I have to apologise for the lack of new posts. Unfortunately, Weebly seems to be loading incredibly slow on my computer, if it even loads at all. As such this has made it difficult to post new material. However, since Weebly presently seems to be behaving itself, I'm hoping to put together a post later today.
Today my three new pairs of Betta sp. apiapi and two new pairs of Betta miniopinna arrived safely on my doorstep. As always, Jodi-Lea did an excellent job getting them to me without any issues. Likewise, the fish came from Joty, and the quality is top notch as always. Hopefully I can have some photos to share in the next few days.
I got word today that the five pairs I had imported (three pairs of Betta sp. apiapi and two pairs of Betta miniopinna) have completed their week long 'holiday' in quarantine, and will be shipped out to me on Monday. They should arrive at my house Tuesday, which means I have a lot of work ahead of me tomorrow getting their tanks ready!
While my B. livida are one of the most beautiful species in my fish room, they are also one of the hardest to photograph. I only managed two photos of my Betta livida female before the male emerged from the back of the tank and chased her off.
I had something of a disastrous end to my fish keeping year. Due to a tragic error on my part, I lost my entire group of Betta sp. apiapi. This was one of the hardest losses I have had to face in my entire time in this hobby, and it was further compounded by the unexpected loss of my Betta miniopinna group shortly after.
Fortunately, I was able to purhase three pairs of Betta sp. apiapi and two pairs of Betta miniopinna not long after losing both groups. There was a shipment recently into Australia, and I'm not certain whether my fish were on it. However, I'm trying not to get too excited, as DOAs and deaths in quarantine, have been an issue for me in recent shipments.
Because of the new laws that may potentially be coming into effect in March this year, I am trying to import as many coccina complex species as I can afford, just in case I will not be able to do so in the future. I'm definitely hoping to include a pair of Betta brownorum in the February shipment, but am still debating on what others I want to bring in. I just wish the whole process wasn't as expensive as it was. Once you add import fees at $22 a fish, and the additional cost of local postage, it becomes quite the costly business.
Turning back to my own fish, I have fry from my Betta coccina, Betta livida, Betta rutilans, Betta uberis, and Betta brownorum pairs. I'm particularly interested in the fry from my Betta brownorum pair, as they are from an F0xF1 cross. My main focus for this species, is on retaining the characteristic lateral spot, as this was something of an issue in the F1 offspring. I didn't have the intention to breed my Betta uberis pair, but it seems like a small number of fry are eking out a living alongside their parents so I've been helping them along with freshly hatched artemia.
With the start of the new year, comes some changes in my fish room. For species that are especially rare, or more difficult to acquire, I will now be separating out the breeding pair from the main tank once I get 4-5 successful spawns. I'm still working on the details, but the plan is to house my adult fish separately in 8L tanks, unless they are needed for breeding. Not only will this hopefully prevent the loss of a whole group or species of fish if something goes wrong, but it will also allow me to keep a better record of the ages and growth rates of my fry. At the moment, I don't even know the average length of time it takes for my fry to reach sexual maturity.
Plans for the immediate future, include purchasing and installing a third rack system that will hopefully be able to house a further 12 tanks. More importantly, I also want to improve the way in which I currently perform water changes and maintenance on my tanks, so as to lessen the risk of me transferring pathogens from one tank to another. It's no use purchasing new fish if my current methods are only going to make them sick.
Other than that, I realise it's been about two years I first started this blog. Sometimes it can be difficult to find inspiration, and sometimes my fish refuse to cooperate for photos, but as long as there are people reading, I will continue doing my best to remain an active posting presence.
Personally, when it comes to choosing the best substrate for my wild bettas, I want a substrate that is either inert, or has a softening effect on my water. It should have added nutrients to promote plant growth, and come in a range of natural colours, preferably in medium or dark tones. As I only use a thin layer of substrate in each tank, and a 9L bag of substrate can last me for some time, cost is rarely something I consider, although it obviously can't be too exorbitantly priced.
In 2015, my two favourite substrates for my wild bettas remain ADA aqua soil and peat moss. I like ADA aquasoil because it looks very natural, comes in a range of colours, doesn't increase the pH or water hardness, and provides nutrients to my plants. The only downside is probably its price as it costs around $40-50 (plus shipping) for a 9L bag.
With that said, there are dozens of brands of aqua soil available to hobbyists, so I assume that there are cheaper options out there. I personally go with ADA because it's a trusted brand, has a proven track record when it comes to plant growth, and I like the range of colours it comes in.
One downside to aqua soils (particularly ADA) is that some will release large amount of ammonia. I think ADA Amazonia is one of the worst and I recorded 8ppm of ammonia when I used it in one of my tanks. Even though at a low pH ammonia becomes much less toxic, I still feel it is not healthy for fish to be exposed to it for extended periods of time.
Peat moss was what I used before aqua soil. I would simply boil up some peat, release several handfuls into the water, and then give it time to settle on the bottom of the tank. The benefits of peat moss for me, are its dark colour, and its acidifying effect on water. Unfortunately, it can also make a mess when disturbed (the main reason I don't use it as much now), and there are environmental concerns in regards to its harvest, which I have touched on before in this blog.
However, in spite of its drawbacks, I still feel peat moss has its place in my fish room. Nowadays, I use it more commonly as a substrate in grow-outs to promote infusoria, and in tanks housing individual adults where I'm not going to be netting or removing fish on a frequent basis.
As always, this is only my personal opinion. I have seen hobbyists using a wide range of substrates in their wild betta tanks and still having great looking fish and breeding success. It really all comes down to what you and your fish are most comfortable with.