Thursday, July 31, 2014


The Iceman, White Dragon Halfmoon from Aquastar71
I had mentioned earlier that bettas were like potato chips, you can’t have just one.  Herein lies the hobbyist’s conundrum.  Before you jump into a hobby take a moment to think about how much time and money you want to commit to your hobby.    Some of us are satisfied to have a few pretty fish adorning our homes.  Others want to pursue the perfect fish and set up elaborate breeding programs supported by dedicated rooms and dozens of tanks (if not hundreds).

The Dark Lord, Black Half Moon (not Melano) from StoryBettas
I am happily at the point in my life where I have lots of free time and enough spare change that I can keep and maintain a number of fish.  My first round of purchases were all multi-color fish: a red, white, & blue tri-color, a red & white bi-color, and a pale mustard gas with an aqua body and gold fins.  My second round of purchases are all solids: a black, a white, a red, & a blue.    

Blue, Blue Half Moon from Paitune
I have purchased females for each of my males and have been housing them in separate 2.5 gallon tanks.  When the new purchases arrive I will move all the ladies to a sorority tank, and reserve the betta bungalows for the boys.    

Red, Red Half Moon from Paitune
So have I thought about how far I will my hobby?  This first year back I am going to limit myself to 12 males.  I’m calling it My Betta Calendar.  Yet to be purchased are a solid yellow, a solid orange, a koi pattern (I’m looking for the right black, orange, & white combo) and two colors yet to be determined to complete the even dozen.  At least that's the plan....and yet there is that sorority tank.

Friday, July 4, 2014


I have long been a fan of the planted tank. Much to my wife’s chagrin, I have never allowed me and my fish to be banished to a basement or an aquatic man cave. I prefer my critters to be in the room I’m in, be it family room, study, kitchen, or bedroom. Now, the only way that can happen is if the tank fits in to the d├ęcor. We have found that anywhere you can put a vase of flowers you can put a small planted tank. 

60 gallon aquascape plan
The centerpiece of my fishy hobby is my 60 gallon angelfish tank in our family room. A while back a fixture failure resulted in the slow die off of all the existing plants. Two weeks ago I replaced the fixture with a full spectrum, high output fixture and ordered new plants. The tank presents a challenging task. It is an unusual configuration, 48” long, 24” tall, and only 12” wide, which gives you the viewing area of a much larger tank. However, the narrow base makes it difficult to aquascapes, both from a design perspective and a logistics point of view. With the rim of the tank 54” off the floor, it is difficult to reach the bottom, especially in a tank that is already occupied. 

planting platform in place
Here is how I approached it. I used Rice Paddy Herb (limnophila aromatic), Purple Cabomba (cabomba pulcherrima), Brazilian Pennywort (hydrocotyle leucocephala), Pygmy Chain Sword (echinorodus tenellus), Red Flame Sword (echinodorus red flame), and Crystalwort (riccia fluitans) on a substrate of Miracle Gro Organic Potting Soil covered with sand. I’ve used branches gathered from my yard for my hardscape. Originally, I had wanted to use Scarlet Temple aka Rosaefolia (alternanthera reineckii), to keep all the plants of South American origin, but I have never had any luck with it and the stems I purchased just melted when I put them in the tank, so I substituted the far prettier limnophila. 

After a fresh layer of sand, we wait.
The design calls for the plantings to slope right to left leaving the area under the power filter open. In order to avoid a long afternoon of me hovering precariously over the tank on a step ladder, I devised a planting platform of florists gauze stretched over a frame made from unpainted wire coat hangers (see, Joan Crawford, there is a use for wire coat hangers), placed the stems in the gauze and then dropped the whole thing into the tank. A sprinkle of substrate over the gauze provides a temporary disguise until the plants cover the area. The red sword was simply dropped into place, then the riccia, which was purchased in 3”X5” mats which I cut in quarters, was scattered over the rest of the space. Tomorrow I will give it a final layer of sand to give the tank a freshly groomed look and settle back and wait a couple of months for the landscape to mature. 

Next, I will tackle the aquascapes for the betta tanks.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Tetra LED Cube 3-Gallon Aquarium
I have to admit that at one point I had a betta in a giant brandy snifter with colored gravel. Since then I have learned a lot about betta keeping and naturally planted aquariums. Now my goal is to house my bettas in functional, pretty to look at, inexpensive to maintain, tanks. To me that means naturally planted tanks with a sleek appearance free of lots of messy wires and equipment. 

Top Fin 10 Liter Cube Glass Aquarium
Ever since Takashi Amno came on the scene in the 1990s I have been a fan of the sleek aquariums inspired by the Japanese. The birth of the “Nano Aquarium” was all this betta fancier needed to pair a beautiful environment with a beautiful fish. So, I set out to find the perfect home for my soon to arrive Thai immigrants. At this point of my life I have had the happy circumstance of surrounding myself with many quality beautiful things. However, not since my dilettantish twenties have I been willing to over pay for an item. As much as I admired the stylish cube shaped aquariums popular with the current generation, I was unwilling to pay what I saw as an exorbitant price for a five gallon aquarium. I mean, my betta doesn’t need a $100 bowl to live in. 

Top Fin 2.5 Glass Aquarium
One of my go to places for pet supplies is Walmart. Go on, you can be politically correct all you want. I’m gonna shop where I can buy a quality item for my bettas at an affordable price. I first stumbled across  Tetra’s LED Cube 3-Gallon Aquarium, an acrylic, seamless tank with LED light and internal filter for just $30. It’s slick looking and though I may supplement the lighting, It will make an impressive home for one of my boys.

Azoo Palm Filter
However, I like glass. It doesn’t scratch or cloud over time like acrylic. On a trip to PetSmart to look for betta food, I found Top Fin’s 10 liter (2.6 gallon) aquarium. It is exactly the kind of space age, sleek showcase I was seeking for my finned jewels. More traditional, but highly functional are Top Fin’s 2.5 gallon aquariums, already notched for dividers to house the finny harem. 

Illuminada12-Inch Collapsible Full Spectrum Desk Lamp
All of these will be paired with Azoo Palm Filters and Illuminada 16291-006 12-Inch Collapsible Full Spectrum Desk Lamps, on an industrial chic chrome book shelf in front of my chair side window, affording me with easy viewing and the fish and plants with lots of natural light. Now where will I put the nursery tanks?