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Breeding Bristlenose

Will Betta Fish Eat Bristlenose Fry?

If you’ve read other posts on my Bristlenose Blog then you’re probably already aware that I first started keeping Bristlenose Catfish as a means of keeping the algae at bay in my Betta Breeding Tanks. Recently though, when I decided to start breeding Bristlenose I thought why not throw a Male Betta in the tank as well?

After all, in a 50 litre Bristlenose Breeding Tank you’ve got all that spare space in the mid and upper levels of your tank just going to waste, right? Plus it was just such a great opportunity to give one of my male Bettas the luxury of all that extra room to swim in and enjoy, which most Bettas never get the chance to take advantage of.

So there we have it, one male Betta fish, who’s main diet is probably anything that consists of “meat” (either living or dead) and a Trio of Bristlenose breeders who’s main objective is to produce tiny little baby Bristlenoses that are made up of predominantly . . . . yes . . . . “meat”, all in the same tank together.

You’d have to think that this was a recipe for disaster, right? Well I must admit when I put the male Betta in the tank my intent was to remove him at the first sign that my Bristlenose were about to become parents. After all, it should be obvious what’s about to happen when the male Bristlenose is spending nearly all his time in his cave gently fanning the eggs.

Well guess what? This morning when I was feeding my Betta I noticed something dart across the front of the tank. Then I saw a small, slender shape clinging to the glass as well. Yes, Baby Bristlenose, I couldn’t believe it, my Bristlenose had breed and I’d missed the signs all together. Then I saw a few more hanging around the cave and then there were more again sitting on the sponge filter. There must have been about 10 I could see all together, but shouldn’t there be more?

Bristlenose Fry

Two on my Bristlenose Fry gnawing on some wood.

After all, Bristlenose can have up to 100 fry. So maybe there were some babies still in the cave? Then all of a sudden it hit me.

What I’d been observing over the last few days now started to make perfect sense. You see, my male Betta had been off his food lately. Normally he’d be swimming up to the front of the tank at feeding time and attack the food like he hadn’t been fed for a week. Recently though he’d stopped doing this and for some reason was just hanging around the back of the tank like he was looking for something he’d lost.

Therefore I thought that maybe he was just a little unwell but strangely he was still fairly active so I decided to just keep an eye on him and see what happened. So now as I write this, it does look highly likely that maybe my Betta might have been searching for an easy meal and having a snack every now and then on some Bristlenose Fry.

It was something I had totally missed and now sitting back analyzing what had happened I can see why. Firstly, this male had shown no signs whatsoever that he was interested in breeding. I had tried several different caves in his tank and he wouldn’t go near any of them. He’s just hang around the sponge filter and ignore the cave completely.

In fact it wasn’t until I placed the pleco cave (in the photo below) in his tank that he decided to move in. When he did move in he just seemed to hang around the entrance and it was rare that I would even see him inside. So when I did see the fry in the tank this morning it did come as a surprise so I suppose you never can tell.

So there you go, it certainly is important to pay attention and despite being busy over the last week or so, I’m sure the signs were probably there. I’d just missed them.

Therefore if you’re new to breeding Bristlenose Catfish hopefully you can draw some lessons from my story. Pay attention to what’s going on, as the signs are usually there even if they are subtle and most importantly . . . . . keep the predators out of your breeding tank. Bettas and Bristlenose do get on well but if  your Betta can find an easy meal I’m sure he’ll take it, especially if it’s small and just the right size.

Bristlenose Breeding Tank

My fairly Spartan Bristlenose Breeding Tank Set Up. You might just able to see 2 fry on the cave and one on the glass on the right. Click on Image to enlarge.

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