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OBSERVATIONS ON BETTA COCCINA
In 1979, Jorg Vierke, a noted German aquarist, described Betta coccina, a new bubblenest building Betta species from Sumatra. Betta coccina’s beauty and rarity have made it a sought after fish.
Betta coccina could easily be mistaken for a killifish and only slightly resembles other Betta species. While appearing physically dissimilar to other Bettas, we have found that our B. coccinabehave just like Betta imbellis; that is to say, we keep five adults together in a ten gallon tank. The fish constantly flare at one another but in our limited experience (3½ months) we have only noticed very minimal fin damage, even during spawning.
When we first purchased our fish they appeared very shy and tended to take advantage of plant cover, only leaving it for an occasional pounce on live brine shrimp or Platy fry, which incidentally, were all they would eat. The Bettas were initially difficult eaters. One spawn and 3½ months later, both adults and fry readily accept frozen brine shrimp. The five adults even eat out of your hand. They are very responsive to people and come out and “flare” when being fed. The fry tend to hide from one another but seem not to be startled by movement near the tank.
Betta coccina has a 2″ long, slender body. Males are slightly longer and thinner than their mates.
Their colour varies with their attitude and tank conditions. It changes from a dark brown with light gold stripes (fright pattern) to a dark wine colour both in body and fins. The latter colour is most prominent during spawning or when a dominant male is flaring in the tank. In the dominant adult male there is a ¼” blue-green metallic spot mid-flank. This spot appears in the fry about the time they become sexable and it seems to be only on the male fry, and in adult fish only the dominant male shows the spot.
As with other Betta species, the male’s fins are longer and more colourful than those of the female, especially the male’s flag-like dorsal and caudal, which show a light gold metallic colour on the top edge during intense activity such as breeding. The females show alternating dark brown/light gold stripes with light red fins (fright pattern) or they display dark wine bodies with light wine-coloured fins. Males can also be distinguished from their “round tail” mates as they have a “spear tip” caudal fin. Under spawning conditions the male’s dark wine colour often appears to be an intense “velvety” black and with their electric blue-green eyes, Betta coccina is a fish that must be seen.
We found next to nothing published in the usual hobbyist reference books. It appeared from all we could glean that the best approach to spawning would be trial and error, mostly because, successful or not, this approach would provide the most information. So we went about setting up and conditioning the spawning team. The aquarium was a standard ten gallon (half full), with a fluorescent light kept on 24 hours a day. Keep the top tightly covered because they may be jumpers.
We selected the dominant male and a female that had seemed to have chosen him. The pair were conditioned on live foods three times a day. For such a slender fish, the female became very robust and displayed the “eggspot” common to other Betta species. The surface of the water was covered with Water Sprite and a large piece of Java Fern. An aged sponge filter, lightly bubbling in a back corner was used. Diagonally across from the filter an inverted half of a styrofoam cup was floated as is our practice with Betta splendens. The cup serves three purposes. It decreases the amount of motion on the surface and so less repair of the nest is required. It provides shade and shelter similar to that found in the natural environment. And by properly placing the cup, you may choose the best site for observation.
All our efforts became worthwhile when, on the second day of the spawning set-up we noticed the pair embracing in typical Betta splendens fashion. The male had also built a rather small, flat bubblenest under the cup. The first few embraces were awkward and eggless but this soon changed and large white eggs were produced. The male retrieved these eggs and placed them in the nest while the female watched attentively. As with Betta splendens, this procedure was repeated again and again but with a few variations worth mentioning. After all the eggs were released the female was no longer allowed near the nest and was relegated to being chased away by the male. At this time the female, with only one minor split fin, was removed.
It was now that the male moved his entire nest, eggs included, from under the cup to the underside of a large Water Sprite leaf in the back of the tank. The new nest was larger and stronger looking but the eggs hung out of it in a conical cluster resembling a bunch of grapes. The male tended his nest and young carefully for about 60 hours; by this time all the fry were free swimming and had absorbed their egg sac.
We removed the male and began feeding the fry newly hatched brine shrimp three times a day. This food was eagerly taken and the fry grew rapidly. At 50 days the size of the fry ranged from ¼” to ” total length and by 90 days later they ranged from ¾” to 1″, with some being easily sexable. Total adult length is about 2″.
The water was carefully maintained at 80F with a pH of 6.8. The fluorescent light was kept on continuously and weekly 30% water changes were carried out. A word of caution: the only time we experienced significant fry losses was immediately following one of the weekly water changes.
From the Monthly Bulletin of the Hamilton and District Aquarium Society
Source: Aquarticles (no longer available)