So you have successfully bred your male and female Betta.
Now the real fun begins.
Fry nourish themselves while in the bubble-nest by eating their attached egg sacs. The male Betta looks after the fry (picking up dropped eggs and replacing them to the bubble nest) until the babies begin to free-swim (about three days).
Once the fry begin to swim on their own, you will want to remove the male (back to his tank) or he may be tempted to eat them.
Let’s explore baby Betta care, what to feed baby Betta, and more!
How Do I Care for Baby Betta?
Like any baby, the fry of the Betta fish is very small and delicate and will need specific care to ensure, not only, their survival, but their health growing into adulthood.
What to Feed Baby Betta
After the fry has consumed their yolk sacs, they will begin to search for other food sources. This is where your work begins.
Since fry will only eat live food, infusoria is a great choice. Infusoria is a collection of microorganisms that naturally occur in ponds and bogs, making it the perfect food source for tiny babies. Infusoria is available at fish retailers or you can cultivate your own.
Feed the liquid infusoria to your fry using an eyedropper directly to the tank in small amounts several times a day.
Brine Shrimp Nauplii
After a few days of the liquid microorganisms, your fry should be ready for brine shrimp nauplii. This larvae food is rich in protein and will aid in the health and development of your baby Bettas for the next three to four weeks.
Freeze-Dried & Frozen Foods
Once the fry has developed for a few weeks, you will want to change their diet to freeze-dried and/or frozen foods several times each day. These include daphnia and bloodworms that have been finely crushed.
When the baby bettas have reached ¾ inch long, they will be able to consume live, pellet, and frozen food in their natural states.
Pro Tip: Once the Bettas have reached 10 to 11 weeks old, you can reduce their feedings to twice a day.
Alternative Food Sources
Other suitable foods for both fry and adult Bettas include:
- Vinegar eels (8 weeks)
- Microworms (3 plus weeks)
- Baby brine shrimp (3 plus days old)
- Banana worms (8-9 weeks old)
- Walter worms (8-9 weeks old)
- Fairy shrimp (3 plus weeks)
- Grindal worms (4-5 weeks of age)
Check your local fish retailer or online for these food sources.
Pro Tip: The above chart is intended only as a guideline – fish grow at different rates. The type of food you feed your fry should be directly proportional to the size of your fish. Offer your baby Bettas the largest food that will fit into their mouths.
Baby Betta Tank Setup
Feeding your baby Bettas a well-balanced, high protein diet is just the beginning of their care. Betta fry need pristine water conditions and plenty of room to grow, so you will need to create an optimal habitat if you are going to see success in their development.
Fry Grow-Out Tanks
After three to four weeks, your fry will be big enough to transfer to a grow-out tank (a grow-out tank is simply a larger aquarium setup that enables your baby fish to continue to develop).
Pro Tip: For a large number of fry, use two or three grow-out tanks.
Betta Fry Grow-Out Tank Equipment
- 10 or 20-gallon aquarium
- Aquarium lid/cover (prevents jumping out)
- Sponge filtration system (may be adjusted for a slower flow)
- Lighting (aquarium or natural)
- Siphon for water changes (aquarium vacuum is too powerful)
- Live plants
- Aquarium gravel or Indian Almond Leaf (you may also keep the aquarium bottom bare for easier maintenance).
- pH strip testing kit
Baby Betta Tank Maintenance
Betta fry needs pristine water conditions. They are very susceptible to fluctuations in heat and pH imbalances.
The ideal temperature for baby Betta is between 85 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit. To ensure the temperature remains stable, put a thermometer as far away from the heater as possible (this will tell you if the heat is being evenly distributed throughout the habitat), monitor it for the optimal temperature, and make adjustments where necessary.
The correct pH for Betta fry is 7 to 7.2. Use a pH testing kit once a day to keep a close eye on the water conditions and use stabilizers to keep it optimal for the baby fish.
Water changes in the grow-out tank are essential to the health of your Betta fry. After your baby fish have reached two weeks old, you may choose how you want to deal with water changes.
Some breeders recommend either changing 25% of the water twice a week or do smaller water changes daily. Note as the fry grows, you will have to increase the percentage of water you take out with each cleaning to help combat the growth inhibiting hormone.
To safely perform this task, use a siphon of flexible, narrow tubing or a turkey baster (traditional aquarium vacuums are too powerful and you risk sucking up the delicate babies or injuring them with the force of the suction).
Pro Tip: Use a length of Airline Hose with a chopstick inserted in the bottom of it. This setup provides a slower suction and allows you to have more control over the process.
For half of your total water change, carefully run your siphon along the bottom of the tank to remove any debris. For the second half of your total water change, use a clear cup to remove water from the top of the tank (this is faster and safer than using the siphon hose).
Replace the water with treated or aged water, making sure it is the correct temperature and pH balance.
What is Growth Inhibiting Hormone (GIH)?
Betta fry exudes GIH or a growth-inhibiting hormone. As the name suggests this hormone is naturally released and acts as a way to control the size of the fish so they will not overcrowd their habitat.
However, in a breeding situation, this hormone will be detrimental to the development of the fry, keeping them tiny.
To combat GIH in your grow-out tanks, regular water changes are a must. To ensure GIH does not stunt the growth of your fry, breeders recommended daily water changes of 50 to 70%.
Pro Tip: Once you have separated your bettas into individual containers, you will need to completely change the water each day, to ensure your baby Bettas reach their full adult size.
When Do I Separate the Fry?
By 8 to 9 weeks old, your Betta fry will start to exhibit their colors (and their gender). Males of this age will begin to nip at each other, so you will know it’s time to separate them.
This process is called “jarring.”
Every male will need his own container which could be a cup, jar, or other suitable glass structure that will provide plenty of surface space for oxygen and ease of cleaning.
Pro Tip: Female Betta fry can be kept in the same tank; however, some larger female fry may “snack” on their smaller sisters.
Maintenance of the individual jars can be tasking. We recommend that you place all the individual containers in a large tub of water that is heated and maintained by one heater.
Because your growing Bettas will still be susceptible to temperature fluctuations, keep a close eye on the tub temperature and make adjustments where necessary.
Baby Betta care is more than just tossing some flake or pellet food into an aquarium. These delicate fry need specific foods at different stages of their lives in order to grow and develop into adulthood. They also need a consistent temperature (85-88) and constant water changes to keep the GIH at bay.
Once your Bettas have grown to the point of telling the gender, you will need to separate the males and larger females into their own containers and maintain these jars until the Bettas reach adulthood.
Once you have successfully raised your Betta fry, then you can sell them to your local pet retailers, or help your friends and family with their own Betta aquarium setup,
Raising Bettas can be a rewarding and thrilling journey. Enjoy the experience and maximize your success with our tips and care guide.