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Betta Fish Eggs 101: Care, Hatching Time, Appearance & More

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Even after years of experience, I know that dealing with betta fish eggs can be challenging. That is especially true for those of you who are new to fishkeeping, as betta fish eggs are pretty mysterious and raise many questions.

So, as an experienced aquarist, I decided to gather some of the most frequent questions into one guide. In many cases, I will link to another article that I wrote so that you get the picture in detail.

Ultimately, in the last part of this article, I will list some essential tips that will help you care for your betta fish’s eggs. I will often embed a helpful video that will shed some more light.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into it.

For those of you who are in a rush, here is a table that gathers some of the most crucial information on betta fish eggs:

Temperature78-80° F (25-27° C)
pH7.0-7.2
Hardness5-20 DH (70-300 ppm)
Ammonia0 ppm
Nitrties0 ppm
Nitrates<20 ppm
Size1 mm (diameter)
ColorWhite
Time to hatch24-72 hours
Eggs per batch30-500
Hatching rate70%

What Do Betta Fish Eggs Look Like?

Betta fish eggs resemble white pearls and are 1mm in diameter. Fertilized eggs will grow a bit and develop yellowish or brownish shades. In the end, two dots will appear, resembling the fry’s eyes. On the contrary, unfertilized eggs remain white and don’t change.

Betta fish eggs are pretty easy to identify. They are entirely white and can be found at the bottom of the tank. Later on, the male betta fish collects and places the eggs in the bubble nest he had carefully built.

Still curious? Click here for more information on what betta fish eggs look like. In there, I included some detailed pictures that will help you distinguish fertilized eggs from unfertilized ones.

How Do Betta Fish Eggs Get Fertilized?

After the female finishes producing her eggs, the male betta squeezes her, forcing the eggs to be pushed out. Then, as they are released, the male secretes milt containing his sperm and fertilizes the eggs.

It is pretty standard for other fish species to lay unfertilized eggs that will later be fertilized by the male. But in most cases, the eggs lay still on some object, waiting for the male to hover above them while it releases its sperm.

But that isn’t the case with betta fish. Surprisingly, the males fertilize the eggs the moment they are released. Eggs that sink to the bottom are probably fertilized at this point.

But because it is still too early, you won’t notice any changes. Only after 24 to 72 hours will you start noticing signs indicating that the eggs are indeed fertilized.

Caught your attention? Click here for more information on how betta fish eggs get fertilized. I also provided some essential tips to ensure the eggs get fertilized and eventually hatch.

How To Tell If Betta Eggs Are Fertilized?

These signs suggest that your betta fish’s eggs are fertilized: 

  • The eggs turn from white to bright yellow.
  • The eggs will slightly grow.
  • You will notice two black dots, which are the fry’s eyes.
  • The male betta will consistently care for the eggs.
  • After three days, fertilized eggs are supposed to hatch.

If you noticed the signs above, it is good news, as it means the eggs were fertilized successfully. Most eggs will present these signs inside the bubble nest. However, some may even survive at the bottom or on different objects.

An image demonstrating fertilized betta fish eggs on the right and unfertilized eggs on the left.
Some of the betta eggs show two black dots that demonstrate the fry’s eyes.

Wish to learn more? Click here for more information on how to tell if betta eggs are fertilized. Besides some beautiful pictures, I embedded a fascinating Youtube video that shows how the eggs develop in fast-motion photography.

How Many Eggs Do Betta Fish Lay?

Betta fish usually lay between 30 to 40 eggs every few weeks. Of the total number of eggs, about 70 percent hatch into living, healthy fry. Some bettas will lay up to 500 eggs, although these occurrences are relatively rare.

If you are planning on breeding betta fish, I suggest that you consider getting a pretty large tank. Betta fish are unexpected and may overcrowd your aquarium rapidly. Although not all eggs will hatch, the numbers are still high.

Sounds interesting? Click here for more information on how many eggs betta fish lay. I included some valuable tips that will increase the number of eggs that eventually hatch.

How Long Does It Take For Betta Eggs To Hatch?

It usually takes 24 to 72 hours for betta fish eggs to hatch. That is the expected period given the ideal water parameters, including a temperature of 78 to 80 degrees F, a pH of 7.0 to 7.2, and a hardness of 5-20 DH (70-300 ppm).

If 72 hours have passed and some of your betta fish’s eggs haven’t hatched, you can probably toss them out. Likely, the eggs were not fertilized in the first place.

Still curious? Click here for more information on how long it takes for betta eggs to hatch. In there, I take you step-by-step on what you should do if the eggs don’t hatch after three days.

Why Do Betta Eggs Not Hatch?

Betta fish usually don’t hatch because they were not fertilized in the first place. That can be secondary to inexperienced, infertile, or stressed male betta fish. And if the female releases a large batch of eggs, some of them will naturally be missed in the fertilization process.

If it seems that your betta’s eggs are not hatching, first check if 72 hours have passed. It can be that it is just too early and that the fry didn’t have enough time to develop.

After three days, the chances that the eggs will hatch are pretty low. At this point, it could be that the male’s sperm never reached the egg or that infection took place. Infected eggs typically look fuzzy.

Either way, after 72 hours, I suggest that you remove the eggs. Sometimes the male will eat them, as he can differentiate fertilized from unfertilized eggs. But that isn’t guaranteed, and rotten eggs will start to produce toxins.

Caught your attention? Click here for more information on why betta fish eggs don’t hatch. In there, I take you step-by-step on what you should do if nothing happens after three days. I also included an excellent video showing what to do with eggs that did hatch.

What Do I Do With My Betta Eggs?

You can either grow the betta fish eggs and let them hatch or remove them from the aquarium. If you wish to care for the fry, it is best to remove the mother from the tank as soon as she’s done secreting her eggs. The father should be removed after 72 hours.

Like many other fish species, bettas do not show sentiments to their offspring. In other words, they will happily eat them. The female is more problematic as she doesn’t even care for the eggs.

If you don’t take her out, she will happily consume the eggs, even those that have been fertilized. The father is a bit different on this matter, as he will take care of the eggs until they hatch.

However, as soon as a fry pops out, he won’t hesitate to eat it. So, the female should be removed immediately after the eggs have been secreted, and the father should be taken out as soon as the eggs start to hatch.

Wish to learn more? Click here for more information on what to do with betta fish eggs. In there, I also discussed how you could make a profit out of the betta fish’s eggs. That is precious information for those who wish to get rid of the fry.

Can Betta Fish Lay Eggs Without A Mate? Will They Hatch?

Female betta fish can lay eggs without a mate, but the eggs will not be fertilized. Over time, the eggs will rot and probably develop a fungal infection. In other words, the eggs can be laid without a mate, but they won’t hatch without the male’s sperm.

If you noticed that your female betta fish laid a batch of eggs without a male, don’t expect them to hatch. But this phenomenon is pretty rare as, in most cases, the female should be exposed to a male to produce eggs.

Some aquarists put the two in separate tanks for a couple of days. That will intrigue the female into producing eggs. However, some females will secrete them on their own. In this case, take the eggs out before they rot.

Sounds interesting? Click here for more information on whether betta fish can lay eggs without a mate. I also discussed whether female betta fish could store sperm and reproduce even if they were not recently exposed to a male.

Do Betta Fish Eat Their Own Eggs?

Betta fish occasionally eat their eggs. That usually occurs when the eggs are not properly fertilized or when too many have been laid. However, stressful conditions may compel male bettas into eating viable eggs.

In most cases, the male betta fish seems to be eating the eggs when in fact, it is actually collecting them into the bubbles nest. Try following the fish to see what he does.

But in some cases, the father will indeed eat the eggs. As he can differentiate fertilized from unfertilized eggs, he usually does that to unfertilized ones, as there is no chance they will hatch.

The male will also choose to eat fertilized eggs infected with fungi or when there are just too many eggs to be grown in the current aquarium. But if he feels stressed, he is very likely to eat viable eggs as well.

Still curious? Click here for more information on whether betta fish eat their own eggs. In this article, I distinguished between male and female betta fish and provided some useful ways to prevent bettas from doing so.

Can Betta Eggs Hatch On The Floor?

Betta fish eggs can hatch on the floor. While bubble nests create a convenient environment, they are not vital for hatching. In order to increase their survival chances, it is best to use an airstone and keep the water parameters stable.

Ideally, the male betta fish will collect the eggs that have been sunk to the bottom and bring them into the bubble nest. However, occasionally, he will leave a few on the floor.

If these eggs are not even fertilized, they will not hatch. That could also be why the father chose to leave them there. But if they are fertilized, they can still hatch outside the bubble nest.

To ensure this happens, you should add more oxygen to the tank. That allows you to resemble the conditions inside a bubble. And if you keep the water parameters within the desired range, there is no reason for fertilized eggs not to hatch on the floor.

Caught your attention? Click here for more information on whether betta eggs can hatch on the floor. You will find there what water parameters you should maintain to ensure these eggs eventually hatch.

How To Care For Betta Fish Eggs

Male bettas can produce hundreds of eggs under the right circumstances.[1] However, it isn’t enough for the fish to generate the eggs. You cannot successfully breed bettas unless the eggs hatch. 

But hatching is not a guarantee. You have to give the eggs the appropriate care. Otherwise, they will die and rot. Keep the following in mind:

1. Pick The Right Breeding Pair

Have you noticed the emphasis a doctor places on a mother’s health before giving birth? They know that the baby’s health relies heavily on the mother’s health.

Fish eggs are the same. You have to start caring for a betta’s eggs before they are even generated. This means getting a solid and healthy pair of bettas that can produce strong and healthy eggs.

Give the betta fry the best possible start. Sick bettas with genetic anomalies will produce diseased, potentially infertile eggs that are unlikely to hatch. 

Many retailers do not intend to sell sick bettas. Instead, they keep the creatures in poor conditions that ruin their health in the long run.

Therefore, you should pay close attention to the breeding pairs you buy. Keep an eye out for the following:

  • Where possible, buy your bettas from experienced breeders instead of random retailers. You can trust reputable breeders to select the best fish for your tank.[2] People use breeders to perform selective breeding, where they enhance certain traits in their fish while eliminating others. 
  • Make sure the bettas are the same size. They can’t be too young. Aim for 4-12-month-old bettas just to be on the safe side. Disparate size may encourage one of the fish to bully the other. After all, bettas have an aggressive streak. 
  • Have you checked the fins? Are they in good condition? Your retailer will probably blame damaged fins on aggression among the betta fish. But you have no reason to believe them. You should always interpret torn fins as a sign of an illness. Don’t take any chances.
  • Prioritize active fish. Lethargic bettas are most likely unwell.
  • Look at the aquariums in the store. Can you see filters and pumps? Is the water cloudy? You cannot trust the health of bettas that a retailer reared in a poorly maintained tank.

2. Condition Your Bettas For Breeding

You wouldn’t expect conditioning to affect the health of the eggs. And in truth, it doesn’t, not directly. However, conditioning can affect your overall success by determining the number of eggs your bettas will produce.

You are going to lose eggs. This is a guarantee. Some eggs will rot because the male betta failed to fertilize them. Others will fall prey to parasites, fungi, predators, and the like.

Even when the eggs hatch, you cannot expect every single fry to survive. This is why egg production matters. The more eggs your female betta makes, the more eggs you can afford to lose. 

This gives you room to breathe and to experiment with the tank’s conditions without destroying your entire batch of eggs.

The female’s physical health is vital. You have to feed her high protein live food several times a day. If the mother and father share a tank, create a divider that keeps them separate while allowing the bettas to see one another.

If you get your bettas from breeders, ask them to sell you fish with breeding experience. In many cases, breeding fails because the parents have no experience.

Male fish are particularly problematic. The young ones are more likely to neglect their duties, allowing the female’s eggs to go unfertilized because they don’t necessarily know what to do.

If you condition an experienced breeding pair, they will add an extensive collection of strong and healthy eggs to the tank. Also, those eggs are more likely to hatch.

  • For your convenience, here is an excellent Youtube video that will take you step-by-step on how to condition betta fish for breeding:

3. Adjust The Aquarium Conditions

You can’t expect the eggs to survive in a poorly maintained tank. Keep the following factors in mind:

  • Parameters

Keep an eye on the temperature and pH. Measure them routinely. You need temperatures of 80 degrees F, pH of 7.0, and hardness of 5 to 20 DH (70-300 ppm). However, it isn’t enough to maintain the appropriate parameters.

You have to prevent wild fluctuations. Fluctuating parameters will induce stress in the male bettas, and stressed male bettas are more likely to eat their eggs.

That also applies if the current water parameters in your tank differ from those recommended above. It is more important to keep them stable than to adjust them while your bettas are breeding.

The lighting isn’t as important as the temperature and pH, but the breeding tank requires a regular day/night cycle. You don’t have to be quite as precise with the lighting. Moderate to low light conditions will do.

  • Filter

You should definitely add a filter, but don’t make the current too strong. You don’t want to wash the eggs away or suck them up, which is why I suggest a sponge filter. I would personally go with the SunGrow Betta Sponge Filter (link to Amazon).

The water should be changed routinely to prevent the ammonia concentration from rising. If your betta fish laid a large batch of eggs, I recommend getting the well-known Seachem Prime Conditioner (link to Amazon).

If your female lays more than 40 eggs, some of them are very likely to rot. Fortunately, a few drops of this product will prevent rotten eggs from elevating ammonia, nitrates, or nitrties.

The source of the new water also matters. If you introduce toxins like chlorine and lead, they will kill the eggs before they hatch. You can use conditioners to treat the new water before adding it to the aquarium.

  • Tank Size

I highly recommend getting a breeding tank of at least 20 gallons.[3] Some people buy aquariums that are only large enough to accommodate their eggs, completely forgetting that betta fry will emerge in a few days. 

You have to plan for the babies before they appear. Get a large aquarium to comfortably house them but not so large that finding food becomes a stressful undertaking. 

4. Create A Conducive Environment For A Bubble Nest

Betta fish blow bubbles they coated with mucus and saliva, creating clusters that float at the surface. Male bettas keep the eggs the female makes in a bubble nest. 

The goal is to protect them, as bubble nests obscure the eggs, keeping them away from predators. They also surround the eggs with oxygen-rich water. Betta eggs can hatch outside a bubble nest.[4]

However, they are safer and healthier inside a bubble nest. Yes, they fall out from time to time. But this is why you keep the male betta in the aquarium. He spends his days retrieving, cleaning, and then returning the eggs to the bubble nest.[5]

Aquarists expect male bettas to build bubble nests when they are ready to breed. If you can’t see bubble nests in your tank, your first step should be to find out why.

Are the bettas too old to make bubble nests? Is the filtration system too strong? Powerful currents will disperse bubble nests.

What about the conditions? Do you have the appropriate temperature and pH? You can’t expect male bettas to make bubble nests in a tank with poor quality water. The stress will make them inactive.

You have to remedy all these issues before the male betta can play its role. Lower the flow rate of the filter and add some floating plants. Bettas tend to create bubble nests beneath objects at the surface.

Don’t forget to show the male and female bettas to one another. A female’s presence will urge the male betta to make a nest because it wants to mate.

Some aquarists will replace male bettas that can’t make bubble nests. They interpret the absence of bubble nests as a sign of the male betta’s inexperience and infertility.

However, the absence of a bubble nest could also signify poor conditioning. You can extend the conditioning stage by a week or two if the male betta needs more time to settle into the appropriate breeding mindset.

5. Take Out The Adult Bettas In Time

Eggs are vulnerable. They cannot swim away from predators. Therefore, you should keep them in a separate aquarium. They cannot share their water with any adult fish. 

The mother won’t hesitate to eat them. You have to send her back to the community tank once she pushes all the eggs out.

Admittedly, the mating process is physically challenging for the female because the male betta has to squeeze the eggs out of her body. If she’s still too weak to return to the community tank, keep her in a hospital aquarium for a few days.

Use products like MarOxy to treat any wounds she sustained while mating. Either way, she can’t stay with the eggs. Don’t let her lethargic state fool you.

The father is safe, but only for the first three days. Most male bettas will eat unfertilized eggs, which is good because the unfertilized eggs will rot and produce ammonia.

However, most male bettas have enough self-control to leave the fertilized eggs alone. You only see exceptions in tanks that have induced stress in the father via fluctuating parameters and dirty water.

In ideal circumstances, the male betta will behave until the eggs hatch. At that stage, he will become a danger to the fry. 

You should move him to the community aquarium. But this isn’t an issue because he has already done his job, and you can take over at this point. 

6. Scatter A Few Plants

If the eggs have to survive in a community tank, make sure the water has plenty of plants. You can experiment with both fast and slow-growing species. Plants are not part of a betta’s diet. You don’t have to worry about the fish destroying them.[6]

Give the eggs as much cover as possible. Obviously, these are not betta fry. They cannot hide in the plants. But plants provide a modicum of protection. At the very least, the plants will bolster the protective capabilities of the bubble nest.

The Recommended Gear For Betta Fish Eggs

References

  1. https://agritech.tnau.ac.in/fishery/fish_ornamental.html
  2. https://www.wikihow.com/Selectively-Breed-Betta-Fish
  3. https://www.wikihow.pet/Breed-Betta-Fish
  4. https://expertaquarist.com/can-betta-eggs-hatch-without-bubble-nest/
  5. https://home.adelphi.edu/~ve21375/Male%20Betta%20Fish.html
  6. https://www.vivofish.com/betta-fish-care/