Posted by: Beautiful Bettas | September 26, 2016

Betta Fry Missing Ventral Fins

One of the most frustrating things I have experienced is being excited about a spawn, only to have them reach 3-4 weeks of age and… the fry are missing ventrals. I thought it might be worth discussing the possible causes in hopes of helping other breeders since the discussions are rather decentralized around the web.

betta fry missing ventral fins

betta fry missing ventral fins

  1. Feeding nematodes: banana worms, microworms, walter worms and vinegar eels
  2. Medications – especially those for treating velvet
  3. Water Quality
  4. Other factors?

Feeding nematodes: banana worms, microworms, walter worms and vinegar eels

This is complicated. The general belief is that the longer any nematode is fed to betta fry, espeically as the bulk of the diet, the fry will not have ventral fins. The fry in the photo was fed only banana worms for 3 weeks before adding in baby brine shrimp and other things. I’ve had other spawns where this was true too. But I’ve also had a few that were fed many nematodes and they were fine. There is some other factor at play. It is also a common theory that more bacteria forms on the bottom of the aquarium and it can eat away at the ventrals as the fry rub against the bottom of the aquarium. There is a definite tie to it being more likely to occur if the fry are fed any of the nematodes for long periods. I have found that if I siphon a fry aquarium daily and wipe the bottom if feeding nematodes, that the missing ventral problem occurs less often.

Medications – especially those for treating velvet

There is also a definite connection with treating fry for velvet with copper based medications especially that result in no ventrals. Of course, it is better to risk treating the fry than to let them die from velvet so that is a gamble most breeders will take.  I’ve found that using either almond leaf extract or almond leaves often keeps the fry from getting velvet (and they are prone to it with my water).

Water Quality

No matter how frequently water changes are done or the bottom of the aquarium is wiped, bacteria or toxins can build if the fish are over crowded or food is left decaying in the aquarium for too long. This might possibly be a cause as well. Ideally it should be 2 fry per gallon  when growing them out. Bacteria and parasites can definitely eat away fins, including ventrals.

Other Factors

I have been talking to an aquatic veterinarian about these issues and if water is too soft the fish cannot absorb enough calcium or magnesium to develop correctly. I will be conducting further tests to try to figure out the specific cause as my second spawn that came up missing ventrals only had vinegar eels for a week, then baby brine shrimp and I introduced pellets and gel foods at 3 weeks… still no ventrals. I’ve raised bettas in my water previously without missing ventrals so there is some other factor at work that I will have to figure out.

Posted by: Beautiful Bettas | September 13, 2016

Climbing Vinegar Eels?

Vinegar Eels are a great first food for free swimming betta fry. They don’t sink like microworms, banana worms or walter worms; tend to swim near the water surface and also live longer.  They also keep the fry off the bottom of the aquarium which makes siphoning out waste easier. Harvesting them is a bit of a pain. Since they live in half apple cider vinegar, half water with some apple chunks (or sugar)… they must either be forced into fresh water or filtered through a very find sieve or coffee filter.

Method 1:
Pour some of the culture into a clear bottle with a neck (to just below the neck). Shove filter floss inside the next down to just where the vinegar starts and pour fresh water above the cotton plug. A string or wire should be tied to the filter floss to get it back out. Leave over night and the vinegar eels will, in theory, climb up into the fresh water to get oxygen. This method never really worked for me.

Method 2:
Pour some through a coffee filter and feed. This works but the smallest worms are sometimes missed.

Method 3:
Wait… there is a third method? Yes, if you are lucky. My cultures are exhibiting a peculiar behavior. The vinegar eels climb out of the culture like microworms would do. The original culture had apple chunks as food but the second two (started from the original) were just fed a bit of sugar. All I have to do with mine is swipe some off the glass, with a q-tip and swish in a little cup of water (When the eels climb they form clumps so it’s important to detangle them before feeding). Then I just squirt some into the betta fry tank with an eye dropper or syringe (you can find a syringe with a bit of tubing attached often times in the baby isle to give medicine or for handfeeding birds without a needle — which is what I have). Start with a small amount until you understand how many your fry need… The eels will die eventually if you put too many in there.

The way I have my vinegar eels cultured might make a difference. They are in half gallon jars about 3/4 full with a coffee filter rubber banded over the top. Searching online yields no specific information on what causes the vinegar eels to climb.

Vinegar eels climbing

Vinegar eels climbing

Posted by: Beautiful Bettas | August 26, 2016

Free swimming koi betta fry

Here’s a photo of the koi betta fry checking out their first meal of vinegar eels. They became free swimming yesterday.

koi-fry-freeswimming

 

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