Breeding Bettas During the Cold Weather

I decided to write this article for a couple of reasons as I have been asked recently if I could email some photos of my Breeding Room/Area. The other reason was because I’ve heard some breeders in my local area don’t like to breed Bettas during the winter as it’s too cold.

Therefore it’s important to point out that breeders should always breed when it suits them as breeding Bettas should always be an enjoyable past time. So if summer is the preferred season then so be it. For me though I like winter, as breeding Bettas is an indoor activity and in the summer I like to spend most of my time outdoors. Also if no one else in your area breeds during the winter then you won’t have any competition selling your Bettas. So if you like breeding Bettas and the only thing stopping you from doing so during the winter is the cold then please read on and I’ll show you how I go about it.

So to start off with I have written about my Betta Breeding area in a previous post but I have updated it since then so it’s probably worth going over again. Therefore I haven’t got a Breeding Room, I have an area in the back of my garage that I use for breeding Bettas. The reason I chose to do it this way is it has a concrete floor that I can spill water, fish food or anything else on without it being an issue.

It is also close to our laundry which means I have hot and cold water close by that I don’t have to carry through the house. Now another thing worth mentioning is the typical overnight temperature lows we get here in Melbourne during the winter range from about -2 deg C to about +5 deg C. Therefore if you live in parts of North America or Europe where your temperature drops well below freezing for most of the winter then this set up may not be applicable to your situation. You may be better off breeding inside your house but nevertheless I hope you can still find some helpful information here anyway.

So here is a picture of my Betta breeding area. You can click on the image to enlarge it if you like.

Betta Breeding Area

It is divided into two areas and not because I planned it this way it is because I added to it recently. Therefore the first point worth mentioning is plan well ahead if you wish to make your breeding area permanent. To be honest though, when you start this hobby you probably won’t know the extent to which you will go with your Betta breeding program. Therefore I didn’t make my Betta breeding enclosure too permanent as I knew it was going to be work in progress, so I made this area out of scrap timber and cement sheet.

So what I started with was just one breeding tank in the area in the left with one container of heated, aged water that was standing by for water changes. Now you can see I have 3, 50 litre  breeding tanks on the left and on the right I have an area where I can separate and jar fry. This is just on a very small scale at this stage and I will shortly be adding a larger barracks arrangement soon on the opposite wall, where I can comfortably separate and keep larger quantities of Bettas. Therefore I may use this area to add another breeding tank………….maybe!

Therefore the first point worth mentioning about my breeding area is that it’s fully enclosed. This means the radiated heat from the tanks heats the area inside and thus reduces the amount of electricity required to ultimately heat the tanks. This upcoming summer I hope to have my final plans settled for this breeding area so I will redesign it slightly and add some more insulation to make it even more energy efficient.

Lighting is another consumer of electricity. I used energy efficient light globes which helps with consumption. I will also paint the inside of the enclosed area with white enamel paint when I redesign the area. The white paint will make the area brighter when using low wattage globes. Another consideration with lighting is the different requirements for tanks with different stage fry. For example when the male is tending to the Bubble Nest it is best to keep the light on 24 hours a day until the fry are free swimming. This is so he can retrieve fallen eggs and fry.

Now if you have fry in other tanks it probably won’t be suitable for them to have the light on during the night. Therefore you may want to consider setting up a light over each tank so the required tank can be lit all night and then covering the other tanks to simulate night and day. Or the other option is to have a light you can move around to position where required.

Another consideration with lighting is to have to facility to have bright light if you intend to video or photograph your spawn. You many have noticed my original videos were not of very good quality and this was of course due to insufficient lighting. I have videoed all of my courtships and spawnings and have found this very beneficial for many reasons. It will give you an idea of how many eggs are in the nest. You can compare this with how many fry hatch. Also if something goes wrong and you are not there to witness it then at least you may not be left guessing. This is especially beneficial when you are new to breeding and still learning the ropes.

Air pumps are another consideration. I use one variable speed air pump so I can adjust it to suit my requirements. It also has two outlets. I’m using it (see photo) to operate 4 sponge filters and it’s only on low. If I wanted to I could turn it up to also operate 2 or 3 Brine Shrimp hatcheries. So make sure the air pump you select has plenty of variable capacity. The other option is to add extra air pumps but I think it is more energy efficient to have one adjustable air pump that has a large capacity rather than having several smaller ones.

You may also notice my power point is on the outside. I don’t have any condensation issues if the lids/covers are left on the tanks but if I was to forget and leave a lid off then I do get some condensation on the roof of the enclosure. Therefore I have elected to leave any unsealed power connections such as the power adapters on the outside.

The way you arrange your tanks is also important. I have mine side by side at the same height. Now I must say I didn’t plan this as it’s just the way it turned out but inadvertently I’ve found this to be an advantage and the reason is this. It comes in very handy when cleaning/siphoning your tanks.

When the fry are young they are very small and when they get large enough so you can confidently siphon the bottom of your tank without siphoning fry you will find being able to look directly into your tank from above to be a real advantage. I’ve found that the best view you will get of the fry when cleaning the tank is from directly above and not through the side of the tank. Therefore if you have enough space above you tank so you can lean over the top of the tank to see in, you will greatly decrease the chances of siphoning fry from your tank and hence make this task much easier and less time consuming.

Also consider the height above the ground that you place the tanks. Make sure it is suited to your height so you can lean over the tank without getting a sore back. So you can imagine if you were to stack your tanks on a series of shelves one on top of the other then this task may be more difficult.

Another consideration is how you orientate your tanks. You can see the ends of mine are exposed and I’ve arranged them this way purely because of the space I have available. It may be preferable to arrange them so the sides are exposed as you can then display your mature fry more clearly. This I found to be a minor consideration though, but well worth considering. How you do it though will just come down to personal preference and of course the space you have available.

In the compartment on the right I have plastic 55 litre plastic container that is positioned higher than the breeding tanks so I can gravity feed heated, aged water into the tanks after cleaning. Now the first point I would like to make about this is DON’T PLACE AQUARIUM HEATERS IN PLASTIC CONTAINERS! ……… and here’s the reason why………….

DON'T place AQUARIUM HEATERS in Plastic Containers.

DON'T place AQUARIUM HEATERS in Plastic Containers.

This heater was sitting on the bottom of this plastic container mounted on the suction cap mounts, so the heater wasn’t  touching the plastic.

I accidentally plugged in the power cord (while the plastic container was empty of water) thinking I was plugging in a different heater and within no time at all this was the result.

The heater burnt through the plastic mount and then fell on the bottom of the plastic container and started to burn through it as well. Lucky for me I was nearby and alerted by the smell. If I hadn’t turned off the power the consequences may have been disastrous.

Therefore here are some important points about Aquarium Heaters.

  • The thermostat will only work when the heater is submerged in water.
  • If you turn the heater on when not submerged it will get very hot, very fast and will cause damage.
  • To the best of my knowledge there are some heaters on the market that will switch off or control the temperature when not submerged but they will only do this for a short period of time which means this is not a permanent solution to this problem.

Therefore you can see that Aquarium Heaters need to be treated with the utmost respect and manufacturers guidelines should always be followed.

Having heated water at hand to top up tanks after water changes is very beneficial and I am currently trialling another method of doing this that is safe. So once I have tested it I will write a post about it. In the meantime I’m sure there are many great ideas and methods out there so if anyone’s got one then please leave a comment below or if you like I’d be happy for you to write a post and publish it so everyone can benefit.

Therefore there is another lesson to be learned here. Label your power cords so you don’t get them mixed up.

So just one more point about safety. What you mount your breeding tanks or water storage tanks on is vitally important. Water is not light as 1 litre of water weighs 1 kg. Therefore your shelving and benches needs to strong and rigid. The last thing you want is for the whole thing to come crashing down. That would be a disaster!

Also if your surface bends or flexes under the weight of one or many tanks full of water then your tanks may develop a leak. You can probably also bet that it will develop over night or when you’re not around and what you may be confronted with is a pool of water on your floor, dead Bettas or Fry on the bottom of your tank and a very hot Aquarium Heater that has melted through it’s mounts and is lying on the bottom of your tank.

Therefore DIY has many benefits but always consider safety and try consider the worse case scenario if something were to go wrong.

Shelving is also important within your breeding area and can be used to store equipment and food cultures such as microworms etc. So allow for shelf space because just like cupboards inside your house you can never have too much. You may also want to incorporate an area for Brine Shrimp Hatcheries. I haven’t done this yet but I do intend to.

A piece of equipment that I already had in my garage that has become invaluable is a small bar fridge that I use to store drinks. The freezer area has come in handy for storing frozen foods such as frozen bloodworm and the chiller area is good for keeping brine shrimp eggs as well as adult brine shrimp. If you have the space and can afford the expense it will save you the hassle of keeping these items in your normal refrigerator which might just keep you onside with the rest of the household.

So you can see there are many aspects and considerations for a Betta breeding area. This article is far from being definitive and what I have mentioned here is probably just the tip of the iceberg as I’m sure there are many more great ideas out there. If anyone wants to share them then please leave a comment.

The most important points to consider when designing you breeding area is it must be convenient for you so it doesn’t become too labor intensive. Remember you need to enjoy your hobby and not let it rule your life or become a burden. Smart design is the obvious answer and looking for solutions.

Happy Betta Breeding!

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