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Results 1 to 10 of 16

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  1. #1

    Default Anabatoids: A Primer


    0 Not allowed!
    Anabatoids are a group of fishes in the Anabantoidei family that can assimilate atmospheric air, which is an adaptation to survive in Oxygen-poor waters. In fact, Anabatoids are one of the few fishes that can drown if unable to get to the surface to breathe.

    Air goes into a tightly wound, maze-like, cartilaginous organ just above the gills known as the labyrinth organ. Air captured in the organ is spread through the fish by the bloodstream. Only mature fish have this organ; very young fish breath solely though their gills, developing the labyrinth roughly six weeks after hatching.

    There are several sub-families in Anabantoidei; Anabantidae, Belontiidae, Osphronemidae, Helostomatidae and Luciocephalidae. In this primer of Anabatoids, we will cover species from all those families.

    Spawning tanks should be prepared if one wishes to breed the Anabatoids.

    All Anabatoids are old world fishes, with the majority of species from South-East Asia. There are a few in Africa. All these fish need stable, mature aquariums, and planted tanks are advised for most of them.

    Now, the species.

    ———

    Ubiquitous when the word Betta is used is Betta splendens, a native of Thailand.

    In nature, B. splendens lives in small, plant-choked ponds, rice paddies, peaty swamps and even in stagnant, polluted ditches. In other words, acidic, low Oxygen environments. Thus, these fish have a highly developed Labyrinth organ, which is why they survive so well in the tiny containers in fish stores.

    B. splendens males are well known to fight each other if kept together in an average-sized aquarium. In nature, where the wild Betta looks nothing like the flowing fins and dazzling colors of the domestic strains, males each stake out a territory, usually under a floating plant. He defends that territory as he tries to attract females, and in the natural climes, each male can have a territory, so there's little to no conflict among males. A Betta tank should be well covered for best results, since they breath better in warm, humid air.

    To this day, there are still male Bettas bred for fighting among some classes of Asian society. They have been selectively bred for more than three hundred years for large heads and just a bit more than normal finnage. A fight is so quick the fish are a blur, and the loser, with fins shredded, retreats and is unwilling to fight further. Much money changes hands betting on the outcomes of these fights.

    The wild Betta splendens is quite attractive in his own way. His body is very dark green, blending toward red near the anal fin, which is red rimmed with black, as are the ventral fins. The dorsal is blue, striped with waves of green, and the caudal fins has bright blue rays with red ground. His fins are a good deal larger and he's far more colorful than the female, which is about a half-inch smaller than his 2.25 inch length. She's a muddy brown unless she's ready to mate; then she dons a yellow cast with black bars. Female Bettas are much more difficult to find, since the males are very much the show.

    Betta splendens is a bubble nest builder, that is, he blows bubbles coated with his saliva into a roughly oval mass. He usually anchors it under or beside a floating plant if he has one, somewhere in the tank if he doesn't. Those nests rarely succeed, so floating plants are a key to home breeding of Bettas. A gravid female approaches, head down, slowly edging toward the male, and if he accepts her, he wraps his body around his mate, sometimes repeatedly, and the eggs (between 10 and 200) are expelled and fertilized as they very slowly fall. When finished, the male chases the female off and he gathers up each egg and spits it into his floating nest. She must have a place, like a clump of plants, to retreat to, and then removed promptly, or he'll kill her. He knows she'll eat her eggs and fry if she gets a chance.

    At 82 degrees the eggs hatch within 72 hours, and the fry hang by their heads among the bubbles. Any that fall are quickly spat back into the nest by the male. Within a week they are free swimming, and must have the tiniest of foods (infusoria, followed by rotifers) for at least ten days, before they can take live baby brine shrimp and microworms. Males must be isolated as soon as they grow a bit, since they will start fighting at a young age. Females can be kept together without problems. Lowering the water level in the fry tank to six inches serves to get the fry and food together, and also is low enough they can start developing their labyrinth organs.

    Domestic Bettas, though their kind developed in very soft and acidic waters, are quite adaptable as to pH and hardness from decades of commercial production, and can be kept between pH 5.0 to 8.0. Wild caught examples, however, must have waters very similar to that they came from. Bettas much prefer floating foods, and it is quite helpful if they get the easily cultured wingless fruit flies occasionally. Stay away from flake foods, since they can easily compact in their intestinal tract, resulting in many unexplained deaths. Pelleted foods that float are a better option. Betta splendens live a maximum of three years, with two years more common. Temperatures should be in the low 80's for general maintenance, and water still, since splendens does not do well in aquariums with powerful filtration.

    Bettas thrive in well planted tanks, since they frequent stands of aquatic plants, if they have them, in nature. A single male can be kept with several females, as long as the tank has many areas where they can get out of sight of him. It's best to have at least five females, so he cannot target one of them with aggression. Floating plants over the main swimming area will make your Bettas more secure and thus active. Tankmates have to be small, like neon or cardinal tetras, and other than cherry barbs, barbs should be avoided as they pick at the flowing fins of the male. Corydoras catfish are good tankmates, but Doradids and things like Pictus cats are ill advised, since they'll eat sleeping tetras, and even the smaller female Bettas.
    When a finger points to the moon, the imbecile looks at the finger.

    Omnia mutantur nihil interit.

    The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go

  2. #2

    Default Part 2


    0 Not allowed!
    Usually found in his natural form is Betta imbellis, a native of Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

    Called Peaceful or Crescent Betta in the trade, imbellis is found in thickly vegetated pools and streams in nature. The 'Peaceful' name (imbellis meaning peaceful) describes the males, since when kept in a large enough tank, say a 29 gallon, they don't fight, unlike splendens males which are well known as fighters. However, planted tanks are necessary for true peace, so males can have their own 'spot' to court females. Though they dislike crowding, several males can be kept together as long as there at least five females per male.

    Reaching two inches, with females smaller, imbellis males grow into really beautiful fishes. His dark coppery body is marked with bright blue along the lines of scales, with nearly electric blue on his cheeks. His ventral fins are long, deep red and tipped with white. Anal is indigo, blending to blue, and is tipped red. Caudal fin blue with dark rays and the diagnostic rich red crescent on the edge. The dorsal is spade-shaped, and blue-green with dark rays.

    Imbellis needs his water still, as this species dislikes current. Best is clean, neutral, to slightly acidic, water that's moderately soft. Temperatures are 77 to 84 degrees, no lower, and the aquarium must be covered to keep the air above the water warm and humid. Also, like most wild-type Bettas, imbellis is a jumper, meaning a covered tank with all gaps sealed by nylon screen is doubly necessary. These fish are accustomed to other fishes, so can be kept in a very peaceful community tank. Tankmates must be mellow, like neon or cardinal tetras. Corydoras catfish are good, but if one wishes to breed imbellis, no tankmates can be present.

    Given a planted tank that has thickets along the side and back, kept warm in water to their liking, imbellis is quite hardy, living up to four years. Floating plants over the main swimming area give the dim conditions this species enjoys. A dark substrate and background will really intensify the male's colors. Females are more brassy than coppery, unpaired fins are smaller, but are prettily marked with red.

    In feeding they are easily satisfied, though live food, particularly wingless fruit flies (Dropsilia melangaster, D. hydei), given regularly, is very beneficial to these fish. Prepared foods should float, as though they will eat food that sinks (or swims, like Daphnia pulex), they prefer to eat at the top of the tank. Pelleted foods are best, since this species is vulnerable to intestinal blockage when fed solely on flake foods. Small meals should be fed to these fishes two to three times a day. Make sure you don't overfeed; in fact, meals should be very light. Feed smaller portions than you think you should.

    A spawning tank should be prepared if one wishes to breed this species. The water depth is six to eight inches, and a seasoned sponge filter should be used.

    If given floating plants, fishes fed much live food over a week, a slow raise to 86 degrees, and imbellis males will start building bubble nests under or between floating plants. They station themselves under their nests, showing off their finnage and very intense colors, and if a egg-laden female is interested in his display, she'll join her chosen male under his nest, approaching sideways with head down. It may be some time before the nuptial embrace ensues, and the pair may embrace and break away several times before spawning occurs. Adult females can produce up to 200 eggs. Sometimes both sexes gather the eggs and spit them into the nest, sometimes the male chases her away and does it himself.

    Eggs hatch in a day. The fry hang by the heads among the bubbles after hatching, and will be free swimming within 48 hours. As they are tiny, first food is infusoria, Paramecium is best, followed by Rotifers when the fry lose interest in the infusoria, followed by baby brine shrimp and microworms. Lowering the water to six inches in the fry tank serves to bring the food and the fishes together. Also the depth is necessary for the fry to develop their labyrinth organs. After the imbellis fry hit the BBS stage, one can start adding small pelleted foods to the menu. The fry must have very tiny meals often, up to six times a day. Be especially careful to not overfeed them. As usual, the fry tank must be kept clean, partial changes small and frequent, and tank covered for best results.

    For reasons known only to the breeders, this species is also available as an imbellis/ splendens hybrid. Only the more slender and coppery body of imbellis indicates that hybrid, regardless of the expansive finnage of domestic splendens. I call for a boycott of this hybrid, since the pure imbellis is commonly available, and the pure splendens is not. Do not keep the two species together for any reason, since the splendens males will attack the imbellis males.
    When a finger points to the moon, the imbecile looks at the finger.

    Omnia mutantur nihil interit.

    The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go

  3. #3

    Default Part 3


    0 Not allowed!
    Called Emerald Betta in the trade is Betta smaragdina, from the border region of Thailand and Laos.

    The common name describes both sexes perfectly, with the male possessing most of the color. Topping out at three inches given the space and care necessary, he is clothed in rich red on his body and all unpaired fins. Each scale glitters with a beautiful emerald green. She's a tad larger, her red an orange, and her emerald not quite as intense, but well kept she, too, is a showpiece.

    These fish need water that's below pH 7.0 and is soft. A planted tank, with thickets of plants here and there, and temperatures in the 76 to 82 range suits them very well., the high temp only during a breeding attempt. Floating plants over the main swimming area are necessary, since smaragdina prefers his tank dim. They dislike current, so their aquarium should have many still areas. Males of this species are peaceful with each other when kept with numerous females, say four or five females to each male. More Emerald Bettas you have the more peaceful they are.

    Tankmates can be tetras and other small, peaceful species. The aquarium MUST be tightly covered, all gaps covered by nylon screen, as this species is an avid and accomplished jumper. Males can be kept together, say four to six in a 75 gallon, as long as they each have their space and many females. In such setups they are very peaceful and males stellar. A dark substrate and background markedly intensifies the colors of both sexes.

    In feeding smaragdina is easily satisfied. Small live and pelleted foods will be happily taken, and this species feeds both at the top of the tank and in the water column. Small meals should be given two or three times a day. You can expect three to four years with this species. Given proper conditions, this species is quite hardy.

    This species is a bubble nest builder, usually building his nest under or between floating plants, but will also spawn in caves, if given them, and under plant leaves, meaning more than one fish keeper has been surprised by a spawn. He really shines green when trying to attract a female, it's quite striking. The nuptial embrace is almost tender, and often both sexes collect the eggs. He rarely chases her off. Feeding live food frequently, with daily small water changes, (less than 20 percent) almost always results in a spawn.

    Regardless where the pair chooses to spawn, eggs hatch in a day, with the fry free swimming two days later. The usual infusoria/rotifer/BBS fry feed progression follows. The fry tank must be kept clean and partial changes frequent for best results. Often the parents leave their fry alone, but occasionally they eat them, so it's best to steal the fry and grow them out in in another tank. You may have to separate groups males to different quarters, since occasionally, males dislike being crowded together in a fry grow-out tank.

    Not a rare species, but can be difficult to find, but is well worth seeking out. Thankfully this species is available in his natural, beautiful, form.

    Current genetic science indicates that this species and splendens evolved from the very widespread species imbellis.
    _ _ _

    A jet black beauty of a Betta is Betta persephone, a native of acidic ponds and slow streams of the Malay peninsula.

    What makes these fish worth having is the male. Topping out at a diminutive 1.25 inches, the males, properly kept, can be clothed in an almost velvety deep blue black, with sky blue eyes. Unpaired fins are rich blue with dark rays, and when really well kept, he can have a flush of deep red under the black. To say he's a showpiece in health would be an understatement. His mate is similarly colored, a quarter inch smaller, but her body is much more pale, and can appear rather brown. Her eyes are more green than blue. The better this species is kept the more intense colors are displayed by both sexes. A dark background and substrate gives these fish security.

    What is necessary to keep these fishes is very soft, very acidic water, and a temperature of 75. This species developed in water so acidic, down to pH 4.0, that no aquatic plants were present (more on this later), but with careful and patient acclimation, you can keep them up to pH 6.5 and plant the tank. Obviously, the water must be soft, and filtration through peat moss is helpful. Though persephone doesn't have experience with aquatic plants, they like thickly planted tanks a great deal. The plants also help with stability, which is vital with these fishes. Floating plants over the main swimming area give them the dim conditions they enjoy, meaning this species will be visible all day.

    They can and should be kept in a group, say four females to every male. Male persephone aren't combative unless cramped, so say four or five males with attendant females in a properly set up 55 gallon would be a nice display. You can keep these Bettas in a community tank, but tankmates must be small and peaceful. Rasbora espei school of 24 or more would be perfect. One of the smaller Corydoras species, say Corydoras panda, could haunt the bottom realm, and a group of six or eight would be endlessly entertaining. Stay far, far away from Barbs, save for Cherry Barbs, as tankmates for persephone. They can also be kept as pairs in a small tank, say a 10 gallon, or in a species tank in larger climes. The persephone tank should be very well covered, all gaps sealed with nylon screen, since these fish jump.

    This species is a unique bubble nest builder. As said, the waters they live in is so acidic no floating plants are present, so persephone developed a different site for bubble nest building - caves and hollow logs. Thus the key to breeding these fishes is to build many caves that have a lip at the mouth so the nest can be anchored on the roof of the cave. Some use black PVC pipes instead of hand-built caves, but to my experience, they prefer deep caves carved into driftwood best. I've also had them build nests under the long leaves of large sword plants.

    You can tell when spawning is at hand when a male builds a bubble nest, as always there's a ring of his bubbles at the top mouth of his cave. He stations himself inside and awaits a female. Females inspect the nests, and if it suits them, they indicate it by joining the male in his cave, darkening her colors and taking a head down and tail up posture. The typical Betta embrace follows, and the pair may embrace and break away several times before spawning occurs. Using an egg tube, she expels buoyant eggs, which he fertilizes, as they float up into the bubble nest. Both sexes are very vigorous and aggressive defenders of the nest, and it's best to remove tankmates one night to escape the parents' wrath. As the species is quite secretive about spawning, your first clue they've spawned is when a pair start attacking tankmates.

    Eggs hatch in two to three days at 75 degrees, longer at warmer temps, and are all free swimming in a day, which is when you steal them from the parents. The fry tank should be six to eight inches deep for proper labyrinth organ development. First foods must be infusoria, particularly Paramecium as the fry instantly recognize it as a food organism. Rotifers follow when the fry start to lose interest in Paramecium, baby brine shrimp and microworms after they lose interest in the Rotifers. Adding tiny pelleted foods the same size of the BBS with the shrimp will get it into the youngsters' heads that the pellets are food. Persephone fry grow very slowly, and it can be several months before you have to move small groups of males (remember, they don't like to be crowded) to other quarters. It'll take nine or ten months for the fry to be full grown. I've had persephone live for a bit over 5 years, so say three to five years with this species.

    What's necessary for keeping and breeding them is live foods, since they tend to wash out their colors when fed just prepared. Wingless fruit flies (Dropsilia melangaster) are a perfect live food for them. They will take Daphnia pulex happily, but make sure they have a tiny meal of pelleted foods before adding the live Daphnia so they will be digested properly. Chopped white or Grindal worms are a good live food. Gnat larvae cultured in a water butt and small black mosquito larvae should both be on the menu. They might take half of a defrosted frozen blood worm. It is vital to success with these fishes to feed them live food at least one meal every day of the week. Without live food, this species will pale, refuse to eat, and soon die. Persephone should be fed very small meals two to four times a day.

    A fish of distinction. Fairly difficult to find, but well worth it, since it is critically endangered in nature. Thus it is particularly vital this fish is successfully kept and bred by the home aquarist.
    When a finger points to the moon, the imbecile looks at the finger.

    Omnia mutantur nihil interit.

    The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go

  4. #4

    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Hailing from the island of Malaysia is Betta macrastoma, a large, mouth-brooding Betta.

    Reaching nearly six inches when kept in proper surroundings and fed correctly, macrastoma can be one of the most intensely colored natural Anabatoids available. Males, which are combative with each other, have a long, deeply orange, and in better care, deep red body. As the species name indicates, macrastoma has a big mouth, and a large head in general. The head is marked with black over the eye and over the mouth, with rich red between them. The tail fin is fan like and marked with arches of red and black, and usually is tipped with white. His dorsal is rounded with a black spot in the middle and meanders of red and orange above it. The anal fin is long and reddish orange and the small ventral fins are black.

    She grows to about an inch less and is usually an attractive orange color. Females can and should be kept in groups of at least six, but it will take some time before the ladies develop a hierarchy. After that, they are perfectly peaceful, though the Alpha female does most all the breeding. Because these fish need space to roam, a larger tank is warranted. Something in the 75 gallon size and larger would be best. In smaller aquaria macrastoma tend to hide a lot and soon makes their demise.

    As these fish are accomplished jumpers, their aquarium must be tightly covered, with even the smallest gaps covered by nylon screen. The cover is also necessary to keep the air above the water warm and humid, because if these fish get a whiff of cool air, they will die. It is critical to keep the air above the water warm and humid, I can't stress this enough.

    Macrastoma, though sporadically available captive bred these days since it's quite endangered in nature, MUST be kept in the soft and acidic planted tank, rift with floating plants over the main swimming area, and thickets of plants for both the male and females to hide in. There must be many shady and dim spots in their tank. Though pH 4.0 to 5.0 is best, you can keep them up to pH 6.5 so you can plant the tank. Hardness must be low, and zero hardness is preferable, but under gH 5 is acceptable. Water must be clean and small partial changes regular if you want to have success with these fishes, and the changes, no more than 20 percent of tank volume, must be done only at night to avoid stressing them. Current provided by low GPH power heads is appreciated, and they like leaf littler, so dried Oak leaves are useful. Temperature must be a rock solid 75 to 77 degrees, no more and certainly no less. Stability is vitally important with these fishes, and homes without comprehensive insulation, and central heat and air should skip them.

    In feeding live insects are by far the best. Small crickets and wingless fruit flies are easily home cultured. They will take live white worms and black worms eagerly, since they move. Live Mysis shrimp are good, if you can find them to culture. Frozen foods must be warmed to tank temperature prior to feeding, and only freshwater organisms should be used. Stay away from frozen mosquito larvae and tubifex worms as they spoil quickly nearly as soon as the package is opened. Any frozen food that gets freezer burn should be discarded. Most macrastoma will take prepared food, pelleted foods are best, and they should be fed a small meal of pellets before introducing live food like Daphnia magna so they will be digested properly. Macrastoma should be fed very light meals twice a day, and as omnivores, a pellet containing primarily Spirulina is a good idea. Feeding must be very light, like a cricket per fish. Feed a smaller amount than you think you should.

    In breeding, it's the female who pursues the male. Feeding live food routinely nearly always results in a spawn once the pair are at least six months old.

    Obviously filled with eggs, she approaches the male sideways with her head down. If he accepts her, his colors intensify markedly, and he demonstrates his suitability by opening his mouth wide. She too gapes her mouth, and this routine of gaping mouths can go on for some hours as they slowly circle each other.

    Then, the typical Betta embrace follows as he wraps his body around her and the eggs are expelled. The pair may embrace and break away several times before spawning occurs. The eggs fall slowly, and both he and she collects them. Those she collects are transfered to the male's mouth as they meet head to head. He retreats to a shady spot in the upper part of the tank and dims his colors as he broods the eggs. Though spawning is often successful, the male carrying the eggs full term is not, as most of the time he either eats the eggs or spits them out. My research indicates it's disturbance that causes the destructive behavior, so no noise, no running children, nothing should bother him. As their tank is is my basement, and I'm the only one who goes down there, and the floor is cement, nine times out of ten spawns have been successful and many fry have been raised. Spawns are small, though, averaging about 15 fry. Quiet conditions are incredibly important if you want to successfully breed these fishes. Do not attempt to feed the male when he's brooding.

    Full term is two to three weeks at 77 degrees, and if successful, free swimming fry will be released by him. The fry will stay near the top of the tank and can take baby brine shrimp and microworms immediately. The youngsters should be fed tiny meals several times a day, taking great care not to overfeed. Partial changes should be done nightly and no more than 10 percent of the water should be changed. I change five percent myself. You can keep the fry with the parents, since they wont bother them, and it's better to in my opinion to do so, rather than moving either the parents or the fry, as disturbance of any kind is not a good idea with these fishes. Males must be separated as soon as they start to spar, which usually starts about six weeks after release by their father.

    These fish are obviously not for the community tank and tankmates, if one must, should be Rasboras large enough to not become food but passive enough not to bother the Bettas. A macrastoma group is quite expensive and a serious investment, and successful breeding must be the priority. Though they need certain parameters to survive, given them, they aren't terribly difficult to keep. Like most Bettas, keeping them past three years is both fortunate and the aquarist skilled. One hopes captive raised examples become the norm.

    Obviously one of my very favorite Betta species.
    _ _ _

    Restricted to a handful of streams in Southern Thailand is Betta simplex, a mouthbrooding species.

    A much smaller species than macrastoma, simplex males top out at two inches, females a touch smaller, thus they can be kept in smaller aquariums. A 29 gallon peaceful community tank would be perfect, since this Betta is accustomed to other fishes in its clime. A planted tank with clean, neutral soft water, and a 75 degree temperature suits them very well. Tankmates can include small schooling fish like Rasboras or tetras.

    Males of this species are peaceful but disliked being crowded, so say four of five males and 12 to 16 females in a 55 gallon community or species tank. In the latter, many fry can be raised.

    Simplex means simple, and refers to the simple colors of this fish. Both male and female, with males brighter, are a rusty brown over silver. Males have a wider anal fin. and in exceptional surroundings and care, will be edged in electric blue and bordered in an enameled black. Her anal is smaller and clear. Ventral fins are long and white with the male, shorter and clear on females.

    As above, simplex are paternal mouthbrooders. Females initiate spawning when filled with eggs. She approaches him sideways, head down with black barring down her flanks. If he accepts her, he darkens and intensifies his colors and opens his mouth wide. If she judges his display sufficient, she gapes her mouth and shimmies toward him. Usually that's all it takes and he embraces her and eggs are expelled, though sometimes they embrace and break away a few times before they get down to business. He collects most of the eggs; those she collects are transferred mouth to mouth with him. Females that do not edge sideways toward the male will be chased away, and occasionally she's killed if she persists.

    Holding males then move to a dim corner in the upper part of the tank and resume normal coloration, though perhaps a bit lighter. Full term averages 10 days, and don't attempt to feed the male when he's brooding eggs. The fry are quite small, but most can take baby brine shrimp, so I mix rotifers and baby brine shrimp to get the maximum yield. Spawns average between 12 and 18 youngsters.

    In feeding simplex is easily satisfied, but of course you get better fish and healthier spawns if you feed them small live food often. Wingless fruit flies are good and happily eaten, and they will take live Daphnia and small white worms eagerly. Prepared food should sink slowly, and frozen foods like mosquito larvae are good. Variety is particularly important with these fishes. Small meals should be given two to four times a day.

    This species is threatened in its native range, but is easily found if one searches.
    Properly kept this species is quite hardy, often living past three years. This is a good mouthbrooding Betta for newer folks to try.
    When a finger points to the moon, the imbecile looks at the finger.

    Omnia mutantur nihil interit.

    The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go

  5. #5

    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Coming from all over Southeast Asia is Betta pugnax.

    Pugnax is perhaps the most unusual Betta, as it's native to swiftly flowing jungle streams in Thailand, Cambodia, Borneo, Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula, while the vast majority of Anabatoids prefer their water still. In its native ranges, this species shelters under aquatic and terrestrial plants that overhang the water. They are also very partial to much driftwood in their aquarium, with plants between the gaps in the wood. They do best in clean, clear water that's soft and acidic, say pH 6.0-6.8 and gH under five. Acidic water is necessary as this species is vulnerable to disease when kept in alkaline waters. Temperature should be in the mid 70's, say 75 degrees, as this species doesn't like much heat. Steady current is a key to keeping this species, so three or four power heads producing a moderate current laterally through the tank will allow the keeper to see natural behavior and a longer life.

    'Pugnax' means 'fighting', so the astute reader knows to not keep males together in all but the largest of planted aquaria. A six-foot tank well planted so the males can keep out of sight of each other would be necessary to keep two in a tank. Pugnax males top out at five inches, females a bit less, and before the reign of splendens was the Betta to have. First named to science in the 1840's, one shouldn't infer that they are colorful fishes. Males are a muddy brown, but if you feed him live food frequently, he'll turn into a nice mossy green, with a bit of iridescence. She's a pale silver, but can deepen to an attractive pastel blue well kept. Females can and should be kept in groups, say four or five to each male. More than that amount and males will be harassed often by females wishing to spawn. Tankmates can include Rasboras that grow to more than two inches long to avoid being considered food. Torpedo-shaped fishes should be excluded for obvious reasons. Barbs are good, like Gold or Checker barbs, but stay away from Tigers as they pick at the Bettas. Loaches are perfect to haunt the bottom realms.

    Pugnax was discovered to have a great fondness for mosquito larvae, and was introduced to several regions for control of that pest before New World Gambusians took the fore. Thus, that's their very best live food. They are problematic to home culture the larvae, but a planted water butt on a deck during the spring and summer will soon have the wriggling larvae in. It takes a deft hand and a fine net to dip them out, but one must develop the skill for obvious reasons. Frozen larvae may work, but you won't get the best color and health without live examples. They will also take live small crickets, the Hydei species of fruit fly, and white and smaller red worms. They'll quickly learn to take the worms right from your fingers.

    Wild caught examples may ignore prepared foods, pelleted is by far the best, but if one starts introducing the pellets in a small amount, gradually a larger percentage, over time, one can wean this species off purely live food. It can take several weeks, perhaps more than a month, to get this species to eat just prepared foods for a meal. Meals should be light and twice daily. As above, live food gets the best results, so feeding them live food one meal daily, having the other prepared, is a very good idea.

    When mature at four months, pugnax commonly breeds. In pairs or species tanks many fry can be raised. As per usual, it's the female that initiates the spawning, approaching him sideways, head down, and showing her best blue color. If he accepts her, he gapes his mouth and his green is near luminous. She opens her mouth wide and the pair go into a slow circle, eyeing each other, mouths occasionally gaped, for some time. Suddenly they embrace, and spawning may occur then, or they'll break away and resume circling each other. Eventually spawning happens, and he gathers the eggs and usually chases her away. One should either remove the schooling tankmates or him, since pugnax males are quite belligerent when holding a spawn. He'll retire to a dim back corner in the upper part of the tank, or occasionally under driftwood.

    Full term is two weeks, and males can appear rather wasted at the end of it, but will soon recover when fed properly. The fry are large enough to take baby brine shrimp and are easily raised, but males should be separated when they start sparring at six weeks. Pugnax are quite reliable spawners when well kept, and many fry can be raised. Spawns average about 20 fry.

    An easily found species and quite hardy, often living past three years.
    _ _ _

    From Borneo comes Betta albimarginata, called the White Seam Betta, in the trade.

    A quiet, restful species, albimarginata top out at just under two inches. As the species name indicates, bright white marks the margins of the anal, caudal and ventral fins, which are otherwise dark. Properly kept, males can be clothed in a rich burnt orange and the white edges stand out beautifully. His head is marked in black behind the gills and over the mouth. When younger he can have attractive green reticulations on his head. Females are silvery, with deep blue on the forepart of the body. The better this species is kept the more intense the colors of both sexes.

    A paternal mouthbrooder, this species is perfect for those who prefer peaceful fishes. Males of this species dislike crowding but can be kept together with attendant females. So, four to six males and four or five females per male can be a feature species in a mature planted 55 gallon. Pairs can be kept in a 20 gallon, and as a species tank in larger quarters. Tankmates can be schools of tetras and the like, and barbs should be avoided, other than Cherry Barbs. Tankmates MUST be peaceful, as this species is easily bullied.

    Found in forest streams with a moderate current in nature, these fish are especially suited to the planted tank, as they shelter among aquatic plants near the banks of the streams. Thus, they appreciate the current of a low gallon per hour power head. The pH must be under 7.0 and very soft, as this species commonly sickens and dies when kept in alkaline conditions. Filtration through peat moss is helpful, and the water must be kept clean, which the plants will help with, and partial water changes small and regular for success with this pretty species. Temperatures are 74 to 78, no higher. Stability is vitally important for success with these fish.

    In feeding live food is best, and when newly imported, will probably be the only thing they will eat. Wingless fruit flies, mosquito and gnat larvae, chopped white or Grindal worms and Daphnia should all be available to them, and it may be sometime before they will take anything frozen or prepared. Mixing gradually increasing ratios of similarly-sized pelleted food with the live foods can wean the species off pure live food. But, you'll get better health and color, and a much better chance of a successful spawn, if you feed them live food two out of three meals a day. Feeding must be light, as this species is prone to gorging to their cost. Variety is crucial with these fish, so many different food items should be available to them. Their tank must be covered, since this species is a frequent jumper, especially just after lights out, and gaps, no matter how small, sealed with nylon screen.

    Males put on quite a show when approached by a gravid female. A female, obviously filled with eggs, approaches him sideways, head down, and if he accepts her, he pouches out his throat pouch and starts an elaborate dance to impress her. He swirls around her several times, races up and down the tank, often breaking through the surface, and does many twirling moves, constantly opening his mouth and showing off his throat pouch. If she's impressed, she spreads her fins wide and her egg tube protrudes. Usually, the typical Betta embrace immediately follows. If not, he resumes his dance. Sometimes she accepts him, sometimes she looks for another male. Eggs are expelled and gathered by the male. If it's a first spawn, most times he chases her away, but if the pair have spawned together before, often he allows her to help him gather the eggs, and she stays in his general area while he's holding. He moves to a dim corner in the upper part of the tank to brood the eggs.

    Full term is 10 to 14 days, depending on the temperature, with warmer taking longer. When he releases the fry at the end of his chore, some can take baby brine shrimp immediately, so I mix Rotifers with the shrimp for maximum yield. The fry aren't difficult to raise, and in a species tank, can be kept with their parents, they won't bother them. In larger species aquaria fry show up very frequently. An all together rewarding experience to breed this species.

    When kept in proper conditions this species usually lives past three years.
    _ _ _

    The grand potentate of tropical aquarium fishes is Macropodus opercularis, the Paradise Fish.

    Found in swampy waters in Malaysia, China, Taiwan and Korea, this species debuted at the Paris Exhibition in 1868. Reaching four inches when kept in proper conditions, males can develop into drop dead gorgeous fishes. Macropodus means big foot and describes the tail fin, which can expand with age into quite a banner, wider than the height of the dorsal and anal fins. Flowing tendrils can grow from the top and bottom rays of the tail and the anal fin. Naturally, the male is a rich blood red with several blue-black vertical lines. Tail is red, dorsal and anal dark with red tips. Ventrals long, dark and tipped red. The female is similarly colored, though perhaps a shade lighter, and her tail fin is much smaller. When young sexes can be delineated by the male's larger lips. There are variations in color, both regional and man-made, but my description is of the most commonly available.

    The Parisians quickly found that this beautiful fish attacked and tore the fins of their prize goldfish, banishing Paradise Fish from their tanks. Adolphus Busch, the St. Louis brewer, imported several of this species to the US in 1876, but they soon disappeared from our shores. They reappeared in pet stores in the United States in the years after World War 1, and were commonly available in the 1930's. It was quickly learned how to care for the species.

    Naturally, they live in very soft, very acidic waters dark with tannins from vegetative decay. Decades of captive breeding means opercularis can be kept in a wide span of pH and hardness, but for best results, keep them in slightly acidic (pH 6.8), soft water (gH under 5), since they live and look so much better in it. Soft water is necessary for consistently successful spawns as well. Paradise Fish are adaptable to a point, but don't push it if you want to keep this species long term. A temperature of 75 suits them very well, and Paradise Fish live best in less than "tropical" temperatures.

    Males, which are quite combative, can't be kept together in all but the very largest of planted aquaria so they can easily stay out of sight of each other. Pairs are ill advised, as one will almost always kill the other. Best is a single male with at the very least six females in a species tank of at least 40 gallons. Larger climes are necessary if one wishes to keep Paradise Fish in a community setup, but fish with flowing fins like angelfish or slow moving fish like gouramis are out, since opercularis will pick at them mercilessly to their eventual ruin. Better is larger tetras, danios, or barbs (not Tiger Barbs), that move quickly enough to not become targets. In aquariums, the male will stake out a territory and repel any tankmate that violates it. Usually it's a short chase and rarely is there any damage.

    In feeding live food is of course best, and Paradise Fish are terrifically fond of live mosquito larvae. Small shrimp are a favorite as are small insects like crickets. The vast majority of Paradise Fish will eat prepared foods, pellets are best, and frozen foods that are insect or crustacean based. But, you'll get better color and vigor if you feed your charges live food at least daily, with an evening meal of quality prepared or frozen foods.

    Paradise Fish are bubble nest builders, meaning the male builds a nest under or between a floating plant or under an overhanging piece of driftwood. Feeding live food exclusively for a week with a slow rise to 78 degrees usually results in a spawn. His color is nearly luminous as he tries to attract a mate. A female, obviously egg filled, approaches him sideways, head down. The male may charge the female and will chase her if she runs, but if she shimmies her body as he charges he'll accept her. Usually the embrace happens directly, and between 100 and 300 eggs are expelled and fertilized. He chases her away and gathers the eggs as they slowly fall, spitting them into his bubble nest. She must have a place to hide or he'll kill her, and she should be removed to another tank that evening.

    Eggs hatch within three days, with the fry free swimming soon after. Quite small, Paradise Fish need infusoria for several days before graduating to Rotifers. At that stage the male should be removed since the fry travel widely in pursuit of Rotifers and the male can't keep them close to his area. Baby brine shrimp should be added soon as the fry start overlooking the Rotifers, and microworms are a good transition food, as they often will take small pelleted foods then. Males must be separated when they start sparring at six weeks; females can be kept together without problems.

    A good temperate water species, and one that can be kept and bred in ponds during the warmer months, Paradise Fish are a good one for beginners to try.
    When a finger points to the moon, the imbecile looks at the finger.

    Omnia mutantur nihil interit.

    The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go

  6. #6

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    Hailing from Thailand and Vietnam is the so-called Three-Stripe Gourami, Trichopsis schalleri. Looking superficially like some Betta species, the common name describes the markings of this pretty fish.

    Also called Croaking Gourami due to the sound the fish makes at night or when removed from the water, from a base of white silver, two blue-black lines radiate from the bright silver-blue eye, and a fainter line runs along the top of the anal fin. Caudal spade-shaped with hundred of silver spots, and is edged in deep maroon. In sympathetic surroundings and at least occasional live food, the dorsal can develop a flowing red filament. Both the dorsal and anal fins are similarly marked and colored, and the ventral fins long and bright white. Reaching 2.25 inches, females a touch smaller, males of the species properly kept, turn into glittering little fishes. She's similarly colored, more plain silver, visually heavier bodied than the male, and in better care, can have an attractive blue sheen. When small it is very difficult to tell the sexes apart. Only the male's longer fins and more defined colors when the fishes are mature can one tell the difference easily.

    There are some variations, but most can be attributed to keeping them in ill-suited water and not feeding them any live food. There are a handful of man-made variations, but in my opinion, they look best in their natural garb. This species is native to plant-choked, acidic waters, thus they do best in soft water, planted aquaria with a pH under 7.0. Floating plants over the main swimming area give the fish the dim conditions they enjoy, and will enable the keeper to see these glittering fish much more often. Otherwise they tend to stay hidden among the plants, save for mornings and evenings.

    A dark, fine-grained substrate will intensify schalleri colors. Temps are 75 to 80 degrees, no lower, and the aquarium must be covered, as this species jumps when startled, like by lights off. Though not especially combative, it's best to keep no more than two males in a three-foot tank, with three or four females per male. The space is necessary so each male can have his 'space' to court the females.

    In feeding, small live foods will give you best results. Daphnia pulex, Artemia naupili, wingless Dropsilia melangaster fruit flies, and micro worms, are easily home cultured and should all be on the menu. Prepared foods should be pelleted and fed sparingly. Schalleri will browse on green algae on firm surfaces, mimicking the aufwuchs they eat in nature. Feeding should be light and two to three times daily.

    When kept at 75 degrees, fed much live food over a week, plus a very slow raise to 82 degrees and Schalleri males will start building bubble nests, usually under or between the floating plants, but occasionally under overhanging plant leaves or driftwood. When a egg-laden female approaches, head down and gradually edging toward the chosen male, he will flare his fins and intensify his colors if her approach pleases him. The embrace is sudden and quick, and the clear eggs float into the nest. She retreats, stationing herself several inches below the nest, and the male gathers any eggs that went astray and releases them into it.

    Eggs hatch in 48 hours at 82 degrees, with the fry free swimming two days later. In a species tank, they can be left with the parents; they won't eat them.

    As the fry are tiny, infusoria is the first food, and it may be up to a week before they can take anything larger. Rotifers follow, then baby brine shrimp when the fry graduate to them. Properly kept (warm, much space, clean conditions), the fry will be half grown in six weeks. For reasons unknown by me, males seem to be much more tolerant of each other when raised all together, while wild caught males are rather picky towards each other when cramped.

    Can be difficult to find your stock of these charming fish, but the keeper can expect up to five years with their charges.
    _ _ _

    Far more widespread than the former is Trichopsis pumilus, almost a miniature version of the above.

    Found all over Vietnam, Cambodia, Sumatra and Thailand, 'pumilus' means small, and that they are. Both the male and female top out at 1.25 inches, thus they can be kept in smaller aquaria. Called the sparkling or dwarf gourami in the trade, the former describes the adult fish perfectly.

    From a glittering blue eye a dark line runs along the lateral line, with broken lines above. The line is bordered by many, many sparkles of bright, and in better care, electric, blue. Fins speckled with small spots of dark green, and are usually bordered by the electric blue. A truly sparkling little fish. Both sexes are very similarly colored, with males perhaps a bit more brightly colored, if the fishes are well kept. It takes a practiced eye to pick out the sexes. As said, it's the shade of color, also the female is visibly heavier bodied than her mate.

    What's necessary to keeping these fishes properly is soft, acidic water; pH 6.0-6.8, and quite soft. Alkaline waters markedly shorten the lives of these charming fishes. Well kept, you can expect easily five years from your charges. Temperatures in the low to upper 70's, say 75 for general maintenance. Stability is vitally important to these fish, so homes without insulation and central heat and air might consider other species. Filtration should be efficient, which live plants will help with, and well maintained, and filtration through peat moss is very helpful. Tank should be well covered for best results, since these fish occasionally jump.

    Planted tanks, particularly those with floating plants over the main swimming area, are perfect for these fish. Males aren't combative unless cramped. Best is a single male and four or five females in a three foot tank, or more in larger containers. You could have three or four males, plus the females, in a 75 gallon. Tankmates MUST be small; as small as the gouramis themselves. Rasboras, particularly those in the Trigonostigma heteromorpha/ espei complex, would be perfect. Pumilus, like most smaller gourami species, stay near the top of the tank, so Rasboras would be a good idea for the middle and lower middle of the tank. Remember, tankmates must be small and peaceful.

    In feeding live food is of course best. Wingless Dropsilia species fruit flies are ideal, and they can be easily dusted for color or lipids prior to feeding. See my culture manual in the food forum for culturing information. Pumilus will happily eat Daphnia, but should have a tiny meal of pellets prior to the Daphnia. Foods should float, since that's where these fish mostly feed. Feeding of the live and pelleted variety should be light and twice daily.

    Fed much live food, and a slow raise to the upper 70's, and females will began filling with eggs and males build bubble nests under or between floating plants or more likely under overhanging driftwood. Males station themselves under their nests, and flare their fins and intensify their colors. A egg-ladened female approaches, edging sideways with head down. Males may rush at her, and chases if she runs, but if she stands her ground, he'll accept her. The embrace follows. It may be immediate, or it can be hours before it happens. Adult females produce up to 200 eggs, which float up into the nest. Males track down any that escape. She retreats after spawning, and usually resumes normal activity if the tank is sufficiently large.

    They hatch in two days, and the fry are free swimming a day or two later. As the fry are tiny, infusoria, particularly Paramecium, is necessary as the first food. Rotifers follow, and it can be up to two weeks for the fry to grow enough to take live baby brine shrimp. With care, warmth, clean conditions and live food several times a day can result in up to a 90 percent yield. Males may have to be separated, since when they spawn, males are quite combative with each other. As pumilus is a popular species, home captive raised examples are commonly available. You may hear a cricket-like sound at night in their tank. It's the fishes vocalizing.

    A lovely little species, and quite easily found if ones searches.
    _ _ _

    Far more challenging to keep than the above, but well worth keeping, is Parosphromenus deissneri, the Licorice Gourami.

    There are several species under the Parosphromenus genus, but deissneri is the most commonly available.

    What's necessary is very soft, quite acidic waters, even down to ph 5.0 with zero hardness. Native to black water habitats in Malaysia, and less common in other regions of Southeast Asia, deissneri must have his water still, and very clean. You can keep them up to ph 6.5 so you can plant the tank, but for breeding, it MUST be pH 5.0 to 5.5 and very soft, so a spawning tank should be prepared for them. These fish, which can be quite shy in aquariums, do well when the tank is filtered though peat moss, since it's most commonly found in marshes. Temperatures should range from 75 (better) to 80 degrees. Also, most will eat live food ONLY.

    Why keep such a challenging species? Because, especially when the male is well kept, are drop dead beautiful fishes. The male, which reaches 1.5 inches, from a base of yellow, three dark lines radiate. Rich tan tops the fish, and both the dorsal and anal fin are long and full. Dorsal, black base, rich red, then black edged with bright silver white. Ventrals black, edged blue, and tipped white, and the blue carries to the front of the anal fin, which is otherwise edged in black with red between, and tipped in silver white. The anal appears to flow into the fan shaped tail, which is red edged in black and tipped with bright white. In this species, the male is the show. The female is brownish, her dorsal and anal fins edged green, and is perhaps a touch larger than her mate.

    In shops this species is usually washed out, but when carefully acclimated into proper conditions, in time, he'll develop into a true showpiece.

    Since these are acidic marsh fishes, the light should be heavily filtered through floating plants, as they tend to hide a lot and soon make their demise in brightly-lit aquariums. For general maintenance, keep them in very well planted tanks, with most of the light filtered filtered through floating plants, meaning about two thirds of the tank dim. Filter through peat moss, Canadian peat is the best, and keep them at 75 degrees, pH 6.5, gh 2. In such conditions they are quite hardy, living up to 5 years, sometimes longer.

    Though they are best kept in pairs or groups in species tanks, you can keep them with peaceful Rasboras and the like that are as small as deissneri is. A school or schools of Rasboras, T. espei for instance, will make the gouramis far more visible, as otherwise Licorice Gouramis are very shy, and likely to blush unseen. Pangio species loaches are a good idea, since they are often found in the same conditions Licorice Gouramis are. Unlike most Anabatoids, deissneri tend to stay around the middle of the tank and rarely rise to the surface to breath, meaning their labyrinth organ is less important and they breath mostly through their gills. Their tank should be well covered since these fish have been known to jump.

    As said, they'll eat live food only, especially when newly imported, which most are. Artemia naupili, Daphnia, chopped white or Grindal worm and tubifex, fruit flies (deissneri is terrifically fond of the flies), should all be on the menu. Feeding should be light and thrice daily. If one is very patient, over time, in gradually increasing ratios, one can partially wean them off purely live food, but keep in mind, it can take months. However, wild caught fish will never eat just prepared food, so a mix of live and small pelleted would be as close as you can get in weaning them off live food. In my opinion, one shouldn't try and just feed them live food throughout their lives.

    These fish are cave and overhanging niche spawners, and very secretive about it. Both male and female build the bubble nest. The tank should be extremely slowly raised to 80 degrees and double portions of live food fed to the fishes so the female can develop eggs and a keeper can have a successful spawn. An embrace follows, usually directly after nest building, and up to 100 eggs are expelled and float up into the nest. It may take up to four embraces to get all the eggs out of the female.

    He chases her away, collects any eggs not in the nest, and stations himself under it, repelling any fish that approaches. Eggs hatch in three days, with the fry free swimming three days later. I found it better to remove the male when the fry are free swimming. As the fry are tiny, Paramecium is the first food, followed by Rotifers, and up to a week later, baby brine shrimp. When the fry reach .5 inch you can start separating them into other tanks. Males are only combative when tightly cramped, or when spawning. The fry will be full grown in four months, but the temperature should gradually be lowered to 75.

    Not uncommon, but obviously, not for those with newer tanks or those incapable of keeping them properly. One of the most beautiful of the Anabatoids.
    When a finger points to the moon, the imbecile looks at the finger.

    Omnia mutantur nihil interit.

    The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go

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