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Bettas

Contents:

  1. Betta Breeding, Our Story (long)
    by jsloan1@soltec.net (Joshua Sloan) (15 Aug 1995)
  2. CO2 and anabantoids
    by "Shannon Wheeler" <swheeler/altech.ab.ca> (Wed, 27 Oct 1999)

Betta Breeding, Our Story (long)

by jsloan1@soltec.net (Joshua Sloan) [address updated 5/99]
Date: 15 Aug 1995
Newsgroup: alt.aquaria


I would like to say hello, and introduce myself the readers of 
this group/list.  My name is Joshua Sloan.  My girlfriend,
Marianne,  and I live in Urbana, Illinois and have been 
breeding our Bettas since June of 1994.  Until recently I 
had worked for over six years in a couple of pet stores.  We 
started with three male Bettas and two females, now we have
about 700 fish (fry included)! We have sold a few hundred in
the past year and definitely have the "Betta -Bug".  We now
belong to the Champaign Area Fish Exchange fish club
(C.A.F.E.: 381 County Rd. 1300 E., Tolono, IL 
61880), and will be joining the Intl. Betta Congress soon.  
(IBC: 923 Wadsworth St., Syracuse, NY  13208-2419)  
 
To the question, "How hard is it to breed Bettas?":  We seem 
to think that the most difficult parts are,  carefully watching 
the breeding couple from mating until the eggs hatch(usually 
about 2-3 days), and being diligent with live feeding of fry 
until they can eat other foods.  We generally introduce a pair
on Thursdays; by Monday night there are fry!   
 
Though I do not claim to know everything about this 
wonderful hobby, I thought some would like to know how our 
system works.  First, let me describe the fish's containers.  
 
Their Environment
 
Our breeders are kept in 2 1/2 gallon tanks with dividers. 
Some are in Mason jars until ready to breed.  (I've bought about
200 quart jars, all at garage sales, for less than $10!)  Juvenile 
males are currently also living in one quart jars.  Fry are
transferred to 5 1/2, 10, or 20 gallon tanks at around six weeks 
old.  Plants are placed in most all containers.  This seems to keep
them from jumping out (early on we had a couple of suicides),
 stimulates practice bubble nests, and gives small fry a place to
hide.  We use java fern the most, but also find riccia and tiny 
watersprite, and salvinia are useful.  Anacharis is good for the
juveniles as well.  We are also trying giant duckweed.  All are 
easy to reproduce and deal with during water changes.  
Temperature of the water ranges from 76-82 degrees fahrenheit.
Warmer temps do increase spawning activity and speed up egg 
hatching! We haven't monitored our pH in over a year, so perhaps
we are lucky,  the tap is slightly high.  We change all of the water
in the quart jars once a week.  (some times as many as 200 jars!).
Fry tanks receive only slight water changes, only to remove 
build-up on the bottom.  Juveniles get a 50-60% change weekly.
Oh, by the way, we don't use any gravel at all, it makes cleaning 
tough, and traps some live foods.  Aeration is used only in the
tanks for the young, not for the adults or fry.   We have not had a
single disease or infection of our fish since we started last year! 
 
Their Breeding
 
Remember, there may be many ways of getting the job done,
ours is just one.  Most of our males will build nests immediately
after water changes. They prefer putting them along a side of the
container, or under and around the floating plants.   We introduce
a female in a partitioned tank or just next to the male, in a jar. 
(We can now recognize when a female is ready to produce eggs). 
He will go about an aggressive display, flaring gills, etc., and 
continue adding bubbles to his nest; she will get vertical stripes
(its harder to tell with white or pale females), move her fins 
rapidly, and swell with eggs.  The initial compatibility should 
be evident within a 2-12 hours. At this point we introduce the 
two and cover the container.  She will either accept or reject his
bubble nest in 24-48 hours.  If she rejects it, she will sometimes
attempt to destroy it.  If this happens, we will take her out, do
a water change and wait for him to build another nest.  If she 
accepts the nest,  They will go through a courtship "dance"of 
nudging and twisting , dropping eggs (25-200) and semen to the
bottom of the tank.. Warning! This is usually very rough on 
one or both partners (usually the female), and even fine 
specimens can become tattered or injured.   The male will take 
the eggs and place them in the nest.  When it appears that she 
is no longer dropping eggs or seems disinterested, we take her 
out.  The male will continue to care for the nest and eggs.  He
picks up eggs that fall to the bottom and moves others around.
A good male is extremely good about this.  We have noticed 
that some males are better at this than others and that they 
sometimes get better with subsequent breedings.  Occasionally
we get males who will eat their own eggs or fry.  We remove
them as soon as we notice this behavior.  
 
The Fry
 
The eggs will hatch between 24-36 hours after being deposited.
We usually remove the father when this starts, as some will eat
 their young.  The fry remain at the surface of the water  for 
approx. 1-2 weeks.  We start feeding infusoria at two days old,
though most don't seem to eat until 3-4 days old.  At about 5-7
days old we feed live baby brine shrimp.  (Thank goodness 
Marianne has been so diligent with our shrimp hatchery!)  The
tank is kept covered with Saran Wrap and a small glass top or 
just a rubberband and plastic.  The high humidity is necessary 
for the development of the labyrinth organ.  They are kept
covered for 4-5 weeks, during which they will begin to move
about the container.   Some fry will begin to show color by the
5th week.  At 5-6 weeks the fry are moved to a larger tank, 
depending on the number either a 5 1/2, 10, or 20 gallon.  
 
Juveniles
 
From 6-12 weeks old, the fry grow rapidly.  They grow really
fast when given larger tanks.  There are two to three 
"size-groups" to each group of siblings.  The larger ones stay at
 the top and feed fastest.  The smallest ones remain at the
bottom until large enough to compete at the top. Except for a
 few, they usually catch up in size within a month or so.   I will
describe their feeding a little later.  It appears that we are 
getting 50%-60% females.  This may be a result of temperature
or pH, but we haven't really experimented with either.  We
begin separating off the males as we notice them, either by
behavior or size and shape.  The females are left together until
 sold as they are not near as aggressive as most males.  They
reach sellable size between 5-6 months.  We start breeding 
them at about 4-5 months old.
 
Feeding
 
As mentioned, the fry receive infusoria.  We grow this by 
placing a piece of lettuce in a jar of water before the parents are
 even placed together. The water looks gross, but this does 
work.   Live brine is fed when the fry are large enough to catch 
them.  We will soon be using microworms as well.  These can be
grown via culture in Gerber's dried baby food mixed with water.
The fry are fed 3-4 times daily, about as much as they could 
possibly eat.  The juveniles are fed a variety of foods in rotation
 These include: live bloodworms, daphnia (from a green water 
tank), growth flake food, mosquito larvae (when in season!),
freeze dried tubifex, krill, or brine, and occasionally chopped and
frozen chicken livers. A word about the chicken livers.  This 
food will foul the water with its fats, so we will do a major water
change after feeding this.  If you can handle this, it is a CHEAP 
food supplement, and really enhances their color!  (possibly due
to the iron.)
 
Our Future
 
At this point, we don't think we really have show quality fish.
However we have been selective, and have produced great fish.
Some have sold for very good prices at our local fish club's 
auction.  None have been turned away from the stores.  We plan
on getting in to show fish soon.  We have produced some whites,
blue/blacks, assorted butterflies, and some interesting color
combinations; red-blues, lavender, powder-blue, yellow, and 
turquoise.  We have some now that show a double fin trait, but
the tail is not split all the way to the body.  We spend approx. 
1/2 hour daily feeding and a couple of hours each week changing
water.  We will be modifying or system soon to ease the burden
of mass quantities of jars (we have 35 on each shelf). We also 
hope to cultivate many of the plants that we use with the fish.  
 I'll try to let you know how this works out.  
SO FAR, SO GOOD!!!
 
Thanks for reading this long-winded account, let me know what
you think, hope it will guide others.  By the way we are looking
to purchase or trade good fish.  
E-mail me at jsloan1-at-prairienet.org
-- 
Joshua Sloan
jsloan1 at soltec.net
http://www.soltec.net/exoticaquatics


CO2 and anabantoids

by "Shannon Wheeler" <swheeler/altech.ab.ca>
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1999

>Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1999 14:15:53 -0400
>From: "David A. Youngker" <nestor10@mindspring.com>
>
>Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 14:23:31 -0600
>From: Shannon Wheeler
>
>> You mean, 'they CAN breath air in ADDITION to dissolved
>> O2...'. Right?
>
>In some cases it seems they *must* breathe atmospheric air *in addition to*
>the oxygen dissolved within the water. Even informal studies, such as that
>printed in a recent AFM, confirm that Bettas, for example, "drown" when
>denied access to surface air supplies...


The 'study' reported in the October '99 AFM was either very poorly done or
very poorly described. I've already written them a letter describing my
problem with the reported method. October was the last issue I received so
my subscription may have run out (actually I don't remember ever subscribing
to it in the first place - I don't know why I started getting it).

IIRC, They described using nets/traps to keep the betta's at least 24" under
the surface. Why couldn't they just keep them 1/2" below the surface? Why
couldn't they just cover the surface with a screen and allow the fish free
roam throughout the tank - maybe the small space panicked them [the bettas]?
What's this about including a GF as a control? The presence of the GF could
have stressed / panicked the betta(s) - especially if they were not free to
roam (hide) around the tank.

I've seen reports and been to Betta web sites that state that '*must*' is
just not correct. The betta I have at home does go to the surface fairly
often when I watch him (just like the AFM article states) but the one I used
to have here at work didn't. I spent a lot more time observing him because I
sit in front of this tank almost 8h each day and I'm sure he went hours at a
time without coming up for air. The only time I saw him surface was when I
fed him.

Shannon


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