I want to dedicate this thread to my very first Betta named "Leon" who passed away on March 15th 2016.
Since I was a teenager there was a book lying around at my house about common Aquarium fish and it was there where my dream of owning a beautiful Siamese Fighting Fish began. My first aquarium was a typical community tank where many mistakes were made. But one thing I did right and that was not putting a Betta into it as well.
Many many years later I decided to fullfill me my dream and keep a small tank with one of those beautiful Siamese Fighting Fish inside. So I started to research. Forums were read, articles about fishkeeping were read, sources for Bettas were searched and then, for Christmas 2014 all the equipment was bought and installed.
I purchased my very first Betta! On the website of the European importer/transshipper for Aquabid. He was just a color code at first. I ordered a "A033 - Blue Red Halfmoon", the type I always liked the most! I didn't see a picture, just an example. Would he be as good looking as the example picture? Will he be better looking? Or worse? Will I love him if he's not exactly how I imagined him to look like? All this questions would be answered after an agonizing
wait of 3 months.
On a cold March 1st 2015, I drove 100km (60 miles) to the town where the importer lives to pick up my Betta. My mom went along with me because she was curious and wanted to keep me company. We arrived, but the importer had stuck in traffic at the airport and so we had to wait for 4 hours or so until the importer arrived with several huge boxes full of fish for half of Europe.
After sorting everything out, my name was called out and I finally held this little bag wrapped in newspaper. I carefully removed the funny looking Thai newspaper and there he was! Sooo little and obviously a bit scared. And boy was he beautiful!
Those colors! These fins! Those small puppy eyes that looked a little frightened at me probably saying:"Where the **** am I? And what happens with me next?"
My mom sat next to me and said:"I know a name for him. Leon." At first I found it stupid, but I am bad at name giving so I went along with it.
Arrived at home, Leon took his place in a 30l (8 gallons or so?, lol imperial system). His tank mates were Red Sakura shrimp and since Day One he never snapped even one of those shrimps! He was the most friendly Betta you can imagine. Even when a shrimplet sat right in front of him, he didn't touch it. On the contrary! I think he made an agreement with those shrimp by never eating the first few pellets I give him but instead waving them around with his fins until they sank on the ground where the shrimp ate them. It was not till then when he started to eat, only after some 4-6 pellets sunk for the shrimp to feed on.
After a while, I decided to get him some tank mates. I researched and came up with Corydoras habrosus (or "Salt and pepper catfish" as they're called in english. Funny name). Being the gentle and friendly being that Leon was, he never had a problem with them and all fish were happy in this tank.
Almost every morning, when I just have woken up and sat on the bed, he saw me and darted like a rocket to the front left corner of the tank dancing around and greeting me. That was so cute, I still can't believe that a fish could be like this. Recognizing me and dancing all around like a little puppy dog? How cute can one single fish be?
But behold! If I dared to first go to the bathroom instead of giving him his breakfast immediately, then he would get upset and would ignore me for the next few hours.
As the time went by, I tried to give Leon the best care I could. He always got varied food (flakes, pellets, frozen, live), he got a bigger and better filter, more live plants for hiding and leaning on them. Playing with a mirror didn't work with him, as he only would look at me like:"So what? What do you expect me to do? I know that I'm good looking! Don't need a mirror for that!"
He became a great friend. I always looked at him when I was passing by his tank and was always worried about him getting sick or bored. When I was doing tank maintenance in the shrimp tank standing nearby, he came and watched me like he was cheking if I did everything correctly. His favourite food was frozen brine shrimp. Of course I would let them warm up first and then give him them. He couldn't get enough of them. He even broke his agrrement with his shrimp tank mates and stole the sunken pieces from them unntil nothing was left behind. He was always interesting to lookt at and it was a pleasure to have such a friendly gentle and smart Betta.
He had a healthy (at least I think so) life until March 2016. The most awful month I can remember. My computer monitor died, my smartphone died, my car broke, some financial problems occured (being a student).... and as if all that wasn't enough, Leon died on the night of March 15th.
He was a bit lethargic the last few days, but at first I thought that would go away again. He got his favourite food (frozen brine shrimp), he got some more catappa leafs and I reduced the filter outflow so he would be more comfortable. But nothing helped. And then, this one night...I was watching a movie late at night and I got a feeling that I should look after Leon. Took the flashlight and I saw Leon, lying on the Java moss, not breathing, not moving.
He was with me only a year. I planned for at least one more year! Many sources tell Bettas get to 2-4 years. Leon was with me for 12 months plus the time he was in Thailand, make that 6 months (max). That makes him 18 months old. Not even close to 4 years! And not even 2 years! What did I do wrong? I don't know.
- He had a heater (25-26C°)
- He had a big enough filter for his tank (Eheim Aquacompact 60)
- I always did the weekly water changes of 30-50%(test kit had always 0 nitrite, 0 ammonia, 15 nitrates when I checked)
- He didn't have other fish that could stress him out
- He didn't have any signs of sickness (until the last few days being lethargic)
Maybe, maybe my water was slightly to hard with 14°KH and 7,5 PH. But my research told me it was still within the limits (though at the max) so I thought that this would be OK.
Maybe he died really only because of old age.
Maybe because being a possibly overbred/inbred Betta with shortened life expectancy.
I don't know.
All I know is that it was a great time with you, my little buddy. You showed me how awesome Bettas can be and left me wanting more. I would trade all the Bettas I can have and will have in the future for one more year with you, like I thought it would be. Please don't be mad at me and forgive me if I did something wrong. I have always tried to do my best to give you a great life. May you rest/swim in peace wherever you are now.
Leon died in the night of March 15th 2016. I was watching a movie. I will never watch this movie again. I did not have the heart to throw his body in the trash can or flush him. I'm 29 years old, but I felt the need to bury him as silly as it sounds. I buried a small fish behind my house under a tree. Leon was small compared to other pets, but he has a very big
place in my heart. Forever.