by Joe Boardman (St Helens A.S.)
Have you ever dreamt of breeding the Siamese fighter Betta splendens, but have been put off by the thought that they are difficult to breed? Untrue, if you follow my simple method of spawning and rearing fighters.
What are we dealing with and where do they come from? They come from Thailand and are kept at a temp of 80f in soft acid water. They grow to about 60mm.
Colours; Reddish brown in wild stock. Man made colours include vivid reds and blue and a mix of the two. There is also the Cambodia which is a light cream, but is not commonly seen.
First make sure that you have a pair. The sexual difference is easy to see. The female of the species is a duller colour, and is heavily built around the front part of her body. Males of course, have longer finnage.
To condition them for breeding put them into a spawning tank, 24x12x12, furnished with a mop or thick clump of plants as a refuge for the female. Supply the male with a half of a polystyrene tea cup, cut lengthways, and floating on top of the water. the nest will be built under this “cave”. It provides an area protected all around the top and the sides, with the male underneath. Place the female in an opaque plastic container in the prepared tank, so that the male cannot see or get to her; he will kill her if she is not ready to spawn.
You must feed them well with the best of food, plenty of live food is best. It need not cost a lot to do this as you are only feeding two small fish.
After a week or so the female will fill up with roe, looking as if she has swallowed a marble. When she is ready to spawn a small whitish pimple will be seen in the ventral area. Now transfer her to a clear container so that the male can see her. If he is ready he will start to display, and build a nest. When the nest building has gone on for a day or two the female can be released. Keep a close eye on them at this time, the male becomes excited and displays his maximum foliage to the female, also he opens his gillcovers wide.
He will try to entice the female under the nest.
Eventually the female joins him, and he will wrap his body around her, then turn her onto her side.
She will release a number of eggs which he will fertilise.
The eggs drift slowly down and will be collected by the male spitting them into the nest while the female recovers. This is repeated until she has released all her eggs. This is the time when she needs refuge, and she is best removed. The male is left to look after the fry until they are seen clinging to the bubbles and polystyrene. The male is now removed.
Cover the tank with sheets of clingfilm or polystyrene. Make sure that there are no gaps. When the fry are free swimming feed on infusoria or substitute by lifting a corner of the covering and then replacing it.. NO DRAFTS OR COOL AIR MUST BE ALLOWED ON TO THE SURFACE OF THE WATER.
The fry grow rapidly on a diet of micro worms and brine shrimp. You will find that a number of fry will not grow as fast as the rest. These are best culled out. In about 2 months the young male fighters begin to battle and so must be separated into small containers. Water must be changed weekly in these.