I honestly think the below legislation may herald the death of the wild betta hobby within Australia. At this point in time, I really don't know if I am going to be able to continue to import wild-caught stock from smaller suppliers and breeders overseas without prohibitive costs, or the risk of my fish being killed for batch testing.
I don't want my selection to be limited to Australian bred stock, or wholesale fish of doubtful purity and health. Australia already seems to have some of the toughest regulations in the world, regarding the importation of ornamental fish. Because of this, the hobby is a costly one, and I am wondering just how this is going to impact smaller aquariums in Australia.
For me personally, I am going to be working with only a select few species from within the coccina complex. It often costs close to one-hundred dollars to purchase and import a pair of wild bettas into the country. I wish I had the finances and space to make it feasible to import 2-3 pairs of each coccina complex species into Australia. Sadly, I don't, and choices have to be made. Therefore, I will be trying to import pairs of Betta brownorum, Betta hendra, Betta sp. apiapi, Betta persephone, and Betta sp. cf. rutilans green before March of next year.
I can only hope that this policy does not completely destroy a hobby that I enjoy so greatly.
I've sort of been avoiding posting here as I have not had a very good couple of weeks with my fish. My pair of Betta uberis are sick with what appears to be velvet, and I sadly lost the whole group of fry.
Once again, I have no idea as to why this happened, and once again, I was left questioning my future with these fish. It definitely undermines my confidence as a fish keeper to keep having to face the same challenges over and over. However, I can't see myself giving up on wild bettas any time soon, as there is no other fish in this hobby that comes close to replacing them.
In other news, I've decided it's time to move some of my F1 fish on, as spawning activity has pretty much ceased in my breeding tanks and the tanks themselves are becoming very crowded.
The only problem is, that buyers simply don't want a single fish. What they want, are pairs for breeding, so when I have a surplus of females in one tank, and an excess of males in another, it does make it difficult to move fish on quickly. Never mind that most of the species I keep have a very limited market of buyers to begin with.
The hobby in Australia is only small, especially when compared to places such as Asia, Europe, and the US. We just don't have the population that these countries do. It can become very easy to 'flood' the market with a particular species of fish, and this is why I try to keep my spawn numbers low. I would rather sell my fish privately than hand them off to a fish store or wholesaler. This way I know the quality of care they are provided is top notch, and I am able to talk with the buyers when they come to collect their fish.
My plan is to sell almost all of my F1 Betta hendra and Betta brownorum. At this point in time, I have decided to retain all of my F1 Betta sp. apiapi. However, I will be moving the F0 pair into a tank of their own once I have the space so they can hopefully resume spawning. Perhaps once I have a 'back-up' group of young fish, I will look at selling a sibling pair or two.
There has also been some difficulty with importing my wild pairs from Joty into Australia. My Betta coccina were not available until recently, and the two attempts to import Betta rutilans ended with them DOA in Bangkok. With that said, I believe they may have come in on this latest shipment. I will post an update when I know more. No hobbyist likes to hear that their fish have died in transit, so I am going to be on tenterhooks until I know more.
About a month or two ago, I separated out a pair of F1 Betta sp. cf. rutilans green from the others, and put them into a smaller 'breeding' tank. This pair has somehow managed to successfully spawn in the main tank, and the poor male with his mouthful of eggs was being constantly harassed by his siblings.
To be honest, I never expected this experiment to result in viable fry. Not only were the breeding pair well over a year old (probably closer to 24 months), but past treatments with some rather harsh chemicals made me wonder if they would even be capable of producing fertile eggs. Surprisingly, the very next spawn resulted in fry, as did the several successful spawning attempts that followed.
Because I wanted only a small number of fry to work with, it wasn't long before the pair was moved back to the main tank, and my attention turned to raising the dozen or so fry left behind in the breeding tank.
As you can see from the photos, some of the fry are more developed than others. There is one particularly small fry, who somehow holds its own against older siblings, in spite of not being much bigger than the grindal worms I put in for them.
My main concern was that this group of fry would be infected with oodinium through their parents. However, at this point in time, they seem as physically healthy as any of my other fry, and I doubt it's going to be all that long before they outgrow their current tank.
This species seems to have a particularly aggressive streak, and I'm already seeing aggressive posturing and chasing between some of the bigger fry. Based on my experience with the F1 group, and even the F0 pair, a steady increase in aggressive behaviour is to be expected, particularly as the fish reach sexual maturity.
These are some photographs of my F1 Betta miniopinna and their parents. This pair came from Hermanus Haryanto at the start of the year. Although I do also have a second pair from Joty Atmadjaja.
As these photographs show, this species is very similar in appearance to Betta persephone. They used to be an extremely difficult species to source, but of late, they seem to have made a re-emergence in the hobby.
Admittedly, they are not one of my favourite species from this complex, but they are one that I have been after since I started keeping wild bettas. Their colouring also does make them unique in this complex of predominately red fish.
Personally, I think that the name 'Betta sp. cf. rutilans green' is something of a misnomer. Having kept both these, and the more common Betta rutilans, I believe Betta sp. cf. rutilans green is an entirely distinct species. The difference in not only appearance, but also reproductive methods (mouthbrooding as opposed to bubblenesting), does leave me confused as to why the two seem to currently be considered under the same species banner.
All that aside, readers of this site, will know that I keep a group of this species. These are the offspring of my original pair, which were purchased back in 2011. Currently, I also have a small group of F2 fry, the result of spawning a sibling pair. This is something of an impressive feat, when you consider these fish are upwards of two years - with some individuals now closer to three!
At present, I keep the F1 fish in a 40L tank. Like all members of this complex, they are not a large fish, with mature males measuring around 5cm total length. With that said, these are perhaps the most violent bettas I have owned to date. The males are highly aggressive towards each other - a situation that seems to have only worsened over time.
The original family group, including the F0 pair and about a dozen sub-adult and adult offspring, cohabitated without much issue in a 40L tank. Really, it was not until the original pair died and the F1 males started to reach sexual maturity, that I had problems.
It didn't help that the group have had to spend weeks at a time in a dark, sparsely decorated hospital tank, being treated for a virulent oodinium infection. Not only did this greatly increase stress levels, but the death of several individuals during treatment, seemed to throw the whole group into an orgy of violence. The male in the photo below, is showing relatively minor fin damage. The worst injuries are those done to the gill and head area. Right now, I have a male with one of his operculum almost completely torn off. Another, has a large wound on his head, where the skin underneath is showing through.
I have tried everything I know to decrease aggression. But no matter the size of the tank or density of cover provided, there's been no change. I don't know why it is that the males in this group are so excessively violent, but with an increase in the severity of injuries, and the frequency with which they are occurring, I have decided my only option is to physically separate them.
The plan is to set-up one of my empty 60x30x36cm tanks. The males will be housed in 2L soda bottles (or a container of a similar size), which will be fastened to the inside of the tank with suction caps. These soda bottles will contain a few sprigs of either hydrilla or watersprite to help with water quality, and the water will be kept tinted with IAL. Females will be kept together in the main part of the tank. Unfortunately, space restrictions mean this is the only way I can jar out my males but also keep them warm. Otherwise, I would have removed them from the tank entirely, and given them each larger lodgings.
So if anyone wondered why I so rarely share photos of my Betta sp. cf. rutilans green group compared to my other fish, it is only because in their present condition they don't make for particularly attractive subjects. Hopefully, once given the space to recover, I will be able to provide some more up-to-date photos (the photos in this entry are from earlier this year).
Leading on from my previous post, my pair of Betta uberis successfully spawned yesterday. Based on the female's appearance and behaviour, I was expecting that it would be soon - but perhaps not that soon!
The male still has a nest of eggs this morning, and is doing excellently for a first time father. If all goes well, I should hopefully have some free-swimming Betta uberis fry in the next couple of days.
Back in May, I got a pair of Betta uberis from Joty. They were (and still are), quite small, measuring maybe 3cm total length. However, while the Betta miniopinna pair that arrived at the same time quickly settled in and started spawning, my Betta uberis male spent much of the first couple of weeks here being aggressively dominated by his female. Even if he initiated a fight, he would end up being attacked and chased by the female because he yielded very easily.
My least preferred option, was to temporarily jar the female, leaving the jar in view of the male so he could build up his confidence and aggression levels that way. Preferably though, I wanted to see if there was another way I could encourage my male to become more dominant, in the hope that a change in attitude might result in a spawn.
Basically, what I have done, is provided him with daily flaring sessions using a small, hand-held mirror. Fortunately, my male is very outgoing, and so it was easy enough to lure him over and let him 'discover' this rival male in his territory. The response was immediate and as the days went on, I noticed a shift in his behaviour.
Whereas, before he would hold his ground against the female only fleetingly, after a week or so of flare training, he would hold his position for longer and longer periods of time. In the past week, he has become the dominant fish in the tank, alternating between aggressively pursuing the female, and patrolling his territory.
In recent days, he has also built a nest. With daily flarings and a plentiful supply of live foods (namely mosquito larvae, artemia and grindal worms), the male is definitely showing an increased interest in spawning - an attitude the female seems to be reciprocating. Today she was displaying prominent vertical barring, and the male's aggression was limited to display as he attempted to lure her to the nest.
He still remains very eager to flare at the mirror, and will engage with his reflection for several minutes. This response surprised me, as while most of my males will flare at a mirror, their response is usually much more lackadaisical, missing the ferocity that is displayed by species from within the splendens complex.
I'm hoping that by the end of the month I will have my first successful spawn with this pair. They are simply too nice a pair not to breed from, and it's been such a long time since I've had Betta uberis fry in my tanks.