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As time passes, history is made. We often only appreciate the events that directly affect us. This edition of "Timeline" will take you into another world where time, as we know it, does not exist. Rather, seconds become hours, and a single day can become a lifetime. Undetected by the naked eye, microscopic living creatures live and die in miniature worlds of their own. A single drop of water contains entire colonies of robust animals of varied colors and shapes that bob and dither about.

Because these organisms live out their lives without our attention, their histories are often overlooked. Among these are our young fish that begin in the microscopic world and grow into the macroscopic world. These animated specks can be intently studiedEy^urious hobbyists and never com completely seen.

Betta History

Siamese fighting fish — Betta splen-dens — havj been bred in their native Thailand and Cambodia for a very long timeJTSey earned the name "fighting fish" because of the male's ^fcgnacity toward other male bettas, TJBfciecause they were (and still are) in a form of blood sport where o bettas are pitted against one another while their owners bet on the outcome. These true "fighting fish" are generally bred with short fins, and they look quite different from the ornamental varieties (including the Cambodian line I breed) we have come to know and love in the hobby.

It was an automobile mechanic from San Francisco by the name of Frank Locke that first brought the Cambodian betta to this country in 1927. The bettas were delivered to Locke by Frank Buck of "Bring 'Em' Back Alive" fame. Since then the Cambodian line of bettas has been of special interest to Asian breeders who commonly call them Thai flag bettas.

Fighting fish have been bred for a very long time, but luckily the ornamental varieties have far surpassed the "blood sport" types in popularity.

Thirty Days of Bettas

So we've decided to chronicle the first 30 days of one such spawning event. Even if you have raised a 1,000 betta spawns, you may never have beheld the wonder of their first few days of Hie. We will step out of the normal facts and dates that have become our trademark to present to you a timeline of one spawn of bettas and their fight for survival. It is our goal to give you a unique perspective into the events of this invisible world.

On February 7, 2007, I was pleased to see a successful betta spawn from my "red, white and blue" line of butterfly crowntail bettas. I was just returning from a short trip and not able to pinpoint the exact date the spawn occurred. Alone, the female cowered in the corner with nipped fins and tail, telling of her mate's boorish manners. The female was quickly retrieved, placed back in her container and given a large portion of Grindal worms as a reward.

This line breeds very close to true with only a variance between blue or green sheens. They all start out a creamy white color and slowly develop into wonderful show-quality butterfly crowntails.

Three days later, the baby bettas were swimming in a clumsy parade of uncoordinated movements with their yolk sacs still heavy. Although young, the male faithfully protected the fry, which were quickly turning into a rowdy and challenging crew. He was also rewarded with a large portion of worms upon the return to his quarters for a well-deserved break.

Pre-Madonnas

With my camera in hand, I was amazed at the young fry's sense of awareness even at this early stage in development. They studied the camera's every movement. The betta's legendary pugnacity was inherent and evident in these preswimming fry.

By February 11, the fry were swimming about in search of food. Vinegar eels had been separated in preparation for their first feeding and were quickly devoured. Packaged liquid fry food was also given in between. Curiously, some swirled in downward circles while others seemed to swim with no hesitation. I have seen this trait in many betta spawns, although I do not know the reason for it.

The problem often quickly passes. They were swimming with greater control by the next day. By February 13, microworms were added to their diet, and it was decided that brine shrimp would be introduced the next day. Once they were given the shrimp they grew rapidly.

At just a little more than a week old, they could be seen easily with the naked eye. Algae growth covered the glass sides and bottom of the aquarium, impairing my ability to take clear pictures, so it seemed like a perfect time to "clean their diapers," as it were. The whole school of young fish seemed rather put out with the shiny razor blade that was used to remove the green growth. It seemed that they loved the siphon tube and followed it around the tank. I was pleased that 10 percent of the water was changed without one baby being sucked up and falling into the bucket.

Big to Small

The fry were quickly transforming in appearance from odd little jelly masses into recognizable fish. Their

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