Courtship and Breeding in Freshwater Fish

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Siamese Fighting Fish (Bettas)

Bettas belong to a group of fish known as labyrinthine fish. Males and females are easily distinguished; males have striking colors and beautiful long fins compared to the drab females. They are usually separated until breeding time. The male will display for the female and constructs a bubble nest, an intricate floating nest of air bubbles held together by mouth secretions, which the male constantly repairs. Breeding is difficult and exhausting for the female. The male wraps his body around the female and squeezes her until the eggs are delivered. This may occur several times. The male collects the eggs and places them in the nest, which he guards. The eggs hatch in 2 days and the male guards the babies for another week or so.

Rainbow Fish

These Australian natives are peaceful and breed easily in a community tank. The males are larger and more intensely colored than the females. Eggs are laid on plants in the tank suspended by small threads. They will hatch in 12-20 days depending on water and temperature conditions. True to their peaceful nature, the rainbows do not consume their eggs or fry, but other fish in the community might! It is best to feed the fish in a community tank well when there are babies present to keep them from taking a snack.


Barbs are egg layers and there are a lot of species. They like a heavily planted tank and some species prefer dim lighting to induce spawning. The female may lay as many as 300 eggs and they hatch in 24-36 hours. Parents may make a meal of the fry so it’s best to remove the adult fish. Dense foliage provides good cover for the babies.


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