Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Apple #159: Betta Fish, part II


First, a program note or two. On Monday, Google Finance picked up my entry on the Voice of Voice Mail, in which the company name National Semiconductor was mentioned. So the page put a link to that Apple on their page of NSM stock info. Consequently, this blog got a lot of hits from people in tech companies for a day or two.

Then I mentioned this event to a fellow blogger, Felix, and he kindly posted this news on his site. He gets way more traffic than I do, so a lot of his readers came over here to check out the Daily Apple. Thanks, Felix!

As a result of all this new traffic, the Daily Apple is closing in on getting more hits in a month than it ever has. Right now, it's just about at 350. The best month was in April of last year, when I wrote an entry on the Pixies.

Finally, about a week ago, I was using StumbleUpon to find new websites I might like, and I came across a site called Damn Interesting. It's similar to this blog in that it picks a different topic to investigate, but it faithfully adheres to the "each day" mantra, and it's written by about six different writers, and is far more professionally produced. I e-mailed the guy behind this site, Alan Bellows, telling him I was doing something similar and asking him to take a look at the Daily Apple and tell me what he thinks. Here's his reply:

I am a frequent Stumbler myself, it's a great way to find interesting stuff. I took a look at your site today, and it looks quite nice. You certainly put a lot more effort into the quality of your content than most, and it shows. Keep it up!

Thanks, Mr. Bellows!


Now, on to the fish news.

So I got a Betta fish about a week ago. Named him FishFish. I kept him in the little dish he came in from the pet store until the chlorine disappeared from my tapwater, which took about a day, and then I put him into his new bowl. He swam around and investigated everything very carefully for a while. The third day I had him, I came downstairs and discovered he had made a bubble nest! I was very excited because I had thought that maybe if I was lucky, he might make a bubble nest after I'd had him for several months or something. But never as soon as this!

The bubble nest looks like a bunch of soap bubbles. Usually the bubbles are all clustered together like this, and sometimes they are in clusters.
(Photo from Ikan Laga's blog which has tons of photos and information about caring for bettas.)

I started thinking that it was sad that FishFish's nest was just going to sit there without any little fish for him to put into it. Could I go to the store and get a female betta to help him fill his nest? Was his bowl big enough to hold another fish? How much time did I have to get a female to him before his nest went away? Would he never make another nest again?

I had too many questions, so I called the pet store where I'd bought FishFish. The woman who answered told me that she's had two bettas, and one of them never made a bubble nest, and one of them made bubble nests all the time. There isn't a "bubble nest season" or anything like that, as far as she knows. She said the nests last until you change the water, which in my case, is about a week. She also said that if I wanted to get a female, I'd have to keep her in a separate tank because once she spawned, he would try to chase her off, and since she'd have no place else to go, he'd fight her to try to get her to leave, and keep fighting her, until he killed her.

I decided I didn't have room for another tank in my already crowded kitchen, so my betta was left alone with his bubble nest. The bubbles slowly shrunk and slowly disappeared each day. I was changing about 25% of the water daily (based on advice I read online), and though I didn't suck up any of the bubbles into the turkey baster I use to remove some of the water, the bubbles seemed to be going away on their own.

Then last night, I did a complete water change (for some helpful instructions on how to do this, check out the California Betta Society and Rachel's Healthy Betta info). Before I went to bed, I watched him and it looked like he might be making more bubbles. But these bubbles looked smaller than the other ones, and they popped almost right after he made them. So I decided not to get my hopes up and went to bed. When I got up today, lo and behold, he'd made another nest! Very exciting, I think.

Here's what he does when he's making bubbles. He swims up to the surface and gulps in some oxygen. Then he drops down below the surface and his gills and the side of his body behind his head bulge way out. It looks like he's about to burp. But nothing comes out of his mouth at this point. He swims around for a while, and sometimes he opens his mouth very wide and sticks his lips out -- sort of the way you and I would parody a fish mouth -- but even then, nothing comes out. Then he swims up toward the surface and sort of spits out a few bubbles. They drift on their own to the sides of the bowl, so his bubble nest is really more like a bubble necklace around the surface of the water.

Obviously, I've watched him for extended periods of time. Because he can't tell me if he doesn't like the water in his tank, or his food, or anything else, I have to watch how he swims and try to interpret what he's doing to figure out if he's healthy and happy.

I've also read some things online about betta health, and there are a few pages in particular that I found especially helpful. If you have a betta who's doing weird things like swimming funny or spitting out his food, or has developed spots or anything, here are some sites I've found helpful:

Betta talk, Topic: betta spitting out his food
Betta diseases, and how to prevent them
Colors of bettas, with lots of pictures
Betta diseases, and how to treat them

Stuff I've been putting into my betta's water:

Water Conditioner
This takes the chlorine out of tapwater. With this, you don't have to let your tapwater sit out for a day; you put a few drops of this into the water, swish it around a bit, and it's ready to go. This particular water conditioner also has other stuff in it that's supposed to help protect your fish's scales and keep its color bright.

Aquarium salt
I added this after I read one of those sites on betta diseases and learned that even freshwater fish can benefit from a little salt in their tank, because the salt helps prevent diseases. I asked a vet-knowledgeable friend of mine if regular table salt would work, and she said no, because table salt for people has iodine added to it, and that wouldn't be good for the fish. Aquarium salt has other minerals instead of iodine that are more helpful. So I got a little carton of this. Because my tank isn't that big, and because the salt doesn't evaporate, I use only about ten grains of this, and only when I do a complete water change.

For more entries about betta fish, see betta fish care basics and betta fish and bubbles and feeding betta fish

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