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Betta cf. burdigala 'Kubu'
by Stefan van de Voort

For years I've been trying to locate small red bettas from the coccina group which exists from Betta coccina, B. brownorum, B. tussyae, B. livida, B. rutilans,
B. persephone
(this Betta is actually not colored red like the other species but deep black on the body with the unpaired fins being blue, the paired fins are black also), on the internet I encountered more species that I've never heard off before. This species also belong to the coccina group, B. burdigala, B. cf. burdigala 'Kubu' and B. miniopinna of which the latter looks a lot like Betta persephone but there are a few differences.

I managed to obtain two couples B. cf. burdigala 'Kubu' from a breeder/keeper. This species is a new yet not described fish that closely resembles Betta burdigala but differs from the latter with the number of rays in the upper fin. But there are two more not yet described species that might belong to the same group, Betta sp. 'Pangkalanbun' and en B. sp. 'Sukadana'.

Betta. cf. burdigala 'Kubu'

This species remains small, my fish are between 4 and 5 cm with the females being somewhere around 3 to 4 cm and fully grown. Sexing this betta is easy, the males are larger and have larger fins. They also have more color, the body is dark brown sometimes blackish but the head can turn red as bright as B. coccina. When they're 'showing off' to their tank mates or with reflecting sunlight the body displays beautiful green scales while my other male shows the same only blue instead of green. The paired fins are simply red with white/blue-like tips, the unpaired fins are also red but with green and blue. Their eyes have a beautiful bright blue color, as well with males as females. The latter are duller in color and fin length. Their body is dark brown to wine red. The fins are obviously smaller than the males' fins and are colored dark red with whitish spots which reminds of tiny shining diamonds. It might also occur that the fins show no color at all, usually this is the case with non-dominant females. In that case their bodies show grey.

The aquarium

Two weeks before I bought the two couples the tank was setup. It's a 60 x 30 x 30 (cm) tank. The water had to be prepared too since these bettas like soft and acidic water. To gain the water values that I have now, pH 5 and dGH 1 - 2, I used high active peat granulates and dried oak leaves which of course I boiled first to kill any bacteria living on the leaves. As a result of this the water got a dark brown, thee color just like in black water peat swamps in which these species thrive in the wild.
It also makes the sight a little blurry but the fish like that. The temperature can be best kept between 77° and 81° F. (25° to 27° C)

For lighting I use a yellow lamp which is not too bright because the bettas might act shy then and to further dim the amount of light I use salvinia natas at the surface.
I took a kind of a biotope approach while decorating the tank and kept in mind B. cf. burdigala 'Kubu' comes from shallow waters which are heavily planted or either full of leaves that fell of trees. Like already mentioned above this kind of Betta are not too fond of the phenomenon light, so I chose for dark black gravel and the back of the tank is also black. Heavily planting a tank can give a lot of advantages such as hiding places for chased fish or fry plus they seem to feel better in a natural looking surrounding. Since the specific water values one should choose the plants carefully. My tank contains java ferns, lots and lots of java moss, large and small Anubias. These plants are doing well in the type of water. To give the whole a more natural impression I used tropical wood twigs and placed them like they accidentally sunk there.

Of course there's a slow running filter which is stuffed with peat granulate to maintain my water values. Plus it's a great cleaning service! Yet I use another cleaning service, the one of snails. And I must say, they do a great job and really keep it clean!

Water changes are important to keep a healthy situation for Betta cf. burdigala 'Kubu' plus it can be a spawning trigger. A partial water change of 20 liters is carried out every two weeks and of course the water is prepared much earlier to lower the pH and dGH. I usually let the pH and dGH be a little higher than the water in the tank and they seem to like it and this might also be a spawning trigger.

Two weeks had past and I could go buy two couples and let them loose in the tank. I had an almost fully grown couple and a slightly smaller couple. Everything had to be explored and like Betta persephone they love to tangle through the java moss and leaves of the java ferns. The largest Betta was obvious the dominant fish in the tank and at first he started to show off to everything on his path, whether it was a leave or his own shadow! Not only males can be dominant with this species, my largest female was also dominant over the smaller couple which resulted in the smallest male wearing a horizontal stripe pattern the first couple of days.
Betta cf. burdigala 'Kubu' is not an aggressive species and it hasn't come to serious biting but he did chase the young male a lot when they ran into each other. So I thought I'd give the large male something to do in the form of a black film canister so he would be busy building a nest. It didn't worked so what I did was buying more java moss and put it in. After that the chasing stopped, not entirely of course but it did helped a great deal. Meanwhile he began to construct a nest so I placed another canister at the other corner of the tank where the smaller male held out. What happened was the dominant male took this opportunity to use both canisters and that defeated the purpose so I removed the second canister and placed it back in the tank when the other betta had eggs to care off. Fortunate that helped and now the smaller male has a nest site too.

I feed my Betta cf. burdigala 'Kubu' frozen foods such as black and white mosquito larvae, Artemia. They don't like daphnia and I haven't tried out Cyclops and dried food yet although I'm not fond of the latter. Artemia is a food to be careful with or so I've been told by the one where I bought my fish. Artemia contains a lot of salt which can result in a sort of a 'salt overdose' when fed too often in a row or when only fed Artemia. That's especially the case with fry but that means it can't be healthy for fully grown fish either.
My Betta cf. burdigala 'Kubu' are fed very carefully per fish so that there are no leftovers that can rot away and so that each fish gets enough food. I do this routine twice a day except for one day a week when they get nothing. In my experience this good for their health.


Betta cf. burdigala 'Kubu' is a bubblenester that prefers, in my case they do but that does not mean it's a must, black film canisters. I also tried out a medium sized yellow plastic bottle that once contained Aquatan. I've seen this at the former owner of the fish so I thought I'd give it a try. They didn't want to have anything to do with the yellow bottle but rather liked the canisters so I stick with those. They're floating on the surface and are in my opinion rather small for a fish that's between 4 and 5 cm in length but it seems to be what they want!

As soon as they (the males) spot a willing female they start constructing a nest that looks more like a small collection of bubbles than a real nest like for example we know from Betta splendens. My male accomplished to built the nest in 15 minutes at most and had a diameter of 1,5 cm and 5 to 6 cm in overall length.
During the construction and a couple of days after no fish is allowed anywhere near the nest without an invitation of the male! Every now and then the male went looking for the willing female and started to slowly swim towards her. But instead of spreading his fins he does the exact opposite and so does the female. Then all of a sudden they both spread their fins and make waves to each other. Now at this point, if a female is not ready yet, she swims away but she is willing she will follow him to the nest. It seems the males are not very patient so if the female takes too long too swim into the canister she gets chased by the male.

Finally I witnessed both fish in the canister with the male embracing her and after a few fakes there were eggs. Only two or three at a time but what stood out was that the eggs are rather large for such small species. Not a large amount of eggs come from one spawning, maybe 12 to 15 but we mustn't forget Betta cf. burdigala 'Kubu' can spawn again two days later. I'm not sure how long it will take the eggs to hatch but my guess is something around 72 hours. The fry hangs in the nest tail downwards.
With my first spawning I was too late and the fry was already free swimming so I decided to let nature takes it course with the knowledge Betta cf. burdigala 'Kubu'' does not eat the fry. This was two weeks ago and now and then I see a young swimming. This is another advantage of a heavily planted tank, the fry has hiding places where the other bettas can't come and there's enough food to find. This way has proved to be successful earlier with me while breeding Betta splendens and Trichogaster leerii
Unfortunately other spawns seem to be eaten a few hours after the eggs are 'laid.'Juvenile Betta cf. burdigala Kubu, picture E. Naus

One afternoon something happened that I have never heard or read about. I found one male with both females in the film canister! Taken that they seems to be short of space they were doing fine and not aggressive to one another while under normal circumstances one female would not tolerate the other female anywhere near her. They were acting very much like guests on a visit at the males 'house' to each other whenever in the canister but once they were out there one would be chased away.
Now the male embraced both females separately while the females were patiently taking turns! It was funny to see how one female swam next to the other just about when the male was embracing her so she could take her place! The only danger is that the waiting female might consider any eggs falling as food if the male is not fast enough. I'm not really sure about that because it could also have been that she would put the eggs in the nest. I've seen it with Betta splendens.
Raising the fry is the same as with other bubblenesters.

In order to breed with this beautiful species your pH must be at least 5 or lower and the water hardness must soft. Any temperatures as mentioned earlier are okay for breeding and if the get too 'aggressive' you should lower the temperature to the minimum which is 77° F or 25° C.

In the meanwhile my smaller male has already built a nest of which he is really proud considering it exists of rather large bubbles which indicated he is trying out and quite ready to spawn yet.


Betta cf. burdigala 'Kubu' is a beautiful species to keep and breed and it is possible to keep it with other bettas in the same tank but I do not recommend to keep it with any others from the coccina group, except for B. persephone, because of the chance of cross breeding which of course is not the purpose of keeping these rare, endangered species!

Stefan vd Voort






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