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Home > Breeding Bettas > Leaving Father With Fry Method
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|Leaving Father With Fry Method|
It seems to be part of Holy Betta Scripture...spawn your bettas, remove female, after fry are free-swimming, remove male. Because, of course, he will eat them. Most of us are familiar with the axiom of the super-attentive and loving father suddenly committing mass infanticide as soon as the fry are able to 'make it' on their own.
|Our male (showing spawning damage) beneath his ever-present nest.|
|The male cohabiting peacefully with his juvenile offspring (F. Yee)|
But what really happens if the male betta is left with his fry?
I first heard of this rearing method from Derrick Kuah of Singapore. His reputed success in raising betta fry without removing the father was met with almost complete apprehension, even with his claims that the fry were stronger, grew faster, and ultimately became better parents themselves once they reached maturity and had fry of their own (he reported significantly lower instances of egg-eaters and males who abandoned their nests).
Intrigued, a few breeders, including myself, decided to try Derrick's method of leaving the father with the fry. Unlike most of my spawns, which occur in very bare tubs, I packed the spawning set-up with live plants and hiding places, spawned the pair, and waited.
Day one was easy. The fry hatched and hung tail-down as always, and Daddy tended them like a trooper. Day 2 some of them took on the horizontal swimming position, and the male continued his vigil, repairing the nest, retrieving the fry, and (yes) eating some of the weaker ones. Day 3 most of the fry were free-swimming, and I was really congratulating myself on keeping my cool; this was the day I usually removed the male and I thought I would be a basket-case. I checked the tank and saw the male still collecting his wandering brood and replacing them in his nest. I fed him then and laughed as he spat out a huge mouthful of his offspring and ate his supper with enthusiasm.
Day 4 I notice the male snapping small things out of the water. Expecting the worst, I grab my net and head for the tank. But lo and behold he was not eating fry yet...I had just fed them bbs, and he was taking advantage of the situation and having a little snack between meals. On Derrick's advice, I was feeding him very well - 4 times a day, as much as he could eat. Consequently, he was producing more waste, so I did a quick and careful siphoning of the tank and topped it off with about a gallon of aged water. I noticed the activity caused the male to be more protective, and he went into a flurry of activity, gathering the fry and repairing the damage to his nest made by my siphon.
Day 5 I went to check on my Daddy and fry, feeling pretty confident. I found a bloated male sitting in a corner and only saw a few fry. Figuring he must be eating them now, I took him out and reported my findings to Derrick. 'Victoria,' he said patiently, 'the male will eat the fry that are weak or malformed. Also,' he added, 'The male seems to eat more fry if the container is smaller. The larger the tank used, the less fry he seems to cull.'
Armed with this new information, I set up another spawn, this time in a 10 gallon filled almost all the way up, again lots of plants, and a male that had been conditioned on live food for 2 weeks. The results in the first week were similar to the initial experiment, and believe me when I say I was chewing my fingernails when I saw the male looking bloated. But I left him in there, and I noticed that in a few days there were more fry than I thought...darting in and out of the plants, chasing live food, etc...and actually saw the male adding to his nest and ignoring the fry, even when they swam right under his nose! Once or twice I did see him grab a fry, but he just mouthed them for a second and then spit them back out. The fry, other than looking entirely indignant, weren't harmed in the least. I noticed at this point that the fry were about twice as large as normal for their age, and the male seemed to be in fantastic health. This I attributed partly to his generous diet and large quarters, but Derrick also mentioned that his males stay in breeding condition when left with the fry, with never a need to recondition them before spawning again. The unfortunate side-effect of post-spawning depression (when the male turns sickly for a few days after being removed from the fry) is obsolete, and your fish is more productive.
Of further interest, Derrick reports that sometimes you get what he calls a 'buck type' female (because she keeps returning to 'buck' the male - LOL) who will return to the nest site every few days to continue to spawn with the male. In these females, it seems the ovaries continually produce eggs and the abdomen of the female fills rapidly after each spawning session. With this kind of female, he doesn't remove her after spawning, but let's her stay in and spawn with the male several times. The downside? He says that this type of female will usually die after spawning a few times, whether she is removed from the tank or not. He says his record number of continuous spawns from the same pair was seven in three weeks! By the time they hit 4 or 5 spawns, the younger fry usually end up being eaten by the first batches of fry but (amazingly!) not by either parent.
I'll conclude this by updating my own experiment with leaving the father with the fry: As it stands now, the fry are two months old, and approximately 50 remain. The father is still with them, and occasionally will nip at them, but other than that they are completely peaceful. I see some that are obvious males, but they are not fighting with one another, and I've not had reason to start jarring them. Once again, Derrick confirms this by noting that the father seems to maintain peace in the tank by acting as the Alpha fish. When there is an established Alpha, there is less need to fight for territory and rank, and the males can be kept with the spawn longer. He also adds that visitors to his fishroom are often amazed at his spawn tanks full of males and females nearly as large as their father, all living in harmony.
This is a fascinating experiment, but I wouldn't recommend it for beginners. Maintenance of the tank has to be done daily, and in a fashion that disturbs the tank as little as possible. In the first month it is absolutely imperative that you feed the male large amounts of food several times a day, and remove the waste before it can accumulate. Overall though, this has been a fun and educational method, and I will post the final results next month.
|Category: Breeding Bettas|
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HEJSAN FROM SWEDEN EVERYONE! Everything in Sweden is going well, although I'm still busy learning the language and coping with a newborn, so it will be a bit before I'm as active as I'd like with the fish. This is a Facebook update! I have created a new BettySplendens Facebook page that will be used exclusively for betta-related networking. On the 16th of August I will be going through and deleting most of the people on my personal Facebook page who are not actual friends or family (many of you have become friends through the course of the hobby, and of course will not be deleted). If for any reason you wish to remain on my personal page, please let me know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or FB email. Otherwise, go to the new BettySplendens Facebook page and click the 'like' button for more betta-related news and updates :).
Tack så mycket (that's ''Thank you very much'' in Svenskie-land ;))! ~Victoria~
Slight change of plans! I have decided that, instead of reinventing the wheel, I'm going to create a personal FB page and use the old one purely for betta stuff. So if you're on the original page (now called BettySplendens Bettas), please stay put! :P
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