After some thought and a kind nudge, I thought I would share some of the ideas that I worked out how I condition my bettas for breeding and what I look for to know when it is time to put them into the spawn tank.
I know we all have our own methods that works for us when we had finally selected our breeding stock for the next show year.
For there are several factors I had find that helps in conditioning my bettas
1.) Live food
3.) Frequent flare
1.) Live food
I normally feed my bettas Live black worms. The reason why is that sometimes the fishes I buy from the shop I notice are under weight. So, conditioning for a longer period with live food ensure that the body condition does improve before they are placed into the spawn tank. With black worms, they need to be kept in cooler temperature, which is why I had a compartment in my fridge just for the worms. Frequent water changes for black worms ensure they survive longer and less risk of any unwanted bacteria pass down to the fish. The idea is that if the worms are healthy and surviving, so will my fishes. Another thing about Live foods, some bettas that are placed in the shops maybe neglected for a week or two with no food or just been fed with pellets. This is why I start conditoning most of my bettas with live food as soon they arrive home to ensure they have a excellent start and hopefully breed for me.
In my opinion, carding is essential for a succesful spawn. I find that by carding the fish I want to breed with, both male and female fish tend to mature faster and their body condition improve lot more quickly. I think this happen because they do not have any competition and they 'are living in their own penhouse' that they can relax and chill and focus on putting more body weight for male and produce more eggs for females. Females too tend to show vertical bars regularly too because you are setting both fishes up to be the alpha male and female of the group. So, when they breed, in theory the alpha male and alpha female will breed readily. I rely on this theory too whenever I am ready to breed.
3.) Frequent flaring
Flaring is important for exercise and sexual attraction. The male flares and show off his fins to the female to court the female. The female will flare back and show off her fins to the male. Some females will not flare back; firstly because she is not interested in the male, secondly she is too old to breed, third she is still need time to get use to the male. These are some of my observations. There is no hard rule why she is not flaring back. Some people have breed with female that never flared back at the male. But, for young virgin females, flaring at a male allow them to exercise their authority over their territory and becomes the dominant female. The female exert her dominant by swimming around in circles in the box and swimming straight at the male as if to charge at them just to see if the male notice that she is strong and healthy.
While flaring is going on, eventually the male will stop flaring at the female and start doing a belly dance movement just under his bubble nest. In my eyes, he is ready to breed and he will breed with a female of my choosing. When I see that, I normally double check again with a separate female and see if he does the dance as well. Once confirmed, I normally put a mental note which fish will be used to breed if I wanted to breed more CT or more HM PK.
Indian Almond leaves tea extract or leaves are essential for keeping bettas. There are many websites that had mention how effective IAL is for spawning especially for bettas. Firstly, it creates a sticky film on the surface of the water to allow the bubble nest to stay up longer. Secondly, it creates a shady environment which betta love. Thirdly, it allows infusoria to multiply in the spawn tank which becomes the first food that the fry would eat. Fourth; antifungal properties in the IAL solution keeps the egg free from fungus. Fifth, it increases higher hatching rate due to its low acidic properties due to the release of tanin.
Also, I don't stop using IAL just for spawning. I used the extract for daily maintenance when I am not showing my bettas. Having IAL extract in the beanie box on a daily basis allows the younger male to practice their art of making their bubble nest. The bigger and wider the nest is the more space there is for the male to blow the eggs into the nest. Also, I find that female tend to be more excited if the male builds a big nest. I start adding IAL into the boxes from the day 1 of carding till the day I decide to spawn.
Well I hope that paint a picture of how I condition my betta to breed and some tell tale signs of male and female that i know that they are ready to breed. I conditon my bettas from the start of the LFS purchase date with black worms and male and female are ready to breed; by the tail wagging done by the male under his nest in his boxes and the constant flaring, darting and circling around by the female in her box. This observation is done during carding. IAL and flarring sessions are important to set the mood and allow both male and female to be sexually mature e.g. becoming alpha male and female.
Any comments on this will be greatly appreciated. I am still learning and I am sure there are other methods that people had used that is different then mine which are succesful in their spawn tank.