Monday, May 19, 2008

Aquatic Plants Suitable for Betta

Plants form the basis of all ecosystem. In aquariums, aquatic plants serve more than just aesthetic purposes. They have been known to reduce nitrates, promotes growth of beneficial bacteria, aerate the tank, control algea and filter/absorb certain hard metals.

Even with all these advantages, aquatic plants are not extremely popular in today's Betta hobbyists. Aquatic plants are usually used during breeding and that's it, the Betta will spend the rest of their life in surgical environment. Several factors deter hobbyists from having plants in their tanks.
  • Aquatic compost/soil are usually required to sustain aquatic plants. But breeding tank's floor should be kept free from soil and debris.
  • Bad experience with plant use, aquatic plant dies within a week. Rotting plant material fouls the water.
  • Unable to shift tank or install aquarium lights to receive ample sunlight for the aquatic plants.
From my experience, this does not have to be the case. By choosing the correct type of aquatic plants, your Betta and you will enjoy the benefits of a planted aquarium. Betta do not eat aquatic plants, but they do enjoy the cover plants provide. Bettas in grow-out tanks seemed to be less aggressive when aquatic plants are added, nipped fins are reduced and given a chance to heal as a Betta can find cover to hide.

This article will recommend a few aquatic plants that are beneficial and very easy to grow and maintain.

Anubias barteri var. nana

Commonly called "Nana", this plant's hardiness is second to algae, so you can rest assure that this plant will grow no matter how bad you are with aquatic plants. It's a dwarf version of the Anubias species and can provide cover for small fry. Its rhizome must not be covered because it tends to rot, thus Nana is best growth on a rock, driftwood or on top of other plants (excellent for breeding tanks). Nana does not require much sunlight, in fact they will grow well in shady area or room lighting. Although a very slow grower, their robust leaves last for 3-4 weeks and it produces a new leaf around every month.

I have had good experience with this aquatic plant. Left undisturbed, its roots will attach to the drift wood. Even though a slow grower, its robust leaves are also slow rotter (leaf rots a little at a time, until the whole leaf is gone) thus it will not foul your water. Expect one leaf to grow and another one to rot at any one time.
  • Price: $4-$11
  • Known to LFS as: Mini Nana, Small Nana
  • LFS: Darwin Aquarium, C328
  • Maintenance: Minimum to None. Best left undisturbed. Very easy to grow and propagate.
  • Notes: Usually sold attached to driftwood with nylon lines.
Anubias barteri var. barteri

The bigger brother of "Nana", this aquatic plant has all the characteristic of "Nana" with just one difference, it's bigger. Like all Anubias, this plant can grow partially or fully submerged. Great for breeding tanks as the first 2 weeks only contain about 5 inches of water. My Bettas enjoy taking a nap on top of its leaves and males can be seen building nest beneath it. Like it's dwarf brother, its a slow grower and rotter, a new leaf around every month. This is my preferred plant for breeding and keeping betta.
  • Price: $7-$18
  • Known to LFS as: Nana
  • LFS: Darwin Aquarium, C328
  • Maintenance: Minimum to None. Best left undisturbed. Very easy to grow and propagate.
  • Notes: Usually sold attached to driftwood with nylon lines.
Taxiphyllum barbieri

Commonly known as Java Moss. The Java Moss one of the easiest and fastest growing moss available to hobbyist. It can thrive in all forms of water condition and minimum amount of sunlight. The Java Moss is excellent for spawning and fry love the cover a thriving Java Moss provides. Because the Java Moss is small, fast growing and hardy, it can be added into jarring tanks/container to sooth the environment of the residing lone Betta. It is best grown attached to a driftwood or stone; the Java Moss is not picky on where it attach itself onto, there are cases where it attach itself to silicone lining of the tank.
  • Price: $3-$5
  • Known to LFS as: Java Moss
  • LFS: Darwin Aquarium, C328
  • Maintenance: Minimum. Trimming might be required to control growth. Very easy to grow and propagate.

Adding the right kind of aquatic plant to your spawning/grow out tanks do wonders to your Bettas and you. You will notice an immediate change in behaviour of your fry and the condition of the water. Aquatic plants will improve the living condition and reduce water change, saving you time and money. The aesthetic values of aquatic plants is priceless especially when the selected plant is hardy and require minimum maintenances.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Recycling Water from Betta Community Tank

Ask anyone how do they recycle water siphoned from the community/spawning tank and the most common answer you will get is: "I use it to water the plant". Fish keeping goes deep into the water bills.

What I am about to discuss is against most rules in fish keeping, but please read on with an open mind.

The jarred Bettas I have are periodically suffering from fungus attack. I've done everything according to the book, water change every 2 days, aged de-chlorinated water, medication, salt, counseling, massage .... , but the fungus attack isrelentless. I will apply anti-fungal medication to them, they will get better and then the fungus returns even after adding salt for preventive measures.

Constant medication for recurring attacks have left the Bettas very lethargic, some of them have stop flaring. I've stopped using ketapang extract, fearing that it is the extract that is promoting fungus growth, then started thinking it will help them. Nothing worked, the fungus attack just keeps returning like a bad nightmare.

I took a step back and re-think what is happening. The Bettas in the community tank are all healthy and well, even though I added Ketapang Extract and did less water change (once every 4 days). No sign of fungus attack in anyone of them.

My jarred Bettas are suffering even though I've been giving my utmost attention to them. I am guessing because the community tank is much larger, contains aquatic plants and a filter system, the water is better cycled and contains more beneficial bacteria and organic materials, which provides a more natural and stress-free environment. The jarred Bettas are housed in much smaller tanks which cannot provide any form of water cycle, each water change introduce a new environment. Therefore the fungus takes over and infect the stressed out Betta.

So against all rules, I did a 70% water change to a 5 of my recovering jarred Bettas with the water from my community tank. I am sincerely amazed by the results. All of them flared the next day; some of them had not flare for a while. They seem very active and for some strange reasons even happy. They are recovering well with water changes recycled from the community tank. It is too early to tell if the fungus will return but I will keep track of their progress. I am hoping the recurring fungus attack will finally come to an end.

I am guessing the best way of aging water is to add (de-chlorinated with ketapang extract) new water to a community tank, leave it overnight and used it the next day. The community tank should consist of Bettas, thriving aquatic plants and preferably a filter system.

Upon your schedule water change for your jarred Bettas, use the water from the community tank, it will be perfectly aged and cycled; containing beneficial bacteria and organic material. Compare this to hard, new, clean tap water; even being aged and de-chlorinated overnight it is still harsher than the one from the community tank . Just replace the community tank with the same amount of water removed, add ketapang extract.

By doing so we accomplished 2 tasks at one go; Water change for the community tank and water change for the jarred Betta BUT only using half the amount of water needed as the community tank's water is recycled into the jarred Betta tanks. It is a win-win situation, the smaller tanks gets cycled water, the community tank gets more frequently water change as new water is added constantly.

I will be doing this once every 2 days for my jarred Betta to evaluate the results. I will also be siphoning waste from the community tank once every 4 days to minimize nitrate build up. If you intend on trying this method out, take note to retrieve water from mid-water level, closest to the filter outlet, avoiding any waste material.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

12 Weeks Old Betta Fry

Week 12, they're all grown up. Not yet the size of their father but almost close to the size of their mom. At 3 months old they can be considered as adult cause they should be able to start mating in around 3.5 months old which is in 2 weeks time. Not much changes from week 11 to week 12, just to show you what size they're currently at now, I took a picture of a fry (left) and the mom (right).

Quite an experience for me, breeding Betta is fun hard work. I would say the first 4 weeks is the most exciting, the next 4 most interesting and the last 4 weeks the most tedious (and to be 100% honest a little bored too).

The first 4 weeks keeps you on the edge, lots of feeding, lots of anxiety , wondering if the fry are going to survive. The next 4 week keeps you guessing, what are they going to turn out as? And the last 4 are just plain tedious, lots of jarring, lots of cleaning, lots of asking "Hey do you want some Bettas?". I guess that's the most frustrating thing about breeding Betta, you are only able to provide care for this much fishes, having more than you can handle really puts a toll.

Anyway I took a few photos of my favorite one, the butterfly of course. He is one lazy fish, doesn't bother to flare, just sits in his tank the whole day acting handsome.

Now his brother that reside beside him has much much more character. What he lacks in pattern, he makes up in aggressiveness. A very enthusiastic flarer. A pity his butterfly outline isn't ideal at all.

Now I'm glad to bring good news, all 3 of fry which suffered from fungus made it through. They have recovered from the fungus attack and are now growing their finnage back. 2 males and 1 female butterfly. What a great relief, this whole spawn only yielded 1 butterfly female, so you understand my anxiety when she became sick.

Now week 12 brings the end of my F1 spawn coverage. Thank you for your support and advice since the beginning of this blog. Stay tune for my F2 spawn which is tentatively scheduled mid June or until my fish-at-hand reduce to less than 10, which ever come sooner. From now till then I'll be sharing my experiences, mistake learned, tips, guides and random stuff that comes up. Once again thank you, hope you've enjoyed this coverage.