What does it mean to “condition your betta fish?”
When breeders refer to conditioning their bettas they are referring to the period of time (usually 2 weeks) where they provide the best possible diet and housing conditions for their fish in an effort to prepare them for breeding. The diet is altered to encourage the females to produce eggs and for the males to store energy so they can sustain themselves through the rearing of fry.
For the most successful breeding to occur it is important to condition your bettas prior to introducing them to the same tank. The spawning process between betta fish can be violent and it is not uncommon for one or both fish to sustain injury. Conditioning your bettas with clean water and high protein foods will help them gain strength that will sustain them through the spawn and afterward when the male is focused on caring for the eggs and the female is focused on healing any wounds she may have suffered.
During the conditioning period check your water parameters daily.
- Keep the temperature at a comfortable 78 F. [25.5 C.] degrees approximately.
- Increase your water changes to 2x – 3x per week.
- Remove any excess food or debris from their tanks.
- Monitor you pH and KH levels to insure they are stable.
- Add Indian Almond Leaves to the aquarium if you desire.
Focus on a nutritious diet.
- Increase the number of feedings per day to 2 or 3 but keep portions small to avoid constipation or bloating.
- Introduce a variety of high protein foods. Variety is important to insure a balanced diet.
- Live and frozen foods are the choice of most breeders during conditioning. I suggest foods similar to what bettas eat in the wild including worms, small crustaceans and insect larvae. Some good food choices are:
- Frozen or live brine shrimp or brine shrimp in gel
- Frozen or live daphnia
- Frozen glass worms
- Frozen tubifex worms (live tubifex often carry parasites or bacteria and is better avoided)
- Frozen mysis shrimp
- Live white worms
- Live grindal worms
- Live flightless or wingless fruit flies
- Live black worms
- Though not part of a betta’s natural diet, some breeders like to add frozen beefheart to their bettas meals during conditioning. This can be found in the freezer section of many local fish stores.
- When keeping live foods take care to clean and store them properly to reduce the risk of passing pathogens onto your bettas.
Near or at the end of your conditioning period, place your betta fish near each other where they can see each other. This will often stimulate their urge for reproduction. Look for signs they are ready to spawn. The male may begin building a bubble nest. The female will show her breeding stripes (vertical striping along her sides) and may begin to swell with eggs. These are all good signs that your fish are ready to spawn.