Well I mentioned previously that I was getting a new pair of wild bettas, but didn't want to say anything until I was more certain of what was going on.
However, if everything goes to plan, I should be having a pair of wild-caught Betta miniopinna sent from Hermanus on the next shipment into Australia.
At this point in time, it is looking like mid-January, so with the seven days in quarantine and overnight shipping, I should hopefully have the pair in my tank by the end of January.
There's not much information available about Betta miniopinna as it is quite a rare species in the hobby. It will be interesting to compare these fish to my Betta persephone as I have heard the two are very similar in appearance.
In fact I have read several sites that suggest Betta persephone and Betta miniopinna may actually be same species, as there doesn't seem to be much of a consensus about how to distinguish between the two.
If nothing goes wrong during the transhipping process, this pair will form part of my species focus group and with some luck I will be able to get them to spawn. It would be wonderful if I could start a captive breeding population for such a rare species.
Now the next species to cross off my list will be a pair of Betta coccina. I recently lost my pair to what appears to be a bacterial infection (the last time I am purchasing my wild bettas through any supplier but Jodi-Lea), and am hoping I can at least get a replacement pair before the end of 2014.
Originally, I used to let my wild betta fry live alongside their parents. They would feed off infusoria and whatever other micro-organisms they could find when they were small, and wean themselves over onto the food their parents were eating once big enough.
While this method worked, I would only end up with perhaps one or two fish surviving from each spawn. Because this complex seems to skew towards male dominant spawns, such a small number of fish surviving through to adulthood meant it could be quite difficult to continue with a line beyond that first generation.
I then had the idea to use separate grow-outs such as those used by breeders of Betta splendens. This meant fry from cannibalistic parents were protected, and the diminished competition for food meant that the survival rate was much higher. However, I found water quality became more of an issue due to the larger number of fry in these grow-outs and the uneaten food left after each feeding.
Unfortunately, I chose to use this method when nearly all of my stock was infected with velvet - including the fry. The effort of trying (and usually failing) to treat so many fish in multiple tanks was exhausting, and by the time I had purchased my three new pairs from JotyaBettas, I just wanted this hobby to be as stress-free as possible.
I still think leaving fry in with their parents with minimal intervention - at present I do provide fry with BBS, microworms, and small mosquito larvae - produces a more robust fish. I don't push for fast growth. Instead I let my fry mature at their own rate. My interest is in producing healthy fish, and if that takes close to a year to achieve that is fine by me.
The fry from my three newest pairs (Betta hendra, Betta sp. apiapi and Betta brownorum) are thriving in this set-up, and I'm hoping that I'll be able to use the same method with fry from subsequent pairs.
In a previous blog entry, I mentioned 'species focus' and said that I would explain what this means in a future post. Well this is that post.
Basically, the long-term goal for my fish room, is to have breeding pairs of all described species from within the coccina complex. This is obviously not going to happen overnight. However, it is something that I will be slowly working towards over the next few years.
Anyway, while I want to collect and hopefully spawn all of these species at some point, there are a handful of species I have selected from this complex that I specifically want to work with in greater depth.
This is based on several factors such as conservation status, spawning difficulty, and personal preference. With these species, I will be keeping multiple pairs to use as breeding stock, and intend to go beyond the usual F1/F2 generation.
I'm hoping that by selecting high-quality pairs with strong parenting instincts (nothing more frustrating than fish that are poor parents) to use as foundation stock, I can provide Australia with exceptional, locally bred wild bettas.
With species that are not part of my species focus, I will retain only a single breeding pair in addition to the original fish. The remaining fish will either be sold to other hobbyists, or housed in large groups to discourage spawning.
So far the species I have selected for my species focus are: Betta brownorum, Betta sp. apiapi, Betta coccina, Betta livida and Betta persephone.
I suspect it will be difficult to source Betta livida, and I am after a replacement pair of coccina because my present pair are not what I am looking for in breeding stock. However, I've learned in this hobby that time can often make the seemingly impossible a reality.
Took these photos this afternoon of my Betta hendra pair from Joty. The colouring on the male is superb, and I still think this is the most stunning of the wild betta species. In the below photo the male was guarding his newly free-swimming fry from a neighbouring fish. He has been a very dedicated father from the start and is always very protective of his brood.
Betta hendra are one of the few species where the female is almost as colourful as the male. Unfortunately, my female refused to illustrate that today by hiding out at the back of the tank. However, there are further photos of her in the blog archives and in this photo you can sort of get a glimpse of that striking vertical barring and green iridescence.
The plan with this species (if possible), is to keep two replacement pairs out of their current group of fry and use these as breeding stock along with the parents. While Betta hendra will not be part of my 'species focus' (more details on that coming in my next entry), I don't intend on losing this species from my fish room again.
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, I currently keep and breed a number of species from the coccina complex.