once spawning is complete and some pond snails. What is important for me is the water. I have never succeeded breeding with new clean water (very unstable). I have better results using aged water..... perhaps cycled, IDK. I simply let the water age for at least 1 month. Or to speed up the process I dump a lot of daphnia in the tub and let them die out, foul up the water and wait until the water clears on its own (usually 2 weeks). I siphon out the floor from what ever gunk (including blood worms) then refill with new water. All I want is the micro critters. I put in some live tubefix and sometimes daphnia (mainly for the parents), if they don't die (tubefix need a high concentration of oxygen), I introduce the pair.

I don't condition the pair because I always excessively feed live food or frozen blood worms.

Believe it or not, I don't really need to do wc nor feed the fry for the first 2 weeks. But I do anyway - once in 2 days 10 - 30% (siphon the floor - refill), and feed egg yolk. After 2 weeks I feed daphnia (I make sure there's always some tubefix in there). I recently realized that, everything must be cleaned after 3 - 4 weeks, otherwise I will get diseases. Almost forgot, I sometimes use air pumps after 1 - 2 weeks since free swimming (IMO, it helps reduce the need of wc).

I move the fry to a glass tank (fully filtered) after they've grown about 1 - 1.5 cm and feed adult food.

I have never considered myself a successful breeder. I produce very few compared to others I know. My results on average is 30 if I neglect, 150 if I tend to them. My minimum is 0 and maximum is >300.

As FB has stated, you need to find your own method/style by changing this or that used by others. Good Luck.
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Old 12-27-2010, 04:06 PM   #7 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
I have been using this natural method for about 3 years now and over this past year I have found that I get better results in regard to water changes..(as oddly as this may sound).....with my fry and survival numbers, growth, development and overall my 10 gallon NPT setup or natural method that I now use (not the bare bottom/half full tank method which is a good method too).....

I may or may not change water in my NPT that I use for spawning/fry until they are over 3-4 weeks of age and then it is small amounts at that and only a couple of times a month if that often and still get fast growth and numbers without health issues....I haven't had parasites like velvet or ich in my fry tanks for well over 3 years (knock on rarely do I see any jumper, belly sliders-swim bladder or labyrinth type problems either....or stunting problems related to hormones like I seen/had when I spawned with the bare bottom and massive daily water changes.

The natural method is not for everyone and especially not for the hobbyist going for large numbers of fry....with this method it is also harder for you to count or see all the fry at one time until they are about 2 weeks old and then you may only see about 75% of them-usually by 2-3 weeks I have most of them conditioned to the feeding tap and this does make it easier to a degree-I sometimes will spot a juvie hiding in the mass of moss/plants after I thought I remove them all and have another spawn going, hatched and free swimming and I have to rush to get it out so they don't snack on the new that could be a problem for some especially if it was really important to get a lot from that spawn....

Another thing I have noticed with this method is that the fry grow up more tolerant of each other...some breeders don't like this and feel it hurts the species aggression level to the point they will no longer flare well or will have spawning problems, however, I have not seen this to be a problem...I think it would take much more time- if it could even be done to breed out the aggressive instinct and fight in this species and nobody wants that anyway...their aggression is part of what make them what they are...a pretty awesome fish....the beauty of the flare and cocky personality is a site to behold in my opinion....

This isn't a method for everyone and there is a lot of other really good methods...this is just one of many..... and like other methods this one has its own challenges too.....
I am still tweaking this method and finding out both the good and bad...myself....making changes as I go......
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Old 12-28-2010, 06:02 AM   #8 
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: The Gun Shine State
Yeah everyone has a way that works for them and some have to use what they have around them.. They don't always have the resources..There really easy to breed, specially after I have started owning saltwater aquatic life and am in the progress of spawning clownfish. So compared to that bettas are easy.

The way I spawn is a 10 gallon or 5 gallon aquarium. 5 gallon at the smallest, Or a 5 to 10 gallon container.. I have a heater set on 80 degrees. I fill the aquarium half full about 6 inch of water.. This allows it so I don't have to do any water changes also, for 4 weeks.. Because the aquarium is half full I just add a gallon when the dad is removed and then a gallon every week until the tank is full then water changes.. By that time the fry are okay size so doing water changes are not a problem at all. Plus having the water level at 6 inches makes it so the parents are not working so hard and swimming up and down real far.. Spawning takes a lot out of them, Specially the male when them eggs are hatching and falling everywhere he is working his tail off. I also divide the tank so the male and female each have 5 gallons to swim in during the conditioning. I put a lot of Indian almond leaves, I put 4 things of java fern, about 10 leaves on each one.. I use a grapefruit size of java moss. My females never get tore up they are able to get away. I float half of a foam cup, or a IAL
And I feed live food or atleast frozen. I let them see each other until the female is ready and I release her..
I guess you could release the female without the conditioning but you won't get as good of a spawn. Conditioning helps the female build up eggs, they always carry eggs but when conditioned they build up eggs. Also when conditioning it allows them to see each other and get used to each other.. They get to a point where they want to be together so bad.. If you release them to early then the female clamps up, gets scared and goes 90 mph all over the aquarium..
But anyway like it was said, you have to take the ways of betta breeding and tweak them to suit you and you style, plus whatever resources you have. Not everyone can get indian almond leaves and not everyone has a planted tank sitting around to get java fern and java moss from..
I have worked really hard to have a nice fish room and it didn't come over night.. ; )
You just have to try and learn.. But make sure you do plenty of research before you do. Knowledge is power..
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