Monday, March 31, 2008

Bedok Local Fish Shop (LFS) Singapore

So I've been running around LFS in the Bedok area and I'm glad to say that most LFS are friendly. But of course not all LFS are equal, there are some I like and there are others that I like better. Lets start with the ones I like first and slowly move down the line from there.

Darwin Aquarium
Blk 84 Bedok Nth St 4 #01-07, Singapore 460084

To be 100% honest with you, my relationship with Darwin Aquarium is a love-hate one. Their motto is "Cheap till you laugh", and yes, pricing at Darwin Aquarium is indeed reasonable. I enjoy going down to Darwin Aquarium, Steven's customer service is the best of ANY LFS I've been to in Bedok. But sometimes he gets so carried away, hoping to give a good deal to his customer that misunderstanding occurs.
Let me build the background a little. Steven is the man when it comes to serving the customer. He speaks more than 3 languages fluently, English, Chinese and Hokkien and is very helpful in sourcing for a customer desired product no matter how inexpensive it is, When he is around, he make sure you get your stuff FAST.

My first purchase with Darwin Aquarium was Hikari Bio-Pure Frozen Bloodworms. But I did not ask for Bloodworms, I asked for Frozen Tubifex Worms. Steven said they carry Made In China Hikari Tubifex; $12.50 for a big pack of 12. That's about $1 per pack which is indeed at the low pricing side of things. But since I've never seen Hikari Frozen Tubifex worms before and the packaging was in Japanese, I only realized that it was bloodworms when I fed them to the fry. Well I believe that if I took the pack down for an exchange, they would gladly do it for me but I decided to keep it as bloodworms are better choice of food for the fry.

My second purchase happened today. I asked if they carried 0.5 gallon betta tank (4"*5"*6"). They don't, so steady Steven immediately called his supplier, quote me $9 each, we deal at $4.50 per tank (I order 20 tanks and paid a deposit for the order). In the evening he called to inform me his supplier don't carry the plastic tank anymore but they had the glass one at $6.50 which he is willing to go down to $6. Out of impulse (and the fact that I've already paid a 60% deposit) I agreed to it but ordered 15 tanks instead of 20.

Giving them the benefits of doubt, their customer service is commendable. Their customer service is good, price is reasonable and store well store. They are the benchmark LFS in Bedok so do make a trip down for your aquarium needs.

Customer Service: 4/5
Pricing: 4/5
Stock: 4/5
Overall: 12/15
Note: Buy in bulk and the price will go lower.

Tanjong Katong Pet & Aquarium Center
BLK 84 Bedok North St 4 #01-03 Singapore 460084

I have not bought anything from TKPAC yet. But they carry the cheapest 1 gallon and 0.5 gallon tank in Bedok. One thing I like is the fact that when I asked them if they carry live tubifex worms, they don't but the lady boss pointed me to a small LFS behind 85 market. 1 bonus point for that! Today when I ask for a quote on the 0.5 gallon tank (4"*5"*6"), the male boss refused to bring the price down even though I mention I will order around 10-20 from him. But he promised to order 10 tanks in without any deposit, so now I kinda regret not canceling my order from DA and getting the cheaper one from TKPAC (I tried to comfort myself cause I prefer glass tank). Anyway if you are looking for tanks, this is the place to go.

Customer Service: 3.8/5
Pricing: 4/5
Stock: 3/5
Overall: 10.8/15
Note: Cheapest Betta Tanks you can get in Bedok; $6 for 1 gallon, $5 for 0.5 gallon

Small Little Fish Hut
Unknown, Behind BLK 85 Market. Only 1 lady boss runs the hut

Do not expect to get much customer service at this hut. But do not get offended by the way the lady boss talks or the way she runs her little fish hut (bettas are not kept in the most humane way). This is the place I come when I need Live Tubifex worms. I had no problem with her live worms and she gives A LOT of worms for 50 cent. I would say what she give for 50 cents is more than what you get for $1 at other LFS. The moment you start getting stuff from her, the lady boss opens up and you can try starting a little chat. If you don't have to buy in bulk, this is the shop to come to get CHEAP anti-chlorine, aquarium salt and most likely some other supplies. The processed food there are questionable so buy at your own risk, I did...

Customer Service: 1/5
Pricing: 5/5
Stock: 3/5
Overall: 9/15
Note: Cheap supplies, sgBetta.com recommanded source of Live Tubifex Worms

There are a few more commendable LFS which I will update in the coming days. So stay tune.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

7 Week betta fry


7 week betta fry. Coloration's getting stronger by the day, finnage's getting fuller. I've since stop feeding them live tubifex worms, almost killed them all with a bad batch of worms the other day. The water turned super cloudy overnight and the fry were all clustered at the bottom of the tanks, swimming lethargy. Did a 90% water change immediately and gave a really strong dosage of anti-fungus and external bacteria medicine with a strong dosage of ketapang extract. They regain their strength within 24 hours. So now I'm feeding them flake food, frozen bloodworms and frozen mysis shrimps. No more live food for them.

I've been jarring the better ones and the more aggressive ones. It's still hard to tell females from males. I can only assume which is which. Those that are flaring constantly and has beard at their gills are presumed to be males, so i jar those. Broken fins seemed to be reducing in the community tank. So far so good. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Jarring Betta Fry

Week 6 and 5 days, the fry are getting more and more aggressive. Scales can be seen hanging off some fry, fins tore, flaring and chasing are frequent. So I started jarring my favorites and 5 of the very aggressive ones. Total jarred: 12 out of 116, things are gonna get real hectic in the coming days.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

How to count betta fry.

Even tried counting fry in the tank? Pretty impossible right? To count them, simply take a picture and upload it to your computer. Then use an editor and count them, just remember to give each one a little mark.

Current count of my fry? 116 including the tiny one that's hiding somewhere in the filter.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

6 weeks old betta fry

Now they look more like baby Siamese fighting fishes than fry! You can even see them flaring their gills. Coloration of their fins are getting darker and stronger everyday.

And they eat a lot. They easily eat 2 capsules of Hikari Frozen Bloodworms every feeding. I control their diet by feeding them no more than 4 capsules of bloodworms a day, rest of the time I'll feed them OceanFree SuperBetta flakes. Amazing they started to have a liking for the flakes at week 5 and a half, maybe they got sick of eating protein rich worms.

There are some fry that are showing good potential, full royal blue in color and good finnage. There are others with red wash. But it's still too early to tell, these fry goes through so much chances so quickly.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

5 Weeks Old Fry


They seemed to be exploding, in growth that is. Now most of them are the size of neon tetra and the size disparity is showing. As seen in the photo above, some are almost three times bigger than the smallest one. And there is only one tiny one in the tank right now, he's there in the picture see if you can find him.


Since yesterday I noticed coloration of the fins. Especially the anal fin. The pattern follows the butterfly pattern of bettas. Reddish near the body before fading into a light blue tone at the end. Picture doesn't really show the color, but if you look real close you might see it.

They've stop eating microworms, not because I'm not feeding them, but because they choose to ignore microworms completely. This happened a day after I introduced tubixfex worms to them. During the fourth and a half week, I stop my brine shrimps hatchery as the fry has outgrown them, the BBS are like snacks for them. Now all that's on their minds are tubixfex worms.


Week 3.5, I wear down 50 cents worth of tubifex worms in a week. Week 4, 4 days. Now that they're at week 5, my 50 cent worth of worms that I bought yesterday evening are half gone. These fry are mean eating machine. For the first time in my life, I'm finishing my tubifex worms and asking for second.

Although they're eating tubifex worms like rice now, I'm training them to feed on processed food. They do alright with frozen mysis shirmps, picky eaters, they eat only eat the body and leave the head of the shrimp alone, well at least they're eating it, don't want them to choke on their food anyway.

Flake food, they take a bite, spit it out, take another, spit it out and leave. A little off topic, have you noticed that bettas will take 2 bites at something to decide if they're gonna eat it? Not one, not three, just two bites! If they don't like it in two bites, they'll spit it out and leave.

Just a tip on training them to eat process food. Feed them new food when they're at their hungriest, which is their breakfast. Or first meal of the day. Don't bother trying it at other time of the day as they'll most likely leave it alone.


Well tubifex worms are good for fast growth, but the amount of waste they produce is crazy! The picture above is taken an hour after water change, do take note that I siphon all poo out.


24 hours later....... The picture says it all. Not only are they growing fast, they're pooing fast too! Tubifex worms produce a lot of waste, you have been warned.


Since we're at the topic of poo, one disturbing scene I've seen these few days of feeding them tubifex worms is that some of the fry are actually pooing out LIVE WORMS! Yes you got it right, LIVE WORMS! Most likely the fry's digestive system is still not fully developed.


Although it's not exactly rare, it isn't common either. You get to see this live footage like once every two days? The weird thing is, while they are pooing out live worms, they are still gobbling up more worms. So i guess it's fine, it's just a growing up thing. Anyway you have been warned again about tubifex worms.


O yes and by the way, since I've stop hatching brine shrimp eggs, I hooked up an air stone to the pump and tune it down with an air gauge to circulate the water. The water surface is full of mucus, labyrinth? Maybe...

Monday, March 10, 2008

A guide on how to make Ketapang Extract Singapore


Short Version
  1. Pick dried fallen leaves
  2. Wash Leaves
  3. Put 10 leaves for every liter of aged dechlorinated water (a teaspoon of aquarium salt for every liter can be added to extend the shelf-life of the Ketapang extract)
  4. Soak leaves for at least 24 hours, 72 hours of soaking is recommended.
  5. Filter and store Ketapang extract
  6. Add 5ml to 15ml of extract for every 1 liter of water.
Long Version
Introduction
Ketapang (Sea Almond, Indian Almond, Tropical Almond, Lingtak) Tree is a prized procession for many Asian tropical fish hobbyist. It is said that the dried fallen leaves of the Ketapang Tree is used to enhance many tropical fishes color and immune system. Although not scientifically proven, fish farms in Singapore have been using it for a long time to breed, store and export fishes. So much so that a major fish farm in Singapore is commercially packaging and selling the extract of the Ketapang leaves.

The dried Ketapang leaves contains tannin and Humic acids; a mixture of organic acids. By soaking the leaves in water, these acids lowers the pH of the water and creates a more natural environment for tropical fishes, especially Bettas.

Finding a Ketapang Tree
The Ketapang tree is abundant in Singapore. It can be found in the following locations:
  • East Coast Park
  • Changi Beach
  • Beside Pan-Island Expressway (PIE)
Of course the location listed above are not exhaustive, if you would like to share any location, send me an email.

For a beginner, the difficulties in making your own extract is in identifying what a Ketapang tree looks like. Most pictures available online does not even come close in depicting the look of the tree. So sgBetta.com has take the liberty to solve this problem by posting a Ketapang tree that reside in Singapore.
This is how a Ketapang Tree looks like from far.
A closer view at a different Ketapang Tree.
A picture of the Ketapang tree trunk and bark, so that you can confirm its a Ketapang Tree.
Another picture of a different Ketapang tree's trunk and bark.
A close up on the fresh Ketapang tree leaves.
I hope all these pictures are good enough to help a beginner in identifying a Ketapang Tree. Now that you know how a Ketapang tree looks like, you can go on an pick the dried fallen leaves.

How to Select Fallen Leaves
Do not attempt to climb up a Ketapang tree and harvest the leaves. For one very simple reason; it is ILLEGAL! Naturally fallen Ketapang tree leaves should contain more tannic and humic acid, thats the very reason why they turn brown and fall from the trees.

To ensure that you pick freshly fallen leaves, you should only select fallen leaves from the top layer of the litter. These freshly fallen leaves should be yellowish-red and still very soft. You can select those and bring them home to dry until it's crisp, which will take about a week at your window.
My suggestion is to pick crisp dried leaves that are from the second highest layer of the litter. These leaves are likely to have a darker reddish-brown tone than the freshly fallen ones. No need to dry, no need to wait, just bring them home, wash it and its ready to use.

Do not pick leaves that has lots of dirt sticking to it. These leaves will look light-brown in color and will have many tears and holes, a tell-tale sign that they have been lying there for some time.

A generally rule is; if it's red, pick it, if it's brown, leave it.

Preparation of Leaves
Once you picked the leaves, it is wise to give it a rinse to remove any debris from it. Tap water can be used to do so as it contains a little chlorine which will disinfect the leaves a little.

As soon as you start washing the leaves, you will notice the water starts to turn brown. It is advisable to rinse the leaves as fast as possible to avoid diluting the contents of the leaves. Please take note that tannin will stain your tiles or sink, so clean up after you rinse the leaves.

You can choose to dry the leaves after rinsing them although it is safe to use them immediately.

Basic Ketapang Extract Recipe
Now that you have the leaves and you've gave them a rinse, you can now make the extract. The recipe that I'm going to share with you is a basic Ketapang Extract. Everyone has their own recipe for their needs but this recipe is the most basic of them all.

What you need:
  1. A bottle of at least 1 liter
  2. At least 10 leaves for every liter of water
  3. 1 teaspoon of salt of every liter of water to extend the shelf-life of the extract.

Steps:


  1. Crush the leaves slightly, like how you crumple a piece of parking fine.
  2. Place the leaves inside a container.


  3. Add water
  4. Add salt


  5. Soak for 72 hours

  6. Extract is now ready for use. It should have a sweet smell and carries a dark reddish-brown tone. The top layer of the solution should be clear, with a little debris at the bottom. You can leave soaking it for a maximum of 1 week. After a week the leaves will start to decay. So it is advisable to filter the solution and keep it in a air tight bottle within a week of soaking.
Do note that this is a Ketapang Extract and is not to be used without diluting. As a guide, for every liter of water, add 5ml to 15ml of the extract to it.

If you follow step 6, filtering the solution and storing it in an air tight bottle, the extract should last for at least a month if kept in a cool dry place. Refrigeration will extend the shelve-life to 3 months. Freezing the extract will keep it preserved until the next ice-age.

A generally rule is to smell the extract before you use it. If it still retains the sweet smell when you first prepare it, it is safe to use. If the solution turns cloudy AND smell foul, restart a new batch. Sometimes the solution will become cloudy (especially so if you use rainwater) but it doesn't smell foul. I have used it with no ill effects.

There are many recipe out there, some boil the leaves with water to disinfect the extract, some used rainwater, some add medication to their extract, some even add tobacco leaves to make the betta more aggressive. You can experiment with these recipes but do so at your own risk.

I hope this guide helps you in making your own extract.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

4 weeks old fry

The fry are now 4 weeks old since their mum and dad spawned. Time to give out red eggs. They're growing well with the combination of Tubifex worms, Baby Brine Shrimps and Microworms. Viewer discretion is advise for the feeding of tubifex worms to the fry.



The size disparity is increasing, the largest is around 1 cm by 0.5 cm by 0.5 cm and the smallest one is around 0.8 cm by 0.3 cm by 0.2 cm.

The fry are starting to display their territorial instinct, some are protecting a small circle during feeding and nipping anyone who trespass it.

One concern I have currently is that they are hanging around the surface. This could be due to serveral factors.
  1. Foul water
  2. Colder weather since it has been raining constantly for the past few days. Thus they flock to the surface where it's closest to the aquarium light.
  3. Development of Labyrinth organ
I rule out foul water as I did a 50% water change yesterday. They are still floating at the surface after that.

The second factor could be possible. It has been rather cold these few days as it has been raining.

The third factor is most likely. I read somewhere that fry will develop their labyrinth organ when they are a 30 days old. Another evidence pointing to this possibility is the blowing of bubbles as seen in the picture below.

Look at the amount of air bubbles at the surface of the water. Here's one more photo from another angle.


As you can see the fry are starting to look like mini betta. Stay tune for week 5 update. If anyone has betta tanks for sale, kindly send me an email at sgbetta@gmail.com

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

3 Weeks 6 days Fry

Almost 4 weeks and I've noticed something. The fry's territorial instincts are kicking in. Some of the bigger ones (and a few smaller ones) are guarding their portion of sunken food. They'll nip any one who tries to come into their small circle of food. Once they're pleased with themselves (yes these fishes have egos bigger than mine), they'll go back eating their food.

Should I start jarring those that are protecting their territory? I feel their still too young. Will keep a close eye this coming week. If the nipping gets bad, I might have to start jarring them. They are plakats after all, not the less aggressive show betta (most sites I've read about breeding are show betta related, jarring starts at week 7-8).

How much space is used in breeding betta

So you wanna try your hands at breeding betta a? It's gonna be fun, I assure you. But you would first need to set aside around 8 meter square for your little hobby (possibly more when you start jarring your fry up). Bear in mind that area needs to be free of human traffic to prevent accidents cause you will have lots of bits and pieces filled with water lying around that 8 meter square.

Now behold what's I'm about to show you. These are all the stuff cramped into the 8 meter square.

As you can see, that's a lot of stuff in my cosy little corner. I can't remember how many near misses I had with brine shrimps hatcheries and bottles of aging water during water changes (you tend to focus so much on not siphoning up the fry you forgot you're in the danger zone).

I use a huge container to store the strong smelling microworms. In it are all the miscellaneous stuff which I don't use that often. For my aquarium salt and de-dechlorinate I store them in a little tool box.

Currently I've 10 bottles of aging water. So I can change up to 15 liters a day. As you can imagine by now, once the fry are jarred, I'd need a lot more aged water. Still thinking of a solution for that, filling up 10 bottles everyday is a pain in the ass, not to forgot I have to measure the amount of de-chlorinate for every single bottle. And honestly, I can't think of a any better solution. So if you have one, kindly post a comment for me.

Since we're at the topic of bottles, let me say a little about it. I used to throw away all the bottles I use. Now every 1.5 liter soft drink bottle is a keeper. So if you have a wife that hates all things plastic, think twice about your plans. Cause before you know if, you'll be drinking soft drinks every day just for the bottle.

Now that the fry are close to 4 weeks old, it should be another 2 to 4 more weeks before I need to jar them up. The fry are already starting to nip each other, nothing serious, it's more like a playful nip than a "lim peh ho lei si" nip. I intend to shift a book shelf from my room to mange the space. Hopefully my mother will not scream too much. *crosses fingers*

Monday, March 3, 2008

Microworms for sale Singapore


Need a starter's microworm culture or ready-to-harvest microworm culture?
  • Starter Culture including Postage: $3
  • Ready-to-harvest Culture: $3
Send me an email: sgbetta@gmail.com

FAQ: Do you ship your microworms oversea?
Answer: No. I would like to first thank all overseas inquiry. I am sorry to inform you that sgbetta.com do not ship the microworms culture overseas. It does not make encomic sense to start an online payment merchant account for SGD$3 per transaction.

FAQ: I would like to purchase the Microworms Starter Culture, how do I pay for it?
Answer: Microworm Starter Culture can be paid through bank transfer. I will send a sachet of Microworm Starter Culture, upon payment, to your address.

FAQ: Can you send me the ready-to-harvest culture though post?
Answer: No. Ready-to-Harvest microworm culture are only avaliable cash and carry. Kindly send me an email to arrange for collection in Bedok North.

Tubifex Worms

Anyone who has been to a traditional LFS will come across a tray full of worms. Until now, I've always called them bloodworms. When I was a kid, I would hop into a LFS and shout out, "Uncle! Blood worms 20 cent" and uncle will scoop out 20 cents worth of worms for me.

But these worms are not called bloodworms, they're called Tubifex Worms. Cool name for something that has exist for a long long time in my memories. So now that I'm no longer a kid, and I've lost my cute voice and dopey eyes, uncles will no longer sell them to me for 20 cents.

Checking around with a few LFS has confirm that each package will set you back 50 cents. Want a worm holder? Another 50 to 70 cents. 50 cents is plenty of worms! Enough to feed all the fishes in my block for a day or two. The header picture is 50 cents worth of worms.

Arofanatics's forum has a discussion on how to keep these worms alive. Found it pretty useful. When I was a kid, the worms will die on me within 24 hours. After following their tips, using aged de-chlorinated water with Ketapang extract. I've managed to keep most of them alive for 48 hours now.

Much controversies surrounds the feeding of tubifex worms. Many say they feed on waste products thus carries harmful bacterias and parasites. But if any of you have eaten cockles before, you'll know how delicious those shell fishes are. All fishes I've kept LOVED tubifex worms. My current pair of betta love them so much that they're having bellies like their fry. Even the fry find them irresistible.

The worms are as big, if not bigger than the 3 and a half week old fry. Till now the fry has been eating gulp-sized food like microworms and baby brine shrimps. This is the first time they encounter something that requires them to "chew".

Man, these tubifex worms must be delicious. Clearly the worms are as big as the fry but the fry can't help taking bites at them. At first, most of the fry tried to swallow the worms whole. Bad choice, I got a shock when I see one of the fry had a worm coming out from its mouth and gills. Well the worm escape and he's fine.

Then suddenly it became clear to them that they had to bite. So now there they are, not quite strong enough to chew through the worms, but strong enough to lift the worms up and swim around with them, trying with all their might to tear the worms up. Some of the larger ones eventually chew through the worms, allowing the smaller ones to pick up the scrapes.

Well I guess although your fry will most likely have tons of fun playing with their food. It's still too early for them at 3 and a half week to have tubifex worms as a good source of food. Will try again when they 5 weeks old.



Here's a video on how the tubifex worms behave. Just so you know what you're getting yourself into. (Yes, they are creepy and they react to you!)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Brine shrimp hatcheries crashed

For 2 days in a row, I'm getting less than 10% hatch rate. Previously I am getting around 50% to 60% hatch rate (which isn't very good to start with) for the OceanFree Brine Shrimps Eggs.

Didn't changed any of the variables. I use around 1.5g of salt of about 800ml of de-chlorinated water with 3/4 of a teaspoon of eggs. Stored the reminding eggs in the fridge.

What I'm trying to push here is always have plenty of microworms or other food source as a back up. Microworms are a stable and sustainable food source. As long as you have at least 3 cultures running, you know that your fry will always have readily available food.

Note: Hatch rate gauged by visually comparing the amount of sunken unhatched eggs with the amount of floating egg shells.