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Betta splendens

This is an article of my experiencecs with maintaining, breeding and raising the Betta splendens.

Siamese Fighting Fish

Synonyms: Betta trifasciata (not BLEEKER), B. pugnax, B. rubra (not PERUGIA)

These fish originate in Thailand; Cambodia; and possibly Laos.
1892 to France; 1896, Paul Matte, Berlin, Germany (from Moscow).

(1997 by Kaycy Ruffer)

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I was really scared to try to spawn these beautiful fish.  Why?  I had tried to spawn the Betta in 1982.  My male kept attacking the female so I read an article that suggested adding an extra female so the male would take his aggressiveness out on the "dummy" female and would spawn with the other.  The problem with this theory is, does the male know which one is the "dummy" fish?

Actually, this system did work. After the male spawned with the mate chosen for him I removed both females. OK, now what? In two days I saw a couple fry hanging from the bubble nest. They were very difficult to see since they are so small. I'm sorry to say I did not (at this time) know what to do after this. I did lose the fry. It wasn't a good first experience.

Well, I did try it again in 1994. With much success. This time around I read another little booklet strictly on Bettas. The book states to place a male and a female who looks ripe with eggs (swollen in the belly region) in a 10 gallon aquarium filled only half way with water. Supply the female with a place to hide. OK. Sounds easy enough and believe me, it was!

The tank was bare except for a 3" clay flower pot lying on its’ side with the opening facing the left rear corner of the tank with a plastic plant that covered the corner as well. In this same corner I placed a "Little Mermaid" filter so the current would keep the clear plastic lid in place (a 4" diameter lid from a plastic food container) that I had placed at the right rear corner of the tank for the pair to spawn under.

I added the pair. The male stayed mainly on his side of the tank while the female quickly took up residency in her clay pot. I fed strictly live tubifex worms. For the next three days the pair stayed in their own corners of the tank. The female was getting larger with roe (eggs) and the male was making the biggest bubble nest I ever thought possible! On the fourth day as a neighbors son and daughter were getting ready to play some Nintendo we noticed that the female was staying close to the male under his bubble nest, which he did actually build under the plastic lid.

As we watched closer we noticed the female would approach the male from the left side with her head against his side. The male would then start to curl around her. As he wound about her, her body was turned upside down and they would vibrate their bodies. Once the vibrating stopped we could see a "clutch" of eggs being released. The male released the female and quickly started to collect the dispersing eggs and spitting them into his bubble nest. The female seemed stunned and began falling to the bottom of the tank without moving. Just before reaching the bottom she recovers.

She continued to hover around the lower half of the tank until she sensed he was through with his task of spitting her eggs into the bubble nest from their last spawning. Then the scene continued to repeat itself for the next hour.

This was the first such experience the neighbor children had witnessed with fish and sat glued and motionless in front of the Betta tank the whole time!

After the female retreated to her corner of the tank and seemed to show no further interest in spawning I placed her in a basket hanging in a 55-gallon community tank to recuperate.

I placed a glass lid over the spawning tank. The Betta book said the first three weeks are the most critical for the Betta fry because they do not have their labyrinth organs yet. The lid keeps the air moist and at the same temperature as the water which I kept at 78F. Any draft could cause sudden death to the fragile fry.

I let the male care for the fry the first 5 days and then I removed him. I released the female into the community tank and placed the male into the basket to let him recuperate. The fry were then free swimming and I began feeding them newly hatched brine shrimp. The fry are quite small and look like tiny black slivers. When fed small amounts several times a day the fry will grow rapidly. (I always add small Ramshorn snails to my baby tanks to help keep down the excess food.)

I maintain the tank at a pH of 7.2 and the hardness was 80 ppm.

Approximately one hundred fry hatched! Twenty actually made it to sellable size. (I did not have the space to raise all the fry.) Another thing to consider when raising labyrinth fry is that some will grow much quicker than the others and as soon as you see larger ones you must remove them to other aquaria otherwise they will eat their smaller brothers and sisters.

I still feel I had a successful batch considering my first attempt years ago was a total flop. At two months of age the fry are now one and a quarter inches in length.

The children said this was the best time they ever had NOT playing Nintendo!

References: Baensch Aquarium Atlas Vol 1, by Rudiger Riehl, Hans A. Baensch, 1997, Microcosm Ltd.

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