Archive for March, 2010

Betta

March 27, 2010
Betta: ( Betta Splendens)

Size: 2-3 inches

Aquarium Size: 5-55  gallons

There are dozens of them at the pet store, mostly red and blue, housed in tiny containers. Some of them are dying, others have the energy to beg you to take them home. But will you stuff them in a tiny bowl too? I should hope not.

While bettas can live in these crude bowls, it shortens their lifespan and makes them sad. If you can provide them at least a 5 gallon container with a heater and even a filter, they will be much better off. The optimal temperatures for bettas are 71-76 degrees Fahrenheit. Pretty much any pH between 6.4 and 7.5 will suffice, considering how long bettas have been bred in captivity. They are known for their aggressive behavior; males will constantly fight each other, and will kill females that aren’t willing to mate. Females will also quarrel amongst themselves. Some good tankmates for bettas are fish that won’t steal their food or pick on their fins; this rules out most barbs and cichlids. Try corydoras or tetras.

Bettas will eat pretty much anything. They can subsist just on betta pellets, but studies have shown that they will live a better life with a greater variety in their diet. Try live brine shrimp, bloodworms, mosquito larvae, or even newly born fish. Your betta will go crazy and start “begging” you each time you pass by its tank, just like an aquatic puppy.

Now, unto breeding. First and foremost, take into consideration how many offspring you will end up with (Easily 20+; 50 isn’t rare). Many people keep them in jars, but I recommend you buy a large tank and split it up with plastic or glass slides; that way you can keep many bettas in a filtered and heated tank.

First, picking your stock. The bettas you see at Petco/Petsmart are usually mutts; don’t buy these if you are planning to breed for specific color or fin lineages. Try finding a reliable betta breeder, perhaps online. Once you have picked a male and a female, you must condition them in WARM, FILTERED water with live foods. Brine shrimp, mysid shrimp, etc. all work well. Keep the male in up a 10 gallon tank with a sponge filter, a heater, and 5-6 inches of water, and provide a half-cut foam cup to help the male construct a good bubble nest. Keep the water clean. Introduce the female in a jar or something. If she shows interest and is trying to follow the male, and has vertical stripes, let her loose. The male will probably have constructed a bubble nest by now. The male will squeeze the eggs out of the female in an interesting ritual, and then fertilize the eggs. At this point, remove the female. The male will put the eggs in his bubble nest for the next couple days, until the fry hatch. They will live off of their yolks¬† for another couple days, and after that you must remove the male or he will start to eat the fry.

Feed the fry things like daphnia, green water, or walter worms; you can also try powdered fry food, but the fry won’t always recognize these as edible due to the fact that they aren’t moving around very much. Oh by the way, you should have a culture ready well before you introduce the male and the female. You can also start them on newly hatched brine shrimp; however, most of the fry will die off because they aren’t big enough to take these at first. Only the big ones will survive. Anyway, feed the fry 2-3 times a day, and keep the water and air clean. Failure to do so will screw up the fry’s developing labyrinth organs. Keeping a sheet of foil with holes above the tank can help keep dust out. Keep caring for the fry in this manner until they are large enough to take larger foods. After a month or two the males will start sparring. At this point you have to separate all the bettas and find them homes. But that’s not a problem, because you planned ahead before breeding your bettas, right?

One more thing: Give the parents plenty of rest after they mate. It’s a lot of work for both the male and the female. Give them water with proper temps and feed them well until they recover. Good luck.

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