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Setting up your breeding tank is very important. There are many steps in making sure your tank is in the right condition for the spawn.

1) The size of the tank can range from 2 gallon (I have heard of 1 gallons, but never tried them) all the way up to a 10 gallon. Many prefer the 10 gallon. After the spawn, it will give ample room for the fry to grow out in. This is unless you have a very large spawn :) I am going to explain as though we are using a 10 gallon throughout this page. Please adjust measurements according to your tank size .
2) Clean your tank very well. I would not suggest using soap of any kind as the residue can remain and poison your bettas. Set it up in the place you will want it throughout the spawn and the growth of your babies, I do not suggest setting it on the floor. It will make for difficult siphoning later on. Placing it away from your heater and air conditioner is advised. 
2a) Fill the tank with about 2-3 gallons of water. You will want the depth of the water to only be about 2-3 inches deep, some people prefer a deeper water depth, I use shallow water to assist the father in the tending. It also helps if the father turns out to be an egg/fry eater. A shallow depth will make it easier for the fry to get back into the nest on their own. 
2b) Condition the water with Seachem's Prime. I only add MarOxy (to prevent egg fungus) if I have to remove an egg eating father. There is much controversy over the amount of aquarium salt to add, if any at all. You will find an equal number of arguments on both sides. I use salt to treat certain illnesses. Young fry are prone to velvet, and I choose to add it to my fry tanks to help prevent this. 
2c) A stable PH is important. I have heard rumors that a more acidic PH will yield more males and a more alkaline PH will yield more females, or visa versa. I have not had any hard evidence for either, just thought I would throw those at you. A neutral PH is always good, 7.0. If you have a PH that tends to rise or fall no matter now many times you adjust it, it is better to have a stable PH that is a little high or a little low rather than having a constant fluctuating PH.
3) Now that you have added and conditioned the water you can start setting up the inside equipment. You will need a heater, large Styrofoam cup, plants, jar or lantern, cover and a seasoned sponge filter.  
3a) HEATER : A submersible heater is the first choice. A good brand such as Visitherm or EBO Jager are ideal. I have used many cheapo brands with success, but even so I do not recommend them. Add in a thermometer, any kind will do as long as it is accurate. I sometimes add in two to test the accuracy. Set your temperature at 80 and watch it for a day or so to make sure it is stable. This is another downfall of the cheap heaters, sometimes you think you have it stable then one day you walk in and your tank is 100F!!!!! Cooked bettas are not the best sight to come home to :(
3b) STYROFOAM CUP :  This is for the male to build a nest under. He will still build a nest without one, but this will help you determine where the nest is at. You will need to have a large Styrofoam cup, cut in half (picture). Some people tape theirs in place, I choose to leave mine float freely. There is no current to move the cup and the male usually does not move it much. Always make sure you wash the cup with very hot water prior to placing it in the tank, even if it is brand new. I place the cup at the opposite end as the heater. Some people have also used Bubble wrap with success.
3c) PLANTS : Live or plastic plants will do. I choose to use live Java Moss and nothing else. I have gotten pretty good at timing the release of the female to where not much damage occurs during spawning and there is less need for the female to hide. If you are just beginning then you will want plenty of plants for the female to hide in. I place these plants at the opposite end as I placed the cup. I usually have the plants near the heater. You can also place a decoration rock (picture) near the middle or a Terra Cotta pot (picture) in a corner. This is a little added 'getaway' for the female if needed. Live plants will also produce Infusoria, the first food for your soon-to-come fry.
3d) JAR or LANTERN : You will need one of these to keep the female separated from, yet in view of, the male. I choose to use a hurricane lantern chimney (picture) as it is more convenient. The female cannot jump out of these in with the male (which has happened to me before using them) and you are also able to feed and retrieve her easier with it. I also use larger deli cups with the bottoms cut out of them.
3e) COVER : This is very important. You need to have a very tight, secure cover for your breeding tank. This will help keep a stable temperature in the water as well as the air above it water. If you do not have a full hood and light, you can either use Saran Wrap (plastic wrap found at any grocery store) pulled securely across the top and sealed with water, or you can have your local hardware store cut you a piece of plexi-glass to fit the top of your tank. Also make sure that your plexi-glass lid has the appropriate holes for airline tubing as well as the heater or heater cord. You will know if your cover is secure enough if the inside of your tank fogs up and gathers condensation. This means that the air above the water is warmer than the water itself, this is what you are after. The reason this is so important is that it will aid the male in the bubble nest creation. Dry air will cause a bubble nest to dissipate within seconds. You do not necessarily need a light on. Many breeders swear you do and other swear you don't. I use plain plexi-glass lids on all my breeding tanks and have one large fluorescent shop light hung on the ceilings of my fish room. Many people believe that you must keep the tank covered for the development of the labyrinth organ in the fry. I do not believe this as I have many successful spawns with no cover or a loose cover after the male has been removed. I still recommend keep a cover on to avoid unnecessary evaporation.
3f) SEASONED FILTER : Approximately a week prior to setting up your breeding tank, you should purchase a simple sponge filter (picture) or corner filter (picture). Place this filter, running, in a healthy established community tank. This will gather all beneficial bacterial to aid in the cycle of your breeding tank. The last thing you want is an ammonia spike in a tank full of delicate fry. Leave this filter in the community tank for at least one week, and as soon as you have set the breeding tank up, transfer it. Place it near the heater and the plants. Hook it up to an air pump with a gang valve or some form of airflow control (picture). Do not turn it on at this point. I wait until the father has been removed before turning it on to a very slow flow. If you do not have a community tank to season your filter in, purchase some Stress Zyme and place a few teaspoons on the filter media.
4) After your tank is setup and a stable temperature has been established, you are ready to spawn!!

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  March 23, 2009 10:27 PM CST

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