The Dragon Breath
This is a small, very simple tank that I made for Labyrinth fishes. Betta splendens was my first fresh-water love and still remains my favourite fish! I was very fascinating by their unique biology and I tried (with great success and satisfaction) to reproduce them, discovering, day after day, that Betta males (which a lot of people still think to be aggressive and merciless) are actually very caring fathers and shy creatures.
I start planning this tank in August. It was so hot, during this summer, and there were so many mosquitoes in the country were I live, that I started to think how terrible it must be to live close to a lake. During these days, a good friend of mine was leaving for vacations in Indonesia. He's another Labyrinths lover and he was telling me that he couldn't wait to see the famous terraces of paddy fields and the animals that live in this peculiar habitat. Since I can't take a vacation, I decided to build my own paddy (if Mohammed can't go to the paddy, the paddy goes to Mohammed)!
But, as usually, right after the decision, I encountered a problem: there was no way to find rice plants! I tried to plant the cooking rice, but, of course, nothing grew! I was almost declaring my defeat, when, few weeks ago, while dusting my shop, I noticed that in the plastic plants display, there was a type of plant unsold. It was the ugliest and the fakest plastic plant in the whole universe... And it was a perfect reproduction of a rice plant!
So, as you can see from the pictures, I used it in the background, putting some Vallisneria spiralis, Cryptocoryne and few stems of Rotala wallichii in the first row, to give the feeling of a rice paddy assaulted by infesting plants. The result is exactly the one I was looking for! Right after I finished it I found an old picture and I was surprised to see that this tank was unbelievably similar to the first Betta's aquarium I made years ago! You can surely understand the surprising feeling I get by watching it every day, which actually remains the same, a long-time amazement for this colourful micro-environment
Tank : 50 X 26 X 35 cm.
Temperature : 26° C.
Lights : 1 neon 15 Watt 10.000° Kelvin, 1 neon 14 watt 6.500° (greenish colour).
Mechanical parts: 2 compact filters 30 lt/h., 1 with sponge and 1 with only ceramic cylinders for bacteria.
Plants: artificial, plus Vallisneria spiralis, Lilaeopsis novazelandiae, Cryptocoryne wendtii var. Red, Cryptocoryne parva, Cryptocoryne lutea, Rotala wallichii, Vesicularia dubyana.
Animals : Betta splendens, Caridina japonica.
Chemistry : KH=0, pH=6.0 GH=0, NO2=0, NO3=0.
Water change: just adding pure RO water to replace water lost by evaporation.
Notes: This is the best environment for Labyrinth fishes (as you can see from the pictures, the fish feels protected, breathing at the surface, surrounded by plants); only half tank filled with water and a lot of entangled plants. I'm still looking for Riccia fluitans, which is not very easy to find in Italy but that is the perfect plant for this fish. And, while talking about Bettas, I have to admit that this fish must be pretty intelligent... This particular tank is positioned right on the counter of my shop, close to the computer station I'm working on this moment, and, believe it or not, the male Betta (which I saved from definite death from a client's goldfish bowl) stares at me for hours and hours... I wonder what he is thinking about !
See next page for more photos of this tank.