FOURTH SPAWN: An account of spawning a white veil tail to a white opaque fan tail betta

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Although they are considered passe by many breeders, I consider veil tail bettas one of the most attractive of fish. Who can deny the graceful beauty of their undulating fins? I've often wished that there was some way I could restore some of the greatness these fish once had. The answer came when I purchase Snow, a white-finned veil tail.

I will spawn him with my white opaque female, Bianca. Since the veil tail trait is extremely dominant, I'm confident almost all of the fry with be veil tails. Because both parents are pheno for white opaque, I'm hoping that some of the resulting spawn will have veil tails with opaque white throughout the tails making them opaque. I'll select the best of the spawn and cross them either brother to sister or son to mother to strengthen the purity and density of the white opaque trait as well as the size and shape of the tails. My goal is to develop the Ghost Rider strain, pure white fish with huge flowing opaque white tails. (I'm naming it the Ghost Rider strain because that sounds more up-market than the Snow strain.)

I plan to spawn the fish in June of 2002. The fry should be showing their true colors, or lack there of) by August. Please check back often because this could be an interesting experiment. Oh yes, if anyone out there knows about anyone else working on opaque white veil tails, I'd appreciate an email telling me how I can contact them. Thank you.

Bianca, a five-month old, very clean white opaque female with two spawns to her credit. (Picture shows her full size)

Snow, undetermined age but probably 6 months old. This picture shows him full size, which could be a problem since Bianca is a little bigger than him.



Snow chasing Bianca as they start their spawning dance

I placed Snow and Bianca, she was in an isolation jar, in the spawning tank on 12 May. She was released on 14 May, they began spawning at 2 PM on the 15th, started producing eggs half an hour later, and kept pumping them out until 8 PM. At 8 AM on the 17th the fry started hatching. Although well over 100 eggs were produced, as of 1 PM only 50 fry had hatched. I noticed that due to inexperience on Snow's part, Bianca vented many eggs without his embrace so they couldn't have been fertilized. Here's what a 1/2-hour old fry looks like as it hangs by its head. It's less than 1/16-inch long.

Actual size >

Snow was even more inept at blowing fry up into the bubble nest than Flame. Snow would spit them out while he was still over an inch away from the nest. I doubted that the fry could take much of this so I removed him.

June 10 update: The fry are three weeks old and seem to be doing fine. One or two have died each week but that is normal. No signs of disease and they are growing fast. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the males look like!

NEW!!! Dying fry! At the four-week mark, I noticed the the rate of lost fry started to increase until 2 were dying every day. There were no signs of the cause. As of June 17, I'm down to 20 fry. The increase in mortality seems to have started about the same time that the brown algae showed up. Perhaps it was attacking the fry. If not that, then the Algae Destroyer I used may have stressed them. Finally, this spawn is being fed only vinegar eels. It may be that vinegar eels lack some essential nutrients and the fry are dying of malnutrition. I've changed most of the water and keep the tank sparkling clean. Other than that all I can do is wait.

Mystery Solved!!! I believe I've verified that the cause of the die-off is due the malnutrition caused by only feeding the fry Vinegar eels. If you take a look at the growth-rate experiments in the "Experiments" page you'll notice that not only is the growth rate of this spawn much lower than the second spawn, it has all but stalled at the 5-week mark. I'm immediately setting up a brine shrimp hatchery and see if feeding the remaining fry brine shrimp saves them. Wish me luck!

They're growing again! Switching to baby brine shrimp did the trick! The 14 fry that survived the vinegar-eel-only experiment are eating baby brine shrimp like mad. They've grown to 0.25 inches in the last week and have started to develop their caudal and dorsal fins. No fry have died in the last week, which strongly suggests that the earlier deaths were due to malnutrition. One peculiarity is that half of the fry have bent spines. They take a sharp turn up near the tail then another turn down right at the base of the tail. I'm guessing this is the result of the malnutrition.

Now there's 16! Two fry must have been hiding from me because the last time I counted them there were 16 of the little guys. They've grown large enough to start eating Grindal worms and their growth is really taking off.

NEW UPDATE!!! The fry have grown to 3/4-inch long, except for a few shrimpy ones. Half of them show an upward spine S-shaped turn near the tail; a result of the vinegar-eel-only diet. Three are starting to show white areas and the coloring seems similar to pure white opaque fry of the same age. Maybe I'll get some white opaque veil tails out of this spawn after all. I've gotten the impression that they actually grew faster on a diet of only brine shrimp than their current diet of Grindal worms. Perhaps baby brine shrimp are more nutritious that worms. The most interesting result from this spawn is the fry's eyes. Snow has large black eyes whereas Bianca has small pin-point eyes. All 16 fry have small eyes so I assume that small eyes are a dominant characteristic.

Make that 15 fry. I lost one due to carelessness while changing their tank.

Final update: the remainder of the fry died, the result of starting them off on a poor diet.


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