Most, if not all of us, got our first betta from a pet store. They are beautiful fish and have great personalities... why not breed him/her? In fact, there are many reasons why this is often not a good idea. Here are some things to consider before you breed your fish.
- Many bettas sold in pet stores (usually just the males, but sometimes the females too) are either past or at their breeding prime. After the age of about one year, the risk of deformities and/or weak fry increases. How long have you had the bettas you want to breed? If they were 6-12 months of age (like most males are in pet stores) when you first got them, how old are they now?
- The genetic background of pet store bettas cannot be known (besides the obvious based on their appearance). Pet stores bettas come from mass-producers/suppliers (unless yours is an exceptional mom-and-pop place and gets fish from private breeders which is usually not the case) so they are not at all carefully bred. What if your bettas carry genes that result in many deformed fry? Are you prepared to deal with this?
- One spawn can and often does result in hundreds of betta fry. Are you prepared to raise that many babies to adulthood? Do you have live food, a big enough growout tank, and enough jars if at least half of them are male?
- Pet store fish (namely veiltails and crowntails) are not, by any means, in great demand. Many pet stores' shelves are filled with bettas rotting in their little cups because they get more in than people buy. People are usually not willing to pay to have pet store fish shipped to them, so you will need to find homes locally. Selling to pet stores is not recommended because this is just contributing to the "betta-in-a-cup" industry that we all know and hate. Do you know enough people to give your fry to? Or do you live near a good pet store to give them to? Do you trust this pet store with your babies, and are you willing to chance what kind of homes they end up in?
edit: Added 4/07 on elise's request, from topic "Looked down on?"
"Pedigrees" and "elitism" are not the reason people discourage breeding VTs - it is because the market is inundated with them, from very poorly bred stock, so finding homes for fry and creating healthy offspring is almost impossible - making breeding unethical. Veil tails do basically come from the puppy mills of the fish world. They can indeed be bred in better conditions since many are essentially farmed, but there is little regard for genetics or health. They come to stores thin, stressed, parasitized, ill - and it only goes down hill from there due to the conditions in most stores. Many have swim bladder issues, deformities, tail biting behavior, and other earmarks of poor breeding, and most are past breeding age, meaning a high chance of deformed fry. What's more, because you do not know the lineage, you don't know if the colorations will be disreable, if the sire or dam throw a high % of deformities, if the father was an egg eater or a tail biter, etc.
The other issue is that, while VTs are popular pets, you must consider how they are popular. Are they popular to keep in a dirty half gallon vase eating roots until they die? Yup. Are they popular to keep in a cold bowl on a windowsill in a dorm until some idiot pours vodka in the tank at a party? Yup. Are they popular as wedding centerpieces, getting sent home to attendees who do not want or know how to care for fish? Yup. Are they popular among disturbed youths to fight? Yup. Are they so popular that every pet store has hundreds of them dying in neglect while they are mass-marketed to a public that is largely mis-informed about their care, so that maybe one in that hundred actually gets a good home and the rest are mistreated? YUP. Is that the kind of life you want for any fish you breed, or would you rather breed tail types that only true enthusiasts go for to ensure a knowledgeable, dedicated home?
Just like you wouldn't breed your dog, horse, or rabbit unless you knew the background of its parents and grandparents, had it tested for any genetic illnesses, knew it was an appropriate age and health to breed, and knew you could find good homes, you want to be responsible when breeding bettas. As far as I am concerned, breeding pet store VTs is like buying a cockapoo and a puggle from some seedy pet store and breeding them.
Is there anything inherently wrong with the fish themselves? Absolutely not! They are beautiful, spirited, have a ton of personality, and make great pets. But is there something inherently wrong with irresponsible breeding practices that contribute to an industry where they are overwhelmingly abused? Definately.