Marine Betta

ThRoewer

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A long time ago far far away (in the early 90s, back in Germany) I bred a few batches of Marine Bettas (aside from a few thousand ocellaris, percula, and clarkii anemonefish).

One of my later Marine Betta pairs. The male (front) is actually one of the babies I raised on my first attempt. The female is wild-caught.
P1020082.JPG

Male with eggs:
CA-Gelege.jpg


12 weeks old juvenile
CA-J1.jpg


Fosser & Nielsen came by to take a few pictures for their book series:
IMG_20160804_0001_NEW.jpg


General
Species: Calloplesiops altivelis Steindachner, 1903
Social Structure: pair (harem in the wild)
Size of Individuals: about 16 cm TL
Age of Individuals: unknown, where adults when I got them
Date added to Tank: 1991 (no record of precise date)

Broodstock Tank Details
Size of Tank: 750 L
Substrate Details: live rock - bare bottom
Filtration Details: Skimmer
Water Changes: about 100 L every 10 to 20 days
Water Temperature: 26 °C
Lighting: 6 fluorescent bulbs (2 blue, 4 daylight)
Lighting Cycle: 12 h
Other Tank Inhabitants: a pair of Amphiprion ocellaris, a pair of Pygoplites diacanthus diacanthus

Broodstock Feeding Details
Food Types: Rock shrimp, squid, Mysis
Feeding Schedule: random, at least 3 times a day

Spawning Details
Date of First Spawn: 19. JUL 1992
Spawn Time of Day: morning

Egg Size: not measured
Egg Color: initially light gray, black and silver before hatch
Egg Count: 600 - 1000 (guess)

Hatch Details
Hatch Date: 26.7.1992
Hatch Time of Day: night
# Days after Spawn: 7
Larvae Description: well developed, roughly 4 mm long, nearly no yolk sack (lasts about half a day), black

Larval Tank Details
Temperature: 26 °C
Size of Larval Tank: 100 L octagon
Substrate Details: none
Other Tank Decor: none
Filtration Details: none
Lighting: 50W halogen
Lighting Cycle: 12 h
Water Changes: constant (hooked up to parent tank via drip line and overflow)

Larval Feeding Details
Food Types: Brachionus (I suppose it was L-type), Artemia salina nauplii from day 6
Feeding Schedule: as needed to maintain a sufficient food density

Metamorphosis/Settlement
Date of Settlement Start: 07. AUG 1992
Days after Hatch: 13
Date of Settlement End: 08. AUG 1992
Description of Fry: completely black before settlement, post-settlement body white, head and fins black. Shape nearly like the adults, most notable difference is that the tail fin has a straight end. Behavior of settled fry: pivoting around the eye like adults. Very slow eaters.

Extremely high losses due to sudden fright syndrome during and after metamorphosis.

Grow-Out Tank Details
Temperature: 26 °C
Size of Grow-Out Tank: 60 L
Substrate Details: coral gravel
Other Tank Decor: live rock
Filtration Details: hooked up to parent system
Lighting: 2 fluorescent bulbs
Lighting Cycle: 12 h
Water Changes: hooked up to parent system
Size at Transfer: 7 to 8 mm
Age at Transfer: 35 days

Grow-Out Feeding Details
Food Types: live brine shrimp and whatever there was on pods. Frozen food after 20 weeks.
Feeding Schedule: at least 3 times a day

Developmental details:

The larva has at the beginning a round body cross-section and is mostly dark-colored.

During the second week, the body shape becomes higher and laterally compressed and the coloration becomes darker.

After settlement, the appearance changes dramatically: the body sides turn completely white, while the head and fins are black. This change happens quite literally overnight. From this point on hiding places are required.

After 40 days (~8 mm TL) white dots become visible in the black areas.

After 12 weeks (~20 mm TL) the eyespot on the dorsal fin starts to develop. The white area on the body sides starts to shrink.

After 27 weeks the first fish lost its white area completely.
 
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ThRoewer

ThRoewer

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After a break of almost 30 years, I plan on raising a few more Marine Bettas.

I currently have one spawning pair in my 100-gallon mixed tank (where harvesting the eggs is difficult) and a harem group of 1 male (wild-caught), 1 large female (wild-caught), and 1 smaller female (Sea & Reef tank bred) in a 40B. I hope the 3 in the 40B will start spawning soon.

This is the male of the pair in the 100-gallon tank with eggs:


This was right at the entrance of the cave structure and could have been easy pickings. Unfortunately, I had neither suitable food nor a suitable larvae tank ready, and the next nest he put in the back of the tank where it can't be reached.

This was the pair while in quarantine, still quite little:



And this video shows them now in the 100-gallon tank



This is a (crapy) video of the harem group:



The male of the group (back then still a female) and the small female have been together since June 2015, the large female I added just a few days ago. When putting the larger female with the other two I expected actually a little bit of fighting but she got along with the male right away and pretty much ignores the smaller female. In the past I had pairs spawn 2 weeks after putting them together but it could also take a few months. I have started feeding krill but might also try to find live grass shrimp to get them going fast.

I also will have to build a special larva tank.
 

Clownreef

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That’s incredible.

I’ve always wanted one. Any special requirements to keep one? Do they need certain tank mates?

thanks for sharing. Simply amazing
 

Zionas

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They get to 8” but aren’t an active fish. A 75-gallon tank would be good enough for a single one. Peaceful tank mates and a cave to retreat to. Some may require weaning off live foods but once they accept frozen they’re extremely resilient, borderline bulletproof fish. A number of people have said their Comet was the only fish or among the few to survive a velvet or Ich outbreak. They’re that tough. Haven’t heard of them bothering or eating small fish unless it’s a tiny goby or very streamlined, even then they tend to keep to themselves.

They don’t eat all that much, 2-4 feedings a week. Once you get them eating pellets and flakes they’re pretty much indestructible. A must have fish for me, I’m getting a Tang but if I could get a pair of Comets I’d probably not get a Tang. I’ll see.

Must have fish for me, love it!

My LFS imports 1-2 a month. Pairing them will be tough for me as a matter of availability.
 
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Fishy212

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Always loved this fish. I have a 55 gallon display, unfortunately I don't think I have enough room for this beauty. :(
 

Angel_Anthias lover

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Wow thats so cool. Good luck with the process
When you say male with eggs, does that mean the male holds the eggs in his mouth to incubate them like cardinal fiah or some species of wild bettas (freshwater) would.
 
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ThRoewer

ThRoewer

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I kept pairs in 120 liter (30 gallon) tanks without issues. They really don't need that much volume, just enough caves (= rock heavy aquascape).
 
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ThRoewer

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Wow thats so cool. Good luck with the process
When you say male with eggs, does that mean the male holds the eggs in his mouth to incubate them like cardinal fiah or some species of wild bettas (freshwater) would.
No, they stick the egg ball to the roof of the cave and the male stands (literally) below it to guard it, just like you see it in the video.
 
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Krully

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Would love one but I’m afraid he would eat my dear yellow clown goby. Amazing documentation thread, good luck with the breeding
 

Krully

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I guess I need to do more research, are adult sized red fire and skunk cleaner shrimp big enough or will they try and eat them too?
 

Indytraveler83

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So glad to see your working toward breeding one! I held out forever hoping to find a captive bred one, because I heard horror stories of the wild caught ones not adapting to non-live foods. I finally found one and it's easily my favorite fish. It has eaten thawed food since day 2 and is a model citizen in my reef.

Good luck, and I hope you can help spread the love of this really cool fish with some awesome captive bred babies!
 
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ThRoewer

ThRoewer

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I guess I need to do more research, are adult sized red fire and skunk cleaner shrimp big enough or will they try and eat them too?
My guys in the 100-gallon live with a pair of Stenopus cyanoscelis (one of the smallest Stenopus) and an old large fire shrimp and have so far not shown any interest in eating them. So there is a good chance they do not go after cleaner shrimp.
Now, I got my current Marine Bettas as small adults and they grew up with shrimp in their tank and so they may not see them as food. If you get large wild-caught adults things may be different. For that and a couple of other reasons, I would suggest getting your Marine Bettas as small as possible.
 
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ThRoewer

ThRoewer

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How do you know if it’s a male or female? By the size...or wait until one puffs up with eggs?
There are two ways of getting a pair (aside from obtaining an already formed pair):
1. Sexing adults
2. Pairing small(er) females (all small ones should be females) and let them figure it out for themselves.

Fully developed males have a more rounded head profile, a bullish neck, and significantly longer pelvic fins.
Females (and young/new males) have a more pointed head profile. Females are also fuller in the belly if well fed and in the presence of a male while males always seem to have a slight upwards arch in their belly profile.

Male:
CA-M1.jpg


CA-M4.jpg


CA-M5.jpg



Female:
CA-F1.jpg


CA-F3.jpg


CA-F5.jpg


The best way is of course to check their genitals: the males' are thin and pointy like a recently sharpened pencil tip while the females' are thick and rounded like a well-worn pencil tip.

Female:
Genitalpapille F.jpg


Unfortunately, the genitals can only be seen on well-fed individuals which is rarely the case with fish you find at stores. Another way to expose the genitals is by slightly bending the fish's spine down so that the belly goes down and the tail up - basically pulling the tail up. Though, very few LFS will let you manhandle their fish that way.

The male above was one of my first tank raised Marine Bettas, born in 1992. He was only 10 years old at the time I took the pictures, still quite young. The older and larger they get the clearer the difference gets.

If you can't find enough to pick a pair or you are not comfortable with sexing them you can also go the second route:
Get one (or several) small to medium-sized specimen and a large(er) one.
For this attempt, you need a tank with enough hiding places. The largest will become the male and the smaller ones will be the females. If your tank is big enough you can keep them in a harem with one male and several females.
I had an adult pair in a tank where a 3-month-old tiny baby (~12mm) escaped to from the grow-out tank through the overflow and an Aiptasia infested, several meters long drain pipe. I had that little guy chalked off as either swallowed by the Aiptaisia or gulped up by the full-sized clarkii pair that had their anemone right where the drain pipe ended in the (sump) tank.
About two years later I found to my surprise that I had actually 3 marine bettas in that tank :D
And my latest attempt at forming a harem went much better than expected.
 
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TriggerFinger

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Wow, great reply. Thank you so much. In species of fish that do not display sexual dimorphism, can the gentian check be a reliable way to tell male from female??

Hey @Josh_boss , I learned TWO new things today :)
 

TriggerFinger

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My guys in the 100-gallon live with a pair of Stenopus cyanoscelis (one of the smallest Stenopus) and an old large fire shrimp and have so far not shown any interest in eating them. So there is a good chance they do not go after cleaner shrimp.
Now, I got my current Marine Bettas as small adults and they grew up with shrimp in their tank and so they may not see them as food. If you get large wild-caught adults things may be different. For that and a couple of other reasons, I would suggest getting your Marine Bettas as small as possible.
What are the other reasons you recommend them small? And what do you consider to be small? I’ve only ever seen 1 at a LFS and it was around 3.5”...possibly 4”.
 
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