I was just now excitedly finishing a post about my sighting of a berried shrimp in Cleo's tank - and she promptly murdered it. :(
I think they get too large and slow when carrying eggs to escape from her. Ah, well. Another expensive snack. I feel a sorry for the shrimp, but catching them in this tank isn't really feasible, too many hiding places in the fern roots, with too many newly-settled ferns to warrant the disruption.
So Irish and I watched her kill it and play with the poor thing's carcass like a cat with a mouse. Females bettas, if Cleo is anything to go by, really are incredibly swift and efficient hunters. She is currently 'killing' it over and over, pretending to lose it so she can pounce on it again.
And at least I know my water is good enough for the shrimp to breed in.
Well it has been quite a while since I posted anything on these forums, having been busy with Daughter and a massive 'spring' clean and some writing projects..
I guess it's time for an update!
Let's start with Cleo.. who is still in fine health and feisty as ever. She has grown a little, sideways as well as longways - she's quite plump! But that's probably due to her managing to kill and eat every single shrimp in her tank over several weeks, until there was not one shrimp left. No pellets for Cleo!
A little about her tank: Cleo is still in the 3.5g Dymax cube, and she is very happy indeed in her little home. I still have a shallow black gravel substrate, which is pretty easy to surface vacuum but not small enough for Cleo to try to eat, which I do believe she would as she is the greediest fish in the known universe. Sharks, schmarks. This fish would eat those too, if she could.
The cube's got a lot of plants now, here's the list:
2 bunches of java moss (I had to divide the one I had..)
2 potted cryptos (which are thriving)
1 potted anubias (which needs to be moved to a better spot, methinks)
1 large stem of wisteria (rooted in substrate, happy as Larry)
4 baby wisterias from above plant (rooted in substrate, 6 baby leaves each)
15 stems of java fern (tied to wood, some producing babies on leaf-ends)
2 floating wisteria stems
susswassertang bits (freshwater seaweed, attaching itself to lots of stuff, including the red silk plant I got as a gift from Irish)
It sounds like a lot, for one little 3.5g tank, but it all looks healthy and happy, and so does Cleo, and really it's a joy to see it all flourish.
I've discovered a wonderful system for watching water quality, which is proving more accurate then chemical tests. I watch Cleo very closely for any sign of tail clamping, which the fussy little thing does at the slightest, tiniest bit of something not quite right in the tank. The moment she clamps her tail, I do a partial change. If she's still clamping an hour later, I do another (though I've only had to do a 2x change once). Then she unclamps, and all is well with Cleo's world again.
This would be on top of a partial water change once a week, and a more thorough cleanup once a week, vacuuming out the excess poo and bits of muck. It's tricky work, though, because her tank is so heavily planted.. I vac around the plants, and Cleo has the decorum to mostly poo in the two corners I can reach, which means very little has to be disturbed.
I did have a problem with brown algae growth and a little more white mold than I like to tolerate, mainly after the first lot of shrimp were all eaten. I fixed the algae by adjusting my light-times, and the new shrimp are merrily snacking on the mold now.
Since I haven't done a full tank clean-out or thorough gravel vac in months, there's a lot of very fine detritus stirred up when I do water changes. This settles again very quickly, and the shrimp (when I have some!) absolutely love it. They zoom about sucking it all up, which is usually when Cleo manages to snag one...
Overall, I feel the tank has reached a happy balance. I just bought 5 new shrimp, two very large ones and three smaller - they have already learned to keep well away from Ms. Munchymouth, though the biggest (a male) tend to court disaster and prod her with his feelers when she gets too close.
Little Demyx, however, has not had such a happy time of it. His finrot progressed quite far, he is still fin-biting, and so the poor mite is looking mighty raggedy. Ten days in salt and a course of meds did nothing to mend it, so now he lives in the 1.5g hospital tank which he finds easier to get about in. He has some wisteria and a large ball of java moss, as well as his silk plant which he adores. He is a happy, friendly little fish who eats well and loves attention.. but he is still a bugger to catch at water change time! He gets a full water change every 2 days, and doesn't seem stressed about that all, past the actual chore of catching him. His tank isn't ideal, but if he's staying happy and as as healthy as I can make him in it, then I hope he has a good life. I do give him lots of extra attention, to make up for the lack of swim-space.
I felt a bit sorry for Daughter, too - Demyx's chronic fin problems mean he is hard work to care for, and she was very nervous about doing things properly. I didn't feel she was getting to enjoy the experience of keeping a betta... so....
We have a new one! And quite a story it is. But that can wait for next time, as I think this post is long enough now!
Thank you, JB! It's nice to have time to write here again, and catch up on the threads. And LOL, Zubin.. I'm keeping a copy of that pic, made me laugh, thanks.
So - our new fish... His name is Cole, and he's a black HM plakat.
Which really, is the last fish I expected Daughter to point to, and say, "MUM! That one! We have to! I want him!"
Mainly because she's 13 and likes pretty things, and there were a few other prettier fish there. And I had said, "No fish!" - but well, we got a pleasant surprise when the terrible conditions of the bettas there had been improved a little, and we could actually see which fish were healthy and which were not. Sadly, about half had finrot, a few looked like they'd spent too long being cold, all droopy and pale.. and there was Cole.
Cole is HUGE. He's either a part giant or quite mature aged, but he seems very active and 'sharp' for an old fish, so I'm thinking he may be just bred big. In any case, he was really strutting his stuff in his little shop jar, and we were - impressed. So $40 ( I love my kid) later.. and a new heater.. and some plants...
Cole is, for the moment, living in Demyx's 3g pink Kritter Keeper. Daughter and I agree it's to small and .. too pink... for Cole, seeing as he's three times the size of little Demyx, who has hardly grown at all since we got him and still a tiddler (with enormous, enormous fins!). So, he's only to be in there for a week or two and then he'll get a bigger tank.
Daughter's doing partial water changed daily, as Cole is -really- stressy about change. When he's cupped, he turns from black to white! And stress stripes, omg - I have seen nothing like it. So, to avoid him getting more run down that he probably got in the cold shop water, I suggested small daily changes, perhaps 1/4 of the water replaced slowly with mildly heated, conditioned tap water.
I've added a little salt to his water, just for this first week, to help fend off any nasties he might suffer in transition, and Cole seems to slowly be relaxing into his new home. He busted a split in dorsal fin and then his tail, flaring, which I think is because his fins were weak from being in crap conditions, but these sealed up again over night in both cases. I think the salt was a good idea.
Gosh, when he flares! His head looks enormous.. and he has bubble nested constantly, his nests getting up to 1/2 a centimeter over the water line. Daughter thinks he's grand, and I do too.
I suggested he ought to have about twice the food Demyx gets, being twice the size. Where little Demyx has to chew the tiny pellets one at a time, Cole gulps them all at once, no chewing at all.
I hope to have some pics of all the fish up some time this week. Demyx is going into another batch of meds for the finrot, it's progressing again.. though his water is kept 100% pristine at all times and he's been treated to the point where I had to stop for a while to give his system a break.
For a male betta, Demyx is so gentle and sweet. He hardly flares, and when he does he runs away as if expecting to be eaten for it, lol. He wiggles up to us - he can barely swim for fin weight, even with less fin due to the rot - and seems genuinely pleased for the company, where our other two are 'where's the food!'. He's SO tiny! Even Cleo has grown bigger than him now - I think she was actually just past fry point when I got her, as she's half again as big and growing..
I have found suspiciously shrimp-coloured poo in Cleo's tank and think perhaps the smaller ones have been hunted down and eaten. The three larger shrimp are still happily munching algae and seem not too bothered by her attempts to swallow them whole. They flip away into the java weed or one of the many hidey-spots in the tank, and come back to resume eating when she gives up the chase.
Oh - and I found the rest of the shrimp - all alive! So all five have managed to survive so far, even the very tiny one. Cleo seems less obsessed with hunting them, too.. but I'm not counting my chickens. Or shrimp, as it were.
Also, as it's been ages since I posted a fish-related poem, I thought I'd add this by 16th Century Korean poet Kwon Homun (1532-1587), translated by Jaihiun Kim. It can be summed up in the words of another 16th C Korean poet whose name I don't know:
"The best way to understand how to live is to fish without catching any."
Two Poems On Fishing
Should I go drinking and wenching?
Oh, no. It isnít proper for the poet that I am.
Shall I go hunting wealth and honor?
I am not inclined that way either.
Well, let me be a fisherman or shepherd
and enjoy myself on the reedy shore.
When it stops raining at the fishing site
I will use green-moss for bait.
With no idea of catching the fish
I will enjoy watching them at play.
A slice of moon passes as it casts a silver line
onto the green stream below.
Cleo sounds absolutely hilarious, and she's looking quite healthy most likely because of her shrimp diet. I just adore reading about her antics.
And Cole is just WOW, his tail is just so bright compared to the rest of him. I love it when bettas have created a bubble nest, just makes it seem as if they are completely happy.
Also, I hate to ask this but are you positive that Demyx has fin rot? It seems as if it should have cleared up by now if it was just that. If he has gravel in his tank he could be ripping his fins on it, something I noticed my boy has done, and recently too. Plus, it sounds as if he could be biting off any regrowth.
Birdie, Cleo is the most hilarious fish, she keeps us all very entertained. And thank you, re Cole. I can't wait to get a picture of him that does him justice. Plus, he's so big! I have to wonder if he's not part giant, his mouth is -enormous- compared to the regular kind of bettas I've seen!
And poor little Demyx. Nope, no ripping, he's in a bare bottom tank, soft live plants.. Water change every second day right now, to give him a break from dailies, but he has a huge java moss ball and wisteria to help keep the water good. I do think he's still biting. But he's approaching fin melt by the look, and I'm too scared to medicate him any further... I think it may give him all kinds of internal damage, if he's constantly medicated. Through all of this, he's been a happy little 'wiggler' and never fails to wriggle about for attention. Just a sweetie-pie. It's terribly sad.
I do notice one thing.. he appears to be rather stunted. In that he's not grown much since we got him, and he looked like a juvenile with adult fins back then. He still does, mainly, so it's not that his fins are outsized - they're normal adult fins, but his body is just really small! In contrast, Cleo was his size in body mass when we got her, and she's put on maybe a third again of that so far.. so she's bigger than him, now.
Anyway, he's just going to enjoy clean water and good food for a few weeks, and I guess I'll see how he does.. Thanks for coming by, and kind words!