Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Species profile- Betta sp. Mahachai

Betta sp. Mahachai is a member of the splendens complex, it is yet to be scientifically described. It gets to around 5-6cm with the female being slightly smaller than the male and being less colourful she still can colour up quite nicely. The male will often also have slightly longer fins.
A pair will do fine in a tank off around 40 liters but for a group a tank of around 120 liters would be good.  The tank should have plenty of hiding spots, plants and driftwood are good, as are broken pots and pipes. Irrigation piping can be zip tied together and floated at the top of the tank, this gives fish a place to shelter if they are being harassed. Generally they get on very well together, they are much like splendens but without the aggression, they are very sociable.
When they first arrive they can be extremely shy and hide whenever you approach the tank. Live black worms are a good feed for them as they will still eat them even if they have been in the tank a long time, leaving the tank while they feed will also encourage them to feed.  I added a small group of endlers to act as dithers and provide them with some live food in the form of fry. They also encourage the bettas to eat prepared food from the surface.
Mahachai are very tolerant of their water conditions, they will thrive in almost any water provided it is free from ammonia and nitrites and not too excessive nitrates. I have had mine in tap water, rain water and a mix off the too. Their native habitat is a brackish swamp so I add around a handful of salt to my 60 liter tank. I also add shell grit to my substrate to buffer the ph.
Breeding is usually initiated by the male, they are a bubble nester like all of the splendens complex. A storm moving through the area and a water change or top up with water that is a few degrees colder than the tank water can help induce the pair to spawn. Their breeding differs from the rest of the complex however in that the female holds the eggs in her pelvic fins. The fry can usually be left in with the parents.

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