Beautiful Breeding Bettas

On a whim, we bought a pair of Betta fish at the pet store two weeks ago.  This would be a Thursday afternoon, and buying pets on a whim is something that I am opposed to philisophically, spiritually, and logically.  I think I either had a mental breakdown in Petsmart, which is a strong possibility, supported by the evidence that I even attempted to go into Petsmart with my four kids.  Or maybe they play Muzac with backwards hidden messages that bamboozled me.  Anyhoo…

The idea that we came up with on the spot was to add some low maintenance fish to the aquarium where our little aquatic frog lives.  I’m all about low maintenance pets.  Ziggy the frog was sort of lonely looking in there with just his snails to keep him company, so we brought home a beautiful crowntail male Betta, and a lovely deep blue female to the tank that evening.  I did a bit of reading about their care and how to condition them to their new home, and we were up and running with a nice collection of class pets.

The kids worked on naming them all afternoon, and we finally decided that Mr. Darcy and Miss Lizzy would be appropriate.  Male Bettas are known for their aggressive behavior, so there was the strong possibility that some sparks might fly, and altercations would arise between them.  Boy, we had no idea.

The next morning, we awoke to discover that the water appeared to be foaming one corner of the tank.  Mr. Darcy was busily preparing and guarding what is called a ‘bubble nest.’

“He was looked at with great admiration for about half the
evening, till his manners gave a disgust which tuned the tide
of his popularity” -Pride and Prejudice

Ziggy (playing the part of annoying Mr. Collins) had also chosen that corner to play in, and was popping holes in the nest, so he was moved into a holding tank so Mr. Darcy could have some peace.

We thought it was a little odd that Darcy was behaving aggressively toward Lizzy, and had bitten off part of her tail.  Naughty, naughty Mr. Darcy!

Lizzy was wisely hiding in the plants, but as his nest neared completion, she emerged and boldly trespassed onto his estate.

We were surprised to see that Lizzy was now sporting vertical stripes!


“Elizabeth, having rather expected to affront him, was amazed
at his gallantry”
~Pride & Prejudice, ch.10

The pair began circling and dancing together; the mating dance had begun!   They swirled, and circled tightly, and then Mr. Darcy wrapped himself around her, and clasped her tightly between his body and tail…


like this.

We grabbed the camera and did some (rather poor quality…sorry) video, to share with you all.  Mr. and Mrs. Darcy gave us quite an educational experience, as this continued for several hours.  We watched in amazement as they danced, courted, and mated over and over.

When Lizzy was released each time, she would be slightly stunned for a few moments.  The newly released eggs would slowly fall down into the tank like little snowfakes, and Mr. Darcy would dart down and collect as many eggs as he could in his mouth.  You can see this in the video.  He would then carry them back up to the bubbles, and deposit them safely.  As soon as Lizzy came to, she would swiftly dart down and gobble up any eggs that he hadn’t collected.  Here is an overhead view of the bubble nest with clusters of white eggs in it!

As we neared the 3 hour mark, Lizzy was releasing fewer and fewer eggs, and Mr. Darcy became increasingly annoyed with her.  She retreated to the plants, and we rescued her and moved her to a nice little ‘condo’ so that she could enjoy some alone time.  The males can become so aggressive while guarding the nest, that they can kill the female…so it was time for her to take a holiday.

One of the really neat things we discovered in reading and talking to the Petsmart folks is that this is a VERY rare occurrence.   Betta don’t just breed casually like this, so we feel very privileged to have had this opportunity and to share it with you.

My daughter confessed that she prayed that they’d have babies on the way home from Petsmart after buying them.  She has been banned from praying for pet reproduction without express permission from her parents.  And we’ve got her praying for some infertile couples instead. :)

Here is the promised video…sorry about the quality.  We were really taken by surprise that this was unfolding before us, so it’s a pretty shabby job, but an amazing event nonetheless.

Stay tuned for part II…the legacy of Pemberley continues <que dramatic music>

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  1. Nicole Rimer says

    UGH. Why don’t people actually do proper research before buying fish? On top of that I don’t understand why people would even consider trusting pet store employees, ESPECIALLY PetSmart and Petco employees, these people literally know nothing and are not taught anything valuable or true. This is because they want to make as much money as humanly possible off of uneducated people, people who they know don’t do any research ahead of time, that way their fish will die or become sick so they will come back and buy medications or buy another fish.

    On top of that you crossbred a Veiltail and a Crowntail, so none of them will look proper if they were to survive. And again, you allowed fish bought from a dinky pet store like PetSmart, a store known for horribly breeding their Bettas. And while your fish are pretty, they are so very standard for a typical store bought fish.

    If it was a successful spawn you would have upwards of 500 fry. What on earth would you do with 500 Betta fish who many of which would have to be housed individually because they are males.. you would have to give them away for free because they would be bland in color and have a bad cross of CxV.

    This whole post makes me angry.

    This is why people need to learn how to do research before buying anything.

    • Its_Gwen says

      Hi Nicole,
      These were family pets, and was an enjoyable experience for us to share and learn. We were not planning for this pair to mate, and are not attempting to be professionals here, so that’s why there was not a lot of research going into it. The experience actually prompted a lot more research for all of us, and one of my children became fascinated with betas.

      I think having a passion for breeding a certain type of animal is really great, but please leave room for others to just enjoy without judgement.