Local Pet Store and Rescued Bettas
My first Betta, the Betta that sparked my passion for this beautiful fish, came from my local PetsMart. He was the usual red-blue pet store variety but to me he was gorgeous. After doing some beginning research on Bettas I soon became horrified over the tiny little cups that pet stores usually sell their Bettas in and the conditions that Bettas survive until they find permanent homes.
So of course, from that point on, every time I passed the Betta display in local pet stores I wanted to bring them all home and provide each of them with spacious gallon homes. My parents on the other hand, would have no part of it. "Can they live in that huge ten gallon tank with the one you already have at home? Of course not so don't even think about it.""You can't have gallon bowls all over your room can you (little did they know!)?" Eventually, as my passion grew, along with my collection of show quality Bettas, I no longer wanted to bring home all the Bettas at the pet store. Instead, I carefully scrutinized every individual Bettas for desirable fin and color traits.
Most breeders shy away from LPS (local pet store) Bettas because they often have severe fin and color faults and introducing either could destroy a line's qualities. On almost every visit to the pet store I left without a Betta because all exhibited undesirable traits. However, there were two occasions when I found Bettas that could possibly contribute to my show lines. One was a little female I found at Wal Mart. I discovered her shortly after I had received my first pair of show fish and I was still very uneducated about genetics and color varieties. She was forest green with a white head. Forest green! The elusive true green color that every breeder desires but none can seem to achieve. Unfortunately, I choose to pass her up seeing how my fish were blue and she was green. Stupid me! I still regret that choice but there isn't much I can do about it now. The other LPs Betta I found was also at Wal Mart. He was black with green iridescence on his fins. I had always wanted to try and create a black bodied, iridescence finned bi-color and here was a fish that exhibited those characteristics.
Thankfully, I was a bit more experienced and I snatched him up. I bred him with a show quality steel female. The fry have blue fins with a red wash but their bodies have very little iridescence on them and most of the fry are dark bodied. Their dorsal fins turned out beautiful as did their anal fins but their tails are beginning to veil, a dominate, but undesirable trait. I may or may not breed them, I haven't decided yet but that LPs male helped me to get a little closer to my dream. He still lives with me at home and I have only bred him once - he should be way past his prime by now. Regardless of whether I breed him again or not, he will live out his life a comfy gallon tank with a java moss couch, fresh frozen food every day and luxurious weekly water changes, a huge difference from life as a pet store Betta.
Recently I have added two more LPs Bettas that I rescued from school. A popular lab done in the Biology classes at my school is creating a self-sustaining ecosystem. This lab consists of one two litter soda bottle filled with soil, plants and bugs, connected to another filled with water, aquatic plants, and a fish -usually a Betta. The ecosystems are only run for 3 days so the fish don't risk starvation but it still bothers me to think that the poor Bettas, after 3 days without food, would go home and be fed to the toilet bowl because someone did not want to care for them. I am not about to attempt to convince my teachers, whom I respect, to discontinue the lab, so instead I offer a free home to anyone who does not wish to care for their Bettas. I also try to educate the teachers on proper care and I am contemplating creating a care sheet to pass out to the classes so they know how to care for their Bettas once they bring them home. This year I have received two LPs males from one of the classes and I am expecting more as the other teachers conduct the lab. After transferring them to their new home they both gobbled down defrosted brine shrimp and blew huge bubble nest. One of the males has half of his tail and anal missing from what looks like fighting with another male. The wounds were healed when I received him and the fins have begun to grow back a little. It is a great joy to watch them turn from sulking hungry Bettas to bright, feisty wanna-be fighters.
After sending out an inquiry for rescued Betta pictures, I received Wonder Woman's picture and her story from Stephanie. The following is Stephanie's response and Wonder Woman's tale:
"I am attaching a pic of Wonder Woman. She got the name after we realized she was going to survive. When we got her she was very dark . . . looked black, so she was going to be Cat Woman. I noticed at the pet store she had a bad case of fin rot and knew it would take some babying. Once I got her home I started treating for fin rot with Maracyn II but she seemed to get worse. Then she got a patch of fungus on her head. She stopped eating, laid at the bottom and was barely breathing. 95% of her tail was gone along with a significant portion of her anal and dorsal fins. I had read on the club about salt baths and figured . . . what they hay . . . I have tried everything else. The directions called for 4 tablespoons of salt to a cup of water. (Now I know this had to be a typo!) I followed the directions and put her in. She went crazy! I couldn't take it for more than 30 sec or so so I put her back in a a clean jar. She was still going bonkers and actually knocked herself out by banging into the gravel. I thought I had killed her. Near tears I went back to my desk to make sure I had read and followed the directions correctly . . . I had. So I went back to the kitchen and was prepare to flush my fish. After all she had been floating on her side. I had even picked her up with my fingers. Imagine my surprise when I looked in and she was swimming! Her appetite came back the next day. The fin rot stopped. The fungus was gone in less than a week and wonder of wonders her fins grew back. I never imagined they would be so pretty, I thought they would grow back clear as most of the club members had suggested. The pic doesn't show her face very well but you get an idea on her complete recovery by the fins.
I have about 30 LPs fish. I also have another rescue from Fri. night. Someone had dumped two Bettas out of their cups into the plant tank at PetsMart. I was able to scoop one out who was the obvious looser. 99% of his tail is gone along with 80-90% of other fins. He isn't eating yet but he is still with us. I can't even tell what color his fins are supposed to be as so much is gone and what is there is tattered. I don't have a pic yet but will try to get one tomorrow."
Shortly after receiving the above email, Stephanie sent me a picture and update on the male mentioned in the last paragraph.
"When I first got him home he was so faded I couldn't tell what color he was supposed to be. Now it looks like he is blue with red fins, but we shall see. He didn't eat for the first 3-4 days. I did daily 50% water changes and treated with Tetracycline the first day. I rarely use such a wide spectrum bacteria killer as Tetracycline but figured I needed something to clean out the injuries asap. After that I used melafix and salt. An extra pinch of aquarium salt added to the water has worked wonders for me. He finally ate some today. Once he has his appetite back a little more I have some high protein food I think I will try giving him to give him a boost to grow back his fins. I will also attempt some blood worms or brine shrimp."
Unfortunately, many rescue stories are about two males that were dumped together and someone was kind enough to take home the loser and try to nurse him back to health. A quick note about the salt bath - Salt baths are a very debated issue and results do vary. I have used them myself with good results. They seem to help a number of external ailments including fin rot, fungus and torn fins. The next person you ask may tell you to never immerse a fish in a salt bath. Regardless, salt baths are an experimental procedure and results vary. Conduct at your own risk. If you wish to try a salt bath on a fish suffering from fin rot, etc. Always use NON-IODIZED SALT. Rock salt works well. Do not leave the fish in for any longer than 5 minutes. I usually leave them in from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
Aside from the personal satisfaction that accompanies rescuing a Betta, LPs Bettas can also be very rewarding to own because of the almost unlimited color combinations and their physical hardiness. LPs Bettas come in a wide array of color combinations and each Betta's color pattern is unique. LPs Bettas are not usually pampered like show Bettas, and they tend to acclimatize much more quickly and handle stress much better. LPs Bettas must survive a long shipment trip, living in a tiny cup for sometimes months on end, little to no food once they arrive at the store and then the sloshing trip to their owners home. After surviving all these challenges, the Bettas that arrive at the store and survive to be purchased, are pretty tough Bettas and you are almost guaranteed that your LPs Betta is a pretty hardy fish.
The following are LPs Bettas owned by Stephanie:
Mr. Freeze has won second place in the Yahoo bettasplendens Club photo contest, beating a show quality male (see LPs Bettas are beautiful too!)