High Prairie Farms
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© 2001, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2008, J. Atchison
A while ago I was visiting my favorite local fish store (LFS), Ocean Aquarium, in San Francisco. Its' a great place to find unusual fish. Some are really unusual and some in the middle of the "rare range"...Betta pugnax being in the middle of the "Oh-my-gosh-this-is-so-rare" meter. Owner Justin Hau always take the time to show me the new fish he has received during the week and saves the best for last. On that particular day two fish caught my eye: Corydoras sussei and Betta Pugnax. It was a tough decision but I picked up breeding groups of each. On the way home I thought up some pretty creative rationale to justify my decision to my wife...she is too kind.
Let me start out with a little background on this fish. It is a Betta, but does not build a bubble nest. It is a mouth brooder. Most of the mouth brooders are found higher in the drainage systems where the water flows. It would be nearly impossible for the fish to rely on a bubble nest for it's continued survival in flowing water, so it holds the eggs in it's mouth...more specifically the male holds the eggs in his mouth and the female roughly, more or less, guards the male and the immediate territory around the cave.
I have been using "system" water for these fish. Our normal water, is neutral and 120 ppm TDS. The ambient temperature of the room creates a water temperature of about 75 degrees. We have these fish on the end of a row where they do not get too much foot traffic and the lighting is not an intense as it is in the middle of the room.
The tank is set up with a sponge filter running a fairly brisk bubble stream, three broken flower pots for the trio of fish, a java fern and a good sized clump of java moss.
It takes a whole lot of fruit flies and blackworms to bring these fish into breeding condition. I have used Grindal worms, blackworms, and fruitflies to bring these fish into condition. Two of these foods are fed each day. While I use a limited palate of live foods, they seem to eat anything. They also seem to eat a great deal. They are routinely fed twice a day. They are not small fish and easily reach 3+ inches in body length. They have rather large finnage...not so much that the fins are long but that they are broad and powerful. No doubt to deal with something other than stagnant pools of water.
You can click on the photos
to see an enlarged
The fish is a rather drab color when it is not in breeding condition. This first photo is of a female in non-breeding coloration. You can see that she is heavy with eggs, but there is no available male for her to spawn with. She is a plain brownish hue with a dark bar behind her eye. Note the long ventral fins. Well they are long compared to some fish. Her caudal is rather large also and at approximately 3 inches she is a strong fish.