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

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

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.

Post Rating
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

Reader Interactions


  1. Jessica Goebel says:

    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?

    • Alex says:

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

    • Robin says:

      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. 🙂

    • Jaden says:

      She will start to get more plump

  2. Lilie says:

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

    • Christie F. says:

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

  3. Shanerthkumara says:

    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

    • Angie says:

      There are many possibility for not making bubble nest. He is not satisfied with the water quality ph etc…. He is not feed enough (when breeding male will not eat for 3 to 4 days while taking care of young). Water temperature is not hot enough (80°F if i remeber correctly). Another think you can try is put a small 1″x1″ bubble wrap in the water cause it looks like a bubble nest and this might encourage him to blow bubbles.

  4. Shelly says:

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

    • Christie F. says:

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

    • Bettanerd says:

      No shelly not at all

  5. shanerthkumara says:

    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..

    • Robin says:

      When they are ready they will do it. lol 🙂

  6. :) says:

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

  7. Colette says:

    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)?

  8. Erica says:

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

  9. Erica says:

    I see some strips on my female

  10. Lindsey says:

    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?

  11. Aaron says:

    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?

  12. Jose says:

    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.

    • Katie says:

      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.

    • Michelle Miller says:

      You have to have a male make her a bubble nest first. The male makes his nest. . Then she has to accept the nest, and they actually curl up in a quick mating dance. He is the one who will pick up her eggs and put them in the bubbles

  13. Becky says:

    They should be the same size for breeding

    • Elena says:

      can the female be a little smaller??

      • shannon says:

        yes they can be smaller

  14. Elena says:

    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,

    • Katie says:

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

  15. Anna says:

    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.

    • Bettanerd says:

      catch with a CUP! the best idea 🙂

    • Katie says:

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

    • Angie says:

      I use a soup laydo to scoop the betta up this way its long enough to reach the bottom of the tank and my hand is dry. Also when i scoop it up the water doesnt drain. Best to use the plastic one (i got mine at dolllarama) cause the metal will clink when you touch the side of the tank.

  16. hailey says:

    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?

    • Katie says:

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

      • Michelle Miller says:

        Right on. I heard almond leaf is actually the best. You can only get it online now right? I went with the two leaves at opposite corners and have had great luck

  17. Matthew says:

    do we need a male?

    • shannon says:

      sometimes a female will lay eggs without a male

  18. Miranda says:

    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?

    • Katie says:

      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.

  19. Bettanerd says:

    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

    • Michelle Miller says:

      I agree. I actually switch out males and females from a clue tanks over months and months. I think it’s a good idea to name your Bettas if you want to breed lol. Where I know, but some of my females will actually choose the male. When she is ready she is like, hey sexy fins. . . Make me a bubble nest. .you just can’t plop two together. .

  20. Michelle says:

    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?

  21. Justin says:

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

    • Justin says:

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

  22. Lisa says:

    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?

  23. Guadalupe says:

    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.

  24. Dianne says:

    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

  25. Noah says:

    My veiltail is showing her fear stripes. Is there anything I can do to help calm her down and make her feel more at home and comfortable?

  26. Mikayla says:

    I bought my male fighting fish for about two weeks now and he has vertical stripes on him and im fretting like hell what does this means??? He swims normally and is still active too he has a very small whits spot on his head as well what should i do PLEASE HELP?

    • Mikayla says:

      Horizantal stripes sorry

  27. Pilar says:

    why does my betta fry have verticle stripes that look like breeding stripes?! SHE IS TO YOUNG TO BREED!!!!!

    • ... says:

      Your Betta fry might have “breeding” stripes either because they are juvenile stripes or fear stripes.
      Hope this helps!

  28. Bella says:

    I’ve had many bettas and never saw fear stripes in the adults. I have a tiny baby now, she’s about 5-6 weeks old and that’s what you have pictured above, they all have stripes before they get their color. Fun watching her get her color and she is very happy even though you can see stripes. Maybe change the photo of the baby above as it’s not accurate, that is a baby not fear stripes.

  29. Gabby says:

    I agree with most of this except the part that states that only females can exhibit breeding bars. This is not true. Although not very common or as vibrant, males can also show breeding bars. This is more commonly seen in wild types but can also be seen in domestic betta splendens. I myself have a male who always exhibits breeding bars.

  30. Tonka says:

    i have a white female… and it’s SUPER hard to see stripes of any kind on her, AT ALL! how can i tell if she’s ready to breed, or if she’s scared?! anyone got examples?

  31. Fadhil says:

    Within how many days the female should be introduced to male betta…like 3/4 is enough??

  32. Affan says:

    Its been 3 days I hv introduced my male and female betta , male started to make bubble nest and bubble nest is almost complete but my female didn’t showed her vertical strips on her body, should I wait ?

  33. Maria Elena says:

    My poor betta has stress stripes what should I do. He is constantly hiding and I am nervous. I got him a week ago…..

  34. Reillylovesbettas says:

    My female betta has always had horizontal stripes on her body, she lives in a tank with 3 other female bettas, they don’t bother her, it’s a well planted 30 gallon tank, it has some other fish in there but they don’t bother her either. What’s wrong?

  35. max says:

    hi so i need some help!? i have a female koi betta that i tried to bread with a male betta nest was made under bubble wrap had both in same tank seperated of course everything seemed good until i released them together and my female koi betta released weird starnge white strings under her belly and no it was not poop! she seems very healthy no signs of sickness, eats normally. ive tries to look online what these string white things are but cant find an answer. they where really strange n weird! the most shocking thing is that after a few seconds they just went right back inside her!! very scary! is this part of the breeding process or might this be a parasite cant find an answer online. any help much appreciated!

  36. sabina says:

    My bettas are prepared for mating. The male has built a bubble nest and my female has vertical stripes, but it seems as if she constantly swims away from him in a panic. how can I be certain she is actually comfortable being in the same tank with him? Should I take her out wait a day or two and reintroduce her to him? I left the male in the breeding tank for a whole day and later showed him the female so he can create a bubble nest, which has worked, I still left her where he can see her for a day then introduced her to him.

Leave a Reply to Michelle Miller Cancel reply

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