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How Many Eggs Do Betta Fish Lay? (And How Many Will Hatch)

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When I first bred betta fish, people told me they could lay hundreds of eggs. That made me nervous because my tank couldn’t handle so many babies. Ultimately, as I gained some experience in this field, I realized that the numbers are a bit different.

On average, betta fish lay between 30 to 40 eggs every few weeks. From the total number of eggs that were laid, about 70 percent hatch into living fry. Some bettas will lay up to 500 eggs, although these occasions are relatively rare.

As we move forward, I will elaborate on which steps you should take to ensure your betta fish’s eggs actually hatch. Bear in mind that neglecting those may end up with an entire batch that has been ruined.

Still curious? Feel free to check my complete guide on betta fish eggs. There, I discussed how to care for betta eggs, what they look like, how long it takes for them to hatch, what equipment to use, and much more.

How Many Eggs Do Betta Fish Lay?

Betta fish produce 30 – 40 eggs every few weeks. Every so often, you may hear of a betta that laid as many as 500 eggs.[1] However, those occurrences are rare.

A betta so fertile that it lays 500 eggs per spawning session will quickly overwhelm your tank. Unless you rear bettas for commercial purposes, 500 eggs are too many.

However, some aquarists have the opposite problem, as their bettas don’t lay enough eggs. These individuals do not realize that they have to condition their bettas to increase the quality and quantity of eggs.

The presence or absence of conditioning can drastically impact the egg count. But while conditioning prepares the breeding pair for spawning, most females are still unlikely to hit that 500-egg mark. 

And even if they did, the father would probably eat some of the eggs to reduce the number of offspring it has to care for.[2]

How Many Of These Eggs Are Expected To Hatch?

On average, approximately 70 percent of the eggs the female betta has laid will hatch.[3] But that isn’t guaranteed. Also, it doesn’t mean that all the newborns will survive after they hatch.

Naturally, the more eggs the betta has laid, the lower the percentage of their hatching rate. The male betta typically fertilizes and cares for the eggs. But it will find it challenging to handle hundreds of eggs at a time.

But if your betta fish lays a reasonable number, such as 40 eggs, you can expect 25-30 fry after three days. That is, of course, if you have taken the proper measures to ensure a conducive environment.

How Do I Ensure That Most Eggs Hatch?

Conditioning is necessary for aquarists that want to maintain the 30 to 40 egg average. Keep the following in mind:

1. Pick The Right Breeding Pair

Before you can concern yourself with the conditions in the tank, start by selecting the right breeding pair. You can’t expect weak, diseased bettas with genetic anomalies to deliver the quantity and quality of eggs you want.

The source matters. You can successfully breed bettas by purchasing breeding pairs from any fish retailer you trust. However, you are better off prioritizing professional breeders.

Professional breeders have a reputation to protect. Therefore, you can rely on them to select the healthiest bettas for your tank. 

Additionally, they are fountains of information, capable of answering any question you may have. That includes the parentage of the breeding pair, genetics, health considerations, etc.

You can use a professional breeder to introduce specific traits to your betta population. Admittedly, breeders are expensive. This is why many aquarists flock to conventional fish shops. But the breeding pairs you buy from professional breeders are worth every penny. 

If you don’t have any professional breeders in the vicinity, you can still secure decent breeding pairs from a local retailer if you consider these factors:

  • Look for active fish. Lethargy signifies sickness and stress. Make sure the bettas you buy are lively.
  • Look for vivid colors. The color speaks volumes about the health of a betta. Fish in poor conditions tend to manifest duller colors than their counterparts in clean tanks. If your retailer tortured their bettas with dirty water and a poor diet, the color would expose them. 
  • Check the fins. Many diseases will start by attacking the fins. A betta with fraying fins should concern you. The retailer may blame the fraying on fighting among the bettas. But you can’t take any chances. Look for bettas without a single blemish to be on the safe side. 
  • Consider the size. The size is another significant indicator. Avoid adult bettas that are clearly too small. They probably have genetic anomalies that you can’t afford to introduce to your tank. 

2. Feed Your Bettas Properly

When professional aquarists talk about conditioning a betta, this is primarily a reference to the diet. They want amateurs to give the bettas high-quality food, preferably live foods.[4]

Though, the bettas will happily eat frozen foods, flakes, pellets, and any other protein-rich items you have on hand. This gives the bettas the energy required to generate the appropriate quality and quantity of eggs.

Some decent options include live white worms, daphnia, brine shrimp, glass worms, Mysis shrimp, blackworms, etc. Increase the number of meals. Feed them four times a day, but keep the portions small.

3. Set The Proper Conditions

I highly suggest that you create a conducive breeding environment in the aquarium. Aim for 10-gallon tanks, as the bettas won’t appreciate crowded conditions. Aquarists breed bettas in 5-gallon tanks all the time. But 10 gallons are better.

Don’t forget to test the water’s parameters. Testing kits are inexpensive and easily accessible. Check the pH and temperature. Breeding tanks require a pH of 7.0 and roughly 78 degrees F.[5]

You should also ensure that the ammonia and nitrties are kept at 0 ppm and that the nitrates are below 20 ppm. To measure these and the pH, I highly recommend getting the API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT (link to Amazon).

This bundle is the most accurate that I’ve found. It also lasts for about eight hundred measures, so it is definitely worths the investment.

If you kept the bettas in a tank without a filter, you should add one to the breeding aquarium. But you have to pay close attention to the strength of the currents.

You don’t want to overwhelm the breeding pair and their offspring with a strong current. Invest in a gentle filter that can clean the water without disturbing the fish. I personally went with the Tetra Whisper EX Silent Filter (link to Amazon).

4. Place Some Hiding Spots

Stress will overwhelm breeding pairs in bare tanks with no plants. If you have multiple bettas in the same space, they will lash out against one another because they don’t have hiding spots.

But the number of plants matters. If you have too many plants, they will crowd the aquarium. Your fish should be able to swim freely.

You can also use some decorations. An obvious choice would be getting a decor bundle, such as the 13 Pieces Aquarium Decorations Kit (link to Amazon). This way, you can choose what fits your aquarium best.

5. Introduce The Breeding Pair Properly

It is common to keep the male and female fish in separate tanks. You should only add them to the same aquatic environment when they are ready to mate.

Even though you have to condition them separately, allow the male and female betta to see each other by placing their tanks next to one another. The goal is to stimulate the urge to reproduce.[6]

A female fish rarely lays eggs in the absence of a male. It can happen, but in most cases, the female betta produces eggs as a response to the male’s presence. In that vein, the male betta makes bubble nests to show that it wants to breed.

If you condition your breeding pair appropriately, they will display specific signs to prove that they are ready to breed. Look for vertical bars on the female’s body. She will grow larger because of all the eggs she’s housing in her belly.[7]

As you now know, the male betta will build bubble nests. The bettas are more likely to manifest these signs if they can see each other. It can take as many as ten days to condition the breeding pair.

Once they’re ready, you can add them to the breeding tank. The male fish should enter first. Make sure you acclimate the fish. Otherwise, the shock caused by the transition may skew the results.

Ultimately, you have to wait until the female lays the eggs to determine whether or not the conditioning worked. If your breeding pair fails to display the correct symptoms after ten days, you should condition them for an extra week or two.

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Conclusions

Betta fish can lay up to 500 eggs at a time, but that usually doesn’t happen. In most cases, the female will lay between 30 to 40 eggs. About seventy percent of those will eventually hatch. The rest will rot or get eaten.

To ensure the eggs hatch, aim for a temperature of 78 degrees F and a pH of 7.0. Also, ensure that the ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites are at 0 ppm. If they are above that, conduct more frequent water changes or use a conditioner.

I also suggest that you scatter a few hiding places. These will build your bettas’ confidence and allow them to breed more naturally. Calm males will gladly create a large bubble nest and look after the eggs.

References

  1. https://badmanstropicalfish.com/how-to-tell-if-betta-eggs-are-fertilized/
  2. https://wildbettablog.com/betta-fish-eggs/
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Hatching-rate-of-betta-fish-eggs-based-on-treatment-of-transfection-with-the-addition-of_fig1_343478624
  4. http://bettafishaquarium.com/how-many-babies-does-a-betta-fish-have/
  5. https://www.wikihow.com/Selectively-Breed-Betta-Fish
  6. https://nippyfish.net/2011/03/09/conditioning-bettas-for-breeding/
  7. https://www.instructables.com/How-to-Breed-Bettas-Betta-Breeding-101/