How Long Are Betta Fish Pregnant?

First, we need to understand the word pregnant which means that an embryo or fetus develops inside the body. With Bettas, this isn’t the case. They do not carry their young inside their body and give birth after some time. So, Bettas do not become pregnant, they lay eggs that are externally fertilized and hatched after three to five days. So, to understand better the word pregnant Betta, it is one that is in a gravid state, meaning about to lay eggs.

How Do Betta Fish Get Pregnant?

If we want to understand the process of Bettas bringing fry into the world, we need to understand the whole process.

Bettas are considered fully sexually mature at the middle of their life span and that is somewhere between four and twelve months. Of course, they need some time to settle in the tank before the process begins and that would take around a month. Bettas need good living conditions and good genetics to bring desirable fry otherwise they will become ill and of poor physical features.  Mating season varies and happens randomly only when there are right conditions and a female is ready. The female will be ready if you notice that the color of her body darkens and vertical stripes show up. 

The next you need is a suitable male and to be sure they are a match the female will allow him to show off flaring its gills just to catch her attention. If they connect you will see them swimming together which can last long, for hours. If not, a conflict will arise and you need to separate them. If they are interested in each other the male will begin building a bubble nest which will be a trigger to pregnancy with the female. Bubbles wrapped in saliva will be of different sizes and shapes and the male won’t stop until the nest is built. 

During that time the female will inspect the nest in order to check if a male is suitable and does a good job. Another purpose of the nest is to protect the eggs once she releases them. Building the nest can last for hours up to a day and once finished the female will do the last inspection and if it is suitable, she will stay near it, but if not, she will destroy the nest. 

betta fish building nest
Close up male red Siamese fighting fish and bubble nest on the surface of the water.

After the first phase is done the nest is completed and approved, their interaction intensifies. They will swim next to each other as they are dancing and when the time comes the female will let the male wrap around her to squeeze the eggs out of the ovipositor. Once the eggs are out the male collects them and places them in the nest. The male fertilizes the eggs after they are all placed in the nest. The female is no longer needed and, in most cases, it is the best to be removed from the tank. There are two reasons for this, the first is that the female might eat the eggs and the second is that a male protecting the eggs could become aggressive and could attack the female.  

The male will now protect the nest with eggs for the next three to five days until they are hatched and after. If an egg or later a fry is out of the nest the male will collect it and put it back for safety until each and every fry can swim properly. 

Signs That Your Betta Fish Is Pregnant

There are several things you can notice to be sure that your Betta is pregnant and we will tell you all of them. 

The first signal is the appearance of vertical and disappearance of horizontal stripes. They will be in a group of five to six and of a lighter color than your Betta. 

Secondly, their belly will become rounded because of eggs being developed inside. You might think it is constipation or that your Betta became fat but look at further signals. 

Behind the ventral fin and in front of the anal fin white ovipositor will be formed where the eggs will be kept until they are released. 

If you keep a Betta alone in the tank you won’t notice any changes when it comes to behavior but if there is a male around for mating purposes she will become interested in the nest. 

How Long Are Betta Fish Pregnant?

We have already clarified that Bettas do not get pregnant but gravid and since you understand that let’s see how long does it last. 

After it reaches maturity, a Betta carries the eggs in her ovipositor only for a week or two and that is quite normal since the eggs don’t develop inside the Betta. The eggs will become fry after two to three days after they are released and fertilized by the male. 

Can Female Bettas Lay Eggs Without A Male Betta?

Yes, a female can lay eggs without a male being around. However, the rest of the process will not take place. It is normal for a Betta to develop eggs and keep them in ovipositor but if there isn’t a male around then the process of fertilization cannot happen. Released eggs will just go to the bottom and won’t hatch. This shouldn’t concern you and can happen often. It is also advisable not to keep a female and a male together all the time due to aggression and possible conflicts. Once you decide to breed your Betta, introduce a male and separate them after the process is completed. 

Final Thoughts

Keeping a Betta and bringing it to a higher level such as raising your fish can be an exciting challenge. It will require some time and effort but you will be satisfied with the results. However, you should learn more about it and hopefully, we have provided enough information for you to do so. Let’s recap the basic points

  • Check for signs that your Betta is gravid.
  • You need a male that will be accepted by the female and vice versa
  • Once the eggs are released, separate the female and allow the male fertile the eggs, keep them and help fries until they are developed
  • Enjoy baby Bettas in your tank

In the end, Bettas do not become pregnant but gravid, even if there isn’t a male around. Once you decide to produce young, check your Betta for signals, introduce a male and hopefully if you follow our instructions, you will have baby Bettas in your tank.

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