Basement Bettas

Raising Show Quality Bettas

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.

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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

Spawn Update

5 week old Red bettasAfter a cross-country move, water issues and fish issues we seem to be on track with some breeding. It has been a while since we had an update of what we got growing out and what direction we are going with out breeding. So here goes.. and yes I am insane to have this many going on. On the bright side ya’ll will have lots to choose from on AquaBid.. lol.

Spawn 43 – Metallics: This group is of age and being sold. I sent several to the fall shows and they did well. The females in this spawn are super nice.. they have great spread and good branching. Most are a light minty green of all things. Many have the nice wide dorsal bases we are breeding for but what I like most about the girls is their balance. No slanty or long anal fins! their mother took 2nd place both times she was shown. She had a slight dip in her topline or she may have placed higer. Her form and balance carried through and got stamped on each girl in this spawn. That stamp made a real impression on me. We look hard at the males for form but often times are easier on the females allowing imbalance or less than ideal branching. Many times it isn’t our fault as there are very few good ones for sale and you work with what you have. If you want to raise good bettas you have to get the best girls you can get your hands on. Any one of the girls in this spawn will be an asset to a breeding program. Look for them to be posted soon on AquaBid. The really nice ones will not be cheap.. but they will help get you producing some good females yourself.

The boys in this spawn are all over the place. Whereas the girls were minty green the boys are multi’s with some butterfly type patterns thrown in. This line has huge finnage and great branching. So I like to get some maturity on the boys before making any decisions. With the good branching comes extreme branching heading to rosetail. When you get a tail that branches like crazy it often times is short in length in relation to the other fins. So I watch out for that. I want to see the branching as well as long length. So we wait and watch. The ‘frilly’ ones will head to pet homes as they become apparent. So far I am liking a copper with a white splash on his anal, a couple of green and white marbles, and a tri banded Butterfly that is red, white and blue. Also got several nice double tails. They need maturity too as like to see how well they carry their fins. Most of the doubletails are long-bodied.. good for breeding. I try to stay away from breeding the shorter bodied ones as you lose that long torpedo look a betta is supposed to have.

Spawn 44 – metallics [8/6/11]: Yeah, I know.. more metallics. Same female as above spawn crossed with a royal and white from a fellow breeder, Karenc. The female was minty green with some red wash and we have the royal dad. I EXPECTED royal and green with red wash or marbling. What I GOT is a bunch of light bodied fish. A flash light shined on them shows very light blue and green.. pastels. Yeck! Form wise they are looking good. I was looking to cross in the good solid form Karen has in her fish with that nicely balanced female and it appears I will have sone nice look fish. I figured I would have to clean up the color a bit in the next generations but the pastels are kinda throwing me for a loop. I can cross this spawn to the other for a slight outcross but not sure what the pastel is going to do in my goal for shiny dark blue and green fish.

Spawn 45 – Grizzle [8/25/11] Dad was blue bodied with a grizzle patterned blue and yellow fins. Female was yellow bodied with blue speckles [from spawn 27] Female was colored right but could be much better in form. She was shorter bodied and not 180. She had good branching but was more a super delta spread. I may lose the  halfmoon spread in this cross but this spawn was after a color. I am trying to create blue and yellow marbles and grizzles. I love the two colors together so trying to see if I can get a yellow body with the blue marble/grizzle pattern on top. This is my F1. At about 8 weeks of age I already have some males in the barracks. One is lavender with yellow fins.. the rest are speckled. They really are too young to tell what color they will be, but so far the form on the boys does not appear half bad. They are shaped a bit different from my other fish so will see how their finnage develops out. For females I appear to have some solid blues and speckles on others. I am watching to see if their mother stamps them with the less then 180 spread.

Spawn 46 – Red and Black: Crossed a red female with one of my black males and have 2 fish. They are still small and one appears to be red. I was curious if the black would improve the red or the red might improve the black. With only 2 fish will not see much. May try again another day.

Steel Halfmoon BettaSpawn 47 – Steel x Royal [9/3/11] A royal DT daughter of this male pictured was crossed to a very nicely balanced steel male. He does have some red wash but form wise he is great. He has the same type dorsal and tail and the anal is shorter and more in balance. I should get royals and steels, hopefully with big full dorsals and nice balance. Some will probably have red wash.. but can work that out with some solid form. But, see spawn 44 about what I SHOULD get… lol. Fingers crossed no more pastels! I have my metallics I am breeding towards shiny blue and green, but I also want the traditional iridescent colors of royal and steel-blue as well as green and turquoise. These guys are the cross for that.

Spawn 48 – Blue x blue/yellow [9/7/11]: Same male I used for the grizzle spawn above crossed to a royal female with yellow fins. Don’t know what I am looking for here.. bi colors as well as a cross for the marble/grizzles above with better form. She is typier.. longer bodied, anal in proportion, good spread and branching. If I need to improve form for spawn 45 I will have some of the same genetic mater with both of them having the same dad.

Spawn 49 – Red Marble [9/14/11] OK.. I got on AquaBid and totally lost my mind the end of August. The problem is that box from the transshipper to my house. I think it is expensive so I make sure it is not empty. That means when I import I usually do it four fish at a time. This splashy pattern really caught my eye and I actually had a female colored like this I could not get rid of because I though it was too cool. So.. bought this boy and am hoping for red and white marbles. I do like the Cambodian body with the red marble pattern in the fins. He has long nice finnage so hoping for interesting fish for the marble and form and finnage classes. This is a really HUGE spawn and I am going to be in real trouble if even 1/4 are males.. gonna have to keep fish moving through the barracks.

Spawn 50 – Reds [9/14/11] This red boy started they buying binge. I sweet talked Karen McAuley into selling me a pair of her reds. The female [Chili] shredded her brother [Cowboy]. He got put in isolation to grow his fins out and to build his betta ego back up. I wanted reds so I imported one.. and he did nothing but hang out with Chili. So, I bought this guy.. and three more fish to fill that box. I crossed him to Miss Chili and got a very large spawn that are just starting to color up. I need to get some pics as they color up down the back and in their faces. This male had great form and so does Miss Chili. I have great expectations for this spawn producing some very nice reds and Cambodians. I would prefer a darker body but for my first red spawn, and my 50th spawn.. I am delighted.

Spawn 51 – Yellow x Orange [9/14/11:] I had a few yellows crop up in my breeding so decided to find a nice yellow male to breed them to. The male I wanted I got out bid at about $85.. so went and bought this one from the same breeder. Over halfmoon, good color and balance I awaited the shipment. As you can see by the spawn dated I got that shipment and all three males went into spawn tanks.. and I got spawns on the same day. My yellow females were not ready so I put him with a very nice orange female I have. She has nice form and I’m thinking orange and yellow fry. They are coloring up like the reds.. fins and along the back.. and I do appear to have some yellow and [fingers crossed] orange. The tank is a new one set up and I do not have a real light over it so I may actually have red instead of the orange. Should have better lighting soon. The female I had up for auction for a few days.. and the more I looked at her the more I decided I did not want to sell.. so I pulled her. She will be back up for auction when these guys [yet another large spawn] get a little bigger.

Spawn 52 – Steel x Royal [9/20/11] Sibling offspring of that nice steel male above. Male is like dad but has a little shorter anal giving better balance and the female is a royal double tail. She is shorter bodied than I like but it was a very small spawn ans I really wanted to keep the line going. I will have the related spawn for crossing to if needed for longer bodies. Again, hoping for royal blue and steel, this time with no red wash as both these fish have clean color. I just pulled the male whem I got home this evening.

Spawn 53 – Red [10/4/11]: Cowboy finally got his fins and attitude back so I put him back in with his sister. This time I put her in with a chimney I made from cutting the top and bottom off a 2 liter soda bottle. Last time she was flirty and in the mood and a few hours later he was a mess. This time was going to keep an eye on them and make sure he could hold his own. When she appeared agreeable [remember she has been bred before at this time] I turned her lose and he right quick put her in her place. I think I had a spawn later that evening. this is a sibling cross and I will have some reds to cross into the others.. both sharing same mother.

Spawn 54 – Steel x Metallic Green [10/3/11]: Male is sibling to the royal with great form above [spawn 47]. This boy has the same great form and balance with a bit broader and fuller dorsal. He too has a bit of red wash that will need worked out of the line. Female was a very nice metallic green from the first spawn listed. I spawned her then sent her to the Connecticut show and she placed 2nd. She too has the wider dorsal base, great branching and spread and very nice sharp edges on her tail. I am expecting some very good form on these fish. I figure I will have some patterned fish with the red wash and marble the metallics carry. All I need is a few good ones and we will improve the color in the next few generations. My metallic males have that super branching and at times do not get enough length on their tails, This male has good branching and nice long length. So I am hoping to bring that balance to my metallic males.

Spawn 55 Steel x Metallic Green [0/9/11]: more metallics. A repeat of the spawn above except with a sibling female. She is just as balanced, has the wider dorsal base and a bit longer fins. Remember I am wanting more length of the tails in my metallics. Similar breeding to allow some crossing of the best of each.

As you can see I have a LOT of fish coming. Some of them will mature up before the shows and will be offered for sale. We will pick the best for breeding and AquaBid and the rest will end up as beautiful pets. We are working on a web site that will tie into our auctions and other very nice fish offered for sale by top breeders. Look for that in the coming months as well. Hope ya’ll are needing fish.. soon!

 

October 21, 2011 Posted by | Our Breeding, Spawns | | Leave a comment

Reviving Micro Worm Cultures

Culture going bad.

I have had my various micro worm [ micro, banana, walter ] cultures for three years. They have come through neglect and a move to Texas during the summer. Many times I thought they were too far gone to recover yet they came back productive as ever. Even if they get funky and seem gone, they often can be brought back to producing high numbers of edible worms for your fry in a day or two. An excellent first food, keeping at least one of these cultures on hand will get your fry off to a good start. So here is what I do to maintain and revive a bad culture.

Top scraped to the side and rest removed.

Even if I do not have fry to feed I try to scrape out [harvest] the worms crawling up the sides at least every other day or so. I am not sure how long they live, but as quickly as they multiply I assume their life cycle is not long. By removing the crawling worms you are removing worms that may die off and foul the batch.. at least that is my thinking. And, when I do that the culture seems to stay good longer. On average I get a week before the culture needs to be refreshed. I have stretched it to ten days, on occasion two weeks and still have been able to keep the cultures going strong.

Oatmeal ready to be mixed with water.

Once a week I scrape the top with all the worms off to the side. All the rest is removed and disposed of. I put it into an old Wal-Mart bag and tie it off when I put it in the trash.. not for the smell but because I don’t like the goop. If the stuff is particularly dark and funky, I just find a good area and scrape it to the side and discard the rest.

Once the old stuff is removed I add some oatmeal I have run through a coffee grinder. I try to add enough to make the bedding about ½” deep. You will get a feel for it over time. If you get too much they will be fine, and not enough you can just add more. To the powdered oatmeal I add some water and stir to make a fairly firm yet slightly runny mix. I mix this off to the side away from the worms I scraped off earlier. One I get everything mixed to the right consistency I stir in the worms and shake some yeast on the top. I also take some time to rinse the lid and will take a paper towel and wipe off the rim and sides of the container. I then put the worms aside to grow.

Yeast sprinkled on top.

I have found my worms do real well on top of the strip lights I use on my 30 gal tanks. They do not seem to mind and actually like the warmth generated by the light. Within a few hours of redoing the cultures you should see lots of worms starting to climb the sides. By the next day they should once again cover the sides of your container. If you culture has been really neglected it may take a bit longer to come back, but should still produce some harvestable worms with in 24 hours.

This is what has been working for me for three years now. I have heard of using other than oatmeal for the growing medium and you are free to experiment and choose what works best for you.  As long as a few worms remain alive, these cultures can be continuously brought back to producing high numbers of edible food for your young fish.

September 21, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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

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

Culturing Daphnia

Daphnia makes a great live food for bettas. I have had success and failure with keeping cultures going. When I was in Ohio I had a tank by a window that produced a ton of green water. Every other day water changes produced plenty of food for my daphnia. Here in Texas I seem to have difficulty keeping the green water supply going so have been having issues keeping my daphnia culture going. So I have done some searching on the net to see what others do to keep their daphnia going.

Many people feed the daphnia dry yeast. It is dissolved in water and dropped sparingly into the daphnia container, The daphnia eat the cloud of yeast. You will need to watch not to overfeed so the culture does not crash. Other suggestions are a cup of manure in a 5 gallon pail of green water with a 50 watt light bulb over the top. The daphnia eat the bacteria that grow from the manure and whatever green algae they can find.

Several places on the net also recommended adding calcium for the daphnia shells. A nylon bag  filled with some crushed coral or something similar will increase and buffer the  ph and supply the calcium for their shells. Without adequate levels they will reproduce sexually instead of asexually and produce resting eggs instead of living young.

A fellow betta breeder uses lettuce straight into the daphnia container. As it disintegrates the bacteria that forms on it feeds the daphnia. This has kept a small amount of daphnia harvestable on a regular basis.

Daphnia are great foods.. if you can figure out how to keep a culture going you will have some happy bettas.

 


				
                

June 11, 2011 Posted by | Live Foods | , , | Leave a comment