We have a fish store that's about a 15 minute drive out that's become a favourite haunt of mine. The staff there treat their animal stock with respect and will refuse to sell these beasties to anyone who does not have the right set up at home. They have a betta expert on-hand and refuse to keep bettas in anything less than a large betta barracks system (which has yet to be built... in the meantime the bettas each have a 7 - 10 gallon sales tank to themselves complete with floating plants).
Two weeks ago I spotted a betta hiding behind a potted plant in his tank, I couldn't see him so I moved on but I went back last week and he swam out and took a good look at me, I returned the favour and saw he had a deformed spine. I felt bad for the boy and wondered about fish TB, I've done vast amounts of research on this illness but couldn't see any other symptoms present. I called it a day and went home but I couldn't get this fish out of my head.
I decided once I got home that if he was still there "next" week (this week) then I'd buy him and put him in my spare aquarium. I don't know if any of you will agree but it seems to me that bettas are bred to be beautiful and I was fearful that because this guy had a couple of oddities that no one would give him a loving home. I suppose I now understand how it feels when people say a betta "called" to them.
So I went back to the store a day early yesterday and immediately checked on the bettas -- he was still there. He was swimming around more and stared at me again for a while. I was minorly distracted by a red beast of a betta that was flaring at my grey coat (this same betta had done that the week before too) but quickly returned my attention to observing the deformed beastie and seeing how he swam. I had a few concerns as the aquarium I had for him was heavily planted and while this guy swam well, I wanted to make sure his future home was suitable for him; I spoke to one of the staff members and he also observed the fish and checked his responsiveness (through mimicking feeding routines) and everything was fine, so he was bagged up, packed up and brought home (the fish, not the employee
I've never seen a fully grown male with a stress stripe before but bless him this guy was a bit on the groggy side once he got home, I set to acclimatizing him and eventually released him. He swam around and explored every nook and cranny of his new home and continued to show an interest in me, too. I was very careful to make sure he was able to swim around and not get stuck but he swims very gracefully for a fish with a stubby body. I eventually realized that his spine was a bit deformed but it wasn't bent, it was just very short. Poor guy. Anyway, he's a gorgeous fish and here is a photo:
All that text for one photo, eh? I'm hoping to get more later on. Since this guy has been in my care I've noticed other deformities: one of his ventrals doesn't appear to be in his control (you can see it in the above image), one of his gill covers isn't "sitting" properly and I think he had ammonia burns at some point in his life as his gill covers look scarred. Otherwise he's a healthy fish with a big appetite and a love for my bright pink flakes (good quality ones, 48% protein). He's refusing pellets for the time being but I'll gradually get him to eat them.
I believe him to be a double tail as I can see two lobes forming at the end of his body but it's hard to tell. He has some lovely white pinstriping going on, too. I don't have a name for him yet but am hoping to come up with one soon.