Breeding or Fear Stripes?

Did you know that bettas can tell you how they feel? Well, not with words but rather through body language. Bettas use all kinds of physical displays to send a message. One of the most commonly observed displays is the spreading of their fins and gill covers in an impressive display that says, “BACK OFF BUDDY!” Bettas also have more subtle ways of illustrating how they feel.

Fear Stripes

Betta with Fear Stripes

Female Betta Showing Fear Stripes

Betta fish have the ability to alter their pigment creating stripes that communicate to other fish. The light horizontal band running along the fish’s sides is known as a fear stripe. This display is most often observed during times of severe and rapidly occurring stress, such as when you net your fish or put your siphon in the aquarium for a cleaning. Fear stripes are more common when the fish senses a sudden threat and is not usually observed in sick fish or fish that have more gradual stressors.

Breeding Stripes

Female Betta Showing Breeding Stripes

Female Betta Showing Breeding Stripes

Breeding stripes are commonly confused with fear stripes but are actually really easy to identify. Only female bettas display breeding stripes. These stripes run vertically along both sides of the fish in a series of 5 or 6 light colored bands. While breeding stripes can be quite intense usually fear stripes appear more vibrant.

When females are in good breeding condition and ready to mate with the male, they will begin to show their stripes as an indication to the male betta to proceed. When selecting females bettas for breeding you should condition them for several weeks with clean water and a well balanced nutritious diet. Look for the breeding stripes as an indication that the female is ready. Females do not need a male betta present to show their breeding stripes. Conversely, if you have a female you suspect is ready to breed but is not showing her stripes, you can put her within view of the male for several hours or even days to encourage striping. Usually they will begin to show their breeding stripes within a short time if the are ready to breed.

Share this:

37 Comments

  • Jessica Goebel

    I have a male and female Betta, But my female Betta is white with red fins. How will i know she is ready to breed with my male?

    Reply
    • Alex

      she will have the breeding stripes. the male will most likely make a bubble nest

      Reply
    • Robin

      Dear Jessica, you can tell when your female is ready by the stripes that appear. Also when the male starts building his nest is a sign too. 🙂

      Reply
  • Lilie

    So when the male is ready to.breed , he will make a bubble best?

    Reply
    • Yes. The bubble nest is important as it is where all the eggs will be stored.

      Reply
  • Shanerthkumara

    my female betta has the verticle stripes on her body and i can see the egg spot too but why isn’t my male betta making any bubble nests

    Reply
  • Shelly

    Does it hurt a female if she’s showing breeding stripes but doesn’t breed?

    Reply
    • No, it’s very common for females to show breeding stripes. They don’t need to breed.

      Reply
    • Bettanerd

      No shelly not at all

      Reply
  • shanerthkumara

    my male betta made his bubble nest n seems to be ready ..the female has verticle lines and an egg spot but she is hiding very far away from the bubble when will they spawn plzz help..

    Reply
    • Robin

      When they are ready they will do it. lol 🙂

      Reply
  • :)

    my female has the egg spot but is showing fear lines. and my male betta seems not to be interested in her.

    Reply
  • Colette

    Hello
    I have a male Betta and he has definitely become a happier fish since I brought him home from the pet shop. However in the last two days he started showing vertical stripes on his body and I can’t seem to find a site to tell me if he is ok or if I should do something differently. Would you have any idea what is wrong with him (or if he is happy)?

    Reply
  • my male is scared of my female what should I do . I want them to breed my male does not blow bubbles.

    Reply
  • I see some strips on my female

    Reply
  • Lindsey

    I’ve got a male veil tail and he suddenly tonight started to have the vertical style “breeding stripes”- is this an indication of stress too, or is this some kind of a breeding indicator, or just a normal variation in his color?

    Reply
  • Aaron

    Recently my male veiltail betta has developed one of these vertical stripes it seems to be kind of faded but really noticeable im wondering what it could be?

    Reply
  • Jose

    My female Betta had breeding stripes and her belly was full of eggs, but she had so many that she just dropped them all. She completely dirtied the water making it look like foggy. I want to mate it with one of my cousin’s betta, but I am afraid it will kill her.

    Reply
    • Katie

      Keep a careful eye on the breeding pair. Read up on how to breed them and find some videos. Males show aggression but that’s normal when breeding bettas just make sure you know what you’re doing.

      Reply
  • Becky

    They should be the same size for breeding

    Reply
    • can the female be a little smaller??

      Reply
      • shannon

        yes they can be smaller

        Reply
  • I introduced my veiltail female betta to my crowntail male betta.She’s way smaller than him, I think she might be very young, she showed fear stripes when I let them see each other, they were displaying interest in each other (flaring gills, she was wagging her body at him, he was giving her a side view of his fully flared fins and open gills, but I didn’t see her oviposter, and I was wondering how many months should I wait before trying again? I’m fifteen and I’ve been doing a few hours of research on bettas a day, it drives my family nuts because I talk about them a lot. Her mettalic fins are still growing in, they’re getting there, 1/2 of them on each side are there, I got them from Walmart, I was planning on advertising the fry at school and dad’s office. Is this ok?? if you could give me some input, please first see my blog and then tell me!
    Thanks a bunch,
    Elena

    Reply
    • Katie

      Wait a while until she grows a bit bigger mostly so she can take the beating she’ll get from breeding.

      Reply
  • Anna

    I know I’m not sopposted to net my Betta fish, but last time I tried to only clean half the water it was a gunky and there was stuff floating around all week. I tried to catch it with a cup but it didn’t work. I don’t see any fear lines.

    Reply
    • Bettanerd

      catch with a CUP! the best idea 🙂

      Reply
    • Katie

      You may need to just hold the cup in the water. The fish is bound to swim into it eventually

      Reply
  • hailey

    my female is ready for breeding but my male made a very small thing of bubbles it has spread out along the sides of my tank, will it still work?

    Reply
    • Katie

      Try putting an indian almond leaf in the tank so he can build the nest under it so it won’t spread out

      Reply
  • Matthew

    do we need a male?

    Reply
    • shannon

      sometimes a female will lay eggs without a male

      Reply
  • Miranda

    I put my fish together. My female had the breeding stripes when the male left her alone, but when he chased her she would get the fear stripes. Is this normal?

    Reply
    • Katie

      Yes but if the breeding stripes leave and it’s just the fear strips it would be best to wait a few days and try again.

      Reply
  • Bettanerd

    miranda r u up to the breeding thing?
    I would suggest to not do this as breeding is a huge task
    and yes it is not that abnormal, the male will chase the female at first and it is not the best idea to just plop the female in

    Reply
  • Michelle

    I have a veil tail male betta, I have had him for about 5 months he seems very happy. However he would blow frequent bubble nests. So I went to a chain pet store and bought a nice sized female betta. I put them together and watched closely.
    initially he was timid of her she would approach him and he would back off. After about 10 mins together he would approach her all flared out and attack so after about an hour of babysitting I pulled her out. So this AM he has a bubble nest. I kept their tanks separate all night. I put them next to each other and he started flaring out again and they are not in the same tank just can visually see one another. So even though there is a bubble nest should I not introduce her?

    Reply
  • Justin

    My bettas are not the same type is that ok or will it harm the babbys

    Reply
    • Justin

      I have a crowntail and a veiltail betta is that good or bad if thay mate

      Reply

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *