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.

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  1. 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?

    • 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. 🙂

  2. 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

  3. 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..

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

  5. 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)?

  6. 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?

  7. 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?

  8. 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.

    • 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.

  9. 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

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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?

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

  12. 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?

    • 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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?

  15. We got a male Betta couple of months ago and about 2 weeks ago we got a female Betta. They are in two tanks side by side (have been since we got her). She has shown the egg spot within a few days and he built a bubble nest. However, she shows no breeding strips.
    1) How much time I have before she looses the eggs? Is she sure to show breeding strips beforehand?
    2) Its time to replace his water but I hesitate to do that as I’m afraid to destroy his bubble net. Any suggestions?
    Thanks!

  16. I have a female veiltail and a male veiltail, but the female’s eggspot is really big and she is full of eggs, also I have her in the same tank with the male but with a divider the male keeps flaring at her and she has her stripes but the male just hasn’t been wanting to build his bubble nest. Any suggestions.
    Thanks

  17. my female betta has the vertical stripes but no egg spot. and she swims backwards while her body is constantly curved. She’s so playful. BUT SHE SWIMS BACKWARD, what is got into her!? i’m so confused !! ahahahah

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