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.
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.
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
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
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
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.'
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