A few months back, I expressed my disappointment in regards to the small number of offspring produced by my wild-caught Betta livida pair. With tougher import laws in effect, and very few if any, hobbyists in Australia working with this species, there was the real risk that I could lose this species from my fish room. Therefore, spurred into action, I set about separating the pair out for a second breeding attempt.
This time it seemed luck was on my side, with my pair producing a much greater number of offspring than they had done previously. All up, I was left with between thirty to forty juveniles to work with. Because not all males display the iridescent green blotch (as shown on the fish in the above photo), it can be difficult to distinguish between females and young males until the fins are at a later stage of development. So while there are some very obvious males, there are more than a few fish of ambiguous sex, and at this point, it's very much a waiting game.
For those curious about the breeding tank set-up, I used a 30x30x30cm cube. While this was smaller than I would have preferred (mature Betta livida are quite large), they spawned much more frequently in the cube than in their previous tank. As in all my tanks, the substrate used is ADA Malaya. Filtration is a sponge filter turned down to a slow trickle, and the heater is set at around 26 degrees Celsius. Unfortunately, due to a lack of testing equipment, I can't provide exact parameters, but Melbourne tap water has a very low carbonate hardness, and from what I've read, quite a low level of TDS.
One difference with this tank, and other tanks in my fish room, is that the water was almost black with tannins, which had leeched out from the two hollow logs added as potential nesting sites. While my Betta livida pair seemed more interested in hiding in the logs than spawning in them, I'd never seen my pair as vibrantly coloured as they were in this coffee coloured water. Unfortunately over time, the effect has dissipated, and now the water is closer in colour to weak tea.
Obviously, the main disadvantage to a smaller tank, is that the juveniles are very quickly outgrowing it. So while I personally dread moving young fish, a move to a larger grow-out tank is definitely in the immediate future for this group.
Back in 2015, I introduced 'Zig-Zag', a deformed Betta brownorum juvenile from an F0 x F1 spawning. As a fry, his spine was so crooked I thought he would die as I couldn't see how his internal organs could function. However, not only did Zig-Zag survive, he thrived. More surprisingly, was that over time his spine has straightened, leaving only a slight indentation in front of his dorsal fin as you can see below.
Sadly, having lost his spawn sibling quite recently, Zig-Zag is now the only fish in my fish room descended from my previous Betta brownorum pair. What's more of a shame is the fact that my current pair don't seem to be throwing that characteristic lateral blotch on any of their offspring.
Below, is a 40 litre tank that contains a group of Betta coccina. To many hobbyists, I'm sure this tank looks like it's in dire need of a trim, but for a tank housing coccina complex species, it's close to perfect (admittedly I would like the water a shade or two darker).
These plants not only remove excess nutrients from the water column, but also provide valuable areas of cover, break up lines of sight, and encourage the growth of infusoria. All of which are important when breeding a territorial, and sometimes intensely aggressive, species of fish.
Many hobbyists only witness the true beauty of their wilds during courtship and spawning. With my planted tanks, I see it everyday. My fish are brilliantly coloured, and brimming with confidence in these set-ups. They don't need to feel threatened, because there is enough plant mass that they are safe from potential predators or aggressive conspecifics.
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, I currently keep and breed a number of species from the coccina complex.