With all the ups and downs in my fish room over the past couple of months, I have consolidated a new list of goals I would like to achieve before the end of the year. My parents would most likely want to see 'get another job' or 'enrol in university' somewhere on there, but since that really isn't fish related I think it can be omitted.
One goal that has remained the same since I last posted about this topic in April, is the following:
At the moment, I don't want to go too overboard with tanks as I will eventually have to move everything downstairs.
However, there have also been a lot of wild species available recently and so I don't want to miss out on the opportunity of sourcing a few additional pairs.
Back in 2011, I ordered a pair of Betta rutilans from Jodi-Lea of Fishchick Aquatics. What I got, was a pair of fish that looked identical to the male pictured below. Having never owned this species before, I didn't realise mine were different from most of the examples of Betta rutilans out there.
Apparently the name of this species basically means 'being red'. If you do a quick search on Google, you will find most of the Betta rutilans pictured are a rich red in colour, with limited iridescence.
As you can see from the picture above, the only thing red on my fish, are their fins. The rest of the body is covered in iridescent green scales, with some of this iridescence carrying through to the fins.
Another abnormality is the method in which my Betta rutilans male chose to incubate his eggs.
This species is commonly accepted as a bubblenester as are all within this complex. However, my male never made a bubblenest the entire time I owned him. Instead, he would incubate the eggs and fry in his mouth in a manner not all that dissimilar to a mouthbrooding species such as Betta unimaculata.
It was not really until I purchased a 'standard' male Betta rutilans (pictured above), that I could appreciate the differences between them. The colouration and body shape is markedly different, and as for the mouthbrooding, I hope to spawn a sibling pair from my original male in the near future to try and discern whether this is an environmental or genetic trait.
I do wonder whether Betta sp. cf. rutilans green should be classed as a rutilans at all. It seems an entirely different species and it would be great if someday it could be appropriately described.
Of course this means I have now added a pair of 'standard' Betta rutilans to my list of fish I would like to purchase in the not so distant future.
Betta uberis, is one of my favourite species from the coccina complex. The males are simply magnificent when in full display, with their sail fin dorsals and spectacular green iridescence. The females have slightly more subdued colouring, but display quite nicely during courtship.
Like all members of this complex, Betta uberis is a small fish, with fully mature specimens measuring around 4cm total length. Females usually do not grow as big as the males, and the sexes are easily told apart. I could sex my juveniles once their adult colouration developed without much difficulty.
Based on my personal experience, the males of this species (particularly dominant individuals) can be highly aggressive towards each other, and so I would advise a minimum tank size of 40 litres if one plans on housing multiple males together.
I have not found these fish particularly difficult to spawn. If provided with an appropriate tank environment and a diet rich in live foods, they will prove quite prolific, spawning with astounding frequency.
Like most fish from this complex, I find the healthiest fry are those that are reared alongside the adults. The parents usually do not bother the fry, though predation will occur from older siblings.
One of the more commonly available species from this complex, this should not detract from its beauty. Very similar to Betta burdigala in appearance, Betta uberis is a species I think anyone who is interested in the coccina group of betta should try at least once.
Yesterday, I decided to move my group of Betta persephone into a different tank and a different place on my fish rack. A couple hours later and I had achieved my goal, though the cloudy water and stressed out fish didn't really make for a wonderful photo opportunity.
This is a smaller tank than I had intended to move them into, but it has more places for a shy fish to hide. They are still settling in today and at this point, I think I may need to replace the substrate with one that is darker as the ADA 'Africana' is not really bringing out their best colouring.
However, I am hoping that once I get the tannin levels in the tank much higher and have some java moss to provide more areas of shade and cover, the males will start to show off that eye-popping blue iridescence.
In the meantime, I will be waiting until the water clears up before I decide to try and take any more photos.
The plan is that once I purchase some more aquasoil, get some nicer pieces of wood and procure some live plants, I will be overhauling the rest of my tanks. This will be the first step towards the 'Au naturel' approach I want to take.
Here are two fish I rarely blog about; my mum's pair of Betta unimaculata.
I have sort of a conflicted relationship with these fish. On one hand, they are one of my favourite species from this complex. On the other hand, their Houdini-like abilities at escape are almost enough to drive me to drink!
The male pictured below is the one survivor from an ill-fated trio. His female lived only long enough to provide me with a replacement before she somehow managed to jump out.
I have to say that there was a lot of drama putting together their new 2ft tank. As it was, I ran out of both patience and motivation before getting their tank filled, so that will have to be a job for today.
Otherwise, enjoy the pictures. They don't particularly like the camera so it is only fortunate that they are large enough I can still manage to get some decent shots.
Two of my rutilans sub-adults were sparring and since it was too good a photo opportunity to pass up, I thought I'd get the camera out and snap some shots.
On closer inspection of this tank, I am fairly confident I have two females in there. Once I have space, I will be separating out the most definite of the females and the best male and seeing if I can't get some more fry.
To the average betta keeper, bubblenesting is all but synonymous with bettas. If you like me, visit betta specific forums, you will see that there is something strangely compelling about that white foam of bubbles.
As a keeper and breeder of predominately bubblenesting bettas, it has been interesting to study the differences in the size, shape and location of each nest.
Some males are so blasé about the whole process that they do nothing more than string a few bubbles together at the front of the tank. More meticulous males however, can work on their nests for days at a time. They place each bubble with razor's-edge precision, and don't allow the often impatient female to get more than a glimpse of the nest until it is complete.
There are some males that have absolutely no reservations about building their nests out in plain view. Unfortunately for us breeders, most males will usually hide themselves and their nest away, requiring a gymnastics performance worthy of the Olympics if one wants to check on things.
Film canisters are useful in that you can easily move them to get a look at the nest and any eggs or fry it might contain without overly upsetting the ma. Being submerged bubblenesters, coccina complex species seem to have a particular preference for using canisters as nesting sites. However, not all of my males have been lured in by the siren call of that innocuous black cylinder.
Below, I have included some photos of my males and their nests, showing how even in one fish room, there can be quite a lot of variation.
As a foreword, the below paragraph isn't actually the good news part of today's post.
Well, looks like my plans to continue with my mouthbrooding Betta rutilans sp. green have been dashed. I thought I had at least one female in there, but now I am not so certain. This species seems to be rather hard to sex correctly at the best of times, and it doesn't help that I have someone in there biting off ventral fins.
In more exciting news, there are going to be a LOT of changes happening in the next couple of months.
Perhaps the biggest change is that I have decided to stick with wild bettas after some careful consideration, which basically involved me lying awake in the dark watches of the night thinking about my fish. However, I am going to be implementing some changes as to how I keep, breed and maintain these species.
I want to take a much more natural approach to water changes and spawning, and want to be as 'hands-off' as possible. I think I got a little too gung-ho in the past and so from now on I want to try and make everything as low-maintenance and low-key as possible.
I am most likely going to be looking for a job during this time, so my fish are going to have to find a way to slot into my life without requiring hours of maintenance every day.
I will be chronicling my journey here with lots of photos and witty (hah!) commentary, so lurkers should look forward to lots of posts over the next few weeks.
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, I currently keep and breed a number of species from the coccina complex.