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Discussion Starter #1
I was browsing eBay and almost bought a Betta Mahachai, without realizing they're wild, not just a fancy coloration/type of Betta (the seller was also selling splendens).

Are they difficult to care for? I read up on them, from what I read, they seem relatively easy to care for. 10g minimum for a pair, 5g for one, bubblenesters like splendens, brackish water, tanks with lots of plants, caves, and places to hide. They aren't picky eaters and can do well on frozen foods and pellets. They are peaceful, more so than splendens, and can be kept with tankmates that will not bother them. Interestingly, people also subject them to similar living conditions as splendens, putting them in jars and bowls. Is any of this correct? Can they actually be kept alone? Are wild species of Betta more social and need a mate?

Do you think they would be a good introduction into wild Bettas? I don't really see them recommended anywhere. I'm kind of interested in owning one now. Unless the websites I've gotten my information from are wrong, and it's a lot more complicated then they're making it seem.

A screenshot of the Mahachai I saw on eBay, I think they're pretty, I liked his copper color a lot:
20161203_081926.jpg
 

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They don't need brackish water. Many hobbyists keep (and spawn them) them in 100% freshwater.

They can be kept alone. There is a reason why it is fish from the splendens complex that were selectively bred for fighting. You can't enhance what isn't already there to be begin with. If you were interested in keeping a pair, I'd suggest a 10 gallon tank.

Tolerance of tankmates would depend on the individual fish. Some wilds are just as aggressive as the ornamental form of Betta splendens, and are just as capable of causing serious injury or death to other fish. Personally, I prefer to keep my wilds in species only set-ups.

For most species of wild betta, a moderately to heavily planted tank, with dim lighting, dark substrate, and tannins, will show them off at their best. And trust me, you will want them to look their best as otherwise they are incredibly drab looking fish, and if they are unhappy with their tank they will spend most of their time hiding.

A tight-fitting lid or cover is a must if keeping wilds. If you have an opening of even a few centimetres across, a wild betta will find it and jump out. Never underestimate the jumping abilities of these fish. Far too many wild betta keepers lose fish to something that is entirely preventable. Personally, I use plastic cling film over all my tanks. I lost dozens of fish before I started using it, and have not lost a fish to jumping for years now.

Caring for wilds is not difficult at all, as long as you ensure that they are happy and healthy. Especially with fish from the splendens complex, which don't seem to be as sensitive about water conditions as some of the other species.

One thing to keep in mind, is that hybridisation is a huge issue with fish from the splendens complex, both in the wild, and in captivity. You can get fish that look pure, and are labelled as such, but which are actually hybrids. For example, I don't think believe the copper colouration is a natural colouration (although splendens complex species are not my area of expertise).

While the issue of hybridisation may not matter if you are only wanting a pet, it is a concern if you are wanting to breed at some point in the future.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I have a plan for one male, specifically that one. I'm just not sure about what kind of lighting to put in the tank, since they prefer dim lighting but do well with live plants. It's a 5.5g.

It's fully cycled already with a low flow filter so I don't have to worry about that. I have a Finnex Stingray (Planted+ is a bit too expensive right now) saved on Amazon, and a glass canopy. The tank I plan to use has tan sand (I guess I'll need to change that), and I've set it up with lots of IAL (about 10 or so large leaves) so I'm hoping that'll sink soon to create a leaf litter bottom, and leech enough tannins. It also has 3 Ghost Shrimp but I guess I'll see how that goes with them and how aggressive he is, I was planning to get more for that tank but I'll put that on hold.

Them not specifically needing brackish water has opened up my plant options a lot. I have lots of Jungle Val coming soon that I'm splitting among 3 tanks, tons of Dwarf Water Lettuce, some Temple Compacta from my planted tanks, two decent sized Amazon Swords, and Asian Watergrass which I'm planning to float just to start the tank off with enough plants for him. I'm hoping the floating plants make it dim enough with the Stingray, Flourish, and CO2 Booster to keep them going. I also want to find a piece of driftwood to fit.

I don't plan on breeding, I was sort of waiting for confirmation that they can be kept alone before going for it, because I don't really want a pair, just a pet. He does look different from Mahachai's that came up when I searched the species, so he is most likely a hybrid, but I don't mind.

Should I change anything in the tank plans? I've purchased him and asked the seller to ship him next Monday rather than this Monday, just to make sure everything is set up properly. He didn't seem to have any problems with keeping him for a bit. I get two day shipping on Amazon so I have a bit of time to plan.
 

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Does the glass canopy cover the entire tank? As in there are no small openings left for power cords etc. that the fish would be able to access? If there are any openings at all that the fish would be able to reach, I'd cover them with cling film.

I don't mean to repeat myself, but if there's even the smallest gap these fish seem to be able to find it and jump out through it.

If the sand is covered by leaf litter it shouldn't be an issue. While I prefer a darker substrate and now use aqua soil, I've kept previous wilds with a sand substrate.

In regards to the shrimp, he may or may not attack them. However, based on personal experience, I'd lean more towards 'may'.

Most wild betta males will also respond to a mirror. Because he's the only fish in the tank, using a mirror to stimulate his natural territorial instincts will provide him with some mental stimulation and exercise. However, obviously I wouldn't recommend doing this if it causes him stress.

Finally, wilds seem especially prone to obesity. So if live foods will form part of his diet, keep 'richer' foods such as blackworms, white worms, and grindals to a minimum.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It comes without any gaps, but I will have to cut two small holes in the back of it for the plugs for the heater and filter. The filter is internal so the glass can actually cover it. I plan to cover those holes with cling wrap, thanks for that info.

I usually feed mostly frozen foods to all of my bettas, I have Bloodworms, Krill, Mysis Shrimp, and Brine Shirimp. I'll skip feeding him the bloodworms entirely, maybe an occasional treat every few weeks. The pellets are NorthFin brand, I hope they'll do fine for the days I don't defrost anything.

I'll try flaring him with a floating mirror. Does 10 minutes daily sound good? Or less? I don't usually flare my males unless it's for pictures.

I'm really excited to have a wild soon, they're something I've wanted to try many times but never did because it seemed intimidating.
 

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Your last statement is something I come across a lot being someone who keeps/breeds wilds.

Basically, the most difficult thing about keeping wilds is ensuring water conditions are to their liking. Even then, most species will do fine in water that is neutral or near neutral. Also, although this has never been a problem for me, some wilds can be very shy in an aquarium setting. The method I use to make newly arrived fish more comfortable with my presence, is to gently tap on the glass before I add food to the tank. It takes maybe a week or so for even wild-caught fish to associate the tap with food, and eventually, me. You walk into my fish room and tap on the glass of one of the tanks, and you will have fish gathering at the front of the tank in a matter of seconds. This is something I also teach to fish bred here from an early age.

Ten minutes might be a bit long when you first start off. I would try only a few minutes at a time (I tend to move the mirror back and forth) and as the male's interest and stamina increases, you can leave it there for longer periods of time.

The only trouble with wilds is that they are terribly addictive. It doesn't take long before your entire fish room is taken over by them.
 

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That gold one is not mahachaiensis, the gold colored one is copper smaragdinas. Mahachaiensis will always have full markings on its gills, not spotted like betta smaragdinas and sticktos. Who ever the seller is, is selling smaragdinas and should be corrected immediately. Mahachaiensis are only able to throw out blue/ silver coloring strains, not copper. Copper, blue, golden are usually thrown out by smaragdinas, hence the masking on there face will tell you the species they are. They should be given similar care just as regular splendens, some can get quite aggressive while a majority are more shy and are able to kept in groups. Though a pair is only recommended. Also they are not brackish water species... where did you get that information from? im curious as to who said that they are brackish lol. Anyways heres a photo example that will explain the types more throughly through their maskings/ markings on their face.


 

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Discussion Starter #8
Betta mahachaiensis ? Seriously Fish | Mahachai Betta

Those are just two of the websites that said brackish, every one I clicked about Mahachai species care said brackish.

So, basically, I'm screwed? I can't ask for a refund, the seller just marked him as shipped 20 minutes ago, even though I asked for him to be held for a week. I can't house a pair, only one. I don't plan to get another 10g.

He has two others with the same coloration also marked as Mahachai, the seller is texasamgflowerhorn.
 

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Betta mahachaiensis ? Seriously Fish | Mahachai Betta

Those are just two of the websites that said brackish, every one I clicked about Mahachai species care said brackish.

So, basically, I'm screwed? I can't ask for a refund, the seller just marked him as shipped 20 minutes ago, even though I asked for him to be held for a week. I can't house a pair, only one. I don't plan to get another 10g.

He has two others with the same coloration also marked as Mahachai, the seller is texasamgflowerhorn.
I wouldn't say you're screwed but you aren't getting what you payed for. Copper smaragidinas are still a beautiful specimen to have as far as beginners go for wild bettas. The 4 species are Imbellis, Mahachai, Smaragdinas/ Smaragdinas guitar, and sticktos. These four species can tolorate Ph lvls of 5-7.5, I've bred them in 6.5 regular tap just fine and easy. Brackish water means you have to add a mixture of salt water to your tank, thats going to increase the PH tolerant lvl and it'll be heavy on them a bit, and won't breed or do well. They're 100% freshwater species just like all its other relatives. Non the less if you like what youre getting then its fine, smaragdinas are just as beautiful to have. The guy that's selling them just needs to be a bit more educated about the species.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
I'm just worried about the pair is only recommended part. I could get a female in the future, but I have no space for another 10g right now. And my pH is 7.8, when looking at Mahachai's, I saw they could tolerate water that high in pH (another lie by those sites). Maybe the tannins will help lower it, the tank is incredibly dark with all that IAL, and still darkening, but that's a good thing. I'll test it again tomorrow and see if it lowered any.

I need to prepare faster now, the Jungle Val will be getting here the soonest. It'll be here the day before or the day of his arrival, I don't have much time to work with now. Everything else will be in the mail until the end of the week, which is why I asked for him to be held until next Monday in the first place.

I do really like his coloration and overall look, and comparing the price I paid to the price of Smaragidinas on AquaBid, I paid less than the going rate total. Importing one would cost about $20 more. I can't be too upset.

I'm going to inform the seller after he's officially out of his care and in transit, just in case. I'm going to try to include that picture for reference.
 

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I'm just worried about the pair is only recommended part. I could get a female in the future, but I have no space for another 10g right now. And my pH is 7.8, when looking at Mahachai's, I saw they could tolerate water that high in pH (another lie by those sites). Maybe the tannins will help lower it, the tank is incredibly dark with all that IAL, and still darkening, but that's a good thing. I'll test it again tomorrow and see if it lowered any.

I need to prepare faster now, the Jungle Val will be getting here the soonest. It'll be here the day before or the day of his arrival, I don't have much time to work with now. Everything else will be in the mail until the end of the week, which is why I asked for him to be held until next Monday in the first place.

I do really like his coloration and overall look, and comparing the price I paid to the price of Smaragidinas on AquaBid, I paid less than the going rate total. Importing one would cost about $20 more. I can't be too upset.
They do fine alone as well, all betta species have their own territorial aggression, so they're gonna want their space. Usually more common for the splendens group. You can keep them in a 2.5g together with hiding spaces as well and they'll breed better in those smaller tanks compared to 10 gallons. If you can drop PH to just neutral is fine, the lower the ph the better it is for them so that bacteria wont thrive as much to irritate the bettas. Use drinking RO water if you need a faster cycle, or else when he arrives just place him in drinking water. He will be okay, since alot of drinking waters have been stored for more than 2 months already. Only do it if you have to though. Also yeah idk I wouldn't pay $35+$10 for shipping, only because I have sources and can get them in cheaper lol, but non the less smaragdinas are my favorite out of the wild B splendens, they're relatively easy to breed just like splendens on my experience.
 

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Seriously Fish is a very well referenced site. It's not a lie that they inhabit brackish habitats in the wild. However, the addition of salt is not necessary when keeping them in captivity. They are also one of the few species of wild betta naturally found in hard/alkaline water. There are a couple of mouthbrooding species that also prefer harder water.

The fish you are receiving is still going to be beautiful, regardless of whether he is pure or not. If you aren't interested in breeding, the fact it's a hybrid shouldn't matter.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I'm not concerned with the fact that he's not a Mahachai, I'm still amazed by how handsome he is. I was just worried that the care differed, or they had different requirements than Mahachai's and I had a completely wrong setup for him ordered.

I am going to inform the seller, just in case they don't know. I am very upset with the fact that they're shipping him rather than waiting like they agreed they would. I'm hoping he'll be okay until everything I need comes in, he may have to live with plastic/silk plants for a few days, I'm hoping he'll be fine for a bit. At least the tank water is brown with tannins, I think I may have overdone it lol. It looks so dark it doesn't even look like the light is on. None of the IAL has sunk yet, though.
 

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Smaragdinas are pretty hardy, most of which have been bred to fight. Since it's already a hybrid considering the color strain, he'll be alright.

Mahachai are known to move into softer waters to breed there youngs to, I just find it odd that on all the sites they dont explain their instinct in the wild, rather than just explaining what they will do during the breeding process.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Alright, here's the tank as far as tannins, lighting, and leaf litter. I removed the fake plants for now so the leaves can sink and not get caught on them. I'm putting them back once everything sinks. Should I go for more tannins or is it dark enough? This is the lighting I'll be using, too bright? The glass hood should be here tomorrow but the Stingray came a day early so I set it up.
20161205_205908.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #18
He's here! A day early, too. He's pretty hard to see thanks to the tannins, and he was dull and gray out of the bag.

He is beautiful, he's got some coloration back, and he's been showing off. He hasn't been hiding, and actually seems curious of me, not afraid. I was expecting a lot of fear from him. He's a lot smaller than I thought he'd be too, maybe he's young? He's about the size of my stunted HMPK, only longer.

I fed him some defrosted krill which he seemed to like. He hasn't tried to make a meal of my ghost shrimp yet, so that's a good sign. He'll have to wait two or three days for me to plant his tank, unfortunately. He does glass surf a bit so I'm hoping plants stop that.

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