Betta fish, or Siamese fighting fish, as they were originally known, are arguably one of the most captivating freshwater aquarium fish species in the hobby.
From their dazzling colors and flowing finnage to their bossy attitudes, these beautiful fish are quite the spectacle.
Another thing that adds to their mystique is the notion that female betta fish can lay eggs without having to mate with a male.
So, is that true, or is it just another old wives’ tale?
Read on to learn more about this behavior and what to do if your female betta lays eggs without a male.
Why Do Some Female Betta Fish Lay Eggs Without Mating?
The fish reproduction process is a two step procedure collectively known as spawning. Some people incorrectly use the terms “spawning” and “mating” interchangeably.
Mating is the courting ritual during which the male betta fish wraps himself around the female, stimulating her to release eggs.
Spawning is the actual fertilization process when the male releases his sperm over the eggs.
It is only after spawning that the fertilized eggs can hatch into fry, or baby fish. So, how is it that some female bettas lay eggs without mating?
You see, female betta fish are exceptionally fertile.
Under optimal conditions in the right environment, female fish can lay eggs every other week. So, they don’t need a male to help them produce eggs. The male’s primary role is to fertilize the eggs to create offspring.
The mating ritual is just that, a formality.
What Happens After a Female Betta Fish Lays Eggs Without a Male?
Under normal conditions, the male betta fertilizes the eggs and then makes bubble nests to safeguard them.
In case you didn’t know, male betta fish are responsible for caring for the fertilized eggs, not the females. So, it’s safe to say that female betta fish do not have “maternal instincts.”
Consequently, only a handful of possibilities can follow her laying eggs without a male.
The first and most common possibility is reabsorption.
Though prolific egg layers, female betta fish intuitively know they need a male to fertilize their eggs. So, if the eggs are released prematurely, the female bettas will instinctively reabsorb them until a mate comes along.
Some female bettas will cannibalize the eggs they just released.
That tends to happen if the fish has not been obtaining sufficient nutrition or if they live in a sizable sorority tank with other female bettas.
The third and final possibility is that the female will just let the eggs be.
That means the female betta doesn’t really care what happens to the betta fish eggs. Before you judge her too harshly, remember that it’s normal behavior and not in a female betta fish’s DNA to care for her young, or eggs, for that matter.
If your female betta fish decides to let her unfertilized eggs be, you must be vigilant and remove them from the tank. If left where they are, the eggs will rot in the tank, raising toxic ammonia levels in the water and creating an unfavorable environment for your pet fish.
How To Tell if Your Female Betta Fish Is Gravid
Being able to discern whether a female betta is about to lay eggs is crucial, as this knowledge will allow you to stay ahead of things.
Here are some of the telltale signs that a female betta is about to lay eggs:
Development of New Stripes
One thing we all love about betta fish is how expressive they are. You can easily decipher a betta’s mood by observing its stripes and colors.
Gravid (ready to lay eggs) female bettas almost always develop a few vertical, light-colored lines on the sides of their bodies. Therefore, if your fish didn’t have these stripes before, there’s a good chance she’s about to lay eggs.
Making Bubble Nests
I know we said female bettas are not “good mothers” and that the male is responsible for caring for the eggs, which involves making bubble nests. A bubble nest is a collection of bubbles used to safeguard the eggs and fry after they hatch.
However, some female bettas instinctively try to create these nests for their young. Nevertheless, it is incredibly rare for a female betta to do so.
The ovipositor is the tiny orifice through which a female betta releases her eggs. This organ is situated at the front lower side of the female betta’s body and typically turns white when she’s about to lay eggs.
A Swollen Belly
Like all other animals, your female betta will be plumper than usual when carrying eggs. However, that could also mean she’s just been having more than her fair share of calories!
Therefore, only consider this sign if your female betta also displays the above mentioned signs of gravidity.
So, now you know that female betta fish can lay eggs without a male.
However, since those eggs are unfertilized, they won’t hatch into fry. Therefore, in case the female doesn’t eat or reabsorb the eggs, ensure that you remove them from the tank to prevent the eggs from rotting and polluting the water.
Do you still have a pressing question regarding this topic or betta fish in general? If you do, please drop a comment in the box below.