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What To Do With Betta Fry? (A Step-By-Step Guide)

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Betta fish fry can be pretty challenging. In my early days of fishkeeping, I had no idea what to do after they hatched. Fortunately, as years passed, I gained some knowledge in this field. Today, I will take you step-by-step on what you should do with your recently-born betta fry.

These are the steps you should follow after the betta fry hatch:

  1. Leave them in the tank with the father until they are free swimmers.
  2. Remove the male betta fish once they start swimming horizontally.
  3. Feed them microorganisms like baby brine shrimp and infusoria.
  4. Stick with 4-5 meals a day.
  5. Adjust the water parameters, including the temperature, pH, and hardness. 

As we move forward, I will take step-by-step on what you should do with your betta fish fry. I will also share a helpful Youtube video that will show you how to make infusoria (do that before the fry are born).

Newborn betta fry hanging vertically next to a few free swimmers.

Still curious? Feel free to check my complete guide on betta fish fry, where I discussed how to care for betta fry, what they eat, their growth stages, what equipment to use, and much more.

What To Do With Betta Fry After They Hatch?

Betta fish breed quickly and easily, especially if you condition them correctly. They produce an average of fifty eggs whenever they spawn. 

But you can’t rely on the mother to care for her offspring. Her work ends the moment she pushes the eggs out. 

You have to remove her from the aquarium to keep the eggs safe. The father will take over at that point, hiding the eggs in a bubble next that oxygenates and protects them. 

It only takes three days for the eggs to hatch. But what happens after that? Well, you need to do the following. And if you do it correctly, up to 90 percent of the fry will survive:

Step #1: Leave The Fry Alone 

This doesn’t sound like the best course of action because the babies are clearly vulnerable. But they don’t need your help, not yet. They still have the male betta.

At this stage, the betta fry are not free swimming, which is why their tails point downward.[1] This is called the newborn stage, and it lasts 3-7 days. They may occasionally ascend, but gravity will force them back down. 

You don’t have to worry about their diet either. They will absorb all the nutrients they need from the yolk sac. And if anything goes wrong, the father will take action.

Some male bettas are dangerous. They may attack the newly hatched fry because of stress or poor conditions, forcing you to remove them. But in most cases, your can trust the fathers to look after their offspring.

Step #2: Remove The Male Betta

The babies will start swimming horizontally after two to three days. That should encourage you to remove the male betta. Otherwise, he may eat the fry.[2]

Bear in mind that the female should be taken away even sooner. I typically remove her after she has done secreting the eggs. The mother won’t take care of the eggs and will occasionally eat them.

If the betta fry look like this, you shouldn’t remove the male betta just yet.

Step #3: Feed The Babies

In the absence of the yolk sac, the responsibility for feeding the betta fry will fall on your shoulders. Technically speaking, the babies eat the same food that adult fish enjoy, including worms, vinegar eels, and brine shrimp. 

But the fry are tiny, and therefore, the size of their food should match the size of their mouths.

In other words, they need micro-worms, baby brine shrimp, fairy shrimp, and the like, as I previously discussed here. 

If all you have on hand is conventional fish foods, grind them into the thinnest pieces possible. You can gamble with a betta fry’s diet. 

But aquarists typically utilize the following plan:

  • Microorganisms

You can’t add ordinary fish food to the tank when the babies first hatch. During those first few days, they require microscopic organisms like infusoria, which you can culture at home.

Use a dropper to siphon water with infusoria out of a separate container. Then, squirt the water into the breeding tank. 

People use plant matter to grow cultures of infusoria. But you shouldn’t siphon that vegetable matter from the infusoria jar.

If you can see it with your naked eyes, the vegetable matter is too big for the fry to eat. It will rot. Stick with the microscopic organisms for the first two to three days. 

If all of that sounds overwhelming, here is a simple Youtube video that will show you how to culture infusoria and feed it to your fish:

  • Baby Brine Shrimp

You can introduce baby brine shrimp on the fourth day because the babies have grown, and their mouths can accommodate larger meals. 

You can use the same feeding method that worked with infusoria to add baby brine shrimp to the breeding tank. 

I personally recommend getting the Ocean Nutrition Instant Baby Brine Shrimp (link to Amazon). Each jar contains about 1.5 million highly-nutritious baby brine shrimp.

Bear in mind that it is best to prepare these food items before the fry hatch. Microscopic organisms cannot satisfy week-old baby bettas. 

  • Freeze-Dried And Frozen Foods

You can add freeze-dried and frozen foods to the menu in the third week. If you have some daphnia for your adult bettas, grind it into tiny pieces for the babies to consume. Thaw the frozen foods and blend them into a powder.

  • Worms

Add some worms to the diet in the fifth week. That includes Black worms and Grindal worms. The babies need all the protein you can give them, and there is no better protein source than live foods. 

You can introduce dry foods in the eighth week. As a rule of thumb, you don’t have to overthink the diet. Just remember that betta fry are small. 

Also, they need plenty of protein. If you can give them a decent variety of live foods that you blended into a powdery texture, they should be fine.

Your biggest concern is the newly hatched fry. They need infusoria and nematodes, which you should prepare before they hatch.

Newcomers are better off relying on commercial food until they find their footing. The market has plenty of food items specifically designed to accommodate betta fry.[3]

The food items in question include manuals detailing the feeding schedule and quantities. Commercial foods are not as nutritious as their live counterparts. But they are a suitable alternative for desperate aquarists with busy schedules. 

Step #4: Increase The Number Of Meals

You should feed the fry four or five times a day to maximize their growth. But they need small potions.[4] Overfeeding is less of an issue where baby bettas are concerned. You can start cutting back as the fry grow older. 

A three weeks old betta fish that can already eat freeze-dried and frozen food.

Step #5: Maintain Appropriate Conditions

Maintaining the right water parameters is crucial for the general health of your betta fry. It will also determine their stress level and appetite.

These are the ideal water conditions for betta fry:

  • Temperature: 85-88° F (29-31° C) 
  • pH: 7.0-7.2 
  • General hardness: 2-20 dGH (70-300 ppm) 
  • Carbonate hardness: 3-5 dKH (55- 90 ppm) 
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm 
  • Nitrites: 0 ppm 
  • Nitrates: <20 ppm

To measure the pH, nitrates, nitrties, and ammonia, I personally got the well-known API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT (link to Amazon). That is the most accurate I have found so far.

As for the water hardness, I suggest getting the API GH & KH TEST KIT (link to Amazon). It is pretty affordable and easy to use.

Bettas are unlikely to breed in tanks with poor conditions, as the female will probably withhold her eggs. If she lays them, the male fish may refuse to fertilize them. And if the eggs hatch, the poor conditions will produce diseased and deformed fry.

If you took the time to create a breeding tank with a conducive environment, you have to maintain those conditions. This means keeping a thermostat and testing kits on hand to check the pH and temperature.

It also means performing routine water changes (25 percent twice a week).[5] You cannot rely on powerful filters because they will suck the babies in. Therefore, you should pair sponge filters with strict cleaning regimens.

Don’t forget: betta fry have voracious appetites. You have to feed them several times a day. Unfortunately, the more food you add to the tank, the more leftovers you will get.

Rotting leftovers produce ammonia, which is poisonous. Without a decent filter and regular water changes, the babies will die

Betta fry require two things from you, namely: feeding them and cleaning their environment. If you can accomplish these two tasks, the creatures will mature into healthy adults.

A three days old betta fry, ready to become a free swimmer.

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Conclusions

The first thing you need to do after your betta fry are born is to pick the right time to remove the male betta fish. I suggest that you take the father out as soon as you see the first fry swimming horizontally.

Then, all you need to do is take care of the water parameters and the feeding schedule. Start with infusoria until day seven and move to baby brine shrimp until day 21. From there, they can eat what adults eat; just cut it into small pieces.

References

  1. https://beautifulbettas.wordpress.com/breeding-bettas/breeding-bettas-eggs-now-what/
  2. https://www.fishlore.com/aquariummagazine/oct07/betta-breeding.htm
  3. https://www.justagric.com/what-can-i-feed-betta-fry/
  4. https://pets.thenest.com/care-baby-fish-3542.html
  5. https://animal-world.com/newsfeed/breeding-bettas-part-3-raising-betta-fry-and-care/