New article: eBook Review - Caring For Betta Fish

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by Bosun Sogeke

Marcus Song's Caring for a Betta Fish: An Insider's Guide for Betta Lovers is filled with exclusive and little known insider information on caring for these exquisite and one of it a kind little fish. Even for someone like me, who has owned Betta fish nearly all of my life for their beauty and longevity, I learned something new at the turn of each and every page. This is a wonderful read for those who are curious to learn about these under water beauties and possibly obtain one (or three or four!) for themselves.

First, Song took me through the history of the fish, from the olden days in rice paddies to their name sake, the ancient Asian warrior Bettah clan, to their international dispense via a gift from the King of Siam. He also explained the fascinating and exciting world of fish fighting when the people of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam would put their homes and even their children on the line “on the outcome of just one fight.”

We all know that Bettas are fantastically colored. But do you know why? They were not always so highly decorated. Song delves into color variations and just how Bettas got the immense variety of terrific tints and patterns that we see today.

While explaining the facts of how Bettas are no longer bred to fight but rather for their vivid hues, Song talks about how the species has calmed down their fighting spirit and become more tranquil, slowly but surely, generation after generation. Song took me through an incredible journey of how he himself has bonded with fish beyond anything in my wildest imagination. If cared for properly, Song claims a Betta will literally wag his tail when he sees his owner approaching and will possibly come to the surface for some extra TLC in the form of a pat on the head or a little leftover piece of chicken. In a later chapter, towards the end of the book, Song also informed me that after a bond has been formed you can actually train your Betta to do tricks such as jumping out of the water for food or swimming through hoops! I found these sections truly incredible, proving that the Betta is not just "some fish" but rather gentle companionship for those looking for an alternative type of pet.

Next, after getting some necessary background knowledge, I took a journey to the pet store in my mind with Song while he explained the do’s and don'ts of scoping out a respectable pet store, choosing the right Betta, avoiding death and illness while transporting the little guy and introducing fishy to his new home. Although the tank set up procedure is simple, if it is not done correctly, it could be a life or death situation that you do not want to put your newest family member in. Song eagerly explained many Betta lover tips such as aging water to filtration instructions and beyond.

I began to wonder what else there was and if I, as a fellow Betta owner, was feeding my fish properly. Low and behold, the next chapter answered my questions precisely. Little did I know that Betta fish were carnivores and that my little guys craved treats like a small piece of chicken left over from dinner or even a tiny but juicy piece of steak! Song also eased my vacation stress of what do with our three Bettas when we went on our annual vacation. Our little men are easier to please and care for than I had thought a mere 30 minutes before diving into Song’s book.

Song then prepared me for any health issues that my fish might have, some that might have gone unnoticed had I not taken a moment to read his book. There are many illnesses that can fall over your Betta but 99% of them can be cured if the owners observe their fish with attentive and loving eyes. Song gives me all of the information I could ever need on sicknesses, what to look for with each illness and Betta lover tips on treatment and even better yet, on prevention. It is so easy to stop these problems before they start. I learned many, many helpful tips to help my Betta fish become happier, healthier and stress free.

Lastly, Song took me into a place we have all been before: the loss and mourning period at the death of a pet. Most books do not speak of this topic but it is one that we have all experience with a beloved pet, big or small. Song made me feel comforted, that I wasn't alone, when experiencing feelings of loss and sadness after a Betta fish’s death and where to go for help to cope with this loss if need be.

Song’s guide, Caring for a Betta Fish: An Insider's Guide for Betta Lovers is truly a first in the Betta world. It is comprehensive and detailed yet easy to read and maneuver through. I found his tips thoughtful, informative and very simple to follow. Whether a member of a Betta group, a Betta breeder or just a fellow Betta lover my advice to you is to read this guide! Not only will it make you a better Betta owner, you will increase the quality of life for your Betta as well as yourself by giving yourself the gift of a truly unique and one of a kind pet for years to come.

For more information or to learn more on Betta Fish, please visit my blog.

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Get the eBook Caring for a Betta Fish: An Insider's Guide for Betta Lovers


by Bosun Sogeke

Betta fish can also be placed with other fish. This truth is often unnoticed due to the fighting nature of the Betta. It is suggested that the other fish be smaller in size then the betta fish.

The tank friends for the betta fish may include:

Platies - The southern platy fish is a type of freshwater fish. It grows to a maximum size of 6.0 cm (2.4 in). Sexual dimorphism is small, the male's caudal fin being more pointed. Wild varieties are dull in coloration, deficient of the typical dark lateral line common to many Xiphophorus species. Breeders have developed a large number of color varieties which are ordinary aquarium fish for hobbyists. Platys are trouble-free to maintain and compatible to a community aquarium. This fish is generally sold in pet shops.

Swordtails – It is native to an area of North and Central America extending from Veracruz, Mexico, to northwestern Honduras. The male green swordtail grows to an average size of 14cm (5.5in) and the female to 16 cm (6.3 in). Sexual dimorphism is reasonable, with the female being larger than the male but missing the “sword”. The wild variety is olive green in color, with a red or brown side stripe and speckles on the dorsal and, occasionally, caudal fins. Confined breeding has created many color varieties, including black, red, and numerous patterns thereof, for the aquarium hobby.

Cory Cats - Cory Cats are some of the most nonviolent and interesting scavengers for a freshwater aquarium, and will flourish in a wide variety of water conditions. These catfish are very active hunters who remain comparatively small. As a result of this, they are ideal for keeping the substrate uncontaminated in a smaller freshwater community aquarium. They have a preference to be in schools of 6 or more but many people place one or two Cory cats in their smaller tanks.

Neon Tetras - The neon tetra is until now one of the most excellent community fish there is on the market. Placed in a school of 6 or more, these little guys are a tremendous scene swimming around the aquarium and chasing each other back and forth. Neons are very passive and quite small, so shouldn't be placed with very large fish which might find it a delicious meal. When placed with other fish, think about the violent behavior and size of possible tank-mates. Neons cannot be placed with killer type fish or anything that is large sufficiently to eat them, including the naive looking Angelfish.

Cardinal Tetras - The Cardinal Tetra is one of the most preferred fish to have in a tank, primarily for the reason of its splendid coloration. On the other hand, maintaining these little fish have the need of a definite knowledge that many possessors do not have. These fish are tremendously hard to breed in detention, almost all of the fish available in shops have been taken from the Amazon basin, and sadly thousands of them die every year in unsuitable tanks. It is rather ordinary, for example, to see a little kid walk into a shop with a few coins and buy one or two cardinals to add to his goldfish bowl.

White Cloud Mountain Minnow - The White Cloud Mountain minnow is an extremely resilient species of freshwater fish often placed in aquaria. This species grows to an average size of 4 cm (roughly 1.5 in), and is silver-green in color with a vivid red caudal fin. A number of varieties are known, one with vivid light edges to the dorsal and anal fins and one with red edges to those fins. Also, there is a long-finned variety. Sexual dimorphism is small, the male usually possessing more radiant coloration and having a little slimmer body.

Zebra Danios - Among the most resilient and lively of aquarium fish, the Zebra danio is easily known by its typical horizontal stripes. Their small size, no more than two and half inches, and passive temperament, make them compatible to a community aquarium. Albino, veil tailed, and long finned ranges are obtainable, as well as a well-liked leopard variety. All varieties flourish in schools.

Cherry Barbs - The Cherry Barb is a gorgeous, nonviolent fish. It makes a brilliant community fish and is best if placed in groups of 6 or more. The females are easy to differentiate, once they grew older. They are much lighter in color, generally just with some yellow and a light orange/black straight band. The female is also very plumper than the male. All in all, the cherry barb is an outstanding community fish and makes a beautiful addition to any tank.

For more information or to learn more on Betta Fish, please visit the Betta Fish World blog.

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by Hans Chee

So you've some experiences keeping betta fish and breeding hundreds of them, are you ready to go for the trophy in betta fish rearing? Halfmoon betta, one of the most sought after betta strains in the market anywhere, is perhaps the most fascinating and gorgeous breed you can ever spawn. One reason is because this strain of betta has many challenges for the breeders and keepers alike. Listed below are just some of them:

1. About halfmoon betta fish finnage - what is considered a true halfmoon?

Most layman will consider any betta fish with tail shaped in the form of a half-circle to be of halfmoon strain. While this can be used as the basis to determine if you've got a halfmoon betta, the experts will tell you that there is more than meets the eye. A more critical definition of a true halfmoon betta is one which forms an almost complete full circle where the dorsal fin (top), anal fin (bottom) and caudal fin (tail) overlap each other and forms a complete circle. Some may even classify this as a "fullmoon" betta. The halfmoon betta's caudal fin should spread more than 180 degress when flaring and the best halfmoon bettas are those with both edge of caudal fin as straight as possible. The last condition is perhaps the most difficult to fulfill by most breeders since majority of the so-called halfmoon bettas have "rounded" edges and corners at the caudal fin.

2. What about color of halfmoon betta?

Technically, finnage itself defines what's a halfmoon betta, but most savvy breeders will shoot for exotic or even colors too. Frankly, to get a desirable finnage pattern together with scarce color combination in a halfmoon is difficult. Most breeders could only have success in either one of the other, but seldom both. Indeed, there are real secrets in getting both traits at the same time. These could be trade secrets that allow some well-known betta breeders in the world to price their stocks at a premium. Just imagine viewing an active halfmoon betta with flaring in full finnage in one of the purest single tone color without any other color spots? These strain of halfmoon bettas routinely fetch sale amount in the four-figure range easily. What's more, wait till you ask about the price of the female halfmoon betta to mate the pair - that is, if the breeder ever put any on sale at all!

3. About female halfmoon betta?

This leads us to discuss a little on mating the halfmoon pair and associated genetics. Have you wonder why there is almost no sale of female betta for special strains like halfmoon? Look around and you'll discover that sales of these betta are almost non-existence for prized strains. Reason is simply because that is the most critical "ingredient" to the reproduction and further genetic manipulation of such line of betta! There are however some alternative breeding techniques that will enable you to breed trophy fullmoon bettas without starting with an equivalent female. This involves some time and a lot more attention in mating pair selection. What are the criteria to consider when starting a line of fullmoon? How do you choose a female to produce the right genetic combination that caters to both finnage and color? These closely guarded secrets are not found anywhere even on the internet, at least not easily. Over the years of breeding special strains of bettas like halfmoon bettas, I've seen such knowledge being disclosed sparingly and perhaps accidentally by chance from experienced breeders all over the world.

Hans Chee and his friends started the Bubblenest Betta Forum website back in the days when betta fish sells for hundreds of dollars each and they went to the extend of ordering these prized creatures from distant overseas. The website was started initially as a repository of all information about keeping and breeding betta fishes, later it spawn into an interactive forum and what is known today as "The Place For Betta Splendens Lovers". Visit and share your passion with the others!

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Betta species Mahachai

The Betta species Mahachai derives its name from a region of Thailand approximately 20 kilometers from Bangkok called Samut Sakhon, which goes by the local name of Mahachai. Parts of it have been called thaa jiin which means Chinese port due to it's once important role in trade with China. The region is heavily mangrove forest with brackish water, quite different than other areas of Thailand where other strains of bettas have originated. The water tends to be quite cloudy and as a result the Betta sp. Mahachai has developed very bright metallic scales to be seen. Anecdotal stories from Thais who have grown up around this breed say it was sometimes called plaa sang ka sii, plaa meaning "fish" and sang ka sii is galvanized metal sheeting used for roofing. The name seems to have been reflective of the species bright metallic scales.

Betta sp. Mahachai does seem to be accepted now as a new species. But it may be too late as its habitat is quickly being destroyed by filling in of wetlands for factory construction. Some observations of the dwindling habitat as well as other threats to the species can be found on the website of the International Betta Congress at The writer of that article, Nonn Panitvong, is a Bangkok local who made a trip to Mahachai in April 2002 in search of Betta sp. Mahachai and enlisted the help of some local kids to find and capture a few. There is also a nice gallery of photographs of Betta sp. Mahachai on the IBC website at



The first rule is making sure that both male and female parents come from the best bloodlines. The good fighter always conveys good shape, bright color and smart etc.

Select the best young betta(s) from the crowd when they are about 7-8 months old.

The fry that grow in a community tank have softer skin and their scales are not smooth or slippery enough to tolerate hard biting from a sharp teeth opponent. They need to be kept individually in a 1/2 - 1 gallon container (a jar or bottle or earth pot) for priming for about 2 weeks.

Transfer the fish into an earth pot approx. 6 inches tall and 10 inches wide, filled with clean and aged water with temperature at about 70 - 80 degree Farenheit.

Put one dry Indian almond leaf (6” x 10” inches in size.) in the water. The leaf will harden and coat the skin and scales.

*Leave it for at least 7 days (up to 10 days) while the water gradually changes into brown color.

In Thai we call it “Mug Pla” or “Priming the Fish”.

Feed the betta with 8-12 mosquito larvae or other type of live foods (if available) once a day, no more no less, and he should be fed at a certain time of the day. Keep him in the dark and quiet place. *Feed him for at least 7 days (up to 10 days).

*On the 8th or 11th day, transfer him into a prepared bottle with clean and aged water. Put one small floating plant as fish bed.

You will find your betta at prime condition. He will have bright colors, dark head, very strong, smart and very handsome, with full fins.

Be careful not to place the bottle in the direct sun light. Avoid over heating or too low temperature.

Actually I use these steps to cure my sick betta or for growing the fins back and found that it gives me the best result.


The purposes of CONDITIONING your fish are as follow:

  1. For good health. He will develop good shape and color.
  2. Keeping the betta alert and lively.
  3. Prepare the betta for fighting.
  4. To preserve and improve the bloodline and quality of this fighting strain.
There are four courses of exercise, each has its own purpose:
  1. Chasing the minor fish to develop prey and fighting drive. (Parn Pla)
  2. Sexual enticement to stimulate the urge to mate, thus displaying his male dominance and protective drive. (Yawk Pla)
  3. Water swirling to increase his strength and hardiness. (Pun Pla)
  4. Scoop (Krabuey) dipping to socialize the fish with water movement.

1. Chasing the minor fish to develop prey and fighting drive. (Parn Pla)

Transfer the fish that has been kept in the earth pot (after priming) into a square glass tank with about 1 litre of water. Leave the fish alone for 3 days.

On the fourth day, shift the fish into the 25 liters (5-7 gallon) glass tank.

Put 5 -7 small female Bettas and some weeds for the female Bettas to hide into the glass tank.

On the first day of encounter, the male Betta may not be so active in chasing the females. But, by the second day, you will see the male actively chasing the females.

Allow the male to chase the females for no more than half an hour a day.

Do it for approximately 5-7 days.

Your fish will slowly develop self confidence and get plenty of exercise by chasing the females.

You should be able to observe by the third day that the male will be chasing the females at a faster speed and more forcefully. Your fish is ready to fight.

2. Sexual enticement to stimulate the urge to mate, displaying male dominance and protective drive (Yawk Pla)

The purpose is to stimulate his male dominance and build up his confidence to create protective and aggressive drive of the fish.

You can see the most beautiful stage of your betta in this course of exercise.

Put an adult female ready for mating (full of eggs; stomach slightly yellow color) in another jar or smaller tank. (Minimum 1 gallon of water)

Add an underwater plant or dry Indian almond leaf for the female to hide in case the male decides to attack the female.

Then put the male in.

In Thai word we call "Yawk Pla" (It means "teasing").

The male will go around the tank spreading all of his fins showing off to his female.

This turn he will not attack the female but swim around showing his power and beauty. (Actually he wants to mate).

This course should not be longer than 5 minutes and make sure you do not allow them to do real mating at this time.

The benefit of this course for certain female is that the female which had previous problem not allowing the male to mate (may be because of fear) will reduce the anti-male behavior and be willing to mate; also her eggs will be rapidly growing in number. This is the event that you can take great photos to see the beauty and the brightness of the colors of the fish.

3. Water swirling to increase his strength and hardiness.

The purpose is to increase his strength and hardiness of your fish.

Find a round basin or bowl of approx. 10 inches in radius and 12 inches tall with clean water.

Put the betta in and slowly swirl the water.

Your betta will try to swim against the current.

This exercise should not last longer than 5 minutes, and must be stopped immediately if your betta has no energy to swim against the current (will lag off and swim with the current).

The drawback of this exercise is that the betta thinks that he is weak and loses his confidence if he can‘t keep up with the speed of the current. Today, some betta trainers in Thailand do not apply this course because of this reason.

4. Scoop (Krabuey) dipping to socialize the fish with water movement.

This process called "Krok" aims to make the fish familiar with the dipping of the scoop when used to transfer him from jar to jar, bottle to bottle or tank to tank. First, dip the scoop into the jar and take a scoopful of water out (causing water movement and pressure) and pour the water back into the jar slowly (making noise and bubbles under the water). Keep doing this several times a day until the fish is not frightened or afraid of the sight and sound of the scoop activity. He may even come close to the scoop and start fighting it.

These are the 4 main types of training & conditioning that betta enthusiasts should follow regularly to keep your betta healthy, beautiful, colorful and most important of all, to develop and improve the good betta species.


We use Indian Almond leaves for different purposes. Basically the leaf releases these anti-bacterial substances into the water and the water gradually turn brown like hot tea color.

For over 35 years of experience in raising bettas, I uncovered the multiple benefits of this herbal leaf.

1. We put one leaf in a 10 - 15 gallon tank to keep the fishes healthy and active and it will extend to almost double the water changing cycle. (leave the leaf in for about 1 - 2 weeks).

***We recommend overnight aged water with minimum amount or none of chlorine***

2. We put the leaf in a breeding tank to increase breeding frequency in your fish and keep the fry healthy and alert and improve their vitality. (Put a new dry leaf in every 3 - 4 weeks and discard it after 1 week. Repeat this until the fries are 4 months old).

3. To cure sick fish having any type of bacterial infections. Please consult your veterinarian initially if your fish is ill or needs preventive care. The usage of indian almond leaves is an alternative. (Put a dry leaf in a 1/2 - 1 gallon jar or bottle and keep the fish in for 10 - 14 days. Avoid any direct sun light, but keep the temperature around 70 - 82 degrees F.) Feed the fish preferably with live food such as live larvae or blood worms once a day at the same time of the day.

4. To speed up the healing process for damaged fins or bodily injuries. Put 1 dry leaf and the fish in a 1/2 - 1 gallon jar or bottle with temperature around 70 - 82 degrees F. for 2 - 3 weeks. Avoid direct sunlight and feed the fish preferably with live food such as live larvae or blood worms once a day. This will help grow the fins back faster and keep the skin and scales healthy again.

5. We use the leaf to condition our fighter bettas. We prime our young bettas when they are ready to be transferred from the community tank to an individual tank. (The process lasts 2 to 3 weeks. *see an article on "How I prime my picks of the spawn" from on Articles/Gallery page).

6. The dominant young male betta loves to build bubble nest under the floating whole leaf in the community tank to claim his territory and fight off or chase away other male bettas who challenge him.

7. Put a dry Indian Almond leaf and let it float on the surface. The male will build bubble nest under the dry leaf. Put another dry leaf on the bottom to allow female to hide from male attack. The water will become brownish to simulate its natural habitat.

**Dosage of crushed leaves for your bettas: Put approximately 4 - 5 square inches of leaf to treat 1/2 gallaon of water and 6 - 7 square inches to treat 1 gallon jar of water.


Indian Almond leaves - the so called Asian Breeding Secret Recipe which creates a natural environment and induces spawning.

Ketapang or Huu Kwang Leaves

Most of the tropical fishes that lives in the rivers and lakes, their natural and best environment is Black Water. Black water have a distinctive brownish tea like colour and contain many dissolved organic materials.

It was first noticed that fishes living around the water where the ketapang/Huu Kwang/Indian Almond trees grew are found much more vibrant, beautiful and healthy. Thus started the practice of putting in ketapang/Huu Kwang/Indian Almond leaves into aquariums to try and achieve the same condition as those found in their natural environment.

The ketapang/Huu Kwang/Indian Almond tree is a big 'pagoda-shaped' tree with distinctly tiered branching. The origin of the tree is in Malaysia and Thailand. A noted pecularity of this species is the tendency for its leaves to turn bright red and fall - a rarity in the tropics where most trees remain evergreen throughout the year. The bark, fruit and leaves of the tree have traditionally been used to treat various ailments ranging from skin disease, dysentery, headaches and colic in children. Research has identified properties which could be used in treating hypertension.

Ketapang/Huu Kwang (TERMINALIA CATAPPA, or commonly called tropical almond, badamier, Java almond, amandier de Cayenne, wild almond, Indian almond, myrobalan, Malabar almond, Singapore almond, Huu kwang, Sea almond, kobateishi) tree is known to produce a poison in its leaves and sap to defend against insect parasites. When the dried leaves falls into the river, a strong brown dye is given off. The dye is full of organic acids like humic and tannins.

So the dried Ketapang/Huu Kwang/Indian Almond leaves actually release organic acids like humic and tannins which lowers the pH of the water, absorbs harmful chemicals and help create a soothing and calm environment for the fish.

What is Humic Acid? Is it a mixture of several organic acids? Humic acids are a complex mixture of partially "decomposed" and otherwise transformed organic materials. The freshwater humic acids can come from a variety of sources, most of which are on land (decomposing terrestrial vegetation.) These substances wash into lakes and rivers, undergoing further transformations along the way, and ultimately into the ocean.

Humic acid contains Sulfur, Nitrogen and Phosphorus in varying amounts. It also contains metals such as Ca, Mg, Cu, Zn etc. which can be 'chelated' in some undefined way. Humic acid can be broken down into two groups based on the polarity and size of the individual 'compounds'.

The smaller, more polar fraction is generally termed fulvic acid and the larger, more non-polar fraction is generally termed humic acid. Humic acids are the end product of microbial degradation of plant and animal debris and are one of the most important constituents of fertile soils.

Tannins, lignins and fulvic acids are sub classes of humic acids. They all tint the water yellow.

Tannic and humic acids may be useful for inhibiting many types of bacteria including cyano-bacteria and are fairly benign for your fish.

Another paradoxical effect of humic acids is the detoxification of heavy metals. Humic material and detritus in the aquarium also rapidly absorb and detoxify many chemicals including zinc, aluminum and copper! One might expect them to be made more, not less toxic by humic acids, but the studies seem to indicate a detoxifying effect.

Also important to know: The harder the water the more ineffective the humic acids - - - more exactly: the dissolved lime in the water produces undissolvable calcium humates. So, the higher the water hardness, the higher must be the supply of humates in order to achieve an acidifying effect. The softer the water, the less humates are needed and the better the effect. It creates a natural environment similar to that of the lakes in the tropical rainforest and some area of the Amazon River. It also induces spawning for most soft water and acid loving fishes. Too much of the ketapang/Huu Kwang/Indian Almond leaves may result in too low the water pH.

Courtesy of Chris Yew.


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