Sunday, September 23, 2007

How to hatch brine shrimp

Newly hatched baby brine shrimp are an extremely important food for betta fry. This is the food that will get your fry growing strongly and quickly. I start feeding baby brine shrimp from about the 3rd or 4th day after free-swimming alongside microworms and vinegar eels. Then I gradually stop feeding the smaller food as soon as I am confident that most of the fry are taking the brine shrimp. The most nutritious part of baby brine shrimp is the yolk sac and it is important that you feed the brine shrimp to your fry before this yolk sac is used up. This means using the brine shrimp within about 12 hours of hatching.

To get brine shrimp eggs to hatch successfully you need the following conditions:
  • Salinity of approx 15 ppt which is equivalent to a specific gravity of 1.011
  • Temperature 28 deg C
  • pH 8.2 - 8.6
  • Sufficient aeration to keep the eggs in constant motion
  • Good quality, fresh eggs. If the eggs you buy aren't in a completely sealed package at least make sure your supplier has a reasonably high turnover to ensure the eggs are fresh.
This is how I hatch bs eggs. You need the following bits and pieces:
  • 2 x 1.5 ltr plastic drink bottles (start one about 12-18 hours after the other)
  • Small airpump
  • Some airline (no airstone)
  • Airline splitter/manifold (you need 3, one for each bottle and one to keep water circulating around the heater)
  • Heater
  • A container that will hold the two bottles plus the heater
  • Rock salt (no additives or caking agents)
  • Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda)
  • Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salts)
  • Plastic funnel (makes it easier to fill the bottle)
Here's what you do:
  1. Make a hole in one of the dimples at the bottom of the bottle large enough for the funnel to go through.
  2. Put the bottle upside down, resting on it’s cap in the container with the heater
  3. Fill the container with water so it covers the heater and comes part way up the bottle. The bottles don't have to be completely submerged. An inch or two is sufficient to keep the bottle warm.
  4. Put 6 tsp salt, quarter tsp sodium bicarbonate (or the required amount to raise the pH to 8.2), quarter tsp Epsom salts, about a quarter tsp bs eggs, and 1 ltr water in the bottle
  5. Put in the airline and turn on the pump
  6. Wait 24 hours
  7. Turn off the air and check to see if the eggs have hatched, if not wait another 6 hours approx
  8. Once the eggs have hatched leave it standing for about 10 minutes for the egg shells to float to the top
  9. If you shine a light at the bottle the brine shrimp will congregate there
  10. use airline to siphon out the bs and strain it through two layers of a hanky

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Betta Anatomy Guide

It’s important to familiarise yourself with the different parts of your betta. Many hobbyists use these terms and it avoids confusion during discussions if standard terminology is used.

The image is pretty self-explanatory but I’ll make a few comments anyway.

Anal fin – the fin which hangs down and spans from the anal opening to the caudal peduncle.
Caudal fin – what most people call the tail.
Caudal peduncle – the area where the tail meets the body. Look for a strong and thick caudal peduncle to ensure that your betta can hold his tail up. This is particularly important for choosing a good fish for showing.
Dorsal fin – the fin which is on the betta’s back.
Pectoral fins – the two fins that come out the side just behind the gills.
Ventral fins – the two fins that hang down just in front of the anal opening (the vent).
Operculum – also known as gill covers
Gill membrane – properly called the branchiostegal membrane. Sometimes referred to as the bettas beard.

A few other terms which refer to betta anatomy that you will often hear are:

Standard length – measures a betta from mouth to caudal peduncle and is so much easier to explain with a picture.
Total length – measures a betta from mouth to the tip of its tail. Not very useful since tail lengths can vary a great deal with bettas.
Paired fins – the pectoral and ventral fins are referred to in this way when talking about them as a group, for example, "the butterfly pattern appears very clearly on the paired fins".
Unpaired fins – used when referring to the anal, caudal and dorsal fins as a group.

I won’t insult your intelligence by pointing out the mouth and eyes. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Opaque x Copper spawn log

This pairing is my attempt to create my own platinum halfmoon line. I know I could have imported a good quality pair of platinums. But aside from the costs involved, I’m fascinated with colour genetics in bettas and this is a great way to learn. As an added bonus the parents turned out to be carrying the double tail trait. Unfortunately, I struggled to maintain water quality in the fry tank and consequently there are only a small number of survivors. Their colours are mostly pastel steel and pastel green with a lot of red wash. I’m hoping to see in the next generation a strengthening of the metallic and opaque layers. Click here to read the full AusAqua spawn log thread.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Red HM x Red DT CT

This was an on again, off again spawn which I kinda gave up on. I never intended to work with reds but I saw this beautiful red halfmoon male and I just had to have him. My first attempt at spawning him was with a gorgeous red HM female. I set the spawning tank up, placed the female in a chimney and returned the next morning to find her dead. I then had a couple of attempts with the red doubletail crowntail female who eventually became the mother of this spawn. She became so badly battered during their unsuccessful courtship that I had to allow her to rest. While she rested I tried a red veiltail female which also failed. But the rest seemed to do the red DTCT some good and on the sixth spawning attempt the male finally spawned with the red DTCT. It wasn’t my intended pairing. I would have liked to have used a HM female. I had previously done a plakat to crowntail pairing and really didn’t want to bring crowntail into another non-CT line. But she was the only red female I had so that’s what I used. There were only a small number of eggs and there seemed to be hardly enough fry to worry about. I dutifully added food to the tank for a while but I could only ever find one or two fry among the plants. After a month I gave up on the fry and was in the process of cleaning out the tank when lo and behold, 6 little bettas revealed themselves. Click here to go to the AusAqua log.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Back to bettas

This was my first successful spawn after I returned to the hobby from an absence of about 9 years. Unfortunately I was new to fish photography at the time and didn’t get good pictures of either parent. The metallic royal blue plakat male was from St Kilda Aquarium and the turquoise crowntail female was from a chain pet store at Chadstone Shopping Centre.

I didn't have a defined goal in mind. I just spawned the best fish I could find at the time. The resulting fry were mostly royal blue and green plus a few marbles and black lace. Apart from a few exceptions there was a great deal of red wash. There were varying degrees of webbing reduction in the offspring. Mostly in the caudal fin although some individuals did have fringing in the other fins.

Had I been more dilligent I would have used the offspring to work on a crowntail plakat. But when I worked on the punnet square and determined that only a very small percentage of the following generation would carry both traits, I lost enthusiasm for the project. It would have been quite difficult to differentiate them from their siblings that didn't carry both traits. So I would have had to do several sibling spawns in the hope of getting to the CTPK goal. It's a project for some time in the future, perhaps.

Click here to read the full spawn log thread at the AusAqua forum.