Seven Insane Days Of Raising Baby Betta Fry | Secrets Of Breeding Betta Fish

The specks at the top right hand side of the tank are three day old betta babies...
The specks at the top right hand side of the tank are three day old betta babies...

Raising baby fish for the first time is the most terrifying thing you can do aside from actually try to give birth to live young yourself. No matter what kind of fish you are breeding, this is a truism that cannot be ignored. Breeding bettas is quite fun, but it is also quite a big challenge. There are many online resources that tell you how to get things started, I even wrote a series of articles on the topic here, here and here. Read them if you're having trouble getting the breeding process started.

Read this article if you already have eggs, or if you are wondering what awaits you. Whatever you do, don't follow it, learn from it.

Day One

You have eggs! Congratulations. Dad ferries them about in the nest, you fear that he's going to eat them. He isn't eating them, he's just moving them about and washing them. This is good betta behavior, but you're panicking and accusing the poor fish of infanticide.

Day Two

Where are the eggs? They're all gone! No, wait, dad's just moved the whole nest to the other side of the tank. Why haven't the eggs hatched? Oh woe! They are all infertile, aren't they! They are! Oh no! You have gravel in your tank. You shouldn't have gravel in your tank, it makes it harder for dad to find his babies and his eggs. You are a fool!

Day Three

Eggs hatch, a few little tails appear. Before long dad is spending many hours catching fry which sink to the bottom and spitting them back up to the top. Dad is working over time. Dad is awesome. You feel like a fool for ever doubting him.

Day Four

Where are they all? They're all dead aren't they? Oh you have failed! Oh wait, there's one. Oh wait, there's two. Or is that the same one?

Day Five

Now that the fry are free swimming (swimming horizontally instead of hanging from the top of the water like bubble fed bats,) you take dad out. Dad promptly goes into shock and roams his new tank wondering where his poor babies are. You feel like a troll. You are a troll. You troll fish.

You start feeding the baby fish you can't see with little crushed up pieces of egg yolk and live baby brine shrimp that you also can't see. People swear that you're quite mad.

Day Six

The fry are gone. Are the fry gone? You decide should probably do a water change. Yes, do a water change. Perform water change to discover that the fry you could have sworn you didn't have are now merrily floating in your water change bucket whilst the apparently empty tank sits there mocking you.

Day Seven

Add a filter. Fear that the fry are getting sucked into the filter. Take filter out. Realize that it is a sponge filter that can't suck fry into it and put it back in. In spite of your best efforts to accidentally kill all the fish, note that there's actually quite a few fry swimming about the tank, especially when you clumsily stir it up accidentally.

Moral Of The Story

The fry are fine. If they have food, a filter and a heater, they are fine. They are not all dead. I repeat, they are fine. Even if you can't see them, they are fine. If you suspect they are all dead, leave the tank a few days. I guarantee you there will be a few fry who appear miraculously out of the nooks and crannies. Fry are better at raising themselves than you are the first time around. Oh, and there are always more than you think there are.

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