1. What is your name?
My Name is Jennifer Sisk
2. How long have you been breeding bettas?
I was fascinated with bettas when I was a teenager, back then the only available betta were the veil and crowntail variety, but I loved them. I bought a book about betta care and breeding and spawned my first pair of veil tails and raised my first brood of betta fry. I later moved out of my parents home and couldn't take the fish with me, and years later my boyfriend and I passed some betta on a shelf at a Wall-Mart, I was telling him how badly they are kept and how I had such fun when I used to breed them. He, being a sweetheart picked up a blue crowntail male and bought him for me as a surprise. Thus began my new obsession. I've been breeding bettas for over a year now.
3. What made you want to start breeding bettas?
What got me started was the challenge, spawning bettas is relatively easy, but rearing betta fry can be one of the hardest things on earth to do. I wanted to see if I could do it again and have just as much fun as I had in my youth.
4. What is/are your preferred tail type(s) to work with?
I love them all, many people prefer halfmoons, they are the standard these days, but there will always be a special place in my heart for the veil tails.
5. Do you remember your first betta?
Yes, he was a big blue and red veil tail; I remember getting lost watching his pretty flowing fins and ever changing colors of blue, green and red. But what got me was how he interacted with me, he was always so happy to see me and had the sweetest personality.
6. How much time, daily, do you spend caring for your breeding stock?
Many people assume that this hobby is an easy one, but to produce quality stock you have to put quality time into them that means from the minute you wake up to the minute you turn off the lights. These fish are fairly high maintenance when it comes to raising the fry and conditioning the breeding pairs. I spend the better part of every evening changing water in the fry and grow out tanks, and every other day I spend an extra two hours or more changing the many jars and containers I keep my adults in. Feeding takes about half an hour or more in the morning and afternoon, rinsing the newly hatched brine and harvesting vinegar eels for the smaller fry, and harvesting grindal and white worms for the bigger fry along with feeding the many adults individually, it can seem like a daunting task but for me it has been worth it.
7. What is your preferred diet for feeding your adult breeders?
For conditioning my females and males I give them as much live or fresh/frozen food as possible, white worms, frozen blood worms, frozen brine shrimp and frozen mosquito larvae, feeding them an abundance of fresh/live food triggers egg production and spawning.
8. What is your preferred diet for feeding your fry?
I feed different foods in different stages, I like to use vinegar eels for the first few days, the eels live longer than micro worms do, they stay at the top of the water where the fry are usually at and they don’t dirty the water as fast as other foods do. I then begin feeding sparingly micro worms and newly hatched brine shrimp; I also put in with the fry live daphnia. The daphnia will clean the water and the fry will eat their young. One of my preferred methods for new fry is to add green water and floating plants to their tank, they will eat the infusoria on the plants and even eat the algae in the green water, and it also feed the daphnia and triggers them to reproduce giving the fry lots of baby daphnia to munch on.
9. What is your routine when conditioning a breeding pair?
I keep my females normally in cooler water temps and feed them once a day, when conditioning my female I will raise her water temperature to around 86 degrees and begin feeding her lots of live/frozen foods to trigger egg production and spawning. The males I keep well fed at all times and feed them a little extra before spawning.
10. What is your personal opinion on breeding for profit?
Anyone who goes into breeding bettas just for profit will be sadly disappointed, just like any business, you must go into it for personal fulfillment and enjoyment and expect to break even at best the first year or you will get frustrated and give up. Breeding any fish for profit takes patients and lots and lots of hard work and self sacrifice.
11. What is your personal opinion on showing?
I love the fact that we can show our bettas, after so much hard work and thousands of gallons of water changes we can send our best fish and show them off!
12. Do you show? If So:
I plan on entering the spring shows and getting the chance to show off my hard work and maybe even win!
A. What made you want to start showing?
The fact that is a challenge! And it would be a lot of fun to be able to show off my prize fish that I raised from tiny fry.
B. What is your biggest showing accomplishment to date?
I haven't entered yet because my boys are just a smidge too little, the males need to be 1 and 1/2 inches body length before I can enter them.
13. Are you an IBC Member? If So:
I am a member of the International Betta Congress as of last spring, I have learned so much and have gotten to know so many great people through the IBC!
A. How long have you been a member?
Since last spring 2012.
B. What are some benefits of being in the IBC?
A huge benefit to me is the vast knowledge base as far as genetics, form and color in betta, and there are so many people who are there to answer any question, and many members help other members out by sending plants even breeders for new breeders as part of their betta pals program. The support from IBC is amazing and I am so happy to have had the chance to pick the minds of the many champion breeders in the IBC.
C. Would you recommend joining? Why?
Joining the IBC is really fun and a great learning experience, I recommend families join because nothing is more exciting to a child than sending their prize fish out to a show!!
14. What were the biggest problems you encountered why you first began breeding? How did you overcome them?
My biggest problem initially was conditioning the pair to spawn; I didn't know that a rise in temp would trigger spawning and that the female needed to be full of eggs before she would even look at a male sideways. My main goal was to learn as much as I could, so I researched everything I could find about betta spawning and rearing fry, through talking with breeder and asking questions I made a great friend named Michael Taliento who taught me just about everything I know about breeding betta. Having someone help you and be your mentor is very helpful, that's another reason to join the IBC!
15. What are some unexpected problems that can arise when breeding? Beyond the obvious caused by poor husbandry or lack of experience.
Anything can happen with these fish, they are as unpredictable as they are predictable, they never cease to amaze me and keep me on my toes. I think that disease is something unexpected to most new breeders, there is so much that can happen when two fish from different tanks are put together, I had a battle with mouth rot that still haunts me, I use hot bleach and vinegar water on every container and bucket and hose every time it is used just because I never want to go through that again.
16. What would you consider to be your biggest breeding accomplishment thus far?
I collaborated with a fellow breeder in the IBC and we exchanged fish, I spawned her female to a male of mine and the fry are now seven weeks and are looking spectacular!
17. If you could give one piece of advice to new breeders what would it be?
Don't give up, be patient, ask questions, do research, and don’t judge other breeders negatively because what works for you might not work for them, keep an open mind and share your knowledge with other breeders. There's no big secret to breeding and rearing high quality fish and you don't need a college degree to do it, those who are successful at it are always trying new things and open to suggestion.