Care and Spawning of Betta
by Gerald Griffin (Mar/Apr 1990)
Betta smaragdina has been in the aquarium world for quite
a while but generally has not been too available to aquarists. This
is really quite a shame as it is one of the most beautiful little
gems to appear in the aquarium hobby. Betta smaragdina has
the synonyms 'emerald fighting fish' and 'peaceful Betta'.
The fish can be a very combative species. This fish is overall a
dark red that is overlaid by a brilliant green iridescence, which is
quite intense. Females are also this color but the iridescence is
less brilliant than the males. Kept under good conditions this
Betta actually keeps his color quite well in the aquarium.
The water conditions are not that critical, but should be kept
clean and well aerated. Hardness should not be extreme, but my water
quality is at 170-200 ppm and pH of 7.4 - 7.6 and many of my
do not show any discomfort and I have bred many wild species. The
tank conditions are however critical. This fish needs some hiding
places where it can feel secure. Also it is best to keep equal
numbers of males and females, or more females than males, so that
fewer fights will break out. With these conditions met, Betta
is quite a lovely addition to any tank.
Breeding Betta smaragdina is also easy. They breed in much
the same way as Betta splendens except for the female is
placed in the tank at the same time as the male. It has been my
experience that the water temperature should be 78 to 80ºF. The
males are just as unpredictable as Betta splendens, but
generally will not harm the female. The male will build a nest and
its size is highly variable. I have seen nests the size of dimes,
nest half the size of a 10 gallon tank and I have seen them spawn
with no nest at all, (all from the same male), so there is no rule
to nest size. The female is removed after the eggs are spotted and
after spawning is complete. The male may be fed during tending. I
feed all my wild nesters while tending and have never seen them
devour their young, and have raised many large spawns. The fry will
be free swimming between four to five days, at which time they may
be fed baby brine shrimp. The young grow about as quick as
splendens. From here there are two ways to treat them. Method
one is to place the ones you want in other tanks and let them grow.
Method two is to jar them like splendens and raise them to maturity.
Two important notes: One, keep your jars covered. When I buy mason
jars I keep the lids and punch feeding holes in them; and two,
removed from the tank and placed in jars will fight just like
splendens. Jarring a portion of your males will allow you to
keep more females than males in a show tank.
Betta smaragdina has also been the subject of selective
breeding as well as Betta imbellis and Betta splendens.
The smaragdina also has a wild "red morph" form in which the
red is a brighter color and has limited body iridescence. The
mutation are longer fins (not quite the size of splendens), a
white smaragdina (so called because of the lack of color),
what has actually happened is that this fish appears to have
constricted chromataphores and during intense fighting or breeding
enough of the hormone that caused color is released and the fish
then turns a washed out color, and a blue. The blue is actually what
it says, this fish has some blue iridescence to it, not much, but
with time these mutations will be worked so that they may one day