Breeding Bettas: Things to Consider

Things to Consider


How much space do you have? You will need at least one spawning aquarium of 2 to 10 gallons in size, a grow out aquarium of 20 gallons or larger and up to several hundred containers to house the males and possibly females. Do you have space for several hundred fish? Spawns can range from 30 on up to 500 babies.

Color / Fin Type

What fin type do you prefer? There are plakats (short-finned), halfmoons, deltas, double tails, crown tails and rosetails. What color do you want to work with? The more colors and fin-types you work with, the more aquariums and jars you will need.

Obtaining Breeding Stock

Avoid using petstore fish when possible. They are more prone to carrying diseases and more likely to have undesireable genetic flaws. Along those lines, they may carry colors that you are not breeding for but cannot see by looking at them (recessive traits).  It is best to purchase from somewhere like Aquabid where serious hobbyists sell or from International Betta Congress members who can give you genetic information on the fish you will be purchasing.

Financial Considerations

Remember this: it costs just as much to raise a veiltail betta or poor quality betta as it does to raise high quality bettas. Choose the best fish you can afford. You will have a better chance of selling the offspring you produce which may help you break even. You will NOT make money breeding bettas. You have to buy aquariums, heaters, food, plants, medications, breeding stock, and if you can’t collect enough suitable containers, containers to house male bettas.

What to do with the babies

There are always a few betta babies that do not grow correctly. They may have deformities, stay very small,  or develop swim bladder problems (no one wants a fish that floats or sinks constantly). How will you deal with these fish. If you keep them you will soon have shelves lined with fish that you can neither sell or give away. Will you have a pet Oscar to eat these fish? Can you cull them? If not, do you have the space to keep all the fish that no one wants?The majority of baby bettas will not have these issues but you still have to consider: How many friends do you have who will want a baby? You can’t sell all of them. Only the nicest ones sell. Will you sell to a petstore?  Chain petstores like Petsmart and Petco do not purchase from individuals. They are under contract and buy only from specific vendors. If lucky, you might find a mom and pop store that will trade fish supplies for bettas or give you a few dollars for nicer fish.Will you sell online? If you sell online you have to be willing to ship the fish to other states. Do you have time to make up shipping boxes, learn to bag the fish correctly and package them for safe transit? Will you purchase the extra supplies like heat packs for winter shipping? You will not have happy customers if your fish arrive dead or diseased from being chilled (or cooked in the summer).

If you want to breed your bettas, and would like to sell the offspring, please be sure to check your local state regulations. One or more licenses or certificates may be required from the department of agriculture or your state fish and wildlife conservation commission (sometimes both).  Such licenses and certificates are often required even for small hobby breeders.

Showing Bettas

Do you want to show your fish? If so, extreme care is needed to keep water quality pristine, the fish well fed and very careful monitoring for disease or other problems. Fins can become pinched from poor water quality or poor management which ends a show betta’s career. The International Betta Congress is a good organization to belong to if you want to try showing your bettas.

The final consideration is TIME!

How much time can you devote to your fish? Can you make the commitment to siphon fry tanks every night and change all betta jars/containers every 2-3 days. Containers smaller than a quart should be changed at least every other day. Will you forgo vacations? It is very difficult to find a good betta sitter and going on vacation often means coming back to sick or dead fish.  If you get lucky you might find another breeder that you trust who you can trade off  fish sitting duties. Can you find time to feed your fish 2-3 times a day? This is important for proper growth. When you have several hundred fish this may take you 15 minutes to a half hour. This may not be a problem if you have free time but for people who have young children or other commitments, making these additional commitments on time can be a mistake. The unexpected also happens. What will you do if you become ill and are in bed for 3-4 days? Young fish especially still need water changes and food.

Note: I add live plants to as many jars and aquariums as I can as it guards against disaster when I cannot do a scheduled water change by soaking up some of the toxins like ammonia.


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