Sunday, October 1, 2023
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Brunei Town
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There’s something about betta

Izah Azahari

Betta splendens, commonly known as Siamese fighting fish or labyrinth fish, have become a familiar household pet of choice for quite some time now. Originating from the Mekong and Chao Phraya river basins in Thailand, this fish can be found in near stagnant waters, such as marshes, flood plains and rice paddies.

Much like a lot of people, an interest turned hobby in collecting this betta fish sparked in 20-year-old local Mohammad Aznil Khairuddin bin Khairul Azmi of Adzbetta_bn when he was given his first betta fish a few years back.

Mohammad Aznil said seeing the variety of colours in betta fish was what got him excited, leading him to adopt more in 2019.

“Around 2020, I started experimenting with breeding the fish. The first few attempts were of course failures, which was expected in a rookie,” he said, adding that it consequently led him to studying about betta fish and its breeding habits.

“Then, I tried breeding them outside my house. The first success got me even more excited and motivated to continue,” said Mohammad Aznil, who decided to start a betta fish business in June 2021.

ABOVE & BELOW: Mohammad Aznil Khairuddin bin Khairul Azmi; and his collection of betta fish. PHOTOS: BAHYIAH BAKIR

Mohammad Aznil’s collection of betta fish

“It is a fun way to make some side income while I carry on with my studies, so I don’t have to financially depend on my parents,” he said.

The betta fish breeder is currently in his second year at Kemuda Institute, taking a Higher National Diploma in Computing.

He said having betta fish around has helped him cope with stress; he watches them swim around whenever he needs a break from his school assignments.

Mohammad Aznil explained that betta fish is special to him due to its range of unique body shapes, such as tails that are shaped like a crescent moon and a crown, and a spectrum of colours.

To tell the difference between a male and female betta, various aspects have to be looked at, with most male bettas being generally bigger and the female counterparts having a larger variety of tail shapes. Female bettas also have a white spot or ovipositor tube on their underside resembling a grain of salt located near the edge of its ventral fin near the head of the betta.

“When you want to breed betta fish, there’s a process that has to be followed, to avoid them fighting each other to the death, and usually takes about three days,” said Mohammad Aznil.

The breeder explained that the female would have to be introduced separately from the male for at least a day prior to releasing the female into the same tank. Then, the mating process will take one day, where eggs will be released after mating, and on the third day, the eggs will hatch.

“The breeding process is quite short,” he added.

“A pair of male and female bettas can breed about 100 to 300 eggs at a time, and one fish can make up a very valuable sum, depending on its breed,” he said.

Touching on caring for betta fish, he explained that one of the most important things to take note of is the water used to store the fish as it needs to have been left standing for a few days to dissolve the chlorine in it.

If tap water is used, anti-chlorine medicine can also be added for extra measure. A better alternative is using a filter while also introducing some salt into it to keep the fish healthy.

Alternatively, people can treat the water with chemical or catappa leaves.

“In terms of diet, it has to be high in protein and it is better for the betta to be given live food such as water fleas, larvae and the likes. It is also best to feed young bettas fries to help them grow quicker and their colours to stand out,” he added.

Mohammad Aznil said it is important for people to be diligent in taking care of betta fish as the water must be changed once every five days to a week.

He advised those wishing to start breeding betta fish to not feel discouraged if some of them die as it is part of the learning process.

“Just continue to try and breed them. Once you get the hang of it, it will provide a good side income,” he added.

With plans to join the Royal Brunei Armed Forces after graduation, Mohammad Aznil said he will continue to do it on the side.

There aren’t many local groups for betta fish breeders at the moment, he said, but he’s hoping to attract more people into breeding the fish so that there is a local community to share and exchange ideas and experiences.

“I also recommend youth to see the hobby as a form of self-development through taking care of them,” said Mohammad Aznil, adding that those who wish to receive pointers can look him up on Instagram.


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