Culling (in this case I mean killing) is the unfortunate downside to breeding bettas. There are many different reasons for culling, and each breeder has their own opinions on when to cull and why.
Some breeders use culling as a means of population control or to remove fish that are just not up to scratch. For others, culling otherwise healthy fish for purely cosmetic purposes is all but blasphemy.
I personally only cull fry that are either suffering from physical deformities or are failing to thrive. In the past I let my fry grow out alongside their parents and so only the strongest tended to survive. Those that were slow or weak were picked off pretty quickly by their siblings or were simply out-competed once they became free-swimming.
However, now that I am rearing fry in proper grow-outs, the undersized fry and fry with mobility issues are no longer being culled through predation/competition. This leaves me with a hard decision to make. Do I cater to these fry and hope that they get better, or do I cull them and focus my attention on the strongest of the group?
At the moment I seem to be facing a recurring battle with ich in most of my grow-outs. Therefore, I am going to cull all but the biggest and healthiest of the fry. I figure they have the best chances of survival through the next several weeks of treatment, and I am concerned the weaker runts may be more susceptible to becoming re-infected.
Making the decision to cull is never pleasant, but I feel that it is part and parcel of being a responsible breeder. In the wild generally only the strongest fish would survive to pass on their genes, and so it doesn't make sense to me to pass on inferior fish that may be allowed to breed once in the hands of their new owners.
If we are going to conserve these rarer species, we must not do them the disservice of introducing inferior genetics into an already limited gene pool. That to me, is not in keeping with the best interests of these fish.
I've decided to tear down the tank my group of Betta persephone are in, and replace it with a 16 gallon one. This way I will be able to provide more areas of cover along the bottom because of the smaller footprint.
I will also be able to move a couple of my grow-outs back onto my main rack because there will be an additional foot of space to work with.
I have several pieces of Gold Vine wood that I purchased on the weekend specifically for this tank. I like this particular wood because its shape allows for plenty of natural hiding places for fish. The only downside is that being a light wood, it takes a while to sink. I am now basically waiting on the wood to become fully waterlogged and then I can start.
The whole thing will probably take a couple of days simply because I don't want to stress my fish out. I'm hoping that in the near future if I can shift a few pairs of Betta burdigala, I can purchase some aquasoil, watersprite and amazon frogbit to use in this tank.
This grow-out contains a mix of Betta burdigala, Betta uberis and Betta hendra fry. I never meant to house them all together, but when they were still small, I ran out of heaters and tanks and so needed to condense some of my grow-outs into one.
Unfortunately, now that they are bigger and there isn't much cover in the tank, I have decided it is time to separate the hendra into one tank, and the uberis and burdigala fry into another. However, anyone who has moved fry of this size, knows that this is easier said than done. Luckily, my hendra fry have a quite prominent gold spot on their head so it isn't difficult to tell them apart. But when this number of fry see the scoop I use to catch them, and start to panic, it can be a little tricky to get the right fish into the right tank.
For now though, no one is going anywhere. Most of the fry in this tank are infected with ich, so I will be dealing with this before they make the move.
Since it took me a couple of hours to catch and move the hendra fry into this tank in the first place (they were a lot slower then), I am wagering I am going to have to set aside a whole afternoon in which to do it.
Sometimes dealing with all these fry and grow-out tanks, makes me wish my pairs would practice abstinence more often!
I was always under the assumption that one of the main differences between a true Betta burdigala, and the very similar Betta uberis, is that the latter may or may not have the presence of a lateral spot, while the former will never display one.
Furthermore, on the species profile page for Betta burdigala, Seriouslyfish.com has written this:
In addition it can be differentiated from B. uberis by the following characters: absence of iridescent green mid-lateral body patch in males (vs. of presence, but not always).
I have two pairs of burdigala. One pair is captive-bred, while the other is supposedly wild-caught. None of the fish in either pair display a lateral spot. The only real difference between them, is that the wild-caught pair are much more subdued in their colouration compared to their captive bred counterparts.
Both pairs have spawned. Both pairs have fry, juveniles and sub-adult offspring. Yet in many of these offspring (especially the more brightly coloured young males), I have noticed the development of a lateral spot.
I have read in a couple of places that fish sold as burdigala 'kubu', may actually be Betta uberis instead. However, I have a pair of Betta uberis from Hermanus, and there is marked differences between them and my two pairs of burdigala.
I have noticed that the spot seems to start to fade as the fish ages. I do wonder, if perhaps this is just a concentration of pigmentation that occurs when the juvenile first starts to show the adult colouration. Indeed, with my uberis sub-adults, I can still make out the lateral spot quite clearly, while I cannot on the burdigala of similar age and size.
I did try reading the SeriouslyFish entry on how to distinguish between the two species, but honestly I got lost somewhere between 'pre-dorsal' and 'post-dorsal'.
I am just hoping that what I have is truly Betta burdigala. It would be disappointing to discover that I actually have a different species altogether.
I have always had difficulty with properly sexing my wild bettas, particularly fish from the coccina group.
In some of the species, the differences between the genders is obvious, but there are other species such as my Betta sp. cf. rutilans green, where the differences are much more subtle. I could probably spend all day comparing my rutilans and still get it wrong.
It's like when I read articles on how to distinguish between closely related species, and there is mention of counting rays and looking at scales. I sit there wondering how on earth these people are getting their fish to stay still long enough to even get to the 'greater snout length' stage. I have to cram my fish full of blackworms so they are too heavy to swim away if I want to get photos of anything more than their retreating backsides.
Of late, I have been using ventrals to guess the genders of my juveniles. I have found that even from a young age, males will show much fuller ventrals than the females, whose ventrals are generally fuller near the body before tapering down to a very fine point.
I also compare the fin sizes of fish that are of a similar age. The above female, is roughly the same age as her two brothers, both of which are already displaying fins that are much larger than hers. Apart from that, she also has a shorter, and much straighter anal fin than her two brothers, and visibly blander colouration.
I have come to realise that simply looking for an ovipositor is a poor way of sexing the coccina group species. Most of my males show 'false' ovipositors (even my mature males) and even with a bright torch, the fish are too dark to properly spot ovaries.
Fortunately, I have found that appearance tends to be fairly uniform amongst the juveniles, so that does make comparisons between individuals a lot easier because there is little variation to throw me off.
So far, I do have to say that I think I am improving with distinguishing between the male and female juveniles. Unfortunately, while it is easy to pick out the males even when still very young, I do still struggle with telling the difference between a male that hasn't quite sprouted yet, and a female.
Hopefully, as I start breeding and raising more fry, the process will get easier. Otherwise, I am going to have to wait until my fish are literally spawning before I can sell them as guaranteed pairs!
Currently doing some site 'renovations'. Changes are mostly cosmetic, although I will be organising and re-doing some of the articles.
I thought I would cover a topic that most wild betta keepers would be familiar with. I'm sure there are more than a few of us out there, who have lost fish to jumping. I think a lot of people don't realise just how small a gap some of these wild bettas can squeeze themselves through, until it happens to them.
As I have stated countless times, I keep predominately coccina complex species. However, in the past I did dabble with members of the unimaculata complex and I do currently own a group of B. unimaculata.
Based on my experiences, I found this complex is the absolute worst at getting out of their tanks.
I have lost an ideii male and more than a handful of unimaculata to jumping. This was even with a cling wrap cover over the tops of the tanks.
They are just such big, strong fish that they can push through the cling wrap if it is not 100% stuck down. Therefore, nowadays I use cling wrap with a heavy glass cover on top, to make sure that no one is going to get through.
I have also lost quite a few of my coccina complex species through jumping. Mostly this was either newly purchased fish who were still settling in and quick to startle, or juveniles who for some reason or another decided to commit mass suicide the one time I left their tank uncovered.
It is a horrible way to lose a fish, as it is almost 100% preventable. I still can't believe how fortunate I was that none of my coccina or rutilans jumped out when I first had them and their tanks were left uncovered.
While some people use plants at the surface, or drop the water level down to discourage jumping, there is still always the risk that one day the fish will spook and go up and out.
For me personally, it is just not worth the risk. While it is time-consuming to have to put new cling wrap on every water change, the benefits far outweigh any annoyance and I have not had a single fatality among my clarets since I started using it on their tanks.
One of the novelties of wild bettas, is the ability to (with most species) house male and females together. Often the most difficult part of spawning domesticated B. splendens, is the actual introduction between the male and female. With wild bettas, you do not usually have to worry about this step because the pair share a tank and initiate spawning of their own accord.
This however, does not always mean a peaceful cohabitation. Indeed, I have found that aggression levels vary wildly based on the individual fish involved. Like nearly everything with these fish, there are no hard or fast rules.
Some of my pairs are quite tolerant of each other's presence and only spar during courtship. This includes my wild-caught burdigala pair, as well as my B. hendra pair. On the other hand, some of my males and females regularly rip into each other whether they intend on spawning or not. The worst offenders by far, are my captive bred B. burdigala pair.
Every single adult fish in that tank (three females and a male) have damage of some sort to their fins. The original female is extremely hostile towards the male at times, and this reaches a sort of violent climax right before they spawn. I long ago gave up on the hope that my male would ever fully grow back his fins. He is destined to go through life looking like a fighter from a Rocky Balboa film.
I have seen it mentioned that a lower temperature can lessen conspecific aggression, and I did seem to see less aggression from my B. brownorum pair when I brought the temperature down.
However, I have reached a far simpler conclusion.
Bettas are just jerks.
They are a feisty fish with an oversized attitude, and that is exactly why I keep them.
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, I currently keep and breed a number of species from the coccina complex.