Basement Bettas

Raising Show Quality Bettas

Where am I?

I know it has been a while since I have posted over here on the blog. Besides breeding and the recent show season I have been working with some one on another web site. The goal of the site is to be a huge reference for all things betta. If you want to check it out here it is: BettaSource. We have not really gone “public” as we are still adding content. But, we would love to have you join us and take everything for a test drive. Let us know what you think and any ideas for more articles. Please send me any links you have come across that you have found helpful and if you are interested in writing any articles for the site. We are looking for a lot of content to be housed there in time. The forum is also getting started so sign up and introduce yourself. The site has a nice chat feature that we get going many evenings and it is a lot of fun.

And of course we have started a Facebook page if you want to join us there.

 

 

November 6, 2012 Posted by | Info You Can Use | , , | Leave a comment

New Sump for Filtering Barracks

We have had our barracks up for almost 2 years and they have been great. They are easy to clean and give our fish lots of room to grow their finnage. I started out siphoning out the cells every other day or so and that seemed to work ok initially. Then we had some fin issues.. dorsals curling and some fin rot issues. On to Google I went and even emailed some more experienced than I. We determined I was doing too many water changes and the system was not getting cycled. Bettas typically are kept in their own container and they get major water changes several times a week.. so I never really thought about cycling nor took the time to get it done.

I was told to do less water changing so I had stuff in the water to feed these bacteria that convert ammonia to less harmful stuff. So I tried to do only 1 water change a week to give the bacteria a chance to build up and take care of ammonia and nitrates. Unfortunately, my fish seemed to continue to have issues. More time with Google and I learned that the bacteria I needed to balance my system prefered pH of 7-7.4. With Bettas I was keeping the pH much lower.. closer to 6. I also learned that the RO water I was using with a little RO Right added in did nothing to provide stability to prevent pH swings. So, I got and have learned to use buffers. I now am keeping the water at a pH of 7.0. For my 32 gal trash cans that is 1.5 grams of acid buffer and 3.0 grams of alkaline buffer. I am cheating a bit there using only half the buffer and the other half plain old baking soda. I still am adding the RO Right for electrolytes and trace elements. So I now have my water where I want it.. now just need to look closer at what is going on in the barracks system.

In the big barracks I have 4 barracks each housing 12 fish. So there are 48 fish in each system. I was running everything down to a 20 gal tank where I had two rubber tubs stacked on top of each other with filtration media. In the bottom I had Pond Matrix and in the top one I had some BioBalls and Bio-Bale. Over the top was one of the lids inverted with holes punched in it to allow the return water to trickle in over the media in a wet/dry setup. I cleaned sumps every month but the amount of debris that came thru all the filter media was amazing. It did not take long to accumulate a fine particulate film across the bottom of the sump. And before long that fine stuff was in the water being circulated through out the cells with the fish. I tried using a very light PP [potassium pomanganate] solution to “burn off” this particles and it worked temporarily. I had the cloud back in the water as often as the next day. So.. time to do something else.

My conclusion is I really never had adequate filtration for 48 fish being fed, quite heavily at times, to get them grown up. So I once again spent some time with Google and researched filtration. I decided I wanted a lot more mechanical filtration and wanted the water to travel thru various media. I also like the fluidized beds so I went about designing a new and improved sump.

Water now will enter the sump and travel thru at least 6″ of filter floss. This stuff is cheap, can be rinsed and, if necessary, thrown out all together without costing me too awful much. It will then go thru 2 layers of stainless steel pot scrubbers. I have found these things have incredible surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow, and I should get some mechanical filtration for some particles. Water will then go under a partition and up and over into a wet/dry filter area. I made the space between the two partitions large enough to get a siphon hose in there to remove debris. I am hoping stuff will be too heavy to flow up and settle at the bottom to be easily removed and therefore not enter the wet/dry. Water will overflow onto a plate with holes drilled to allow the water to trickle over the wet/dry part of the sump. The first thing the water hits is the Bio-Bale that is above the water line. Below that is a layer of BioBalls and below that Pond Matrix. All of these medias have great surface area for bacteria to colonise. Water flows down thru all these media and under yet another divider and up through 57 pot scrubbies. I found in my research these are another inexpensive yet highly effective media that has a lot of surface area for bacteria to breed. It will also provide even more mechanical filtration for any particles. At this point I should have absolutely NO particulate matter in my water. The water will exit two holes drilled through the partition and will overflow into the fluidized bed I have K1 media in.

The K1 media is yet another media that has good surface area for bacteria to grow. As the Kaldnes media moves within the filter, it causes the old dead bacteria on the outside to be displaced. This makes space for new younger heavier feeding bacteria to rapidly colonise. Within  the wheel is a protected surface which enables colonies of bacteria  to naturally follow their life-cycle, of maturing, dying and then fueling the latter stages of the nitrification cycle. Kaldnes has  been designed to provide the best possible habitat for both young and mature beneficial bacterial colonies. This media takes time to mature and move properly in the water. So, right now we do not have as much in the chamber as we will eventually have. It will be added a little at a time so we have proper movement for the bacteria to grow.

By the time water gets to this point the particles should be removed and any harmful ammonia, nitrate or nitrites should be gone. After swirling around in the fluidized bed water will drain out to a compartment that houses the heater. I chose to have a separate chamber rather than house it under the K1 media. Always concerned something could fail and the filter media press down on a heater that was warm I had visions of melting plastic. So I decided the heater needed its own space for safety’s sake. At this point water should be warmed up, flow around the corner and be pumped back up to the barracks.

Since I just set up the sump it is too soon to tell how well it will work. With all the filter media I should have no problem controlling the ammonia, nitrates and nitrites even with the heavy feeding of youngsters I like to do. All that remains is for the system to cycle. To hurry the  process along I got Dr. Tims One and Only nitrifiers. The reviews sounded good and I also got recommendations from a Facebook friend. I added the recommended dosage yesterday and today had ammonia at 1.0. Did a good water change and will see where we’re at tomorrow. The One and Only is supposed to cycle my system in about a week. If you want to know how well it works, join us on FaceBook where I’ll be posting my results.

Here is a video of the completed sump.

April 22, 2012 Posted by | Betta Housing, Info You Can Use, Water Quality | , , , | 4 Comments

Our New Website

We have been working on a new website and it is just about done. We are still adding articles and fish for sale. My project over the next few days that I have off is to get more fish photographed and up for sale. But I wanted to go ahead and make it public since most of the main content is in there.

If you register for the site you will get access to two other areas. One area is a forum where we can have discussions and share photos. I breed to the IBC standard and find there are not many places on the web discussing things like form as it pertains to showing fish. I would like this forum will fill that need and assist those that want to breed quality fish and hopefully to show them in the IBC. There is information on the home page about the registration process.

The other members only  area is a Sneak Peek section. The Sneak Peek section is where I will post some of my nicer fish for sale before I offer them on AquaBid. That will also be where I post my breeders when I get the next generation going. I only have so much room and I would rather pass these fish onto to other serious breeders than to just let them sit. If you are interested in these fish just email me and make arrangements for payment and shipping.

Since I am still working on the site I would appreciate a note if you find any non working links. Joomla is a little different that other programming in that pages are not fixed. They are created each time you go to them and as such the actual address of the page may vary. I’m still new to this so let me know if anything does not work. I would also appreciate a note if you want to see anything I am not providing. There is a suggestion section in the forum for such ideas.

www.BasementBettas.com

Look forward to seeing ya’ll on the web site.

December 22, 2011 Posted by | Bettas for Sale, Fish for Sale, Info You Can Use | , , , | Leave a comment

Barrack Overview

I got a camcorder to record my son’s drill team competitions and am finding it real fun in the fish room. We have recorded some of our young fish and it has been nice to see them on video.  We have had a request for an overview of our barracks. So, we kinda walked through and touched on how the different barracks I have made work. We uploaded it to YouTube and here it is. In time we will get more detailed videos of the barracks, taking care of food cultures and of course our young fish.

 

December 21, 2011 Posted by | Betta Housing, Fish Room, Info You Can Use | , | Leave a comment

Keeping it Straight

It has been a while since I have had a few minutes to do a blog post and I apologize. I am working on a web site to work with our AquaBid auctions as well as to feature other nicely bred bettas for sale by US breeders. Trying to get my domain transferred and it seems to be a lot more difficult than it should be. That said.. on to todays topic.. keeping things straight.

We have done over 50 spawns in the last 3 years and have several fish at different stages at all times. How do we know what fish is from what spawn? The answer is dry erase markers. Everything from tanks to beanies and barracks, the dry erase markers go on, stay on and rub off easily without any residue. I personally like the ones that are like a pen, they have a clicker at the top to put the marker out for writing then click.. back in it goes.

Spawns are marked on their spawn tanks with the id numbers of the fish that are being bred. I put the date I get eggs and add 4 days to that for the free swimming date I use for the spawn date. I also add the spawn number. When the breeders are returned to their cells I mark the date they were bred so I give them plenty of rest between spawns.

Once the fry are moved to the 10 gallon as well as the larger grow out tanks I transfer that information to the side of the tank. If I have small spawns and combine two, both sets of information will go on the tanks.

As the fish are pulled from the grow out they are given a number that consists of their spawn number, a dash and either a number or letter. Males get letters and the girls get numbers. They are done consecutively.. so the males in the picture come from spawn 44 and are the first three males pulled.

Keeping up with fish id’s is not they only way I use these markers. Come show time I write the entry number on the front of their cells in either red or blue. They also get a plus or minus depending on if they are coming back from the show or I am letting them go at auction. I do this when I determine who is going and create my entries. Then, when time to bag, I just go numberically down the line bagging and marking. Makes life real easy when getting ready to ship to a show. It also allows me to keep the space for those returning and I quickly fill others with upcoming fish.

I also use them to write notes about fish so I don’t get in a hurry and forget something. If I get a real pig and they get a bit bloated I write FAST on the front. When a fish is listed on AquaBid I write ‘AB’ and a big ‘L’ on the front. When the fish gets a bid that is erased and ‘SOLD’ is now written. The final bid come in and the auction closes and the winners name is added to the front. As I watch fish develop I add either a smiley face, an ‘AB’ in the corner or a big ‘X’. Smiles are breeders/show fish, the AB means I need to get pics and list for auction. The big ‘X’ is my cull and they are pulled for a friend that rehomes them.

So you can see it is pretty easy to have hundreds of fish and keep everything straight. I have tried other markers but they do not mark as well and leave a little residue behind. If you get marks that won’t come off just color over them with more marker and it will dissolve and wipe off easily. I prefer the black as easier for my eyes to see.. but I also purchase a three pack with blue and red. Compared to other methods I tried for keeping everybody straight.. this is by far the easiest and the markers last even me and all my fish for months.

December 11, 2011 Posted by | Day 2 Day, Info You Can Use | , | Leave a comment

Chores..

Things have finally settled down around the fish room and it is almost complete. We are building the last four barracks and they should all be online with fish in them in the next two weeks. With the completion of the fish room we getting a routine down to get the chores done. With the last barracks done the fish room will have room for 188 fish in the barracks, four 10 gallon tanks for growing fry from 4 to 8 weeks of age, one 55 gallon, two 20’s and two 30’s for growing out juvies at 8 weeks, another 30 gallon I keep females in and 5 spawn tanks. Keeping every body clean and maintained takes a bit of time and this is what we have settled into.

Raising quality bettas takes good breeding stock and lots of water changes. I run a ro [reverse osmosis] filter almost constantly when I am home. It runs into a 30 gallon trash can. As it fills I periodically pump it into the trash can in front of it that I mix in Kents RO Right to get the ph to 6.4-6.6. Both the plants and fish do better in remineralized water instead of the pure RO. In this trash can I have a pump with a long flexible hose that will reach any barrack or tank in the fish room. From that container I pump water into another 30 gallon trash can accross the room that I use for the barracks on that side of the room. From the trash cans with the reminerilized water I refill tanks and sumps after siphoning.

I have off Friday and Saturday and work business hours the other five days. Monday and Thursday nights the barracks get siphoned out and a major water change done. There are about 55 gallons running thru the big barracks and we like to change out 20 to 25 gallons of water. The smaller barracks run about 25 gallons in their system and I like to change out about 15 gallons in both of them. This takes about two hours to get them all done. We use a common gravel cleaner that I have removed the big tube on the end to siphon out tanks and barracks. Water is siphoned out into empty cat litter containers that hold 4-5 gallons of water. They have a handle and are easy to pick up and move. I used to use the larger cat litter containers that are more of a square bucket but they tended to be heavier and sloshed water. In time I will get a foot operated pump and just pump it out of a bucket and into a drain or out the back door. Right now with the drought I am taking the dirty water out and watering my plants and the shrubbery around my deck. Every thing in the apartment complex is dying and these guys are thriving. I go through a lot of water….

Wednesday and Friday I do water changes on the tanks. I try to change out 1/3 to 1/2 of the water volume on the 20’s and 30’s. The 55 gets 50% changed out once a week and the 10 gallon tanks are on an as needed basis. When I put fry into the 10’s I just dump the spawn tank into the 10 gallon and over the next few days I add a little water to bring the water level up to the top of the tank. I watch the bottom and make sure the snails are doing a good job cleaning any uneaten food. I may take air line tubing with an air lift tube on the end and siphon out funk that is accumulating on the bottom, but for the most part I leave it alone. Fry are still a bit small at this time and even this smaller siphon will tend to remove a few, and I don’t like having to net them that small to get them back in their tank. So I do as little as possible while watching for problems. By the second week in the 10’s I start to siphone the bottoms.. carefully, with the air line tubing siphon at first them moving to the regular siphon. I may only remove an inch or two of water to start.. then over the course of the month I work up to changing out 50% of the water every other day or so.

Once the fry hit 8 to 10 weeks I am looking to get them into a bigger tank. The larger tanks have been made ready by being drained, bleached and set up with a few inches of water. The 10 gallons get siphoned down and the fish are netted and moved into the bigger tanks. Over the next week or so the water level is raised and once again we start to siphon the bottom and get on the 1/3 to 1/2 water changes.

Spawn tanks really are not messed with much. After the spawn the female is removed. I count two days and expect to see fry hanging from the nest. Two days later and the fry should be free swimming. This is the day I remove the male. In the morning on the day I am to remove the male I add vinegar eels to the spawn tank. Later that evening I remove the male and once again add vinegar eels. The next morning there is another VE feeding then they fry are on the bbs [baby brine shrimp] evening feeding. I only feed the bbs once a day.. evening. Mornings I harvest my various micro worms into a small container of water and squirt a few eyedroppers of the solution into the tanks. I have had issues with loosing an entire spawn around this time from over feeding and an amonia spike so I add several mystery snails to handle extra food and I go a bit easier on the food these days. I can power grow them once they hit a month of age.

Fry tanks are really watched for  uneaten food and I like to take amonia readings every couple of days. I take a small eye dropper and carefully suck up anything that seems to be funky watching out for the fry. At about one week I drip fresh water in using about half a beanie of water and some airline tubing. I can place the beanie above the spawn tanks and start suction and water will run into the spawn tanks. Every other day or so we add half a beanie of water until the container is full.. then we start to carefully siphon with air line tubing and a lift tube. I will remove about 1/2 gallon into one of my gallon containers and set in on the counter to settle for a bit. I check and recheck looking for any fry that may have gotten accidently sucked up. If I do have one I use a deep measuring spoon to catch the bugger and return him to his tank. By the end of the month we are removing closer to a gallon and replacing it with fresh water.

We feed the fry twice a day. The morning feeding is a micro worm cocktail and the evening feeding is bbs. Once they get into the 10 gallon tanks I start to add some grindle worms with the evening bbs feeding. Some of the  worms are a bit too big, but the bettas will quickly devour the smaller one and really start to put on some size. As they grow I introduce frozen and live daphnia, mosquito larvae if I have it and smaller pellets. I have just started feeding chopped freeze dried earth worms so they get some of the finer powder resulting from the chopping process. I also have in the freezer some ground liver mixed with salmon and a few other things that I shave off chunks and feed. When they get to the larger grow outs they are introduce to larger pellets and bigger chunks of the earth worms. Live foods are fed if available as are frozen shrimp.

When we get to 10 weeks the boys are becoming obvious and they need pulled and placed in the barracks to keep fins from getting chewed up. Once they hit the barracks they get fed as often as I walk by.. and some days that is a lot. There is a definate morning and evening feeding.. but I also will throw in a few pellets here and there as I’m working aroud the fish room. They idea is to keep them eating with out stuffing them so they look like the ate a marble. With the increased feeding come increased waste, sooo.. we often do a major water change on Saturdays on barracks with Juvies in them.

When the fish get to adult hood they tend to get fed once a day in the evening. That is the guaranteed feeding anyway. Sometimes they will get tossed some more food if I’m working in the fish room or on my days off. If I’m wanting to breed a fish they will get twice a day feedings and more snacks like the Juvies get. Fish that are up for auction also get fed once a day. When a bid is placed on a fish we mark the front of the container SOLD and go lighter on their feeding. At least a day, preferably two days before a fish ships we do not feed them anything.. they are fasted to make sure they do not put waste in the shipping water to ensure they make the trip in good shape.

In addition to the fish we have cultures to maintain. The vinegar eels are easy. Once a month we add a bit of sugar and they take care of them selves. The various micro worms are harvested at least every other day and yeast is sprinkled over the top. Once a week we scrape off to the side some good worms and remove the rest of the oatmeal bedding. Fresh oatmeal is added and mixed with water and yeast is sprinkled over the top. A few hours later the culture is crawling with worms up the sides of the containers. Our grindle worms are a struggle right now to get established. Every day we mix in oatmeal and flip the culture to encourage the culture to grow. Don’t know if it is the heat or what.. but I never worked this hard on them when I was in Ohio. I’m hoping in a month of so to have the cultures producing well enough to feed to adults on a regular basis.

So far we have not had to break down any barracks for cleaning. The oldest have been up a year and they are still fine. They are not crystal clean like the day we set them up, but they are not where they need a complete cleaning. A tooth-brush removes the fuzzies that adhere to the plexi over time and my newly hatched snails takes care of most of the algae that I get bringing them up to a nice size for the baby and Juvie tanks. I’ve determined a once a month cleaning of the sump keeps things running well. The sump is drained down and the funk is removed. We also rinse the sponges and replace the charcoal pads.

A tooth brush is used daily to unplug any holes in the pvc dripping water into the barracks. This is a CONSTANT issue that I’m racking my pea brain to solve. I’m not sure what all gets up into the hose and plugs up the holes but it happens all the time. I have all my pumps wrapped in a fine filter media and we still get it. I went to PEX instead of pvc and monthly remove the pex and flush out what ever is in there. I can hook everything back up after cleaning the sump and within an hour I have some holes plugged up. Don’t know if finer material around pump or something different in the sump filter to catch the particulates will make the difference… but we are working towards a solution.

On average, I spend two hours every night and can spend several hours on a day off doing chores. But I also have four to five spawns in grow outs, four spawns in the 4-8 week stage and working another 4-5 spawn tanks. I enjoy the breeding and seeing the fish grow and mature into a thing of beauty so the time is well spent for me.

September 9, 2011 Posted by | Fish Room, Info You Can Use, Water Quality | , | 3 Comments

The box is not free..

Any one that breeds show bettas will produce a lot of nice
bettas that they will not breed or show. So many breeders will offer these
extra fish for sale in places like AquaBid rather than culling. Most times the
sales transactions go smoothly, but every once in a while you get someone who
does not want to pay you anything for the fish then throws a fit at the
shipping charge and tells you they can ship 20 fish for $10 and whining the box
is free. Well, I’m here to tell you the box is not free and for the following
reasons. And this is just the shipping process. It does not take into account the 2 hours a day we spend feeding and changing water and most often a full day on the weekend doing more time consuming maintenance.

I do order about 100 of the free USPS boxes at a time so I have several on hand at any one time. I print out neon colored “PERISHABLE avoid heat or cold” labels, blue “FRAGILE” labels and large arrows with “UP” on them. Printing these out only takes a few minutes but I spend a few hours attaching them to all 4 sides of all the boxes. I don’t have to add the labels but hope with them labeled like this they will be treated gently and the fish and cultures do not get tossed like a football or bounced around. After the boxes have their labels applied I spend more time taping up the bottoms so they are ready to have the insulation put in them.

All my fish and most of the cultures ship out of my home in
an insulated box. I have to run to my local Lowe’s and pick up Styrofoam insulation sheets to insulate the boxes so the contents are protected from the outside temperatures. I then must stand and measure then cut a top, bottom and four sides to line the box. Since cutting the foam creates lots of little free-floating Styrofoam particles and makes a mess of my kitchen, I prefer to cut most of it all at once. I usually use the small USPS box that is 7 x 7 x 7 so I make up as many of them as I can, saving some of the Styrofoam uncut for the occasional larger box of more fish. Cutting the pieces and fitting them into the box takes several hours out of an evening.

So, we now have ordering the boxes, printing and putting shipping stickers on the boxes and obtaining and cutting insulation and putting the box together so it is ready to ship when the fish sell before I even put a fish on AquaBid. Already I have several hours invested and nothing to put in the box.

When I get some nice fish I want to sell I set aside an entire day to photograph fish. The four photos I try to include on every fish I sell are part of the 30 to 50 of each fish I take. They are not always in the mood to be photographed, I switch out background colors to determine which color shows the fish the best and also must play with the camera and lighting as a dark fish takes very different settings compared to a light-colored fish. I believe in giving as good a representation as I can of the fish I offer for sale. I want buyers to see every scale and fin branch as well as a realistic representation of the color on the fish. Since I have started breeding black bettas I want to show the amount of iridescence on the fish as it is a trait we must breed away from. So taking pictures is nothing I can do in an hour. I get 20 fish for sale then spend the day trying to get photographs of them.

After a break I will then sit down and run each photo through an image program. Any picture that gives a nice view of the fish is cropped and resized for placement in the AquaBid ads. Once all the photos are done I then use a template I created to put together the ads for the fish. I insert all the good photos of the fish for sale and weed through them looking for the best four.. two facing left and two facing right. I place the photos, add some descriptive text and resize as needed. The file is then saved as a jpeg and uploaded and an ad created on AquaBid. It takes a couple of nights after work to get 20 fish ads created and online.

Once a fish gets a bid I mark the fishes’ container SOLD so as not to feed. The fish must be fasted at least 24 hours before they ship to ensure there is not waste in the water that would lead to death. I do my best to quickly get the fish ready to mail but there can be no shortcuts or the fish pays too high a price. My auction fish are not fed as heavy as the ones growing out or ready for showing or breeding. They are kept a bit leaner so they are better able to make the trip to a new home.

When the auction is finished I often have to send invoices
through PayPal of the final auction price and shipping charge. A copy is also entered into my QuickBooks software. Once the fish or cultures are paid for I get them boxed for shipping. I like to add about a drop of meth blue to a gallon of water for shipping the fish. It helps the gills process oxygen and reduces the chance of a parasite like velvet taking hold of the fish during the stress of shipping. The fish are caught, put in about 1/3 cup of water and double bagged. They are then placed into the box and more insulating materials are added to ensure the fish does not shift around and they are protected in the event a hot or cold pack is needed. Cultures are packed so they do not shift around in their box too. Because there is no way to keep the box in the correct position I must make sure the bagged fish or culture does not come in contact with an icy cold pack or a 100 degree heat pack. Fish will soon perish unless a layer of insulating material is between them and the packs. I must make sure the insulating materials can not shift and allow the contact with the packs. I print off a copy of each fish’s genetic tree or a cultures cultivating direction and insert them into the side of the box.

Once properly packed the box is weighed and a shipping label is printed. Most transactions on PayPal allow a quick couple of clicks to create and print a label. The shipping labels are trimmed and if there are no heat or cold packs the boxes are taped shut and the shipping label applied. If those are needed they are added and everything taped and labeled the last minute before I head out the door for work the next morning. I am  fortunate that the Post Office is a slight detour from my regular way into work every morning. And, the Post Office allows package drop off in a special bin so I can drop them off even thought the PO is closed. I ship Monday through Thursday, the days I work, to allow the packages to arrive at their destination before the weekend and also because it is only a slight detour to get them mailed. But that does not prevent me from making special trips to accommodate the special needs of a buyer. I am very willing and most times able to work with people to get them what they need, when they need it.

As you can see, we do everything possible to makes sure any fish or culture we ship arrives at its destination in the best possible shape. Raising, selling and shipping fish takes time.. my time. It does have a value and there are many other things I enjoy and would do if I was not playing with these fish. So, when people look at the $20 or $30 price on a fish or the $35 I charge for Express shipping they think I am either making a ton of money or ripping them off as I was lately told. What they fail to consider is the time, and expense,  it takes to bring that fish or culture to their doorstep. I enjoy breeding the fish and sharing with other breeders, but I can not nor will I allow it to cost me and the biggest thing in the whole equation is my time. Sure, the physical box may not coast me anything, but as you can see, that box is not free.

August 14, 2011 Posted by | Info You Can Use, Shipping Bettas | , | 2 Comments

Too Many Bettas

So, you got a successful spawn and the fry are developing nicely. They get about 8 to 12 weeks of age and they start squabbling. As you pull males every day and jar them individually your life now becomes busier. Each of those containers will need every other day water changes. As they grow and mature you are now faced with what to do with all those fish. They are fun for a bit.. but hours of water changes will quickly put you in the mood to find homes for your extra fish.

Betta breeders have several options to rehome their fish. Friends and family quickly come to mind. I have given several bettas to friends at work and they are getting a lot of enjoyment out of them. Fish that did not get full half-moon, have some mis coloration or any other fault that would keep them out of the spawn tank or show ring has no effect on bringing joy to others. If your lucky you will have enough friends to give away all your bettas to. But, if your friends are starting to avoid you there are other options.

If you are on good terms with a local pet shop you may see if they want some of your bettas. I have found most of the major chains are not interested. A good relationship with a manager may create a situation where they may work with you.. but don’t count on it. A better place to start are a mom and pop type of shop. They don’t answer to the rules and regs of some of the chains so would be a better option. Pet shops like bright colors. My coppers were pretty.. but did not catch a buyers attention like the blue and greens I was breeding. Muddy and plain colors are not as marketable as the multi colors that show up in spawns. As for pricing.. I don’t care how nice the fish are or how well they are bred, you will be lucky to get $1 a piece for them. Since I breed half-moon and they were not common in the pet shop, the shop put a $10 price on them and they sold.. very quickly. Afer a few orders they raised my price to $3 each since they were able to make more on them than the bettas they were getting. Another thing with payments.. don’t count on cash. Payments are usually in the form of store credit. Being able to get more food and tanks is not too bad.. and my cat got a lot of free food and toys to boot.

My move to Texas disrupted my outlet for bettas. So I started to AquaBid some of the nicer fish. If you are going to be an AquaBid presence you must have a few things going for you or you will not sell much, if anything. First, you do have to breed nice fish. Super Deltas and pet shop types will not sell. It helps if you are an IBC member and are placing consistently in the shows. Else, why would a breeder be interested in your fish?? Second, try to come up with a polished look to present the bettas. I use publisher and created a template that is used over and over to brand my sales. Third.. and this is huge.. PICTURES! You MUST take a quality photo or again, you will not have much success. I prefer to have 2 to 4 shots of each fish, at least one of each side that is well-lit, true to color and high quality. A camera with a macro lens and a lot of patience to get the fish to flare are also needed. Good lighting and construction paper in various shades to set off different colors in the fish are also good to have. I spend an entire day taking photographs, then the next two cropping pictures and creating ads. So much for a weekend off work.. And when the fish sell there is the invoicing, creating an insulated box, packing and shipping.. all consumers of your time. You may think selling a fish for $30 is great money, but when the time to raise then sell the fish plus all the time in water changes not to mention the cost of food are figured.. I don’t think I break even.

As much as Aquabid has helped, it did not get rid of all them. I lucked out with someone local that contacted me thru AquaBid. She sells insurance and visits doctor offices as well as has clients. She came up with the idea of giving away my bettas with her business card attached to them as well as sets up betta bowls in the doctor offices. She comes by every week to change out the water and they all know her by name. It has been a great marketing tool for her and the bettas find good homes. Even the one that got sucked up the siphon sideways and got a crook in his back. He came with a story and someone was thrilled to get him. His only other option was to be destroyed. And, many of my females go out in her fish pond till they can go to another home. This outlet for the fish is unusual but if you are creative you might be able to come up with a unique way like this to rehome  your bettas.

Another option is not so much fun, but at times it is used by betta breeders. Many of us have a large fish-eating fish like an Oscar to handle extra bettas. We named ours Trash. One spawn for fun does not usually need a fish like this.. but a breeder doing several spawns and showing will often have more fish than can be homed and often there are genetic problems like bent spines. So we have a large fish eater to help control the extra bettas. Many buy goldfish or minnows for their Oscars and such.. but we use ours to take care of deformities and the runts that just never seem to do well. If they can be raised to be healthy I have an outlet even for defects.. but some just never thrive. So the Oscar becomes a humane way to quickly end the life.

Creating lots of pretty bettas can be fun, but one needs to be responsible for those lives once created. It is not fair to the fish to sit in dirty water and starve to death. A little creativeness and you can breed bettas for the enjoyment of many.

June 27, 2011 Posted by | Info You Can Use, Not Bettas | , , | 2 Comments

Another lesson learned

Betta fry in BubblenestWoke up today with one of our 1 week old spawns totally gone. There were only about a dozen of them.. but it was a spawn I really wanted. So I tested the water and found the ammonia had gone high enough to be lethal. I usually have large mystery snails to add to the tanks when they get free-swimming.. but right now I only have one. I did get some pond snails last weekend from the local pet shop and added them to the tanks.. but they obviously did not do the job with uneaten food. This was an expensive lesson as it cost me my fry. We will redo the spawn and be more careful with the water in the future. In the mean time I did some water changes on the other spawn tanks. Using some stiff tubing and air hose I sucked up most of the gunk on the bottom and dripped in some more r/o water. Every body else looks good.

In the past I really did not do much to the spawns untill they were a few weeks old. With the new water and set up it looks like I may have to do some partial changes even during the first week. Since they are so small and sensitive at this time I will have to be careful to make sure all things are done gradual. Today I removed about 2/3 of a beanie from each fry tank.. and replace it with new water. Then, several hours later, I did the same thing again. I will try to do some slight changes every other day from now on. Nutritious food and frequent water changes are the best way to have happy healthy bettas with great fins.

November 25, 2010 Posted by | Day 2 Day, Info You Can Use, Spawns, Water Quality | , | Leave a comment

GreatBetta

If you have been reading this blog, you will know I recently purchased a Pineapple Betta from a breeder in Thailand known on AquaBid as GreatBetta. I asked for a female as well and got a great quality fish to breed with the male. I had been watching this breeders fish for a while before deciding to buy from him.. and was impressed with the over all quality I was seeing in fish after fish.

I happened to stumble across pictures of some of his fish on the web and just want to share. To see more of his fish, please check out this link.. GREATBETTA .These pictures are from his photo album. There are 34 pages of beautiful bettas. And, if you want to get one of his bettas for yourself, please check out his actions on AquaBid HERE.

For those of you wondering how difficult it is to import a fish from Thailand.. let me tell you it isn’t. A breeder like GreatBettas  exports fish to the U.S. weekly. After you pay the cost of the fish, you pay an export fee of $5. That’s right.. $5. The fish is sent to the U.S. and are received by a Transhipper. There are several in this country who receive the fish. They then unpack the fish and change their water out for clean, fresh water. The fish will be re-bagged and boxed to send to you. Most fish are sent Express mail for about $35-$42. There is the cost of the shipping as well as insulating the box. If the weather is cool the package will also get a heat pack.

You will want to be there when the fish arrive. Having them sit on a porch in heat or cold is not good for the fish. Although you will be excited to see your new fish, remember the fish is in a stressful situation and coming out of darkness into sudden bright light will increase their stress. Open the box gradually and set the bag in the water the betta will be going into to allow their shipping water to reach the same temp. Open the shipping bag and gradually add their new water to their old to get them used to the new water conditions. Bettas coming from Thailand are used to soft water so really go slow if you have harder water conditions. Allow them to get settled then feed lightly. They have been fasted several days to make the trip to you.

 On occasion the fish will not make the trip and be dead on arrival [DOA]. Should that happen do not open the bag. Take a clear, close up photo of the fish and send a copy to the breeder. Most of them will offer a like replacement or a refund of the cost of the fish. Shipping charges are not refundable. If you are worried about how often that happens.. it is few and far between. These breeders and transhippers ship hundreds of fish a month.. so losses happen.. but not often.

So how much are one of these beauties gonna cost you? On average a male like these will run $30. So to get to the U.S. it will cost you $35. Add roughly another $35 for the Express shipping to you and you have $70 in a fish.. that is not guaranteed to breed. The most economical way to get these fish if you are a breeder is to get several. You can get 4 fish in that box to you for $35.. and only have to pay that once. U.S. breeders charge about the same for a fish and shipping to you.. all there is is that $5 export fee. When you can get fish as exceptional as these.. that $5 is more than worth it!

October 28, 2010 Posted by | Bettas for Sale, Half Moon, Info You Can Use, Shipping Bettas | , , , , , , | Leave a comment