Basement Bettas

Raising Show Quality Bettas

The Silent Killer…

Betta FryThere are so many variable in raising Bettas there never comes a time when you can breathe a sigh of relief and feel you are out of the woods. And at each stage you have different priorities and encounter different problems trying to get them to the next step. I have found the different stages are spawning a pair, raising fry for first four weeks, getting size on the juvies [4-12 weeks] then jarring at about 12 weeks of age. From that point on you have bringing the fish to perfection in finage and deportment for showing or getting breeders ready for a spawn tank. One stage where huge losses often occur is during the first four weeks. After finally getting a successful spawn and watching the fry become free-swimming, many breeders think the battle is won and it is all down hill from there. But time and again we see people asking what happened to their fry. The spawn was huge and they were fine last night, yet today there are only a few left. Where did they go?

Disease will often get blamed for huge fry losses. But I have found fry to be more susceptible to bad water quality due to high levels of ammonia and nitrIte than disease at this age.  If you are serious about raising nice Bettas you have no choice but to understand your water. The biggest issue, at any time with these fish, is often water quality. After several days of a pair together and then the male tending a nest and hatching fry, your spawn tank’s water has changed. Fish waste is breaking down and ammonia is being produced. Though most do not feed the fish while in the spawn tank to reduce this, it still happens. And I wonder about the eggs and empty shells breaking down as well. Since we do not filter a spawn tank, and most of us to not filter till the fry are a month old, this ammonia can quickly build to toxic levels as there is often only a few gallons of water in the tank. Since anything but zero is toxic, and even more so to young fry, monitoring this and nitrIte in your spawn tank will ensure most of your fish make it to the next stage. I too have had huge spawns disappear overnight. When I tested the water I found my ammonia and nitrIte to be deadly high.

Ammonia Test KitWith my recent spawns I have been testing my water every day and am finding within 24 hours I have ammonia levels of 1 or more. Anything above 1 is toxic and deadly to fry. And the nitrItes get high too. So I have been doing 90% water changes every day with the fry. The negative is I have more time and labor in the fry and I can’t blow off a water change, for even one day, without risk of losing fry. On the plus side, the frequent water changes are putting very good growth on the fry.

What about filtering this age group? Many people do add a sponge filter and raise great fish this way. I don’t like to filter till they are older as I found the water movement tends to drive the fry to the bottom of the tank where there is less movement and I had problems with missing ventrals. I also seemed to have more issues with swim bladder problems. My conclusion is they tend to not move around as much and hang on the bottom where there is little water movement at this younger age. Lack of movement and constantly eating makes couch potatoes out of the fish.. and the swim bladder problems we see are the result. So I wait till they get into the grow out before adding filtration. Once they get four weeks of age they do not seem to mind the water movement.

So to get your fish through this stage as well as the others I recommend getting a good test kit. The strips are quick and easy but I don’t feel as accurate. I prefer the drops and use the API test kits. Get into the habit of testing the spawn tanks every day so you can see what is going on in your tanks. If the ammonia and nitrIte levels stay at zero for several days, then you can wait to change. But if you find, like me, that the ammonia gets toxic quickly then you are in a position to change the water and avoid losing your fry. After finally getting that spawn you don’t want to lose them over something as simple as a water change.

To remove water without risk of removing fry you can use a fine mesh fish net over the end of the tube. I use my large ½” tubing this way and pull my water level down to almost nothing. You can use air line tubing with a plastic air tube as a siphon in a net as well, it just takes a LOT longer. I no longer worry about the funk in the bottom of the containers. I add some snails to the tank and they tend to keep it clean of excess food. If however you get food going funky on the bottom, use the air line tubing siphon and carefully siphon the funk into a container and let it settle and feed less in the future. If you find fry in there with the funk you can use a measuring spoon to scoop them out when they get close to the surface and put them back without too much trauma to the fry.

When you change the water you want to remove as much as possible and add fresh. If you only do a partial change you are only diluting the ammonia and nitrItes. A 50% water change with readings of 1 for both ammonia and nitrIte will give you .5 for both after the change. That is still too high. If you are taking the time to do the water change might as well make it effective. To add back water I use a gallon container set above the spawn tanks and use air line tubing to siphon water back into the spawn tank. It produces a gentle current of fresh water into the spawn tank. When in a hurry I have also just poured in water and have not found it to be harmful.. but I like the gradual approach. With regular fresh water and good, not excessive, feedings you will find your fry put on size quickly in this stage.

So there you have it. Stay on top of your water quality and you will have very nice fish in a few more months. When you see how much time goes into raising a quality Betta, it sure makes you appreciate those magnificent fish you see in shows and for sale on AquaBid. And with some extra care your fish could be one of those magnificent Bettas too.

 

** Fry photo by Jim Sonier. Click the photo and be taken to his web site. Lot of good info there on genetics.

August 24, 2012 Posted by | Fry, Water Quality | , , | 3 Comments

Vinegar Eels

Vinegar eels are a very good first food for young fry. They are very easy to culture and feed and can get your young fish off to a good start before starting to feed baby brine shrimp. Not only are they small in size they also will stay alive in the water longer than other first foods thereby not fouling the water.

Once you get a starter culture you need to get it going and established. I have my main culture or base in a glass honey jar.. see photo. Usually you get a few ounces of a vinegar mix with the worms in it. The worms live in an apple cider vinegar and water mixed half and half. So mix up some and put it into a good-sized container. I have used 2 liter soda bottles and a gallon pickle jar. There is no right or wrong, use what ever you have handy. Once you get your container add the vinegar mixture, your starter culture and some sugar. In my honey jar I add about a teaspoon. Again, there is no right or wrong, just dump some in. The sugar is the food for the culture. Many people use cut up apples but I found that a bit too messy, so the sugar is quick and easy and always available.

Once you get them set up put them some place and forget about them a bit. I have enough cupboard space so the base container is in one of them. Someplace out-of-the-way is fine. In time they will multiply very nicely. Depending on the size of your starter culture they should have reproduced enough to get a modest  harvest and/or get your harvesting containers going.  I use long neck bottles for harvesting. We got some flavored drinks in this type of bottle and a friend saved some wine cooler bottles. If you need to harvest worms for a spawn, pour most of your base culture into the long neck bottle. Harvesting will pretty much wipe out the cultures so you want to keep the base going. Add some more of the vinegar mix to bring the level back up, add a bit of sugar and set it aside to multiply again.

I often have several spawns at one time so I need to have several bottles to harvest from at any given time. So I maintain my base and start up several bottles to harvest from. Put some vinegar mix into the bottle and bring the level up to  below the neck. You want the level to be at the widest part to have as much surface area as possible. Add a bit of the base culture, which should have a good supply of worms by now, to each of the bottles you start and add some sugar. Set these aside and give them about a month to mature. My tanks and barracks are on shelves that are 6′ high. I put the bottles up on a top shelf, out-of-the-way, forget about them and let them grow.

To harvest the worms you want to bring the vinegar mix up into the neck of the bottle. At first I mixed the vinegar and water in a measuring cup and poured it in. Once I got an empty vinegar bottle I just mixed some up, labeled the container and stuck it under the kitchen sink. So when ready to harvest I just pour some of this into the bottle to bring the level up into the neck like in the bottle in the first picture next to the honey jar. I then take some filter floss and wrap a twisty tie around the middle and stuff it down into the neck of the bottle so it comes into contact with the vinegar mix. Curl the top of the twisty tie around and down like in the photo. This will allow you to pull up the floss when you are done harvesting. I have tried twine but it will wick the vinegar mix and it will end up all over the counter. The twisty tie works great and are easy to get.. at least around my house.

Push the floss down so there is some space between it and the top of the bottle and top it off with water. You don’t want to use tap that is untreated. Make sure you use your water conditioner on any water you put in the top or use bottled or RO water. Set the bottle aside till the next day. If you check on the bottle in a few hours you will see the worms are swimming up thru the floss and into the water. By the next day it will be hazy white and just full of worms. Take an eye dropper and suck out some worms to feed your fry. You can suck it right down to the cotton ball then top it off with fresh water. A few hours later you will again have more worms to harvest. You can harvest a couple of times a day to keep food in front of the fry. Continue to harvest the worms and replace the water. You will be able to harvest the worms for a good 3 to 4 days before they are depleted. Once the  harvest is reduced pull the floss out and pour out the vinegar mix until the level is back down to the widest part of the bottle. I usually pour this back into the base jar.

You now need to restart the culture with a start from the base. I have several eye droppers so I usually just add a few squirts of my base and some sugar and put them up on the shelf to grow up the culture again. If I feel I may need to harvest the culture again soon I add even more of the base mix to give me more worms to start out with. If you only do one spawn at a time, you only need to keep one bottle going. Because I do several spawns at a time I keep several bottles going at so there is always one or two ready to harvest.

Keeping your cultures producing a high amount of food is almost too easy. To maintain your cultures you will want to add a little sugar about once a month. That’s it. They don’t seem to get over populated and crash and can quickly reproduce a ton of worms quickly. Over time you will get some funk piling up on the bottom of your containers. I use a turkey baster to suck up the stuff in the honey jar and pour the tops of the bottles into a clean bottle and throw the rest down a drain. Even if not really maintained these worms will multiply like crazy. I have gotten busy and not had spawns for a few months and did absolutely nothing for their care. When I finally checked them the worms had produced thriving cultures with a gazillon worms.

When breeding bettas I remove the female the day I get eggs. Two days later I expect to have free swimming fry and will remove the male later that second evening. The morning of that second day after hatching I squirt a dropper full of vinegar eels into the spawn tank so there is some live food swimming for the fry to start feeding on. I continue to feed the vinegar eels for three to 4 days, untill I deplete the culture. They are fed at least twice a day, more often if I’m around the house until about the third day when I will add bbs [baby brine shrimp] as the evening meal. From that time on they are fed various micro worms in the morning then the bbs in the evening.

Getting your new-born fry off to a good start is very easy with vinegar eels. After all the work some times in getting a desired pair to breed, you want to make sure those fry make it to maturity. Of all the cultures I maintain, the vinegar eels are the easiest to grow. For less than a few minutes a month you can have plenty of tiny food to get your fry off to a good start.

 

 

 

September 17, 2011 Posted by | Feeding Bettas, Fry, Live Foods | , , , | 2 Comments

New Spawns

Three and a half week old betta fry
Three and a half week old betta fry

We have had a breeding blitz and have several new spawns. Some of the older ones are close to 4 weeks now and starting to color up. Here are some of our upcoming spawns.Blue/Yellow DT Male Betta

Spawn 32 – We imported a huge yellow/blue DT male. I crossed him to a pineapple female and got a spawn I loved every fish in. I crossed him back to a blue/yellow daughter and am looking forward to some very nice bicolored fish. I am also looking to fix the traits I loved so much in his off spring. We got a small spawn but they are looking good.BLue/Yellow DT

Spawn 33 – DT Black  x black female. Both these fish are mostly black with more iridescence that I want or can be shown. But, they are what I have and we are working with it. Female is very typy and has a great 180 spread tail with good edges. They could be a bit sharper but overall good. Dad is shorter bodied than I would like but he is a double tail so will add broader dorsal bases. And, he is from my breeding so I know what is in the line. These two were the blackest fish I had so we crossed the best form in the darkest coloring. We also have another cross to a charcoal colored dt male and the same female to hopefully improve the color. I am seeing several nice single tails in there with the broader dorsal bases so looking forward to the next few weeks as they develop. The blacks seem to take a while to really get good color so it may be more than a few weeks.

Spawn 34 – Steel x Royal. I love this steel male. Big, huge dorsal with great shape, nice 180 spread with good edges and an anal fin that is shaped well and in proportion to the rest of the fins. I’d like a tad more length to the tail to be in better balance.. but overall this is a nice male. He took first place the first show of the season and as soon as I got him home he went into a spawn tank with a royal female that also took first in the same show. We did not get a large spawn so repeated it a few weeks later. I am hoping for steels and royals with great form out of this cross.
Spawn 35 –  I got this multi female from Karen McAuley. She is a top breeder here in the states and her fish have great strong branching and I was looking to add in the ray strength and solid 180 spreads her fish have to the nice dorsals my line has established. I crossed her to a fairly dark male and got a nice blue/yellow bicolored male. He had nice length of fins and the sharp-edged 180 spread common in Karens fish. Still needed dorsal improvement so I crossed him to a blue/yellow female out of the blue/yellow dt above. She has a broad dorsal base and good length of fins so should be a nice compliment to the male. So far the 3 week fry are looking to give me the characteristics I desired.. I’m seeing broad dorsal bases and long straight edges on the tails.
Spawn 36 – A repeat of Spawn 34 above.
I still want to get a yellow female bred and I have a copper black spawn I am waiting to see if I get anything out of. Got one more show and then convention.. but for me.. breeding the next generation and watching them grow is what I enjoy most about Bettas.

May 19, 2011 Posted by | Breeding Bettas, Fry, Our Breeding, Spawns | , , , | 1 Comment

Breeding Bettas

Betta Breeding Setup

Betta Breeding Setup

We have been so busy doing water changes with our spawns maturing I have not had much time to spend updating the blog. Most of the inquiries and search terms for the blog are for betta barracks and housing. It is easy to see why.. when an average spawn can produce close to 200 fish  and they all have to be separated at about 8-12 weeks.. you need a way to house them and not spend all your free time doing water changes. Clean fresh water, and lots of it, give you fast growth and healthy fish. If you can’t devote the time to changing water, you will have a lot of sick fish and probably get out of the hobby all together. So housing lots of betas and reducing water changes is a big search term bringing many people here. But there is more to bettas than a gazillion water changes. To get this many bettas you need to successfully set up and raise spawns to the age they need separating, so here is how we go about breeding our fish.

Bettas Breeding

Bettas Breding

Bettas are actually pretty easy to spawn if you meet some basic conditions. They need warm water, healthy fish and not too much interference. We use inexpensive plastic shoe box sized containers we got from Wal-mart. I don’t think we spend but $5 each for them. We have gone to this size because we can sit the container in larger aquariums and gradually raise the tank water to just over the top of the spawn container. This allows a gentle transition to a grow out container for the fry. I have been known to just dump them into a grow out.. and they do fine. I feel gently overflowing the container dramatizes me and the fish a whole lot less. They also do not take up much room and the fish seem to get after the spawning much quicker than if they are in a larger container. In larger containers the female can swim off and the male often will lose interest.

In the container I add a submersible heater set to 82 degrees. The containers are small and you should do a dry run with water and the heater to make sure the temp stays around 82. I have some heaters that will actually bring the water up to about 84 because the container is a bit small for the heat they put out. So set every thing up and monitor the temp a few days. This habit is actually a good practice to develop as I have had a heater malfunction overnight and cook my fish. Another heater was in the process of cooking fish but I caught it in time. On a side note.. do not skimp on your heaters. Buy nice quality and take care of them. With $20 in each I know they can add up. But better to spend a few dollars more and have them last a few years then have to shell out another $20 a year from now. Personally, I like the Stealth heaters. They have been consistent in putting out good heat, turn off if removed from the water and have lasted several years now. The newer ones have a light so you can see if they are working.. my older ones don’t have that and I monitor with a thermometer.

Breeding Bettas

Along with a heater you want something the male can build a nest under. I like to use a piece of bubble wrap. It seems to look like a nest and the males take to it readily. I have also used the plastic top to a Pringles can, a floating Indian Almond leaf, half a Styrofoam cup as well as live and artificial plants. There is no hard and fast rule.. look around and try a few things. I use the bubble wrap and have an artificial plant in the spawn tank for the female to get some shelter, and some males will build their nest around the leaves.

Since the container is small, it is a good idea to have some place for the female to get away from the male or at least slow him down. The heaters are a bit big in relation to the container and offers a low barrier you will find her behind or under. A plastic or live plant will offer a hiding place as well as offer the male a place to build his nest. For some reason I can’t seem to grow plants here.. probably because of some other water issue.. so I use plastic. If you go with the plastic you will need to watch for ammonia, nitrate and nitrite levels going bad on the fry tanks.

To our container we add enough r/o water to get water level about 4″ deep. Even if you do not have the issues we have had with water, spawning in the r/o will give you pure water and larger spawns. I had no issues in Ohio with breeding, even though the water was hard.. but I have much larger spawns now  using the r/o. My average spawn in Ohio was about 79-80 except the ones I used a mix with the r/o.. they were larger. I think the ph and stuff found in water affects the fertilization of the eggs. Now I’m getting close to 200 fish each spawn. You will have to find what works for you but do not underestimate the water you are using.

Male Bettas wrapping the female

If you do a search on the net you will find many ways to breed bettas. Most places have you put the male in the spawning container and the female in a chimney of shorts. They can see each other but she is protected. They say to wait for the male to build a nest before letting the female out. Not me. If the female is eggy I put them both in the water, put a cover over the top to keep in the humidity and leave them alone. I do check here and there to make sure neither one is getting abused, but for the most part let them go at it. The male may or may not build a nest before they spawn. The female will come out and flirt as well as run and hide. It is all part of their behavior. Personally, I don’t have the time to wait for the male to start a nest and see if they are in the mood to spawn. I find the flirting and chasing will get the pair in the mood quicker then having the female unobtainable. Then you run the risk of frustrated fish that may give you aggression problems when they are put together.

Betta under bubble nest

Male Betta under his bubble nest.

Most pairs will spawn within a few days of putting them together. Do not feed the fish in the spawn tank as it can quickly foul the water and create problems. aggression and chasing is common with these fish. Both can get ripped fins and some missing scales.. that is normal. Keep an eye out for battering. If one of the fish looks stressed it may be time to remove them and try again some other time. After the pair has finished spawning the female will be chased off and the male sets about taking care of the nest. Gently remove the female and put her in clean warm water and give her a light meal. Use care when removing her not to disrupt the male and his nest. When she is removed you get to wait.

Approximately a day and a half to two days after the spawn has taken place, you see the eggs hatching. Fry will be hanging tail down from the nest and often falling to the bottom of the container. Dad will be busy picking them up and placing them back in the nest. Some males are really good and get the fry up in the nest.. others kinda blow them in the general direction. Not to worry as the fry will probably make it to free-swimming regardless. Now is the time to make sure you have your brine shrimp hatching so you will have food ready for the fry to eat.

Betta fry on Dads head.

Betta fry fallen out of nest and onto dads head.

I usually figure about two more days for the fry to be free-swimming and horizontal. While they hang tail down they are using up their egg sacks. As they get horizontal they will need something they can feed on. I use Vinegar Eels as their first foods. On that second day, when they should be free-swimming, I add a lot of the vinegar eels so there is something live for them to snack on. The vinegar eels stay alive a long time in the water and swim through out the water column. The fry will spend a few days at the top so you don’t want a food on the bottom. Now is also the time to remove dad and put him in some clean water and feed him lightly.

 About the third day I add some baby brine shrimp to the water for something more substantial for the fry. Many breeders use only bbs for a first food and I think most of the fry can handle eating them. For me I’ve just found the VE to be a better start and add the shrimp the second or third day. From then on the fry get one feeding of bbs and another feeding of some of the various micro worms. We always have some of the worms for sale on our auctions if you need some. Fry are fed this till about 4-6 weeks when we start adding some small pelleted foods. As they grow they are still fed the bbs and pellets. You will always find smaller fry among the fast growers and by feeding the bbs they will always have something the proper size to keep them growing. By the time they are 8 weeks old they will be on pellet food. Another few weeks and the boys will start getting full of them selves and need separating.

All along the way you will need to do water changes. After the fry are free-swimming you will want to siphon some of the funk off the bottom and replace with clean water about every 4 days. You can use a turkey baster being careful not to suck up fry. I still squirt in a container like a measuring cup to make sure I did not get any fry. Do this removing some water and replacing water till fry are about 4 weeks, then move them to a larger grow out tank. The size of the spawn determining the size of the tank. Most of my fish are grown out in 30 gallon tanks.. some smaller spawns are put in 20 gallon tanks. If you do not keep fresh water in your fry, you will find the ammonia will get high enough to kill you spawn off overnight. A lesson I learned the hard way and only once.

Some tricks if the pair won’t spawn. I have found a front coming through an area to give me good results when spawning.. especially when the barometer is falling. Another trick I’ve used is to siphon out some of the water and add fresh, simulating a rain storm. Usually having the pair well fed and in good condition will give the best result. Good luck and happy spawning!

All the pictures are from my friend Karen McAuley who breeds some the finest bettas in the US. Check out her web site here.

February 26, 2011 Posted by | Breeding Bettas, Fry, Spawning | , , | 10 Comments

New Spawns

The change in water has done wonders for our breeding.  Our coppers are doing well and we removed Storm from his spawn. It looks like a good-sized spawn from what I can see as the fry are free-swimming. He is mostly black with some iridescence crossed with a female from a friend that carries the black. She placed 2nd in a show earlier this season and her sibs have 3 BOS wins [Best of Show]. Probably gonna get some multi colors but hoping to work towards black/melano with this pairing.

We got a small spawn from a royal blue double tail crossed back to his aunt.. his father is a sib to the female. It looks like about 10 fry.. but since he is younger and smaller we are happy to have any. She placed 2nd in some very stiff competition last fall and is very nice. We will cross him to his sister as well as another very nice royal female from a different line. His sister has better form.. but both have great color so we will see what we get.

We also have another copper spawn that is almost free-swimming. Both parents have light red finnage that was very attractive. We are hoping for copper/reds out of this one.

Another spawn where the fry should be free-swimming tomorrow are my reds. My friend and fellow breeder in Dayton, Ohio sent me some of his reds to breed as he has been too busy. The male placed third at the convention this year against a large class of great fish. I am excited to see this cross. I paired him with a darker bodied red female. We also have a Cambodian with a  large based dorsal and a double tail red to cross him with as well. Since he is so nice.. if he gets through those spawns I will also cross him to my pineapple female imported from Thailand.

We are busy hatching baby brine shrimp and may have to go to 2 hatcheries to feed everybody when we are done spawning. I am not thrilled to have all my spawns at the same stage.. but we have lost ground with the water issues. Fish are easier to breed when younger.. so we are trying to keep the lines going right now. In time I hope to do only 2 spawns a month so we always have fish at each development stage. I like having all the stages as each one is fun to watch. The new ones are so little and  it is neat to watch them grow. Then at 8 weeks they are getting color.. and attitude. Then we have another 4-8 weeks of putting size on them and getting them ready to show or breed. Each stage brings new developments.. and excitement to the fish room.

Got picture from HERE.

October 18, 2010 Posted by | Breeding Bettas, Fry, Our Breeding, Spawning, Spawns | , | Leave a comment

Finally..

Our fry have made it to free-swimming! The water was the issue. We used pure r/o water that we got from Wal-Mart.. added some Indian Almond Leaves and a fake plant for hiding and within 2 days had a spawn. These spawns are also the largest we have had in some time. Water conditions play a huge factor in successfully raising these fish. From now on we will use only r/o for spawns.

We are still adding more of the r/o to our tap water we run through peat to get a greater part of pure for the adults as well. Again, I have to think about raising these fish to show and breeding condition. It really sucks to have  a nice young male coming along and see his fins curl or fray because of water. And to have breeding issues because of upbringing makes it difficult to breed the fish you want to improve the line. The youngsters will be kept in strait r/o untill they get into the larger growouts.. around 8 weeks. I’m not brave enough right now to go half and half.. maybe 2/3 of the r/o to 1/3 of the filtered tap. Will see how that does for this current generation. If fins stay nice and they are easy to breed we may try the half and half. I did not experience these issues in Ohio so I am really not sure what is in this water that has affected these fish so much. Although the adults are not dying, I’m not sure they are really in optimum health right now.

Photo from HERE.

October 10, 2010 Posted by | Breeding Bettas, Fry, Spawning, Water Quality | , , , | Leave a comment

Reverse Osmosis

The reverse osmosis and DI filter arrived yesterday from Filter Direct. I had ordered the sink attachment but I found I needed an adapter to attach it to my faucet. I picked that up tonight after work and got the unit hooked up, turned the water on and waited for pure water. It does NOT come running out the end. Trickle is more the word to describe the water coming through the unit. The waste water is a better stream.. but it is what it is.

So, I found it takes 15 to 20 minutes to get a gallon of pure water. I will be making pure water every minute I am home to get the amount needed around here. I filled up the 2 empty gallon jugs I had then put the hose into my 32 gallon trash can I use as a water holding tank. The waste water end is running through the peat setup I was previously using for my tap water into another 32 gallon trash can. I will be testing it to see what kind of values it returns as I am hoping I can use it in my Oscar tank. I will also try to use it to water the plants.. but I am going through more water than I have plants. Ever conscience of paying a water bill and also being responsible for water usage as we get droughts down here, I am looking for ways to use the waste water. I saved some that has not been through the peat and will check and see what kind of gh and kh values I get there as well. I am wondering how hard the water will be and if the concentration of minerals will make it useless for other things. Will report my findings as I go.

I do have 2 spawns going right now that I used r/o water I got at Wal-Mart. The fry hatched this morning so tomorrow is the day they need to make it through to see if we have solved our problem. The fry seem to be staying in the nest better and both dads are taking great care of the fry. It is just them or is the water more conducive to breeding behavior? I had males eating eggs that took very good care of the nest.. all the way to hatching the fry.. when I ran the water through the peat and softened it up. Now, with even better values I have males doing an even better job of raising fry. I’m beginning to wonder if some of the egg eating we get breeding bettas may be to less than ideal breeding/water conditions. The high ph I had seemed to have affected the fertility or viability of the eggs. They did not hatch and dad ate them. Lowering the ph, gh, and kh resulted in better interest in breeding as well as eggs hatching. Even the bubble nests have held together better. Something was still off with my water though as the fry were weak and never made it to the free-swimming stage. Chlorine, chloramine and the heavy metals are supposed to be neutralized with the Prime water conditioner I use. Something was still in the water in an amount that affected the fry to the point of killing them. If we get fry living past tomorrow.. not only will I be ecstatic.. but I can safely say that water conditions affect our fish breeding a lot more than expected. The other concern would be that what ever was killing fry was still in the water in levels that did not kill adults.. but would it affect their ability to reproduce in the future? Only time will tell me that one. To be safe we will be using the pure water in our fish room as much as possible.

October 8, 2010 Posted by | Breeding Bettas, Fry, Info You Can Use, Spawning, Water Quality | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Verdict is in..

Water here SUCKS! All the spawns have failed. It is heartbreaking to get a spawn, watch them hatch then slowly die. The fry never got to the horizontal free-swimming stage. Some of the hardy ones went for days trying to swim right only to finally perish. So, we are done messing with it. I have a reverse osmosis unit coming from Filter Direct. I am also getting an attachment to hook it to the kitchen faucet as living in an apartment I do not want a permanent installation. Right now I have 2 spawn tanks set up with r/o water from Wal-Mart. Everything once again was torn down, cleaned and everything set back up with this water. I sure hope this does the trick. If so, we will use pure r/o for spawning and a combination for adults and grow outs.

I read an article the other day that said bettas raised in water softened by a water softeners had issues as adults breeding. Seems the male could not get a good wrap on the females. They assumed the salt used for the softener had some sort of effect on the fish as it grew. Since my fish lived in this type of water for about 8 weeks as juvies and some of my males are having the same issue.. I want to make sure my fish are in the best water possible as they grow to ensure little problems as adults. As a breeder one has to think of the long haul. Raising a spawn is only part of it.. we need to continue to breed a line to establish the traits we are looking for. Right now, having to jack with all the water  and breeding issues, we are not getting the fish we want to cross crossed. As a result, we are not getting the characteristics we are wanting in our offspring. Having your first pick male unable to wrap and having to use the 2nd or 3rd choices just to get a breeding does not move a breeding program forward to a goal. And for us, growing them up with all the food and water changes only to have average fish is just not worth the time or effort. But, we will eventually get this worked out and our breeding program back on track. Till then.. grrrrrrr.

Photo above from HERE.

October 5, 2010 Posted by | Breeding Bettas, Fry, Spawning, Water Quality | , , , , , | Leave a comment

These D#@% Fish!

Hobbies are supposed to be relaxing. A few issues here and there.. but over all.. fun. Raising show quality Bettas has been.. fun.. up to the move to Texas. The move itself wiped out most of the fry we had at the time. All the juvies except about 20 – gone. The young fry made it but because we stopped feeding the baby brine shrimp, all but the  hardiest died out in the weeks after the move. White worms – gone. The micro, walter and banana worm cultures were almost gone. Vinegar eels, again, barely hanging on. Then we moved again to the apartment. We were sooo excited to set up and breed again. Then spawn after spawn failed.. didn’t hatch… fry never became free-swimming.. dad ate eggs/fry. The adults started to look off.. then definitely had something wrong. For the first time ever I had fins rotting. So we started to look at everything.  Discovered water here is very hard. So we searched the net and discovered filtering through peat. It changed the water enough the fish should be fine. But no change. We ran the fish room through a 10 day treatment of nitrofurazone. It helped with the fin issues and most everybody seemed to perk up. The ones that didn’t will get a treatment for internal parasites in a separate tank.

With the water better and the fish healthier we decided to spawn again. Since the fish were happier and rested we put a pair in the spawn tank. Dad was great! Huge nest, lots of eggs and dad was very good about tending to them. I left one morning and I had lots of fry bouncing from bottom to top of the tank and was so excited that I was finally going to have some fry. But I came home to dead fry on the bottom of the tank. GRRRRRRR! Now what was wrong? Water, health.. what else was there?? Had fry so parents not sterile. How could I tell if they were producing defective fry or something was affecting them at that stage? I was at the point of throwing everybody in the Oscar tank and raising cichlids. After some pouting and grumping I decided to break the tank down, clean it and set up another pair. When I started to take the tank apart I noticed the heater had risen above the water line on one end and had turned itself off. The tank was set to 82 and the house is warm.. about 78 during the day so water temps would be around 74 degrees. The water had cooled but no more than would happen in the wild at night. I’m hoping the failed spawn is just that simple.. I don’t want to have to research any more. Would just like to feed and enjoy the fish for a bit.

So I finished cleaning the tank and setting it up again. I actually set up 3 more spawns. As I am typing I have one that hatched earlier today and I will remove the male in the morning. Another young pair, a cross with my first double tail, spawned today and I have a small bunch of egg. That is his spawn pictured. Another pair was spawning when I left this morning but there is nothing in the nest and she is still full of eggs. They did not get it figured out so I guess they are taking a break. He had this problem of wrapping before.. will give him some more time before trying another male as I’d really like some offspring from him. But with better water, a full moon and a good cold front that moved through I’m hoping we finally will have some fry around here. I am wanting to continue my lines and they are easier to breed when they are younger. As I see fish mature I get excited thinking about the next generation and the direction I want to take our breeding. It would be a shame to lose what we have acquired so far. We also need to get some spawns soon to have fish ready for the Spring shows. We did not have much to show this fall and most of the ones we did show got tore up in the shipping.

This move and all the troubles have taught me more about my fish and made me rethink some things. I have come to the conclusion that even with the issues, I enjoy raising these fish. And, when that day comes when I have bettas every where, I will remember these days and be ever so thankful I have to find yet ANOTHER container for my fish.

September 29, 2010 Posted by | Breeding Bettas, Day 2 Day, Fry, Info You Can Use, Spawning, Water Quality | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Water.. Ugh!

The fish have been set up for a month now and are not as perky as they should be. Fin rays are crimping and the fins are fraying. I also have had 4 spawns where the eggs did not hatch, 2 where the fry never got free-swimming as they just swirled around for days and died and several spawn attempts where nobody was interested. Time to look at the water.

The water where we were in Ohio was hard.. but fish reared in it were just fine. I never had issues with the eggs not hatching or fry just doing poorly. But here in Texas the water is even worse. Very high GH and KH readings. So we are looking into eventually getting a Reverse Osmosis unit to make pure water for mixing into what we have to lower these levels to something we can live with. In the mean time I am searching for Canadian Peat to boil for tannins. I have been crock potting my Indian Almond leaves and adding the “tea” from it and it has not budged the GH or KH levels. So after cruising the net I learned the Peat will be a stronger tannin that will hopefully lower my levels. Unfortunately, all I am finding at my local Lowe’s is Sphagnum Peat.. not the Canadian that was said to work. I know now why there are Cichlid clubs here and nothing else. Guess nothing else will take the water.

So for now we are not trying to spawn anything. I have been adding some distilled water to dilute what I have.. but that will get expensive very quick. I am easily going through 30 gallons a day.. and 1/3 of that would need to be distilled to make a dent. That would be about $10/day. Time to search the net for peat.

September 6, 2010 Posted by | Fry, Spawning, Water Quality | , , , , , | Leave a comment