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1) With the tank setup, I remove the conditioned male from his tank and place him in a small cup of his own water and begin to float him in the tank. I acclimate him to his new water, temperature and quality, for about 15 minutes. Halfway through I add some of the tank water to his cup. Unlike normal acclimation, I dump him and his water straight in the tank when he is accustomed to it. Since the water did not come from a pet store or a foreign source, I do not worry about it contaminating the breeding tank. This is the case especially if I have kept his bowl extra clean (like I should!) So after 15 minutes, and after adding in some tank water halfway through, I add him to the tank. While he is swimming around, checking out his new surroundings, I then begin getting the female ready. First, I place the lantern chimney (picture reference) in the breeding tank, near the Styrofoam cup, but not touching it. I then acclimate her in the same way as I did the male. The only difference is I use a lid on her cup so the male will not knock the cup over and tip her out in his excitement. After she is used to the tank, I gently pour her into the lantern.
2) Now comes the very important part of breeding bettas : PATIENCE! You truly need to exercise this virtue during this time. If you release the female to early, all you will do is cause her unnecessary damage. I have rarely released the female on the first day. Wait and watch. Let the male start working on a nest. Some males don't even bother with nests, but most will. Even an experienced breeder male who has built great nests in the past, may decide not to build one, it happens. At least give him one day to build it if he is going to. You will know when the female is ready by a couple different signs. Not ALL the signs may happen, but when a female is ready beyond a shadow of a doubt, most all of these signs will be present. Just so you know, they will not always, and in fact rarely, spawn the first time she is released so don't worry!! Just be patient and keep working with them.
2a) SIGN #1: The female does not try to evade the male. Even when she is in the lantern, she will try to get away from him when he comes to her. When she is getting ready to breed, she will stop trying to run, sometimes will flare back and will swim 'with' him in the lantern.
2b) SIGN #2: The female's abdomen will get increasingly larger.  She is getting full of eggs. Females contain eggs all the time but when they are ready to breed, they increase in number and get larger. (picture)
2c) SIGN #3: The female will get vertical stripes. Bettas get 2 different kinds of stripes : vertical and horizontal. Vertical stripes indicate a readiness to breed. They may also indicate dominance as I have observed with sparring females. Horizontal stripes indicate fear or submission. I have actually observed a breeding female looking plaid. She had vertical stripes expressing that she was ready to breed, and she also had horizontal stripes expressing her fear of the overly-aggressive male. It was quite an interesting site. Anyway, vertical stripes are a very good indicator, but it should be combined with signs#1 or #4 .  Vertical stripes are not visible in light bodied females such as opaque whites, possible yellows or any other pale bodied betta. (picture)
2d) SIGN #4: The 'Head Down' dance. This is a better sign than sign #1 for readiness. The female almost always exhibits the vertical stripes while doing this. When the male approaches her, she will begin to wiggle, head down at him. I have added the closest picture I had of a female doing this. (picture)
3) Once you have determined that the female is ready, and hopefully the male has a sturdy nest built, gently lift the lantern chimney enough for her to swim out. Leave the lantern chimney in there so you can re-cage her during the night if they do not spawn.
4) Once released, there will be some aggression. The male will most likely chase and bite her. If the female is truly ready, she will not run much unless the male is overly aggressive. Even if she is ready, she may still run and hide. Be patient again here. Do not remove her unless she is *very* beaten up and gasping hard for air. They will get torn up, they will breathe heavy, this is normal. It is not pleasant to see, but it happens. Keep an eye on them throughout the day. If you have released her at the right time, they will spawn within the day. Don't get discouraged if they don't, even I cannot get them to spawn on cue. If you have an overly aggressive male, it will take longer. Before you go to bed, I find it wise to stick the female back under her lantern during the night. If you feel your pair are about to breed at any time, you can go ahead and leave her loose. I have had females get revenge on males during the night. Waking up to find your beautiful male with barely any fins left, is not the best way to wake up, in my opinion. Release her every morning until they spawn. If they do not exhibit the desire to spawn after a few days, trying slowly adding in some fresh, cooler water or using Black Water Extract per the bottles instructions.
5) Spawning is a very neat experience to watch. The male will continue to approach the female until he finally coaxes her to his nest. If the nest does not meet her standards, she may leave and go back to the other side of the tank, or she may jump up and bite the nest, destroying what he has worked so hard on. Once he has built a nest good enough for her, and has lured her under it, they will begin. She will begin her 'head down' dance again and the male will wrap himself around her, placing her upside down. They will roll and 'lock' into place. You will notice this 'lock' when you see it. This is when the eggs are released and fertilized. Sometimes during the first many embraces, you will not see any eggs. It may take some time for the female to begin releasing them, so don't worry. Once the male releases the female after an embrace, she will be in a shocked state and float to the top, motionless. Do not freak out (I nearly did the first time) this is very normal. (picture)
6) When eggs start being released, the will gently fall after each embrace. (picture) Anywhere from 5-30+ eggs can be released during one embrace. This depends on the age, size and condition of the female. As the eggs fall, the male will usually start gathering them before they even hit bottom. This is while the female remains stunned, floating at the top. He may miss some, that is ok. The female will snap out of it and instantly begin looking around the bottom for eggs. She may eat them or she may place them in the nest along with the male. In the beginning, some males may eat the eggs as well. Give him time, he may figure it out and start placing them in the nest. Remember, they are virgins most of the time and have to learn these things on their own. There is no instructional video we can have them watch :) They can embrace like this from 1-12 hours, possibly more. I have had them go at it all day long before, I have also had them start and finish within the hour. You will know they are finished when the male chases the female away from the nest and you find her hiding in the plants. Remove her and gently remove the lantern chimney. Remember to acclimate her to her bowl and treat her with aquarium salt as a precautionary treatment against fungus. Make sure and keep her covered (you should do this with all of your bettas) it seems after spawning there is an increase in suicide attempts (this is just a figure of speech, I don't think they are actually trying to commit suicide). Treat her like you are conditioning her for breeding and she will be back to her old self in no time.
7) At this point you can move on to Daddy Duties :)

Breeder's Corner

F.A.Q.
Deciding Gender
Conditioning Your Pair
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Spawning Walkthrough
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Betta History 101

 

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  March 23, 2009 10:27 PM CST

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