Oh I would not cry victory yet if I were you. So far you have jumped through a bunch of hoops, but guess what? You are just getting warmed up my friend!! There are many many more awaiting you ahead. The worst part is: the hoops get smaller and smaller...Well, at least count your blessings, your bettas have spawned and now you are marveling at a bubble nest full of eggs. There are the poor bastards who had to go to the "problem with spawning page". LOL

Waiting for the eggs to hatch.

OK, where were we? Oh, yes, Mr Betta is as I said at his post, right below the nest. He is probably not moving much right now. Maybe looks kinda bored. Everynow and then you can hear him sigh ("ahhhhhh... have they hatched yet?") Things are slow for him right now, until the eggs hatch (and then all hell breaks lose). So, to pass time LOL, 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, replace the garbage disposal, repaint the fence (oh sorry I got carried away,!). Ok so maybe the garbage disposal and the fence were pushing it a little, but short of that he will do EVERYTHING hence, the female is useless to the eggs and fry. Boy, I wish I was a female betta!! LOL. Many many males (oh so regrettably) end up eating their eggs either all at once or one at a time (“ooops I just swallowed another one, why do they make them so darn little!!!”). But for now, let us think positive and hope for the best :). He will pamper his eggs and thanks to his dedication, will allow the embryos in there to develop peacefully and to become ready for hatching. Depending on the water temperature, eggs will take anywhere from 36 to 72 hours to hatch. During the entire spawning process, meaning from the moment you introduce the pair until the moment the fry are swimming around and completely independent, you must follow two rules:

1)- leave the lights on day and night. The male must be able to see the eggs that have fallen and pick them up and if it is dark he won’t be able to do it. Eggs that lay at the bottom will promptly go bad and will not hatch.
2)- do not feed the dad or only very very little. Some say that feeding may prevent the bettas from eating his eggs. Some say that feeding will actually stimulate his appetite and cause him to eat his eggs. AGGGH. Enough to drive any novice up the walls. Well, I have tried both and the results of my experiments were not conclusive. I think that if a betta wants to eat his eggs he will whether you fed him or not. So sometimes I don't feed, and sometimes I do. I play it by ear. If you do decide to feed only feed a tiny amount so to not pollute the tank. It might be best for you to stick to the NO FOOD policy.

 

Quite a few things can go wrong at this stage, here are just a few of them (oh joy)

 

male eats some or all his eggs. Eggs may not have been fertile, which is not an unusual problem if the pair was inexperienced. The embrace may not have been done properly resulting in batches of eggs not being fertilized. The male's instinct prompts him to eat any bad egg, because bad eggs will  fungus and the fungus will spread to the good eggs. By eating the bad eggs, the male is saving the good eggs. So you actually WANT your betta to eat eggs. But only the bad ones. LOL. Some males are egg eaters and no one knows why. Maybe you did not feed him well and conditioned him properly before spawning him. Maybe he is plain lame LOL. I have seen males eat all their eggs EVERY time I tried them. And I have seen males eat their eggs the first few times and then become good fathers. Go figure. If your male ate all his eggs, try him again. If after 3 tries he still eats all his eggs, retire him (early).
male does not tend his nest. That happens too and the nest will go bad on you. The eggs will fungus and will not hatch. if a few do hatch, the newly hatch fry will get stuck in the fungus and soon the fungus will attack them and kill them and you are left with nothing but your eyes to cry with. #@~%%#^*.(pardon my french)
bubble nest falls apart. The male is tending his eggs but not the nest which slowly dissolves. Eggs sink and betta is blowing them back up at the surface with a bubble or two, but not enough to do the job. Eggs still sink over and over and over again and soon go bad. Both you and the betta are very frustrated. You can both go to your local bar and have a shot of tequila together to forget your sorrows. LOL. (PS: I don't drink and didn't make that joke to promote alcoholism).

 

 

The eggs finally hatch.

And then the miracle of life takes place, right before your very eyes: You look at the bubble nest and suddenly realize that "what's that? there? Where? there!!!" The nest looks hairy. You look under the bubbles and see a bunch of hair like thingies hanging down. 

Behold!! "YOU GOT FRY!!" (supposed to sound like the "you got mail" us aol people have the joy to hear every day LOL).

Yes, the hairy nest is none other than a nest full of fry dandling their little tails down, heads buried deep in bubbles (hips). See that proud look on your male's face? It is laced with a panic attack flavor. The male is frazzled and is now in full effervescence.  If he is lucky enough to have one of these spawns that simply stay up in the nest as though they were superglued, then he's just going "hehehehehehehe". But if he is, like most of them, father to a bunch of rambunctious fry who seem to want to keep sinking, giggling energetically until the bubbles pop and zooooooo down  to the bottom they go, then your male is going "AGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!! HELP!!!"

He is probably running around like a chicken with its head cut off, going down, picking up the rascals, bringing them back up, blowing them back in the nest and going back down picking up more rascals (or even the same ones he JUST blew back up) and etc.... The madness goes on for hours and DAYS. Yes, night and day he is doing the LA - NEW YORK round trip non stop. Always fully booked. Always on time. I must say I admire and respect the dedication some of those males who have large spawns of the sinking type, show. They are amazing. I would have given up a long time ago, but they don't.  Some over do it and in their zeal end up killing the fry from too much swallowing and spitting out. Even if the fry are dead, the males seem to insist on wanting them back in the nest. It is tragicomical. 

Hopefully after a full day or so of this, the fry might settle at the surface, able to float even if the bubbles are gone. Usually they stick together and might find something to "grab on to" sorta speak along the edges of the stirofoam cup. Tails still hanging down, they are not "free swimming" yet but at least are no longer sinking. Of course there are also spawns that sink the whole 3 days worth. :((

Fry are still growing, even though they have hatched. The tissues and organs are not fully formed yet. During this entire time, they are feeding off their yolk sac, which contains all the nutrients they need. So you don't need to feed them (yet). Just leave them the heck alone. You are an intruder, a trespasser and Mr. Betta will not take it likely if you invade his little kingdom with your big clumsy ugly (to him) hands. LOL. 

A few more things could go terribly wrong at this stage:

male suddenly decides to eat some or all of his beloved fry. Sometimes Mr. Betta goes berserk and starts eating his fry. I guess he just caves in under the pressure and could plead temporary insanity. What causes this aberration is not known.  It can be a very big let down for any breeder. So never count your chicks until they are, not only hatched, but also free swimming. :P
fry die before becoming free swimming.

 

After jumping through these many additional hoops, if you make it to the free swimming stage, you are lucky in deed :).

At about day 3 (more or less) the fry will absorb the last of the yolk sac and will now feel a lot lighter :). The necessary swimming organs have also developed and the fry are able, for the first time, to straighten out their position and to swim in a horizontal position. This is called the FREE SWIMMING stage. A few unfortunate will never qualify and will keep spiraling up and down, swimming out of control, unable to balance and control. Soon, they will die. The others will now start roaming around a bit. At first they stay under the nest under the vigilant eye of Dadda. He will bring them back if they wander too far. Soon, they become curious and want to explore and need to start looking for a snack. They swim away from the nest.

This is when you step in and I now give you the official permission to put your above mentioned big clumsy ugly (to him) hands in the spawning tank for the purpose of tactfully removing the male.. This is best done very gently, very carefully and with the help of a very small and soft net. I use a size 3 (hey I never said size doesn't matter LOL). 

First take a cup of water form the spawning tank, then gently net the male after luring him away from the nest. Careful not to net fry as well!!! Then place male in the cup and take him back to his freshly cleaned quarters. If you are a good hobbyist, you probably took the opportunity, while he was away from home, to clean his pad and prepare it for his return. Remember to acclimate him before releasing him back in his jar. 

Done? OK, let's proceed to the nest, sorry I meant next,  page. For those of you who lost your spawns, no trespassing!  You can't follow us to the next section until you get this one right :). Go back to prison, do not get $20,000. (or whatever it was) and please don't quit playing Monopoly and spawning (or at least trying to) bettas..

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