Betta Breeding Tank

Breeding Bettas, Siamese Fighting Fish,  Part 3 – The Betta Breeding Tank

The Betta Breeding Tank you select will play an important part in just how successful you will be at breeding Bettas. It will, along with lots of other factors play an important role in just how many of your Betta fry actually survive to become fish.

Therefore it pays to point out right from the start that Bettas are just like most other fish and will breed in basically any suitably sized container you can find that will hold water, if of course the conditions are right. So having said that lets assume that you want to breed Bettas in a manner that will give the fry the best or at least a good chance of survival.

So before we get into it I’d just like to tell you a quick story that might just save you some wasted time. When I first inquired about breeding Betta fish at the the aquarium I was told all you needed to do was add 1 male Betta and 3 female Bettas to a tank and then just let the male choose the female he preferred and then let nature take it’s course. Now when I mentioned this to a breeder you can expect the response I got. Laughter and not a good idea. Fair enough, I thought!

But on a visit to another aquarium I was told a similar story. Therefore it left me wondering…….is this an urban legend or do some hobbyists breed Bettas in this manner? Well to be honest I don’t really care what the answer is. You see knowing what I know now I don’t think that this method is a good method. The only reason I mention it here is so you don’t get conned or side tracked in a direction that may waste you time and money.

So why isn’t this method any good?

Well there are lots of reasons but if you keep reading they will become very apparent as you read on. If you’re going to breed Bettas then try and get it right.

The Betta Breeding Tank

What I discovered was some breeders prefer a 20 litre (5 gallon) tank and some prefer a 40 litre (10 gallon) tank. I went for the larger size and in fact ended up with a 50 litre tank and the reason why I went for the larger tank was this.

The water in your breeding tank will get polluted. It will get contaminated with fish waste, uneaten fry food, dead fry, algae, and waste from any algae eaters you may care to add such as Mystery Snails (aka Apple Snails) or Bristlenose Catfish. You will of course have a filter to help keep the water clean but here’s the catch. After the fry eat their yolk sac they are nearly invisible. They are very, very small and if the air on your filter is turned up too much some of your fry will fall victim to the filter.

In fact some breeders recommend turning off the filter all together for the first week or so after the fry leave the bubble nest. Also removing water or vacuuming the bottom of the tank isn’t recommended either as you can suck up fry with the water and you probably won’t even know it.

So what you’ll find is for at least the first week, you won’t be able to remove or filter any of the water for fear of culling fry. Therefore my theory is this, the more water you have in the tank the lower the percentage of contamination. But of course once again there is a catch.

When the mum and dad Betta spawn the depth of the water should only be 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inches) deep and the reason is this. The eggs will fall to the bottom of the tank and then dad Betta has to collect them in his mouth and then place them in the bubble nest that’s on the surface. If you make the water depth too great, all you’re doing is increasing his work load and making it hard for him.

Therefore a larger tank with a larger surface area is preferable to a larger tank with a smaller surface area as you can obviously add more water for your 15 cm water depth.

Place Foam Under Tank

Place the foam supplied with your tank on a flat surface and then place your tank on the foam

Another point I discovered when buying a tank is it should not only have a lid (which should be obvious) but you will also need some foam to place underneath. The foam is to absorb any irregularities in the surface you place it on which should hopefully stop it from bending slightly and causing a leak.

Now the first tank I bought, the foam cost extra and was only mentioned to me by the sales person as a after thought. Needless to say the second tank I bought was from a different store and surprise, surprise this time the foam was included in the cost which was less than the first tank I bought (about 30% less). Therefore make sure you get the foam and secondly shop around to get the best deal on a tank.

The Breeding Tank Water

The water quality in your breeding tank is obviously very important and everything you add to it apart from the Bettas and their food is designed to add to and maintain it’s quality. Therefore there has been much written about water so I would advise reading as much about this topic from as many different sources as possible.

Water obviously isn’t the same everywhere so what you add to your water to treat and condition it will depend on the water you use. I used a water conditioner that removed Chlorine, Chloramine, Ammonia, detoxifies Nitrites and Nitrates and provides Slime Coat.

Java Moss

Java Moss comes in a ball about the size of a golf ball. When spread out in your Betta breeding tank it covers a larger area.

I also added Java Moss to the breeding tank. Without going into too much detail here Java Moss does have many benefits, is suited to stagnant water (such as a breeding tank) and is really easy to look after. You can use it as a living plant in your breeding tank which will add a sense of security for the female (or maybe even the male) if the mating session gets a little too “rough and tumble” (as can happen). The other advantage is it will spread itself around areas on the bottom of the tank which means that when you feed the fry Microworms you can drip them over the Java Moss which keeps more of the Microworms off the bottom. This has an advantage in that I’m led to believe that too much feeding from the bottom can lead to the fry having damaged or no Ventral Fins.

The Filter

This was the first major mistake I made. I was advised to get a sponge filter but went for the cheap option and used a corner filter that I already had. As a result I caused quite few fry to fall victim to it. Now I’ll admit straight up, the biggest cause was probably more the fact that I had the air turned up too much rather than the fact it was a corner filter and not a sponge filter but knowing what I know now I reckon the sponge filter is a better option.


Well the corner filter has less inlets which basically means for a given air flow from your air pump the suction will be greater through the inlets. Whereas the whole surface of the sponge filter is an inlet therefore the suction is spread over a wider area and as such reduced. Therefore you may say that the sponge filter will be less effective at doing it’s job (of filtering) for a given air flow and yes, you’re right, it will be. But that’s the point and the trade off is this, in return for not sucking up all your fry your filter won’t be very affective at filtering your tank. In fact some breeders recommend just turning your filter off all together for the first week after the fry leave the bubble nest.

Sponge Filter

Sponge Filter with weight on bottom and clear plastic air line. This is the one with the finer sponge. I'm not sure if it makes a difference but I tend to think the more you've got going for you the better your chances of success.

So the consensus is this, get a sponge filter. I did after I discovered fry in the corner filter, I left it off for a couple of days and then turned it on very, very gently when the fry were about 5 days old. Therefore there is a difference in opinion between some breeders as to whether you should have it off or on for the first few days. I left mine off for a few days and didn’t have a problem. If you decide to leave it on have it running very slowly. Of course at the end of the day it will all come down to the quality of you’re water.

The interesting thing I did find out about sponge filters though was that you can get some with finer sponges. The second one I bought had a much finer sponge on it than the first one. Therefore if I was to compare the two I think I’d go for the finer sponge. Now I’m not going to say that if you use a finer sponge you can turn up the air earlier because your fry won’t get sucked into it, but at some stage the fry will grow to a size where they will be too large for this to happen. So if you do use a finer sponge this will happen before it will with a courser sponge.

You will also need an Aquarium Air Pump to run your sponge filter. There are many different types you can choose from and I would recommend getting one with a larger capacity than you initially think you require. If you like you can view my Aquarium Air Pump set up by following the link.

Just in finishing, another thing I discovered about sponge filters is this. They do have a weight on the bottom to weight them down. The first one I bought floated for about the first 3 or 4 days. Probably because I had the air turned down very low. Therefore when you install your sponge filter turn it up high and give it some time to become saturated so sits comfortably on the bottom of the tank before adding fish.

The Aquarium Heater

Don't waste your time with cheap Aquarium Heaters. Plus add a Temperature Gauge or Thermometer.

This is obviously a very important piece of equipment. Don’t skimp here and buy a cheap one. One of the first ones I bought was a cheapie and it broke for some reason. Luckily it wasn’t in my fry tank. Get a good brand and then shop around for a good price.

It is also possible to buy aquarium heaters that aren’t submersible. I wouldn’t bother with one of these, get a good quality submersible one. Remember water and electricity can be a deadly combination therefore read the safety instructions thoroughly and make sure you follow them.

Also most aquarium heaters will have a temperature setting so you can set the thermostat. Don’t just rely on this to make sure the water temperature is right. Get an aquarium thermometer as well so you can cross check that what you’ve set is correct and just in case you’re wondering the ideal temperature is 27 C (80 F).

The Styrofoam Cup

Now this is a piece of equipment you shouldn’t have too much trouble sourcing and whoever came up with this idea certainly was quite inventive. Basically you just get a syrofoam cup and cut it in half along it’s length and use one half as means for the male Betta to attach his bubble nest to.

Styrofoam Cup

Styrofoam Cup

Make sure you position it at the opposite end of the tank to the filter and keep the area below clear as the Bettas will most likely spawn below it. As a consequence the eggs will drop to the bottom to be collected by the male and then placed in the bubble nest. This is the reason why you don’t add gravel to the bottom on a Betta breeding tank and one of the reasons why just not any old tank will do for breeding.

If you want you can tape it to the side so it doesn’t move but I didn’t bother as the light current from my filter seemed to keep it in place. Remember you don’t really want any current at all from your filter as it can disturb the bubble nest. It seemed to stay in place ok for me though so do what ever works for you.

The Betta Breeding Tank Set Up

Betta Breeding Tank

Betta Breeding Tank. Filter, Aquarium Heater and Java Moss are at one end while in the foreground the styrofoam cup is positioned for the bubble nest. Note the temperature gauge and Mystery Snail to the right of it.

This is what my breeding tank looked like. It’s pretty simple really. I’ve added two Mystery Snails to keep the algae down and also clean up any left over fry food. For my first spawn I was advised to use a Bristlenose Catfish to do this job. I added two small ones and found that they do add quite a bit of waste plus I did observe one hanging around the bottom of the bubble nest during spawning and, disturbing some of the eggs while foraging for food. I’m not sure if he actually ate any eggs but he did get pretty close.

Therefore for my second spawn I’ve decided to just use Mystery Snails as they are easier to remove if required. Bristlenose Catfish are quite fast and once in your tank they are difficult to remove without causing a disturbance which is not ideal in a tank full of fry.

So once your tank is set up wait a couple of days to ensure your water temperature is correct, check for leaks and if you like add some water from your established tank to introduce some good bacteria to the breeding tank. Another way to achieve this is add the sponge from your new sponge filter to your established Betta tank for a few days to absorb good bacteria or if you’re really starting from scratch then ask the breeder you bought your breeding Bettas from for some water from one of his/her tanks.

Breeding Bettas, Siamese Fighting Fish,  Part 4 – Buying Betta Fish for Breeding

Possibly Related Posts:

Leave a Reply

Betta eBooks


This isn't just about Halfmoons. It's relevant to any variety of Betta Splendens.

Betta Care Made Easy

Siamese Fighting Fish Care

Breeding Bettas

Breeding Siamese Fighting Fish