Pregnant Betta Fish? All About Betta Fish Spawning

The word “pregnant” is a misleading term for betta fish as it implies giving birth to a live fish.

Betta fish are an egg-laying species that instead go through a process called “spawning” to reproduce.

The care for an expectant betta looks a lot different from other pregnant fish, so there’s a lot you need to know!

pregnant betta fish ATF

How to Recognize a Pregnant Betta Fish

The typical signs of pregnancy in fish do not fully apply to betta fish.

Instead of being pregnant with baby fish, the female betta is only pregnant with unfertilized eggs.

So instead, we look for signs your betta is ready to lay a clutch of eggs.

She may do this whether or not you have a male betta to fertilize the eggs. In fact, betta fish have a short gestation period and can lay eggs as often as every 2 weeks.

betta fish can lay eggs as often as every 2 weeks data

So, the “pregnant” betta who is ready to lay eggs will not always reproduce successfully.

Still, when eggs develop inside her, her stomach begins to bulge.

A betta can hold onto eggs for a week or more before spawning. You may not even notice a difference in her stomach if your betta lays eggs frequently.

The most telling sign a betta fish is getting ready to lay the eggs is when you see her ovipositor tube become more visible.

The ovipositor tube is sometimes called the “egg spot” as it is where the eggs come out of the betta.

If your female betta has a mate to spawn with, she will show other signs of readiness.

Her appearance changes as vertical bars appear along her body.

She also shows some telltale behavioral signs. First and foremost, she inspects the bubble nest made by the male betta in your breeding tank.

Second, she embraces the male betta so they can mate. Finally, she goes limp and lays eggs.

Caring for a Pregnant Betta Fish

If you want your betta to reproduce successfully through the spawning process, you must take proper care of her.

A sick betta fish won’t be strong enough to spawn or mate. The same goes for a betta who is under intense stress.

This means setting up a breeding tank, making dietary changes, and finding a male betta for her to mate with.

By caring for your female betta, you also care for the betta fry she is helping to create.

Breeding Tank Set-Up

The following are essential to any betta fish breeding tank:

  • Thermometer and heater
  • Gentle filter
  • Plants
  • Floating log or similar
  • Cover
  • 10-gallon tank
  • Tank divider

A breeding or isolation box like this is also very helpful for introducing your female and male to one another.

Keeping the temperature at 78-80° degrees Fahrenheit (26-27° C) is critical to betta fish care. The breeding process is delicate, so it’s even more crucial here.

Betta fish keepers use heaters in their fish tanks because it’s the best way to keep the temperature so high consistently.

The thermometer will help you watch carefully, so the temperature doesn’t fluctuate too much.

Using a gentle filter and a floating log in your tank helps with the bubble nest your male betta needs to create.

The floating log is where they will build the nest. The gentle flow created by a sponge filter ensures the water will be still enough.

A harsher current would destroy the bubble nest before your fish have time to mate.

Plants are another significant part of the aquarium setting. They help your betta fish feel safe and at home in their environment.

This increases the chance of success in breeding by reducing stress levels.

The tank itself must be 10 gallons in size to allow room for both fish to feel comfortable.

You’ll get a transparent tank divider or use a floating breeding box to let the female and male see one another before mating.

Finally, all betta fish tanks need a cover to prevent accidents.

But the cover must be nice and tight on the breeding tank. This helps maintain the humidity of the heated aquarium.

What to Feed Your Pregnant Betta

First-time breeders often overlook nutrition. But it’s essential for both the egg-bound female betta and the male.

A pregnant female needs plenty of extra protein. Use an alternative food source rather than just feeding pellet food.

pregnant female bettas need extra protein

Frozen foods like bloodworms and brine shrimp work great. But it’s even better to feed live foods as well.

The idea is to get them plenty of nutrient-rich foods with plenty of meat.

You know the female betta is getting a balanced diet when she is active and has a healthy, bright color.

Potential Health Issues

Many of the health problems we see in pregnant bettas are similar to those in other adult betta fish.

Sickness from ammonia spikes, temperature changes, and under or overfeeding are all possible.

This is why we take all kinds of precautions in the weeks leading up to the reproductive process.

The extra protein and well-kept breeding tank help keep your betta healthy and strong.

The egg release process takes a lot out of the female body. So don’t be surprised to see some fatigue shortly after.

Just keep an eye out for stress stripes and other signs of illness. Don’t breed a fish that isn’t at its best.

How Long It Takes for a Betta to Give Birth

Betta fish don’t give birth in the traditional sense.

Instead, they release their eggs while mating with the male betta.

This process may take several minutes as the fish embrace one another several times.

The female will continue laying eggs until they’re all out. The male fertilizes the eggs and carries them to the bubble nest.

The female will start the delicate process when her ovipositor tube becomes visible.

This is where the betta fish eggs come out!

female bettas can lay between 50-500 eggs per clutch data

She also has vertical stripes on her body and some downward bloating as a sign to the male she is ready to mate.

Don’t mistake this outward bloating for other kinds of bloat, which are dangerous. A pregnant fish eats and swims like normal.

Once the two fish start embracing, expect to see lots of little white balls dropping into the water.

These are the betta fish eggs, and there will be many of them! Female bettas can lay anywhere from 50-500 eggs per clutch.

Here’s a short video showing the entire process, from the female assessing the bubble nest to the betta fry hatching and growing.

YouTube video

How Often Can Betta Fish Give Birth?

Betta fish can produce eggs as frequently as every two weeks. However, do not breed them more often than every couple of months.

Remember spawning is something of a lengthy process and is hard on both the male and female.

Before each time, your fish need time to prepare and get the extra nutrition they need.

While it’s safe to breed the same two fish together, do not breed multiple betta fish from the same parents.

Inbreeding is dangerous and results in all kinds of health issues.

The fry could have trouble swimming due to physical defects. They often lead much shorter lives than other betta fish.

Can a Betta Have Multiple Pregnancies?

One betta can withstand multiple pregnancies in their lifetime with ease.

Just remember not to inbreed.

Do not breed them with a fry they spawned, and do not breed two fry from the same parents together.

So long as you have a healthy pair of betta fish, they can breed repeatedly.

You need to give them a couple of months between each time they mate.

Keep an eye on their health during this time.

Duller colors, stress stripes, fin rot, and other health issues are signs your betta needs to stop breeding for a while.

Caring for the New Baby Betta Fish

Your betta fry need their own nursery tank to keep them safe and allow them space to grow.

Once the eggs are fertilized, and the spawning process is complete, the female betta is removed from the breeding tank.

The male remains to care for the eggs until they hatch. Then he keeps an eye on the betta fry until they can swim on their own.

The fry wriggle and fall from the nest, so the father carries them back up where they’re safe.

While they’re so small, you feed them egg yolk. They are not yet strong enough to eat solid foods.

Once they start free swimming, you’ll feed infusoria and single-celled organisms.

Betta fry only eat live food for the first few weeks of life. They will likely turn their nose up at powders.

Do not feed commercial food before three weeks of age.

Fry in the Oven

Betta fish do not get pregnant in the traditional sense of the word.

Instead, they develop eggs released when they mate with a male betta.

Though they can reproduce many times throughout their life, you need to give them time to recover.

Be responsible with your fish and put their health first!

If you want to learn more about how to care for betta fry, read our linked article.

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Jacinta was raised on a dairy farm in Vermont where they worked extensively with cows, chickens, pigs, goats, and other animals. They have a background in writing both creatively and professionally.

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