Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mr and Mrs Plakat

I have no idea why it took me so long to show the pair. Just did a water change for them and the fry, the sun was shining into the room and I decided that it'll be great to take a few pictures of them. So presenting to you, Mr and Mrs Plakat!

I kinda like this picture of Mr Plakat. Notice the different colors from him and the reflection.

This is one of the better pictures I took of Mr Plakat. The thing I love most about him is the solid white tip at the end of his ventral fins.

Another one of the better photos of him flaring.

It was really difficult to take Mrs Plakat photos. She kept darting around. I had to use burst shots to get some good pictures of her.

For a female, she has really nice colors.

Another of the better photo.

I got the pair in Sam Yicks. I really hope that they're not siblings, cause it'll suck to get a F2 or even F3 generation from the both of them. I'm hoping to get F1 fry from them, then I can move on to get F2s, F3s and so on.

Sometimes when I look at them, they looked like siblings, and from another angle they seemed to come from different parents. Any comments anyone?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

3 weeks old fry

3 weeks old now. They're growing fast, looking more like fishes than tadpoles, with baby brine shrimps and microworms. You can now see their tail lobes, dorsal fin and a little of caudal fin. A black line runs through their body; most likely their spine. Some fry are smaller than the rest, I guess the stiffening competition for food is causing this.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Brine shrimps hatchery review

In response to Loh Kwek Leong's guide on how to create your own hatchery, I must say it's pretty effective during harvesting. If you are worried about the sunken unhatched eggs, do not fret. Only a little unhatched eggs will be accidentally harvest. The diagram below will help you understand why.

As you can see, as long as the amount of unhatched eggs is below the air valve, only brine shrimps will be harvested.

I suggest using Thread Seal Tape (the white tape that plumber use to seal pipe joints) to seal the air valve. Although the guide said that no water will drip, I found it untrue. Vibration from the air pump will dislodge the connection and water starts dripping.

One advantage of using seal tape instead of silicon is that the air valve can be easily removed to fit on another cap. Silicon will most likely seal the air valve to the cap.
Second advantage, no need to wait for it to dry, just warp the tape around the air valve and screw it in.
Third, if you make a mistake, just re-warp and you are ready to go again. If you make a mistake with silicon, you will keep applying more silicon, making a mini-hill at the end of it all.

Depending on your situation, you can either do as the guide said and hang your hatchery or create a stand for them. Just cut out the top of another bottom and leave the hatchery on it.

Conclusion: Great DIY hatchery. Save lots of time. Very effective during harvesting.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

All is well again

Yes, I stand by my statement that if your fry are at the top, you should be worried and do a water change immediately. After today's 20% water change with OceanFree Super External Bacteria & Fungus Away, the fry are now idling at the bottom searching for food.

On a side note, baby brine shrimps do not survive as well in fresh water as compared to microworm. Although microworm are easier to harvest and culture, the yeast that goes together with them fouls the water pretty fast. But they can survive up to 2 days in the tank.

Baby brine shrimps are much harder to culture, but since they're salt water creatures, they are virtually parasite free. Baby brine shrimps carries their yolk sag which is packed with nutrients. But because they die off within 3-5 hours in the tank, those uneaten (fry seemed to ignore those lying dead) will rot and produce ammonia (remember the nutrient packed egg sags? Bacteria loves nutrients!).

Both brine shrimps and microworm will foul the water. As long as you do not overfeed and do regular water changes, all will be well.

Brine shrimps hatched!

They've hatched! Maybe last night aka 24hrs after soaking. But I was too new to this live food to know that they've hatched. This morning I put the whole bottle against the sun and realised that there's movement inside. Immediately siphon them out and fed them to my hungry fry. They loved it! Didn't even hesitate to take a bite at the baby brine shrimps (BBS). Got lots of extra, so I fed them to dad and mum, they love it too!

BBS, wonder food! Will do a more in-depth study of them to find out the percentage of spawn rate for OceanFree Brine Shrimp Eggs.

24 hours and counting (Brine Shrimp)

Did I get a bad batch of Brine Shrimps Eggs? 24 hours and no orange tint in my first hatchery. Will let the eggs soak for another day to see what happen.

I made a bottle hatchery today. Hopefully I'll get some results 24 hours later on this second batch.

When do betta fry develop labyrinth?

2 weeks old and history is repeating itself. Remember I said fry floating at the top of the surface is bad. Well that's what they (in fact all of them) are doing now... AGAIN!

I've been careful not to overfeed and doing regular water changes. The water is at it's clearest, there is no foul smell (even the scum I siphon from the bottom of the tank doesn't smell very foul).

It was all fun and joy yesterday, they were idling at the bottom. For their dinner I feed them microworms mixed with a little sera micron powdered fry food. The processed food floated at the surface. After 15 mins, it seems that all the fry floated to the surface. I assume they liked the processed food and didn't thought much of it.

When I woke up, there they were still at the top. So I got worried and started siphoning the water surface for unfinished food and siphoned the bottom scum. Nothing happened, they're still floating at the surface. They'll stay there, some will dive down to feed and then dart back up to the surface. Is history going to repeat itself again?

So I thought maybe they are developing their labyrinth, checked around the internet and found that no one was sure when betta fry develop labyrinth. So I did some "only the good stuff" reading and found that some breeders agree that the fry will develop labyrinth when they reach 2-3 weeks old. But they spoke nothing of them floating at the surface.

All I can do now is to cover the tank, do more water changes and hope that they are developing their labyrinth. Comments on what's happening will be nice at this moment of time.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Brine Shrimp Eggs

Finally I'm able to get my hands on this hard to find wonder food (at least in Bedok). I've asked almost all of Bedok LFS and only this LFS carries them in loose packaging (BLK 84 LFS, near our famous 85 Market sells 60oz can for $60). By some dumb luck, I was on my way to Bedok central NTUC to get some coffee filters to clean my microworms. Parked at BLK 416 carpark and decided to try the LFS at BLK 416.
  • Kohaku Aq.& Fishing Accessories
  • Blk 416 Bedok North Avenue 2 #01-19 S460416
The lady boss is nice and friendly, she was pretty surprised to learn that she's the only shop, in Bedok, carrying Brine Shrimp Eggs in loose packaging. I got some hatching equipment from her instead of PetsMart because it was 9pm and I'm eager to feed my growing fry something new.
  • 26g OceanFree Brine Shrimps eggs for $16 (They're selling the 12g one for $8)
  • Classica Super X 250 Liter/Hr Air Pump from for $5.50 (The friendly lady boss gave me a 50 cents discount)
  • Air Tubing at 40 cents per meter
  • An air stone for 40 cents
Went back home eagerly to start a Brine Shrimp Hatchery. Realized I forgot to get silicon glue and air valves. Never say die! I am super hype! Got a 3L new year's day goodie bottle and started hatching.
I won't post any DIY/Method cause I'm equally blur as you. Just RTFM and follow the instructions on the box. Hope all goes well and my babies can have something nice to feed on tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

2 weeks old fry

At 2 weeks they're growing well, weighting in at around 5mm long, 1.5mm in height and 1.5 mm in width. Their belly is pale white, most properly being bloated with microworms. When I look really closely, and I mean really really closely, I can see their caudal fin aka tail fin.

Once I cleared the water up, they spent most of their time at the bottom, searching for food. I realized that if your fry spend most of their time at the surface, this means the water is foul and doesn't have enough oxygen in it. So take that as a sign and do a water change asap.

Now all I can do is to wait for them to grow even bigger.

Some shots of the 2 weeks old fry. Sorry for the blur photos, I'm not much of a photographer.

Monday, February 18, 2008

When will microworms be ready for harvest?

From my experiment, microworms will be ready for harvest in 2-5 days.
  • If you attend to your culture by giving them a stir every day with about 5mm of water level above the food, they'll be ready for harvest in 2 days.
  • If you leave them unattended, they'll be ready for harvest in 4-5 days.
  • Corn flakes stink less than oat meal.
  • The amount of water, yeast and food does not matter. You can add them in any amount as long as you get a moist mixture. A wetter environment promotes growth but you'll have problem harvesting them cleanly.
  • If you need a culture, feel free to send me an email.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Do not overfeed

I kept a day of silence for 150 dead fry. Remember the layer of cloud I was talking about the other day. Well I underestimated it, it's more deadly than it looks. It seemed that this episode was caused by me; overfeeding the fry with the super effective microworms harvesting technique. The uneaten food caused (what I believe is) a bacteria bloom that causes the water to look cloudly.

On the night of 14 Feb, I started seeing fry dropping dead. By midnight at least 50 had died. I was in a dilemma on whether to change the water as most articles advised not to touch the water for at least 2 weeks.

If I change the water, fry will die, if I don't, fry will die. By 2am I decided do a 80% water change. With a clip attached to the siphon tube, I started siphoning waste from the bottom. Remember I feed them egg yolk? The water I siphon out is the most foul smelling aquarium water I've ever came across. It smelled like rotten eggs with a touch of very old aquarium water.

I dripped salted-conditioned water into the tank to about 7 inches height. Yesterday morning I saw around 50-80 dead fry at the bottom of the tank, the cloud cover was still there. Went to PetsMart and got Ocean Free Super Crystal Clear, Ocean Free Super External Bateria & Fungus Away and an Imperial F-Mini Submersible Filter (220 Liter/Hour).

Upon reaching home, I added Crystal Clear into the tank. It's supposed to clear the tank within a day. Next I ran-in the filter in another tank. When I plugged it in, despite getting the smallest filter in the shop, it was still too strong. So what I did was to get a 500ml soft-drink bottle, drilled a hole at the cup to fit into the pump and cut off the bottom of the bottle before stuffing it with filter wool. Attach the improvised filter into the inlet and cap the outlet with some wool and you will get a nice gentle filter that doesn't create a whirlpool in your tank.

Without going into details and boring you, to understand why a bigger filter will create a more gentle suction, imagine this. You have a hose attached to a running tap. You pinch the hose at the end and the water goes further, you release the pinch and the water drops. Same logic applies to here.

The death count this morning was around 10-20. The water has cleared up a little from the help of both crystal clear and the filter. I added Super External Bateria & Fungus Away just in case it's a fungus attack (dead fry seemed very mouldy). This medication will tint your aquarium to lime green.

The water condition seems to be much better now. The fry are much livelier and they are now willing to stay at the bottom of the tank, feeding on the microworm. From now on I'm going to do 20% water changes every 2 days.

Total fry count starts at around 250 now.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Microworm experiment Day 2

Day 2 and the experiment microworm is almost ready for harvest. I could harvest them now if I'm in a hurry. Think I found a sweet spot for rising microworm. 2 days and they can be harvest. The control is still silent. Got to look real close to scan for the worms. Gonna leave the controls alone to see how long it'll take for them to be ready for harvest.

Adding water to fry tank

Yes I pledge guilty. I overfed my fry. Now there's a layer of cloud suspended in the tank (with tons of infusoria or are they bacteria?). I'll assume that they're yeast from the microworms I'm feeding them with.

Being partial educated, I put some thought into it and found it silly and a possible death sentence to the fry if I were to siphon water from the tank with it's current water level (5 inches tall). The obvious solution to this is to add aged/conditioned water to the tank. But then it'll be another death sentence if water is added too fast. From my research, fry are super sensitive to temperature changes in the water.

So I took a 1.5 liter of aged/conditioned water and "drip" it into the tank. What I did was the good old siphon method but attached a clip to control the flow of water. The flow was allowed to become a mini waterfall by sliding down the wall of the tank.

The above picture was taken 2 days ago, I have to be responsible in my posting and make sure my fry are well and safe before posting this method. And yes they are well and safe. No massacre noticed.

I will keep doing this in 2 days interval until the water level reaches above 1/2 tank before siphoning the dirt out and I will limit the amount siphon to 1.5 liter each time. Then I'll wait 2 days again before adding water and wait 2 days again before siphoning.

Hopefully that will clear the cloud.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Microworm Culture Day 3

Third day since I started my microworm culture and it's ready to be harvest. What I did yesterday was to give the mixture a good mix while adding a little water. Seemed to work, now the whole culture is swimming with microworms with many are climbing up the sides.

I'm experimenting with 2 more culture of corn-based microworms. I want to find the fastest way of growing these babies. The one to the left is the control and the one to the right is the culture that I'm experimenting with.

It's been around 12 hours since I started the culture and it's already full of microworms. Seems to be doing great. The control has yet to have much visible microworms.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A fuss-free super effective way of harvesting microworms

Forget about scrapping the sides of the container. Forget about spending 15 minutes smelling yeast. Forget getting your hands dirty with slime. Forget trying to wash off the smell off your hands. What I'm about to introduce to you is gonna revolutionize the way you collect microworms. You are going to collect so much that you're gonna overfeed your fry.

As a first time breeder, I spend a good portion of time scouting the internet, seeking answers to questions. First I discover microworm, then I found them locally, now I had an answer to "There must be an easier way".

This method was discovered from Wayne's Betta Pages, under MICROWORMS A fast collection technique. What you do (and I did), is
  1. Get a paper towel, cut a piece of it to cover about half your culture
  2. Lay it across the top of the culture. A tweezer will come in handy for this operation.
  3. Add some drops of water from a dropper to wet it so that it sticks to the culture.

Now repeat but cut another piece of paper towel smaller than the first one and lay it on top of the first paper towel. Leave the culture alone for about 4-6 hours.

When you need to feed your precious fry, just remove the top piece of paper towel and rinse it in a small container filled with water. You will see so much microworm in the solution that, for some strange reasons, it actually makes you feel happy.

Let the microworm solution sit for 5 minutes or until the worms sink to the bottom. Empty the top of the water, leaving the worms at the bottom. Refill the container with water and let the mixture sit again. Repeat this step until the water is clear (usually it takes me 3 rinse to clear the water). This method will remove most of the yeast from the mixture, it is important that you rinse off the yeast otherwise it will foul the water in the tank very fast.

Reload the culture with another piece of paper towel and you're ready to go again.

  • Lean the first piece of paper towel's edge on the wall to allow easy removal if you need to change it.
  • Fold your second piece of paper towel at the corner and you will find it easier to ply it out during feeding time
  • Actually I used a Macdonald serviette as I ran out of paper tower. Works great too and it's FREE!
  • The larger the container you use to harvest the worms, the lesser you need to rinse it to clear the water.

Microworms Culture Day 2

Second day and my culture is swimming with microworms. They're everywhere, not thick enough to be seen from far but when you look closer you can see them swimming around the edges, on the top basically throughout the "nest". If they continue multiplying at this rate, I would be able to harvest them in 2-3 days.

By far best photos taken of my fry

6 Days after the pair embraced, my fry are now around 4 to 5 days old. I'm not much of a photographer but these are by far the best photos I have taken of the fry. They haven't grow a lot since they started free swimming about 2 days ago. They are like 1 x 0.35 x 0.35 (mm) when they started free swimming and are now barely 1.5 x 0.5 x 0.5 (mm). Photos as shown below:

So this is the holy place of my house right now. No loud noises, no loud talking, no heavy walking, no tapping on the tank, no staring at the tank, no feeding, no removing of the shrink warp, basically me can and everyone else no.

3 colored photos of the fry, not very clear but you can still make out the shape of them.

Ahhhh, getting better when I set it to black and white.

And the best photo I managed to capture using my N95. Digi-cam died on me recently. Notice how small the fry-s are. Compare them to the plant and cup in the background. The bits and pieces floating are smashed egg yolk and powered food, now you'll understand why microworms are need.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Microworms are good for you

Sometimes too much information is bad for you. My intention was to find the simplest and fuss-free way to breed Betta. So I intended to use hard boiled egg yolk and Sera Micron Fry Food.

So I read around the web and discover that these food, when fed to your newly swimming fry, are for the bacteria that infusoria eat(I believe the ant-like organism I was talking about in my previous post are infusoria) and the fry are not very fond of processed food.

I also found out that if you don't feed anything to the fry during the early stages, about 10% will survive just on infusoria alone.

As a first time breeder, these information got me spooked, so I franticly searched around for the miracle microworms which so many breeders swore upon. Fortunately I got a ready culture, aka ready to harvest and feed, from a local breeder that was living extremely close to me.

When I reached home, I promtly scoop out the microworms from the side, mix it with a little water, and feed it to my hungry fry. THEY LOVE IT!

I started another culture from the culture I purchased. It's always good to have plenty of back-ups.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Free Swimming Fry

3 days after hatching (5 days from the day the betta pair spawned), the fry are finally free swimming. I would say 30% are at the top-side of the tank. 15% are at the bottom. 10% are swimming around the nest and there should be another 45% are still in the nest.

I've removed the daddy by luring him with a freeze dried blood worm and netting him. He seems to go crazy when I put him into his personal tank. Well it's understandable, this caring male betta has been caring for his spawn for 5 days. Fed him a little freeze dried bloodworm, freeze dried brine shrimps, hard-boiled egg yoke. He's now resting, most probably asleep, recuperating from the exhausting 5 days.

I used an industrial shrink-wrap to cover the top of the tank, it's best to keep the environment consistent now. Fed a little Sera Micron Powdered Fry Food and hard-boiled egg yoke to the fry. I noticed micro ant-like organism crawling on the inside of the tank. Hopefully these are the infusoria and hopefully the fry will find them tasty.

The egg yoke and Sera Micron seems to be appetizing to the fry. Many has swam up to the surface and gathered at where the food is. Good that they are eating them. Hope and pray all goes well for my first breeding attempt.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

My betta is a Plakat

Finally found out the name of my betta breed - Plakat aka Siamese Fighting Fish. A breed that is bred from wild betta for fighting. Very fierce, very aggressive, very beautiful! Rav likes! For more info regarding this breed, check out this traditional plakat link.

Busy Busy Betta

It's been 60 hours after my pair of betta spawned. Right now I can see many tails hanging from the nest. Would love to take a picture of it but I'm afraid I might pissed the male off and he ends up eating all the spawns. The above picture is from breeding guide. My betta's nest looks exactly like that now. Lots of tails, lots of spawns darting around and even more sinking to the bottom.

I'm leaving the lights on so that my male is able to pick up the wanderers and put them back into the nest. Man, it's a tough and stressful job, there is like a million fry dropping from the nest. Gonna feed him very well when I put him back to his tank.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Broken fins takes 2 days to heal?

Just cleaned the female's fish tank, I do a 50% water change daily for her, since spawning, to prevent baterical infection. Seems like all her broken fins have healed! I didn't notice this as I left her totally undisturbed and in a thicker than usual ketapang solution.

Broken fins takes just 2 days to heal? I'm impressed. Given the fact that she's not eating as well as the conditioning period as I'm not feeding her favourite mysis shrimps. I'm feeding her betta flakes and Freeze Dried Bloodworm which she promptly spit out after a bite (not a disease as she would gladly keep the mysis shrimps in her stomach).

I have my ways with these type of pampered fish. It just takes time :)

Fry Alive!

After the pair spawned, like an anxious dad-to-be, I kept looking under the nest to check the eggs. Bad news is the bubbles and the eggs are so alike (not to forget that the eggs are so tiny), I can't see anything. For the pass 24 hours I was wondering whether my male is an egg eater and had ate all the eggs up.

48 Hours after the pair spawned, I finally confirm that my male is not an egg eater and the fry are alive and "jumping" around within the nest. They will dart below the nest, into the water, before darting back into the nest. Some hyper actually dart all the way to the bottom and daddy gotta pick them up and throw them back into the nest.

The female is recuperating in her own tank. The male got a lot of job to do. He keeps a close watch for wanderers.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

12 hours after end of spawning

The spawning started at around 11.30am and ended at around 2.45pm; a total of 3 hours and 15 mins. The female swam till the right corner of the tank and basically just stayed there. The male attended to his nest for a while before he went looking for the female, strike and chased her around the tank.

From my research, bettas will usually spawn for around 3 hours. To avoid unnecessary injuries and stress to the female, I net her up and transferred her to her original 1 gallon tank. Her lips seems cloudy, I hope it's not a bacterial infection. Let her rested for about 2 hours before feeding her some freeze dried bloodworms and frozen Mysis shrimps.

The male is tending to his nest, occasionally scouting around the tank. I got a shock at around 12am when I notice a hole in part of his nest. I think he might have eaten some of the eggs. It's really hard to differentiate between the eggs and the bubbles. I think a good amount of eggs is stored in another part of his nest. Hopefully I'm right. Well, I'll know the results in about another 24 hours.

Happy Lunar New Year!

Best Wishes for Lunar New Year 2008!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The pair embraced!

After 22 hours since introduction. The pair embraced and mated. The male was confused at first. Stunning himself most of the time instead of the female. But after around an hour at it, he became very good at it. Every embrace squeezes around 5-10 eggs out of the female.

During the start; he either stunned himself for too long, unable to squeeze any eggs out of the female or can't catch the eggs before the female have her go at them.
After an hour all was normal, my anxiety that the male might be eating the eggs vanish the moment I saw him catching the eggs with his mouth, surface for air and start blowing bubbles/eggs into the nest. Pewh, all is going well.

Once the male is satisfy with his arrangement of the eggs in the nest, he will flare a little, the female will then give him a nudge and they'll embrace. This process has been going on since 11.30am this morning. Two and a half hours have passed and they're still at it. Way to go!

I believe this spawning is a gentle one as the female only suffers from a little nips and rips at her fins.
I'm pretty delighted that they spawned on Chinese New Year's eve. Well enjoy the video :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Female is Released!

I noticed that the female's mouth is a little injured by constant banging onto the holding jar, making my urge to release her stronger. Then I noticed that her tummy is a lot plumper than this afternoon and she is not afraid of the male anymore. So with fingers crossed, I release her into the tank.

After removing the jar, she seems dazed. The male actually move aside so that she can approach the nest. Upon awaking from her daze, she scouted around the tank and move towards the nest to check it out.

The moment she inspects the tank, the male started flaring at her, wiggling his body. The female returns the gesture but promptly swim away after than. This is when the male nipped and chased her around the tank. Boy are they fast.

Now the female is hiding inside the maze of Ketapang leaves and the male can't seem to find her!! Hopefully she's just taking a nap and will come out to inspect the nest later. I still feel sorry for her broken lips but it would have been worse without the holding jar.

9 Hours into the date

The male got a nice bubble nest under the cup; slightly more than half a cup length and towering about 1cm above the water line. Both Bettas seems pretty exhausted. I'm wondering if I should release the female now. Hmmmm.. Should I?

Right now the male is paying more attention to the nest, building and moving bubbles. Then he'll take a look at the female, flare at her and return to his nest, hoping she will follow. Repeat this process for maybe a hundred thousand times.

The female seems to understand the male can't hurt her behind the holding jar. She is in fact taking naps when the male is building his nest, when she sense the male coming at her, she will flare a little and move away before dozing off again.

This is a video 9 hours into the date. A little dark due to the lighting.

The pair meets

For the first time in my life, I've introduce a male betta to a female one in an attempt to breed the pair. Pretty exciting stuff.

First i introduce the male into the breeding tank, letting him acclimate and scout around to familiarize the area. After about 15 mins, I introduce the female into a Ketapang covered holding jar with open ends (basically a 1.5 liter coke bottle cut off at both ends). My intention for doing so is to acclimate the female for 15 mins.

But the male is smart, he spotted the female through an opening in the leaves and begun flaring. I had no choice but to remove the leaves just 5 mins after putting the female in. Boy..., the male is aggressive, he began flaring and striking at her almost immediately, every strike created a "pang pang pang" sound when he hits the jar. I regretted a little for not using a more sturdy holding jar. The light plastic jar wants to topple over with every strike. But on a brighter side, at least it is less damaging to the male as compared to a heavy glass jar.

An hour later the male began building his nest under the foam cup, much to my delight as I've placed it in a good viewing position. The female is showing off her 3 vertical strips, a signal that she isn't stressed out and ready to mate. Throughout the whole episode, the female didn't show any signs of stress aka the horizontal bar. With some luck I'm gonna get to see some action tonight!

This is a video of an Early Courtship of my two Bettas. Just 20 mins into the introduction.

First time breeder

Ok ok, I'm excited. I've been researching on the web on how best to breed bettas and got tons of information and advice. I would love to stick to traditional methods used by local fish farms, which is basically to throw a male and a female into a dragon pot with ketapang and let nature takes it course but that wouldn't be much fun will it?

I want a 10 gallon tank which I can see what's happening and by some dumb luck I found a discarded 2-footer tank in great condition (from my research a 2-footer is great for breeding)! Deep in my heart, I knew that sooner or later I'm gonna find a discarded tank as Chinese New Year is coming, it's lucky of me to find one at the void deck of my flat.
Great! That's a $60 dollars saving, something which I will need badly once the fry start eating.

I am conditioning the water as I'm writing this entry. I've washed the tank and dried it since Sunday, filled it up with 3.5" of water today and dump an aquatic plant and 4-5 pre-soaked(4 hrs) ketapang leaves. Will have a plastic cup added for the air bubbles nest tomorrow.

Most likely I'm going to introduce the pair tomorrow and set the female loose on New Year's Eve. If all goes well, I'm intending to feed the fry egg yokes and Sera's Micron powered food for fry. EXCITING!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Bedok Local Fish Store (LFS)

Since I'm living in Bedok, it's only natural that I scout around my area for supplies. It's been 10 years since I've kept any fishes, so it's pretty amazing to see so much high-tech stuff that are available to hobbyist today.

Lets start with food. In the old days, you can choose from pellets, flakes (considered high tech at that time) and live food; mainly blood worms and home breed mosquitoes larva.
Today you can get specialize betta pellets, flakes, freeze dried blood worms, frozen blood worms, live blood worms, freeze dried brine shrimps, frozen brine shrimps, live brine shrimps, freeze dried baby brine shrimps, frozen baby brine shrimps, live baby brine shrimps, frozen mysis shrimps; the list just goes on and on and on.

Nowadays, it's considered unwise to keep bettas in holicks jars. But fear not, you can get nice 18x13x16 (cm) tanks by OceanFree. These 3 litres (1 gallon) tanks are pretty popular for isolating aggressive males as it's big enough for the fishes and small enough for the owners. The price is pretty reasonable too, if you know where to scout for them.

Two commendable LFS that I found are:
  • Petsmart - Blk 746 Bedok Reservoir Rd #01-3003 S(470746)
  • Sam Yick - Blk 82 Marine Parade Central #01-606/608/610 S(440082)
Lets start with Petsmart @ Bedok Reservoir Rd.
The male betta selection at Petsmart is not adequate, when I visited them, there were only 5-10 male show bettas for sale at $8 each. But there were at least 50 females for sales at 80 cents each. So if you intend to get a mate for your male, you know where you can visit.
The lady boss is extremely friendly, polite, patient and helpful. She even round down my purchase of $8.10. She is also willing to listen to your questions and respond with sound advices.
Though I would have wish for more selection at Petsmart, the items at Petsmart are very affordable. These are the price list of items which I've bought or took note of:
  • OceanFree 18x13x16 (cm) tank - $12 w/ decoration, $11 w/o deco
  • Unbranded 18x13x18 tank - $9
  • 2 meter air-line - $0.50 per meter
  • Small Net - $1
  • OceanFree SuperBetta Food Flakes - $3.90
  • Frozen Mysis Shrimps - $2.10
  • Aquatic Plants - $1.50 each
  • Male Show Betta - $8
  • Female Betta - $0.80
Petsmart is my prefered LFS basically because of the excellent customer service provided.

Now lets move on to Sam Yick.
I bought both my bettas from Sam Yick; a male at $3 and a female at $5. Sam Yick is the only shop that I found to carry "wild" betta. The female is very pricy imho but both bettas are very healthy without a rip in their fins so I would say I'm pretty happy with my purchase.
Although most of the male bettas at Sam Yick are reasonably priced, their food and accessories are on the high range, but they offered the most selection of processed fish food of any LFS I've visited. The price list is as followed:
  • Male Betta - $3~$30 (Do ask the assistant if there are more bettas at the back of the shop)
  • Female Betta - $3 and $5
  • Today's Freeze Dried Blood Worms - $4.70
  • Sera Micron Powdered Fry Food - $6.20
  • Liquid Fry Food - Around $8+
  • Aquatic Plants - from $3
  • OceanFree 18x13x16 tank - $16+
If I want to scout for "wild" betta, Sam Yick will be the first place I visit. When I need to find hard to get fry food, I will check Sam Yick out first. The customer service at Sam Yick is alright, I feel an air of commercialization every time I step into the store. I prefer a more homely customer service. To make up for their high-priced items, Sam Yick stores the most comprehensive betta selection, fish food and accessories of all the LFS I've visited.

I hope this post helps for new hobbyist looking for a reputable LFS to get their accessories and bettas.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Ketapang Extract

While researching the web, I realized some methods remained traditional, Ketapang Leaves, rainwater, high protein food, live food, empty tank, regular water changes, etc. Some things changed, no more holicks jars, no more fighting (yeah it's cruel, I agree with no more fighting), more home breeding, more interest in show bettas. But the thing that really caught my eye was the sales of ketapang leaves?!?! And such secret in maintaining it's location?!? Old timers have no problems obtaining these magically leaves. New hobbyists might have a lot of problem. Most likely they are worried of picking the wrong type and killing their precious.
Well sales of ketapang leaves is in my opinion, morally wrong. First, unless you own the trees, you shouldn't sell them. Second, how can one grade the leaves on whether they're grade A or B or C. Third, if you sell exclusively to overseas clients who don't not have access to ketapang fine, but if you take advantage of locals then it's not so fine anymore.
I was introduced to Ketapang leaves by my dad who used to work part-time in a fish farm. Whether or not it's effective and has all the magical wonders, I don't know. But what I do know is if commercial fish-farmers uses it; it's most likely safe to use, I've no bettas that suffer ill effects from it and always trust your parents.
Ketapang trees are abundant in Singapore. They are be found along most part of PIE, in Changi Beach and East Coast Park. If you do not know how the trees look like or how the leaves look like, search around the web for them. After soaking them, the extract has a pleasant, "sweet" smell with a dark brown colour tone. If you have a foul smelling extract, then you have got the wrong type of leaves.
Preparation of the leaves can be found on the web too, this is my version, used since childhood. Please do some self filtering when researching on the web, you can ignore the bullshit on the web stating nonsense Grade A, B, C, medicinal properties fading off. I usually pick leaves that are on top of the grass(a tell-tale sign that they have fallen not too long ago), not too fresh (as I don't want to dry them myself), but not too decayed either. Just dried leaves that are crisps to hold.
When I reach home, I will rinse them with a shower head and stuff them into a container (It's alright to crush them during the stuffing, ignore nonsense on the web). Then just add water (if you wanna stay traditional, use pure rainwater) and wait for the magic potion, a overnight soak will be good enough to use. You can soak the extract up to 5 days or more but you have to remove the leaves BEFORE they start decaying. If you are unsure on weather the extract has pass expiry, play safe, throw the whole batch away and soak a new one, these leaves are free anyway.
Please take note that this is method of preparation is for ketapang extract, and not to be used without diluting. Add some to your tank to the desired colour. Make a trip to a fish shop to see the color tone of their tanks to get an idea of the desired colour.
You could also add the leaves to your tank directly after rinsing, I usually don't do that. What I do recommend is adding a pre-soaked leave (usually 24 hours) for the female tank as they need some cover to hide and feel comfortable.
Well that's all for preparation of ketapang leaves, I don't think one has to go to extreme and get the "best" leaves for everything. It's just a waste of time, money and effort.

Collecting Rain Water

Just as I was writing my first entry, it started raining. Good, need rainwater for good ketapang extract. This method of collecting rain started when I was a kid. Hard to do it when I was a kid. Now it's easier. Just take a clean plastic bag, clamp it on one bamboo stick and slot it in with another to open it up. Gets you rainwater without getting too wet. Be careful not to let the bags collect too much as killer litter can throw you to jail and you can have a lot of trouble bringing the bags in.

When age catches up.

Hi, I'm Rav. 25 this year. A final year EEE student in NTU. I was sitting in front of my computer a few days and I thought how boring it was. You see my pet rabbit, Milo, passed away a year ago. In the 9 years we're together, his been a good rabbit, never bit anyone, loves to be hand fed, damm it's sad. So I seek refuge in my girlfriend's friendly Maltese but come on, all pet owners know while it's fun to play with other's pet, it just isn't yours.

So there I was, sitting in front of the computer remembering Milo, dog, terrapins, Siamese fighting fish, tropical fishes, Siamese fighting fish, Siamese fighting fish, fighting fish. Hehe, fighting fish. I remember when Rav was still young and he started keeping fighting fish as pets since primary school. Though on and off, the most amount he raised was 10 jars of these aggressive little fishes. Loved to see them flare, loved to see them gobble bloodworms and mosquitoes larvae. Back in the days when dengue wasn't an epidemic, he even had his own breeding pot of laraves, bringing tons of mosquitoes into his flat. Haha kids.

I've toyed with the idea of keeping Bettas even when I had Milo, every time I pass a fish shop I'll stop to see if they had any bettas. But I never realize this thought until a few days ago. Keeping a Betta will set you back 2 years commitment, pretty alright for a pet. BUT to make sure it's not a moment of impulse, I slept on it. When I woke up, I still wanted to keep some bettas, hell I wanna realized my childhood fantasies and breed those little bundles of joys. Well if it's worth doing, its worth doing it all the way.

Step one was to keep it a secret from my mum. Mum has never been much of a fan for all my pets. My dad is an animal lover; he is always very involved in all the pets I kept.

Step two is to look for a pair of lovely bettas, some breed that reminds me of my childhood killers. I scouted at least 10 shops around the Bedok area and realized that it's so hard to fight short fin "wild" bettas and to scare the shit outta me, all of them are over-priced, show bettas from $8 to $30. Well I don't mind paying that kind of money for "wild" bettas, but I'm not into show bettas. The reason why I like betta so much is that they are aggressive, hardy, fierce and very very very pretty. So I scout around the net and discover Sam Yick carries bettas. By the way I bought Milo from Sam Yick.

That very evening, when my Dad returns home. I told him, "A... Pa, I wanna keep fighting fish". Heh you can see the sparkle in his eyes when I said that, maybe that reminds him of me when I was a little boy. The next thing he said was, "Where you wanna go and buy? DUN TELL MOTHER!" LOL, like father and son.

So with my dad and girlfriend (YES, Rav likes to get everyone involved), I drove them to Marine Parade, and discovered that Sam Yick has high-ended themselves. The moment we went in, my dad went "There! Fighting Fish!" And we scramble there like 2 old kids getting their first pet. My girlfriend promptly went to the mammals section, gals dun seem to like fishes very much (Mums included).

But happiness turns disappointment. All show bettas. *Sigh* After lingering for a good 10 mins there, one of the shop assistant came over to see if he can help. I gave a disappointed "That's all ah?" He tried recommending a $30 show betta and I went nah. I'm looking for short fin wild betta. He went "Got.", when inside and took out a bunch of bags tied together on a string. "This type cheaper, $3, I no space to put that's why put behind."

Immediately Rav was a happy boy. These bettas are short fin, stout bodied, big headed, though I don't think they are true wild breeds, these are exactly the kind I was looking for. And $3 was the kind of money I paid like 10 years ago! Rav is happy, very happy. All childhood memories fulfilled.

I won't call myself a betta expert, but from my past experiences, fierce bettas are not those that flare like crazy in a shop. Those that flare too much has barks louder than bite. The true fierce ones are those that are not afraid when you try to agitate them. They'll just look you in the eye and give a "bo-chap" look back. These are the ones that'll kill another when they have to. I got one with just that attitude and a female from a community tank. Females are more easily available than 10 years. Which makes realizing my dreams a lot easier.

Back home with my pair, I am expecting a fierce flaring mother. The moment I step in I went, "HUAT AH!" Bought fishes back to block disasters for 2008! Think my mum mellowed down, she didn't seem to mind at all.

Conditioned the 2 stressed bettas for a while in their package before putting them into their separated tanks. Good thing Nparks didn't chop down the Ketapang trees beside my flat. Have been soaking leaves for extract since the afternoon.

Now at 25, Rav has money, childhood experience, Ketapang trees and the internet. I went crazy getting supplies these past few days for conditioning the pair and trying out breeding for the first time, something I've always wanted to do when I was a child.

Hehe childhood hobbies become more enjoyable when you grow older. I like :)