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:
  1. Frozen or live brine shrimp or brine shrimp in gel
  2. Frozen or live daphnia
  3. Frozen glass worms
  4. Frozen tubifex worms (live tubifex often carry parasites or bacteria and is better avoided)
  5. Frozen mysis shrimp
  6. Live white worms
  7. Live grindal worms
  8. Live flightless or wingless fruit flies
  9. 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.

Red Betta by Daniella Vereeken

Photo by Daniella Vereeken

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Reader Interactions


  1. Lauren says:

    My female betta has eggs and is making a bubblenest, however it looked like she just blew bubbles out of her ovipositor? She’s right next to a male, is that normal? I’ve never seen that before. I’m worried and confused 🙁 please answer.

    • Karen says:

      are you 100% sure it’s a female? There are males with short fins.
      As far as I know only males make nests

    • Krishna Yalagala says:

      I know it’s a very old post. I’m still posting reply assuming the information will be helpful for someone with same doubt.
      First of all, don’t worry. Your girl is totally safe. It happened with my cute lill girl betta, I’ve spawned her after conditioning for 10 days, I’ve had the healthy fry.
      What happened with your girl betta is quite common, when they are ready to spawn and excited/encouraged looking at male bettas, but were not spawned, girl bettas drop off the eggs. It’s not at all a problem dropping eggs. Feed her with good food and give her fresh water, condition her by letting her flare at male for some time a everyday, an hour or so. She’ll be ready in one week to 10 days for a spawn.
      Note: As soon as she drops eggs, she’ll start eating them. Make sure to remove uneaten eggs before try to eat them all and her belly bursts.

  2. Badriah says:

    thanks for writing this! i really had No clue what it meant! LOL, thanks again!

  3. angel says:

    if the first breeding didnt go good how many days before i can do it again

    • axel says:

      At least two weeks

  4. brodie says:

    My female Betta has been acting under the weather. She has been laying on the bottum of the tank. She is not dead and won’t eat a lot.please answer fast.. this is an emergency

    • Vanessa says:

      You may just need to clean the tank or add some
      Salt. Is the temperature right? Do you have confitioner in the water? How much do you feed her everyday? This all can effect how she feels.

  5. Vanessa says:

    What is a bubble nest? Is it dangerous to pitt the female and male together?

    • B says:

      A bubble nest is just that…a nest of bubbles for the eggs to hatch in.

  6. anonymus says:

    how long does the breeding take?

    • axel says:

      An hour or so

  7. young says:

    help me! my female beta, a delta, has started making nest bubbles! is it a male?

  8. prince says:


  9. BP says:

    i have a female and a male, the female is tiny! how big do they have to be to breed?

  10. hailey says:

    My female is in a clear jar in a 10 gallon tank with the male and they have been like that for about 1 day now, he keeps flaring up at her but he is not making a bubble nest, I have no clue what is wrong or what to do …. someone please help!!!

  11. Fifivon says:

    i need help. i just got a female betta and ive had my male for about 2 weeks. i didnt know you had to prep your bettas for breeding so i just put them in a tank together. my female hurt my male more than she got hurt because i took her out of that tank and put her back in hers. what do i do to help Marble’s fin?;-;

  12. Sapphire says:

    I have had my betas for over half a year each, Ocean the male for the longest. I have kept them in separate bowls for as long as I have had them, and I often see Ocean make huge bubble nests, usually about once a week. I got Fox, the female, two months after I got Ocean. When I got her, Fox was in a container labeled Baby Beta. How old are the baby betas when they sell in a store? And how long before I will be able to breed them?

    • Seanchez says:

      Bettas which are younger than 12months of age is the best option when you breed bettas, older than that, then the breeding wont go succesfully

  13. Genesis says:

    Hello, I’ve had my male and female betas in a 10 gallon tank for a Week and a half now and they both had ignored each other most of the time.I decided to take them out and try all over again.when I did I placed them beside one another in separate vaces and they stated swimming guards each other frantically. I’m honestly confused. Please help.

  14. PADEN says:

    I think its just me but i really can’t understand how to breed bettas. I would like to do it, but i don’t won’t to mess up and end up killing a female beta or not being prepared for the offspring. Please if someone can explain the process in a easier (no offence) way please do. Contact me a paden.truth@gmail.com.

    • Jade says:

      Usually betta fish have small amounts of fry so you most likely won’t have a room full of tanks especially if this is your first time.

  15. PADEN says:

    well i still want to breed one of my bettas but, i don’t know. i have seen videos online how to do it but it is very confusing. i don’t want to turn my bedroom into a horror movie scientist lab. please is there a simple way. i want my bettas to have a great live. plus i have no room for fifty million tanks. please contact me at paden.truth@gmail.com

  16. Matthew says:

    i want to breed my bettas but it is very confusing like Paden said. i watched some guy that claims to be the worlds best betta breeder ever, all he does is put them together but the female is seperated and he doesnt condition them.

    • Radz says:

      Breeding betta is not confusing. It’s very easy to be exact. You just need both the male and female bettas in their breeding age, a breeding tank (plastic/glass) with 6 inches deep of un-chlorinated water, styrofoam cup cut in half and taped to the side of the tank. and something to hide for the female during chasing moments. An Indian Almond leaf or a portion of dried banana leaf can be used, but soak first in water for a day if you want a cleaner water in the breeding tank.
      Put the male first in the breeding tank, and let him see periodically the female (1 hr interval/5 minutes) in a separate container by putting something to block the view (paper/cardboard). The male will build a bubble nest afterwards. If it will not happen, put another male in the breeding tank and let them fight for 5 mins. Just be sure that no injury will happen by blocking both of them when they strike. After that, get the 2nd male out of the tank, and then bubble nest building will begin. The idea here is that males will fight for mating..
      If the male will start building the bubble nest, you can put now the leaf (away from the bubble nest) and then put the female. Flaring will happen in a few minutes, and the female will inspect the bubble nest.
      If she was not ready, or not satisfied with the bubble nest, she will hide a lot of times and chasing by male will occur. Just don’t worry for it is just natural for them. For a piece of indian almond leaf, a lot of hiding places can be utilized by the female, and the male will add more bubbles on his nest. A day or two, you will notice that the female will periodically inspect the bubble nest and sometimes stay for a seconds underneath it. If the male will invite the female out of her hiding places, the female will follow.
      This is a good sign. By following the male, mating will happen afterwards. The male will hug the female until eggs will be expelled on her belly. On the first few tries, eggs will not be deposited but it will happen afterwards.This hugging will happen continually for a period of time until eggs will be deposited. The male (and sometimes the female) will “eat” or suck the eggs and expel it in the bubble nest. You will know that it’s finished if the male will chase the female away from the bubble nest. Or the female will hide continually for fear of male attack. Just take out the female and let the male do his paternal duties. A day or two, fry will hatch..

  17. elizabeth says:

    Please help me. My female betta wont eat! I’ve tried every kind of food, and she just won’t eat. I’ve tried every day for the past 6 days. Please help. Ineed her to eat!

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