selecting breeding stock 

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how to choose wisely  

                   
                  When it is time to select your breeding pair.
Well, I hate to break the news to you, but unless you have quality breeding stock to start with, you will NEVER produce any quality bettas. Considering the fact that it takes the same amount of time, space, money and work to raise a crop of crappy bettas or one of splendid specimens, it seems obvious (well, at least to ME LOL) that breeding quality stock is wiser. It is also easier to give away, trade, sell quality bettas than it is to unload bettas that look like Quasimodo (you know, the Hunchback of Notre Dame) on a bad day :). In short, make your life easier and a little more spent upfront will go a looong way. So here is some advice as to how to select good breeding stock, and the do and don't of purchasing bettas for breeding purposes. Listen to mother: I know best.

                                Avoid pet store bettas like the plague.  I have covered the topic in length in my very first Bettatalk Radio show, so here is a little synopsis for those of you who missed it: Pet store bettas are not suitable breeders for many reasons, but here are just a few:

bulletthey are too old. Old bettas have no sex drive (not unlike old people LOL) and since they have not yet come up with a Viagra for bettas, you will be S.O.O.L. Most bettas live only 2 years, most of them stop spawning when they are about 14 months and most pet store bettas are already 1 year old or older (because ignorant people want the BIG bettas with BIG fins, not understanding that those bettas lives are already pretty much behind them)
bulletthey are often unhealthy. Kept in poor conditions at the pet store and  shipped from the far East in even poorer conditions, most of them carry diseases and are either already sick or are contaminated and soon will become sick. You take them home and they die on you. Only bettas in tip top condition make suitable breeders so that means the pet store bettas in most cases are out.
bulletthey have the wrong tail type. 99% of pet store bettas are veil tails and veils tails are a thing of the past. Meaning that no reputable breeder breeds veil tails and that the current betta finnage standards have long bypassed the veil tail mutation. We are on to bigger and better things, such as halfmoon tails, delta tails , Double Tails and crowntails. A veil tail is not even allowed to show on the circuit and has no retail value. It will be hard to sell the fry. 
bulletlast but not least they have no set genes. Meaning they are "mutts", a blend of tons of different genes, the result of none selective breeding, meaning were breed at random without any breeding goal (other than producing tones of cheap bettas to make quick money). You will never be able to accurately predict the outcome of any spawns from pet store bettas. Further more they all carry major faults which would take years and years of hard work to rectify, such as red washes on blue bettas, or blue iridescence on red bettas, bad DT splits and other hidden flaws and deformities.

So do yourself and the betta hobby a BIG favor and don't propagate bad pet store betta genes.

                              

                   Avoid larger, flashier bettas. As I said above, only younger bettas are suitable breeders and most often, the younger the better. Young bettas may not look very striking, as they have not yet had a chance to blossom and to grow striking finnage. They are usually much smaller than adult bettas. The beginner breeder may not know how to pick breeders and will automatically go for the larger flashier bettas, not understanding he or she is making a mistake in doing so. Seasoned breeders will always go for young, smaller pairs. Hence if you spot the photo of a male with big fins on a site, you should run as fast as you can in the opposite direction! Hugh. Wise Buffalo has spoken.

                  Pick the proper size breeders. If your male is big, then pick a big female. But if he is small then you must find a suitably sized female for him. The rule is the female should be of equal or lesser size then the male. Never bigger. Do not worry about the female being "full with eggs" this is just a bunch of #@*! and all females will produce eggs, whether they look big or not. Sometimes, a female that is "full of eggs" will actually become a problem for the male who can no longer wrap around her properly, resulting in failure to fertilize the eggs (duh).


                               Pick the proper strain according to your bettabilities. Not all strains were created equal :) and some of them are much more challenging than others. Melanos are a good example and very often will be hard to spawn. Halfmoon males are also notorious for being horrible breeders. My advice is: pick a strain according to your bettabilities. If you are just starting, pick one that is easier to breed even if it is not your favorite color. One has to start somewhere and you  still have a lot of learning to do. Later when you know what you are doing (as though we EVER do !! LOL) then you can move to fancier, rarer and more fragile, temperamental and expensive strains.


                  Always buy breeding stock in pairs.
It is always best to get both your male and female from the same breeder. If at all possible, you should buy a brother and sister. If no siblings are available then ask the breeder you are buying from to select a suitable mate for your betta with compatible genes. This is a very important detail too often overlooked by beginners! Unless you have both pieces of the puzzle, you will not be able to successfully reproduce the traits of the strain you have selected. It is imperative that you deal with a breeder that has extensive genetics knowledge otherwise he or she will not be able to adequately match a pair for your needs. That is another reason why you should never buy breeding stock form a "green" breeder, regardless of how nice the betta photos on his or her site are. I cover more about this in the "where to buy stock" page. Again, cutting corners at the beginning will usually result in major set backs in the end. So you get what you pay for and it is best to spend an extra $20 or $50 buck and get started on the right foot. Many beginners also have the misconception that one should not breed a brother or sister together because you would get inbred fry.  

                                                                        HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! 

Hum. (sorry) :P I couldn't help but laughing my head off. OK you guys, let me set the records straight here once and for all. Breeding brother to sister is not only OK, but it is also desirable and most often absolutely necessary to get any kind of decent results. You can cross brother to sisters up to 6 generations without ill effect. Remember, they are fish, not people!!! :). Anytime you outcross two different strains, you will usually suffer a major set back both in finnage and color purity and often lose the traits of the parents in the process. Although outcrossing is necessary now and then, you should only do it when absolutely necessary and otherwise it should be avoided, unless the breeder is trying to 'inject' additional traits into his/her line. In short, do purchase brother/sister pairs if at all possible.

 

                Always buy at least two pairs of each strain. Hey!! Here is another concept that seems to never sink in. What do I have to do to make you listen? Hammer it in? Yeah? OK. Here it goes. Repeat after me:

" I will always buy at least two pairs of each strain, I will always buy at least two pairs of each strain, I will always buy at least two pairs of each strain, I will always buy at least two pairs of each strain, I will always buy at least two pairs of each strain, I will always buy at least two pairs of each strain, I will always buy at least two pairs of each strain, I will always buy at least two pairs of each strain, I will always buy at least two pairs of each strain"

Howz that? Huh? What did I hear you say? Did I just hear you say that maybe you could just be ok with only one pair because... STOP! I don't want to know what kind of lame excuse you have come up with to justify cutting corners once again and shooting yourself in the footsie!! Obviously you were not listening a moment ago so you will write down 100 times for next week :

"I will always buy at least two pairs of each strain"

That should cure you. (I hope?)

OK :) seriously, here are a few reasons why it is imperative to purchase more than just one pair of any strain at one time:
bulletthe one pair you would otherwise end up with might not like each other. Bettas have tastes and personalities and not every time you put two together you end up with a love connection. No love, no spawning. (what part of no did you not understand?). If you have a back up pair you can try pair #2, or even criss-cross male #1 with female #2 and male #2 with female #1. You have 4 possible configurations and 4 times more chances of getting a pair that clicks and getting a spawn.
bulletone male might not be a good breeder, but his brother might be. Having a back up male could save the day.
bulletone male or female might become sick and be out of commission. Then what will you do? Go back to the same breeder and hope (or pray) that he or she will still have any pairs from the same spawn left? (dream on, good breeders sell their stock super fast and you will be left out of bettaland). Also you will have to spend another $20 just to ship an extra pair which could have been avoided by having it shipped along with the first pair for the same shipping fee in the first place.
bulletagain, since outcrossing is generally speaking not a very good idea, then unless you have two pairs, you will have to outcross if the only one pair you do have fails you. Your breeding program might be set back by about 3 years that way.

As you can see, for all above reasons, it just makes sense to grab two pairs always. See? Aren't you glad you repeated "I will always buy at least two pairs of each strain" a billion times? :)

 

                Buy ONLY from a reputable breeder. Buy only from a knowledgeable, reputable, established, experienced, ethical, seasoned IBC breeder. I cover this in the next section so visit the selecting a seller page so to avoid common mistakes.