Betta Ocellata - by Nico Luchoro


A species that does not leave anyone indifferent, both for its characteristic color and its behavior, it is one of the largest and most difficult betta species to find on the market. Erroneously, there is information that its adult size is around 8cm, something totally wrong and that we must take into account, since it will easily almost double this size. This is very important to be able to imagine the minimum urn size that a couple will need for correct reproduction and development. 
The Betta Ocellata is a paternal mouthbrooding fish, this means that the father will be in charge of incubation, the male after spawning collects the eggs with his mouth and protects them in it, although it will be both parents who will protect the fry. once they start free swimming. 
The behavior of this species is very interesting since I had the pleasure of reproducing them several times and it is impressive to see how the older brothers do not harm the younger ones, which is why they have a very special family behavior which is not the case in the betta family. very common. 
Now, let's talk about how to reproduce them... Perhaps the breeding method most used by hobbyists is to use a bare and as clean aquarium as possible to get the most out of reproduction, but after several years reproducing various species of fish, I can guarantee you that the conclusion I obtain is that to create a strong stimulus in the animals and achieve a better attitude in their reproduction, it will not only be enough to adjust parameters and feed correctly, we will also have to look for the way in which the stimulation for courtship and the incubation by the animals (if they incubate) is as comfortable as possible for them, a method whose success is usually quite overwhelming against the bare aquarium is to recreate the biotope from which the fish we want to reproduce come from, In this case I will tell you how to recreate the ideal conditions for successful reproduction of the Betta ocellata. You can extrapolate this method to other species for which it is difficult for you to find a stimulus to trigger courtship and breeding. 
The first thing we must do is look for information on the origin of the species. 
We know that this fish comes from northwest Borneo and the eastern part of Kalimantan (Kalimantan Timur) and they are usually found in two types of environments, in clear streams in calmer areas where they are protected by emerging vegetation to stalk their prey. , and on the other hand we can also find them in stagnant areas where the leaf litter is part of the bed, creating potentially tannic waters, which makes us think that they are fish that require a rather acidic pH. 
There is information collected that specimens collected in clear waters have a blue/green color and those collected in tannic areas have a yellow/brown color. This is usually a system of mimicry of the environment that usually occurs in most wild species. 
In clear water areas they are found with fish such as the Garra borneensis, Homaloptera stephensoni, Gastromyzon danumensis... among others, all of them fish from moving and basically clear waters, in addition these waters usually have a higher concentration of oxygen and a higher pH. 
In the black waters we find fish such as Rasbora sumatrana, Puntius sealei, Pangio mariarum and Trichopodus trichopterus among others... 
Why do I mention the inhabitants who live with betta ocellata? Very easy, in some species we must take this into account, since keeping them with sympatric species or similar to those found in their habitat, can help stimulate the induction of breeding, either due to the need to protect a territory or to help reduce intraspecific aggressiveness, in this case it was not necessary and we only had to use only one partner. 
After knowing this, we need to observe images and videos of the environment, although we can imagine it (many times we will only have this option and be guided only by field studies and first-hand information), it is always interesting to document the environment and search for videos and images It can be very inspiring and then be able to recreate an optimal environment to achieve the visual success we want to achieve. 
In this case we have a great advantage and we found various videos on YOUTUBE of their fishing by native people of the area showing us both the environment and their great voracity when it comes to fishing them. 
Looking closely at this graphic documentation we clearly see vegetation emerging from the water that could be Homalomenas or Aridarum, moving areas and stones with pebbles caused by water erosion, also with a characteristic dark coloration that makes us think that we do not find limestone stones in area. 
We look for information about the chemical needs in water and find the following parameters: 
Temperature between 21-25ºC rather cool than warm, always within a tropical temperature. 
PH between 5.5 and 7.5 
Hardness between 0 and 180ppm 
Food will be key, they are carnivorous fish, their diet is based on small fish and different invertebrates such as worms, shrimp and insects, although once adapted they will eat any commercial food. 
Another important point is to know the sexual dimorphism, in this case the male becomes somewhat larger in size and the coloration is much more striking than the female, in addition to having a larger head and a more threatening mouth. 
With all this information we can now begin to transfer it to the breeding aquarium. 
The measurements of the aquarium used are 60x45x45cm, but we will leave it only half full of water, many of you may think that it is a small volume of water, but I can assure you that the fish feel very comfortable with this level of water, we will also have to have the certainty of closing the aquarium very well since these fish are pure muscle and have great jumping power, being able to rise almost half a meter above the water level without any problem... that said, we will use black pebbles, mangrove wood, silica sand and volcanic gravel that we will use for the emerging area where we will put some homalomenas and cyperus and it works great for the correct root development in the plants. This area will be semi-submerged and just so that the fish can take refuge between the stems and roots of the plants in case they need it, (quite a green refuge) in addition to this, we also use leaves to relax the animals in the deeper areas. of Terminalia Catappa (Indian almond) and also of Magnolia grandiflora which, being harder, will have to be replaced less frequently and will generate less detritus. 
The water used will be mixed osmosis, giving about 50-70ppm of TDS and we will make a semi-tannic environment since as these fish are found in both waters it is a way to have a higher percentage of success, although the couple we have could be collected from areas of clear water since its color is quite intense and according to what we have read, it leaves us with this conclusion, it is good to add tannins since it is a natural stimulant for the relaxation of animals. 
We will set a temperature of 23ºC, something intermediate to the parameters that we have previously read that are found in origin. In addition to this, we have a filter with great power to ensure optimal water quality, in this case we use a JBL901. Keep in mind that at most we will have about 50 real liters of water, which means that the filter is very oversized, this will be a guarantee of success. 
Once we have everything ready and with the optimal water parameters for the maintenance of the animals inside, we introduce the couple. 
The couple we have is adult and very healthy, so we avoid a complicated part that is correct growth and we focus only on their fattening to prepare them for breeding. In this process we stimulate them with various fresh and frozen foods, which, although they eat dry foods willingly, the best way to stimulate them is to give them foods rich in fat and carbohydrates. In this case we abuse frozen red mosquito larva, live tubifex and frozen mysis. However, this will be the base but between meals we can also give them some granules or flakes. 
We will try to change the water as little as possible, since the aged water will help stimulate the animals. 
A stimulus that usually works very well for me is this: we do not touch the water for 2 - 3 weeks (that is why we need a very powerful and oversized filter) we feed them during this process several times a day, always avoiding excess food at the bottom, and after this we change 50-70% of the water through pure and fresh osmosis, about 4ºC below what we keep in the aquarium. If the couple is ready, courtship begins soon. 
Three weeks after the animals remained together and after carrying out the aforementioned stimulus, we observed the first hug, (the Anabantidae perform a characteristic hug at the time of laying where the male wraps the female so that she releases the eggs. at the same time the male fertilizes them) and as the male takes the eggs with his mouth and we finally see that he is incubating, at this moment we can think that we have already done everything, but nothing could be further from the truth, now the male must endure incubating to the small eggs that it houses inside for around 15 days, the incubation may vary depending on the temperature of the water, I must also add that an excessively high temperature will cause poor incubation and the eggs may not reach successful hatching. . 
Seven days after incubation began, I saw that it no longer had them, so it did not know how to tolerate them. This is normal, especially for the first clutches, so do not worry. We must also keep in mind that when the male is incubating, it does not We must feed in the tank, even if the female is with him, this will help the female not to gain energy to make another lay and force the male to lay a new lay, in addition to this it is important to have a pH that is around 5.5-6 since which will help prevent the eggs from spoiling. 
The first time he ate them, the pH was around 7 and the temperature was 26.5ºC, so in the next setting I made the decision to lower it to test the effect, this is something that I recommend you do when the result is not the same. wanted. 
After a few days this change was rewarded, after approximately 15 days, the male was no longer incubating, and I feared the worst, when suddenly under a magnolia leaf, I saw one of the hatchlings, the approximate size is like that of a guppy fry. It is impressive to see how such large parents grow out of them and continue making their lives with the young, so much so that two weeks later the third hug arrived, the male was incubating again, and my doubts assailed me... what What will happen to the new fry if the older ones double their size? Well, nothing, they simply ignore each other, a behavior that rarely occurs in this world, and the most curious thing is the voracity that these animals have. 
Another factor that caught my attention is the ease of feeding the little ones, I wanted to try a method that was as natural as possible, and with the almond leaves and the parents' food I wanted to know if the fry would survive... and so on. It was, a few days later I saw how the little ones ate the crushed scales without any problem, and a few weeks later they were already hunting the smallest tubifex without any problem, the voracity of the little ones has no limit, they even devoured red mosquito larvae, being a third of the total size of the fry. 
So there is no doubt that they can be fed with few problems. 
Even so, adding newly hatched brine shrimp could speed up the fattening process. 
Once they were growing in size, I changed their aquarium so as not to saturate the small breeding urn. However, in the fattening process it is very important that any gap we find in the lids of the urn is covered correctly since they are animals that will manage to escape. if we give them the slightest chance.
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