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.

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

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

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

Brown Algae and Silicates

 Just when you think you have something figured out, a new twist appears. The move to Texas brought with it water issues. If you have not read previous posts, we had 12 spawns fail. Either the male ate the eggs or fry and the young never got free-swimming if they made it past dad. Instead of getting horizontal and growing they spent days twirling up from the bottom of the tank till they eventually died. It was finally determined that there was something wrong with the water.

We got a reverse osmosis unit and started mixing the r/o water with 25%  tap water run through peat. Everything was working well raising the fish. Since I was going through so much water I decided to use more of the tap water and made the mix 50/50. Within a short period of time I get an over abundance of brown algae. I had barracks running for 6 months and did not have a problem, then over night I had a mess. I headed to the internet and found this type of algae thrives on silicates. Some one had suggested a fine particle might be causing problems with the fry when they became free-swimming and it almost makes sense.

 I went back to a 25% mix instead of 50/50 and spent the next several days scrubbing the barracks. The algae became reduced but I really could not get rid of it all together. So, I have finally given up and now use 100% reverse osmosis with ro right by Kent to add back in minerals to the water. The change in water has pretty much gotten rid of the algae and using the Kent ro right has improved the health and growth of my plants. So far I am happy with the results. The next thing on my agenda to improve my water will be a uv sterilizer to get rid of parasites and disease.

Photo from HERE.

April 21, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized, Water Quality | , , | Leave a comment

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

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

Filtering through Peat

While we are still looking into reverse osmosis units, we are filtering through peat. It did take a while to get the Canadian peat that was recommended. The stuff I was finding at Lowe’s was a fluffy peat mix that was not like the compressed and finely shredded stuff I was looking for. A local garden center where my mother lives was able to provide me a bale of what I needed. I got 1 cubic foot and it was about $10. A bit more expensive than the 2.5 cubic bale of stuff from Lowe’s that cost me $6.

To make sure I was on the right track, I rigged up a milk jug with a   in the bottom. Over that I put some coffee filters then filled the jug up with peat. I then hung it over the trash can I use for water storage with an ‘S’ hook and put my kitchen sprayer into it and started the water. The peat started to swell and over flow the container. So, I ended up removing about half the contents of peat as it continued to swell. Eventually I got an amount of peat that was staying in the container and I filled up about 1/3 of the trash can.. about 10 gallons. It took much longer than just running water into the container as the hole was not big enough to handle the full volume of water. But a test of the water showed much lower GH and KE readings.. as well as lowered ph. So, we were on the right track.

A trip to the grocery store and I picked up a bucket. I drilled several holes in the bottom and once again put some coffee filters over the holes. On top of that I put some filter pads I inherited from my brother and then a 3-4” layer of wet peat. I needed a way to hold the container over the trash can so used an old chair and lined up the holes with the spaces in the back of the chair. Everything worked but once again, the volume of water coming out of the container was too slow. I am thinking the coffee filters really slow down the water that filters through. My next plan will be to remove the filters and just use a good layer of filter floss above the holes. I want water to run through fairly quick but not have the particles of peat in the water. Again, a test of the water showed lower levels of ph, gh and kh.

Over time I plan on using proportionately more of the peat filtered water in my water changes. I am hoping to lower the ph over the course of a few weeks to a much lower level. My fry tanks are already using the softer water.. and I will continue to keep them topped off with it. It really sucks to have to jack with water this much to enjoy your fish. But to get good spawns and the perfect fins needed to show.. it is a necessity. My goal is to use 1/3 tap water, 1/3 peat filtered and 1/3 reverse osmosis when I get it. I don’t like the idea of wasting all the water the r/o units do.. for every 25 gallons you get you put 75 gallons down the drain. And, pure r/o needs to have SOME minerals added back in for the health of the fish. My water diluted down I am hoping will be fine. Using some of the peat filtered will give me lower ph, gh, and kh without the waste. Will keep you updated as I get it worked out.

Edited to add: My original values were Ph 8.1; GH 358 ppm; KH 286 ppm. Running the same water through the peat gave me readings of Ph 7.2; GH 232 and KH 179. Not bad for a quick fix.

I removed the coffee filters and the water did flow through a lot faster and I did not lose any time filling the trash can through peat over just running the water into the trash can. Still looking at reverse osmosis units…

September 16, 2010 Posted by | Fish Room, Info You Can Use, Water Quality | , , , , | 4 Comments