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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bitter Sweet Betta Love

The Embrace

When Betta love is in the air, and the female is in pure sight, the male will look like he is possessed. Basically the testosterones are up the roof :)) !!! He’ll swim like crazy, darting and flaring and attacking the glass, unable to get to the grand price (yet). Meanwhile she is a bit worried but soon figures out he can’t get to her, so she starts teasing him: “Look but don’t touch!” and might even flare back at him :).

Male gets busier still, alternating his showing off macho attitude with frantic building of a nest. He’ll keep blowing bubbles on one hand and huffing and puffing at the female on the other for the next day or two or even more. But as soon as he has built his nest, or got a good head start on it, you should release the damsel.

Then he realizes she is in reach, and she realizes that she can get her little fishie butt kicked, so a lot of confusion will take over the spawning tank. Some pairs may be gentle with each other, other will beat the crap out of one another. Usually, it is the female that gets picked on and after the first bite from the male she starts running for her life. That is normal. He will chase her around and nip her and she will run away for a day or two or even three.

The female will usually figure out a way to hide from him, usually behind the corner filter, heater and of course the bushy plastic plant you have placed inside the tank for her protection. Her fins will be frayed, but usually she will take quite a bit of abuse before being truly endangered. Some males do kill the females though so you need to be the referee and keep a close eye on the honeymooners :) at all times.

Then, out of the blue it seems, she decides she is not scared anymore and she swims up to the nest, checking it out. If she likes what she sees, she allows the male to get close and if all goes well, they start telling each other they like each other: She swims with her head down (often with her fins closed), indicating she is now submissive. He stops beating her up and instead starts swimming in an S like motion, rubbing his body against her (sheeesh this is starting to get a bit risque!!) :)))))

There she is, with her head down, under the nest, ready to start spawning. He tries to figure out the best angle to approach her for the embrace. They often swim in circle, clockwise or counterclockwise, trying different angles and it often takes a while before they figure out how to do it best (some male NEVER do figure it out! Ha!! And finally: BINGO!!!! The male successfully wraps his body around the female’s and squeezes hard, they lock in that position for a few seconds, sometimes sinking both at the bottom, still not letting go of each other (how romantic!) :)

Finally, eggs drop slowly like little snowflakes, and the male releases her and swims away, usually to the bottom of the tank, looking for the eggs. She lays motionless, floating pathetically, paralyzed. I am not sure why that happens, but the advantage is that it gives the male a chance to collect most of the eggs before she has a chance to get to them. He will collect them in his mouth and spit them back into the bubble nest. This can go on all day:)

After this long ritual, the male takes care of the nest and fry for the first few days. He will rearrange his nest, move the eggs around, clean them up, pick them up in his mouth, “gargle” and then spit them back out. He will also vent them with his pectorals to keep water circulating and prevent the fungus from attacking them, repair the nest, blow new bubbles to replace the ones that have popped, scan the bottom of the tank for any fallen eggs and immediately place them back in the nest. Once the fry are hatched, he keeps them from sinking to the bottom by catching them and carefully placing them in the nest until they are free swimming.

Dad works overtime!
Dad is awesome!

~ excerpt from :)

1 comment:

  1. Aha - This is the cutest description of Betta Spawning ever - and that banner on the top with the fish that chase fish food is off the HOOK.