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How I set up my spawn tanks


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I know that how a breeder sets up a spawn tank is a personal thing and may differ from person to person. This is the setup I use that after many years of breeding Bettas, works best for me.


1. Cut top and bottom off a 2lt soft drink bottle to divide female from male

2. Add plenty of live plants for female to hide in - I use Hornwort

3. Add pot (or cup) to give female extra hiding spaces

4. Cut foam cup in half and tape to front of tank for make to build nest under

5. Add a piece of Indian Almond Leaf. Male may prefer to build nest under this

6. Add Indian Almond Leaf, or Banana Leaf "tea" to water

7. Add heater

8. Add conditioned pair of Bettas

The biggest point I wish to stress here is to make sure your pair have been conditioned properly by 1-2 good feeds per day of live/frozen blackworm and/or bloodworm for at least 2 weeks and look healthy before they even hit the spawn tank. Yes, your fish may look pretty, but if not conditioned properly, will probably not breed or produce weak/sickly fry (that's if the eggs are not eaten first by a hungry parent - a well fed betta is a content, happy parent!)

I find most of the time, the pair are ready to breed within 24 - 48 hours. Watch for the signs - male will be busy building a bubble nest and occasionally swimming up to the female and flaring and putting on a display to try and entice the female back to the nest.

Male Big Ears Nest Building and Displaying for Female

The female will be getting quite excited and trying to get to the male through the divider. She will also swell full of eggs and if darker coloured, should be displaying vertical breeding stripes (not to be confused with horizontal stress stripes.) Lighter coloured females may not show breeding stripes, so watch for the other cues.


Long Finned DT Female Showing Breeding Stripes

I will make a post tomorrow about the actually breeding process. Please note, as I said above - this is what I find works best for me. Other breeders will have their own variations.



Edited by shadoh
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I agree conditioning is so important in getting a successful spawn. I had a pair here that have been considering spawning for days, but the male just wasn't ready. A meal of blackworms yesterday afternoon changed his mind and he now has a nest of eggs to tend to.

I think 1-2 weeks of conditioning is prudent. People forget how much energy spawning takes, let alone the effort the male has to put into tending the nest and caring for the fry before they become free-swimming. I am not surprised that some males sicken and even die after being removed from the spawning tank.

I only spawned my splendens twice (male was an egg eater), but both times the pair wrapped within five mintues of being released with each other. I find when the female actively starts trying to get in with the male, and behaves with equal aggression to his 'amorous' advances then she is usually ready to be released. Having watched many spawns from start to finish now, the process of courtship seems to be very similar amongst my pairs.

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It's nice when you get a pair that spawn instantly like that. Even better when you get a pair that are so gentle with one another that there is not a shred of damage on either. I had a spawn like that last year just before the September show. In the spawn tank breeding one week, then the week later, they looked so good, I switched them with another pair and they were entered in the show and got class distinctions :)

I don't know about anyone else, but I don't feed either parent during the spawning process, so conditioning is a MUST. I will go more into that with my spawning post tomorrow. But, if after 3 days I have no luck with the pair, it is back to being conditioned again for another couple of weeks. I used to stress about it, but now am more chilled and know what works for me. I usually find that by the second or third try, I get a successful spawn.

Just be patient and don't rush it. :)

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Just be patient and don't rush it. :)/>

Yep, with this species, patience is definitely the key. I also think (good) videos are a really great resource for new breeders as words only go so far. I think visuals are much more helpful in showing people what to look for.

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For me,

Conditioning at least 2 - 3 weeks before spawning is paramount for a successful spawn. Though sometimes it doesn't happen that way. I'll have to give that pair a break. Condition them; feed them live mossie larvaes and even add IAL in their tank in any way to encourage the pair to spawn.

At the moment, I am trying carding as part of the process of getting my pair ready to spawn. I have a giant Pk pair at the moment which I am using the carding method. More trial and error. Once, my spawn tank is available, I will commence letting the male in the spawn tank there first for few days then add the female.

Well that's my two cents.

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very useful thread Jarrod! the only thing I'd like to add is that i like to fatten my girls up in the spawn tank so that she is familiar with the space and hiding spots. when she's nice and plump i scoot her into a halved plastic bottle like most, introduce the male and then let him have the run of the tank.

anyone have tips on lighter coloured girls? I have a grizzle girl who looks more or less the same in condition or not (though sometimes i can actually see the eggs in her body!) and i can only watch the boy's reaction to see if the pair will work or not. I found this especially difficult when trying her with an aggressive male because she was getting battered while i was trying to work out whether he was doing his i'm-ready-to-wrap wiggle or his imma-kill-you-now wiggle...

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A brilliant thread, it's easy to forget the preparation that's needed and just get excited about throwing the fish in together.

Great shots too - I had a bit of a stint with recording my spawns as they wrapped but you just don't get a sense of the nuancesof behavior.

As for light coloured girls - I have a platinum DT that I didn't even think to check for vertical stripes, her body language said what she needed to say: LET ME AT HIM

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I use a very similar setup and condition with heavier feeding and carding. I uncard the pair for a short time each day and increase the length of time closer to spawning time. I don't bother with a chimney because by then they should be ready.

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  • 3 months later...

Bumping this for a couple of reasons:

1. It's an excellent thread :)

2. It's the bit I'm trying to get right at the moment ;)

So, questions...

J - In your first pic, you have a cup, in the vid you have a clay pot, and on Bettas4All they suggest a half clay pot. To keep the water level down, the half clay pot would seem the better option. Thoughts, experiences or suggestions?

The holes drilled in the chimney - necessary, better - thoughts?

My guys/girls are fed twice a day, every day, at the moment. My thinking was along the lines of, conditioning is to get them in the best of shape for breeding, so why not keep them in the best of shape all the time - should I be only feeding twice a day to condition, so they build up to a state of readiness for breeding?

Carding/introductions: I've seen the side-by-side little barracks-type setup. I can duplicate this with other little tanks I have at home. Should the intended pair be placed in this type of setup to be conditioned and introduced to each other? I've read that leaving them uncarded will help the female become better conditioned and allow them to get more used to each other before formal intro in the spawn tank. Thoughts?

And when in the tank - whenever I've left a female in the tube overnight, for more than one night, the male seems to lose interest and allows the nest to deteriorate. I let her out during the day for chase sessions, but offer her the tube each evening before lights out. If she swims under it, she goes in. All my girls seem to know this means safety and so swim under the tube. On the morning after the second night they've been in the tank, the bubblenest is a pretty sorry sight. I have come to the conclusion I tube the girl and add the male on a Friday evening. He builds nest and struts his stuff till Sat morning. I release the girl. If they've not wrapped by Sat night, then chances are the nest will be ruined by Sunday morning anyway :( I don't release the girl unless he's built a nest of some sort, and she is showing signs of wanting at him :)

Cheers for all thoughts, suggestions and advice


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Hi Brenton, I'll try to answer your questions in order -

Clay Pot or Tea Cup - to be honest, it doesn't really matter, as long as the female has somewhere that she feels safe away from the male. I have no preference of one over the other, it is just whatever is at hand at the time. If your tank is planted heavily enough, you can do without. As I said at the start - this is what I find works for me. Plenty of people out there use a bare tank with nothing but IAL and one or two floating plants. There is no right or wrong.

Holes Drilled in Tube - I have a tube with holes drilled in it and many more without. It is something I tried many years ago when I was looking for tips on having more successful pairings. There is a theory out there that the holes in the tube allows each fish to pick up on each others pheromones. Does it work? At the time I thought it did - but around the same time, I had also discovered the importance of conditioning. It wasn't until I attempted 2 spawns at the same time that I worked it out. My drill battery was dead, so just abandoned the drilling of the holes. Surprise, surprise, I had just as much success. I have had many many spawns since both with and without the tube that has the holes in it. There isn't one that I have more success with over the other.

Since all my breeders are kept in a barracks system, I can only talk about my experiences with those setups. I usually have them setup side by side and remove the cards 2-3 times per day, 10 minutes at a time. I have never left them uncared for longer periods, as I figure they will see each other enough while in the spawn tank. I did read once that to avoid the male and female from getting too used to one another, only show them another Betta of the opposite sex that you do not plan to breed them with while being conditioned. That way, the female still swells with eggs and the male is excited to see another female once he hits the spawn tank. I did try this method a couple of times, but didn't find it any more/less successful.

I have had males that lose interest after a couple of days, but usually find that short supervised visits and a quick chase reminds him what he is in there for. I have also had males refuse to build a nest until the female is released. I have found that most of the time i need to watch the body language cues rather than tick steps off on a checklist and abandon the spawn if the list has not been followed to the letter.

Hope this helps.

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Yep - it helps. I get that this is not a step-by-step thing and my questions may be a little over simplifying things, but I need to just check off the details as I go along. It all comes down to experience and getting the pairs conditioned and in the tanks - time grasshopper - your patience, as always, is appreciated :)

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