After the demise of my other two fish, I really didn't think I would be getting a new one anytime soon. I still haven't named him yet and I'll tell his full story at another time, but he's a HMPK and he is living in a MarineLand 5 gallon hex with a sponge filter, a bunch of silk plants, and an anubias, some wisteria, and java fern.
My fish seems to be hyperactive! He zooms around, and spends a lot of time going up and down (like a loach) along certain ridges of the the tank, fins a-wiggling, but NOT obviously flaring. I have seen him flare occasionally, and it's very pronounced when he does so. This other behavior is just odd -- I can't tell if he is trying frantically to get to his reflection so he can play with the other fish, or if he's being territorial, or if he's looking for a mate. I should mention when I found him in the store, he was frantically trying to get to me, as if to move his cup by willpower alone. He completely ignored the other fish that I put his cup near at the store -- he seemed to have eyes only for me.
Is this normal for a plakat? I have heard that plakats have more energy than their long-finned brothers, but this is like a five-year old child on a sugar high. He does not seem unhappy, but I don't want him stressing.
I plan to add a nerite snail and a mystery snail in a week or so, since he did not seem to be phased by them at all at the store. Would that be okay, or is he already too wound up for potential tank-mates?
How long has he been in there? Maybe he's still adjusting.
Only one of my bettas ever glass-surfs like that, at first it was because she didn't have enough hiding places, and now she just does it if she gets nervous/scared.
I got him on Saturday evening, and he's been in the tank since then. He seems to concentrate on the "seams" on the back panels. He is not flaring as he zooms up and down (he does this rarely, mostly the first night after about 4 hours in the tank), which is how I discovered he was a HMPK -- when he is not flared, he looks like a regular plakat.
I don't *think* it's a shortage of hiding places. He did hide when I first put him in the tank, mostly behind the sponge filter. The upper half of the tank is basically a jungle of silk and natural plants, and the lower half has a cave (Underwater Labs Cichlid Stone) which he investigated on the first night (but hasn't been back to AFAIK), the sponge filter, and the lower fronds of the silk plants plus an anubias. He doesn't seem to hide among the many, many leaves. He's also got a leaf hammock to rest on, which I've seen him use for about 15 seconds on two occasions.
The filter, FWIW, has the current turned down very low, and I even tried turning it off, but he seemed not to notice.
I've attached a picture of the tank. I had to turn on the light in the tank which does cause some glare, but without that light on, the reflection of the laptop covers most of the area that I am trying to show! The most whited-out area (from glare) is pretty thickly filled with plants, not empty. Naturally, he won't pose for a photo ;)
What do you think?
Last edited by NorthernLights; 02-03-2014 at 11:05 AM.
Reason: added some plant info
I'd say it's just him being a plakat. My HMPK Drogon does pretty much the same thing you're describing, and he always has. I'd peg it to the fact that they're more hydrodynamic than their long-finned cousins. I think bettas are, as a general rule, very energetic and zippy fish, and that plakats show that off the best because they move with much greater ease than the others.
So I'd say it's just normal betta behavior, made more noticeable by the fact that your boy can dart about.
As far as adding tankmates goes, the success of adding snails or other creatures seems to be dependent on the individual fish. Some bettas are perfectly tolerant of tankmates--usually it's the more mellow ones--while others have been known to harass them. With snails, there's the chance that the betta might decide to chomp off the snail's eyestalks and feelers.
It sounds like you might have a high-energy fish, given how exuberant he was in the store, so I'd be careful introducing them. Perhaps see about adding additional things to distract the betta--ie, give him a ping-pong ball to peck at, do flaring exercises with a mirror, etc. Just remember that snails have a pretty high bioload for their size!
More time has gone by, and I have added and removed more objects, but my fish is still glass-surfing as though its going out of style, only now it is a more side to side "pacing", rather than "loaching" up and down at the seams. There is now a second, much larger anubias, and a narrow-leaf java fern. I took out one of the silk plants, and moved things around a little. I also added a second thermometer, and a golden Mystery Snail. My fish didn't even notice the snail for about 2 hours, and when he finally did, he just stared at the snail for a few seconds, then seemingly decided this was neither food nor foe, and swam off. Since then, he ignores the snail, despite the fact that it zooms all over the tank, parachutes down from the surface periodically, and snoozes in the wisteria. I have tried two different backgrounds for the tank -- one with underwater plants, and the other with a sandy-bottom ocean vista -- and he puffs up into the most remarkable flare and *stays* fully flared until I remove the background. When there is more stuff in the tank (especially in the areas he glass-surfs), he just finds another empty spot to do it. I even tried turing the filter rate UP, in case he wanted to play in the bubbles, to no avail. He's a persistent little guy!
My mother thinks there is too much stuff in his tank and that he needs more room, rather than more distraction. She also thinks the light for the plants makes him more upset, but I haven't noticed a difference. Maybe this is just how he is? I'm very nervous about this because I've read that the glass-surfing habit is a bad one (like a fish neurosis), so I don't want to just "not worry about it" if it is a real problem. Since he flares at the backgrounds, I am thinking they allow him to see his reflection better, so I am not sure if he's just "playing" in a plakat kind of way when he surfs or if he's bored and neurotic.
I have included some further pics to give perspective on the new set up.
See how much of the plantings you can set-up right on the walls to interrupt his path. Looks to be enough plants, especially with those floaters. Keep flaring him and distracting him. Put different colorful things outside his tank. Draw on his tank with erasable magic marker.
Glass-surfing is kind of a nervous tick, but he's not psychotic. Certainly nothing to worry about. He seems very energetic so it may take a while. But he'll eventually outgrow it.
Both of my bettas - one red veil tail and one lavender elephant ear - are just like this. They zoom all over, total spazzes. Jetta, my desktop betta at work, is particularly hyperactive. But I think the stimulation of having a person sitting right there and moving around all the time might be very thrilling for him. At home, Elise the betta (my daughter named him after herself...) spends all his time zooming around looking for the cats. I have 2 cats that will just sit there and watch him swim around. When he sees one of them nearby but not next to the tank, he will scoot around trying to get their attention and then when one of them jumps up, he just swims up and down up and down. He doesn't flare at them and he sometimes even noses his little floating tube over toward them like he thinks they're going to jump in and play. These are my first bettas, and I'm thinking that bettas are just...quirky by nature?
I have snails in both tanks, and neither of the fish bother the snails at all.
One of my fish I bought back in August has done the same thing every day since I got him. He moves so fast I get tired watching him. He's a half moon but had bad fin rot when I got him so his tail is smaller making it easier for him to zip around. If I stay up really late and leave the room light on the other two will be in their sleeping spots but this one will still be swimming. Just the way he is.
Thank you all for the responses! I am going to try some of the different ideas you mentioned.
Hallyx, when you say to keep flaring him, are you suggesting I leave the backgrounds in place? I know some flaring is good for them but I thought too much can hurt their fins. Since he is a plakat, maybe that is less of a concern (even for a HMPK)? It's not like he flares, then relaxes, than flares again -- he seems to stay in a flare position continuously and swim around in that post rather slowly looking at the background.
I did try taking out the silk fern and re-arranging the plants to be very close to the walls, and the only change that seems to have made is that he now paces across a longer stretch of the tank (before he would find a few inches and just back and forth there; when I put stuff in his path he'd either move around it or find a new place to pace).
Interestingly, I have nothing right against the front panel of the tank, and he rarely paces there.