Many Betta keepers tend to veer towards keeping tank bred Bettas rather than wild specimens due to their higher tolerance to a broader range of water parameters but having said this there some wild specimens that deserve the extra effort and in my view the Betta patoti should be included in this list.
They can be recognised by their peachy colouration which is broken by darker bars on healthy specimens, they are also slightly larger than many of the Betta species. Their colouration has lead to them being given the common name of Tiger Betta, one of the more common names used is the Black Betta.
They are to be found in areas of Indonesia and Borneo where they inhabit faster flowing waters compared to some species of Betta that prefer slower moving waters so this will need to be replicated in the aquarium.
Mature males can grow up to an adult size of just below 4 inches with the females being slightly smaller and the males should display a brighter colouration. They will also develop extended finnage and develop a broader head shape.
Due to their limited stocks, specimens of these fish may come at a higher price than other Betta but for true Betta fans they are well worth their money.
Caring for Betta patoti
In my personal opinion, these fish are better cared for when kept in a species tank that should have a minimum size of at least 18 inches by 12 inches, they are extremely timid and other tank mates could easily spook them causing them to hide away and suffer in general, if they are to be kept with other species make sure that they have an extremely peaceful disposition and can tolerate the same aquarium conditions.
As mentioned above they do prefer a water flow around the aquarium but keep this to a medium level by careful positioning of the outlet nozzles from the filters or even use an air driven sponge filter for even stronger control.
Make sure that whatever filtration system you decide to use is rated for the water volume in the aquarium and always use a tight fitting lid as Betta patoti are excellent jumpers. Keep the water surface to a level of at least 2 inches below the lid to allow a humid atmosphere as these fish will go to the surface to absorb oxygen from the atmosphere as they are classed as a “labyrinth fish”.
The substrate is a matter of choice, sand or small grained gravel can be used but make sure that there are no sharp edges on the gravel.
Driftwood or rocks can be added to the aquarium to provide hiding places, some aquarium ornaments can also be used but as with the gravel, make sure there are no sharp edges where the fish can injure themselves.
The temperature of the water should be set between 22-27 deg C (71.6 deg F – 80.6 deg F) and keep the pH below 7.0, they prefer acidic conditions so the ideal pH range should be set between 5.0-7.0 If your mains water is higher than this do not panic if you are not attempting to breed these fish, for breeding purposes it may be wise to control the pH levels with the use of a reverse osmosis unit making sure that the water is reconstituted with the correct amount of minerals required to keep the fish healthy.
If you are planning to keep other species of fish with Betta patoti I would recommend the addition of peaceful bottom dwellers such as a small group of Corydoras and for higher dwellers the addition of some peaceful tetras or rasboras may be an idea but always check that the other tank mates are suited to the same water parameters as the Betta. To keep the water quality high always perform regular water changes, a weekly change of at least 10% should be sufficient and make sure that the aquarium is fully cycled before introducing the Betta patoti. It also pays to observe your fish on a regular basis to make sure that their normal swimming pattern or behaviour doesn’t change as this could be the onset of health problems and if caught early the problem is a lot easier to deal with.
Feeding your Betta patoti
In their natural habitat Betta patoti will scavenge for small invertebrates and they will also feed on micro-organisms such as zooplankton, wild specimens when first added to the aquarium may not recognise commercial foods such as flake or small pellets as part of their diet. When first introduced tp the aquarium they should be offered small meals of live or frozen foods using feeds such as brine shrimp, daphnia or micro worms. Keep offering commercial foods and eventually your Betta will accept these but to keep the Betta healthy vary the diet between commercial foods and live or frozen foods. Many keepers have successfully fed these fish on chopped earthworms which they seem to relish but make sure that you purge the worms first.
Always remember when feeding any species of Betta fish, they have a voracious appetite and will eat all food offered with gusto. It is very easy to overfeed these fish giving them digestive problems or even obesity so always feed small meals rather than large meals.
Breeding the Betta patoti
Betta patoti are paternal mouthbrooders like many of the Betta species. It is not advised to add a single male specimen with a random female as this can lead to aggression between the two, it is far better to purchase a small group of juveniles and allow them to pair naturally, six juveniles should guarantee you at least one pair. If luck is on your side you may even finish up with two pairs.
The breeding tank is very easy to set up, even better if you have a pair that have lived in the tank that you are using for the breeding project. The water flow should be kept from medium to low and the use of an air driven sponge filter will benefit you not only for the greater control of the water flow but also for ease of cleaning the filtration system to keep the water quality pristine. Keep all of the water parameters the same as in the main aquarium if you are using a separate breeding tank and keep the tank simple, many breeders will use a bare bottom tank for ease of cleaning and syphoning out any uneaten food.
Keep the lighting dimmed and make sure the lid is well secured to create a humid atmosphere, not only is this beneficial for the parent fish but also for any future fry.
Condition the parent fish with live or frozen foods, they need to build up their strength as this process takes a lot of effort and will drain energy from them.
When the pair are ready to spawn the male should colour up a lot more than normal and the pair will inhabit the bottom of the breeding tank a lot more.
The pair will eventually embrace at the bottom of the tank, this involves entwining around each other, prior to this you may see the fish display to each other by flaring their fins. Don’t worry, this is perfectly normal and not a sign of impending aggression.
It may take several attempts before a successful spawning especially with young parents but in time they will get it right, if all is o.k. the female will release the eggs which are fertilised immediately by the male. The male will then take the eggs into his mouth for incubation which can take up to 14 days, during this time he can become skittish so any sudden movements can spook him causing him to eat the eggs. Attempting to remove the female at this stage can also cause stress on the male so it may be best to leave the female where she is until the fry have hatched. Even when the eggs have hatched the male will guard the fry taking them back into his mouth at the slightest sign of danger. When the fry have developed enough, the male will allow them to escape from his mouth to swim alone around the tank, feeding the fry is simple. They will readily accept newly hatched brine shrimp initially and after quite a quick growth rate they should be able to accept the same food as the parent fish but it is advised to crush any flake offered for the first few meals until they are large enough to digest larger food particles.
Perform regular water changes while the fry are growing, 10% daily is the normal and keep the meals small but offer them several times per day to grow them on. Always syphon out any uneaten food after 10 minutes of feeding to keep the water quality high.
Health problems with your Betta patoti
As mentioned at the start of this article it is always wise to observe your fish and how they are behaving in the aquarium. A few minutes each day is all that is required. Betta patoti should be active, if they are hiding away in the corner of the aquarium or swimming in a strange pattern then this could be a sign of health problems. Loss of colouration or clamped fins is another symptom of problems as is loss of appetite. When you get to know your fish, any strange behaviour will soon become apparent, the quicker problems are spotted, the easier it is to deal with them.
Always use recommended medications as per the dosage on the instruction labels and if required it may be necessary to quarantine any sick fish before they pass on any health issues to other tank mates in the aquarium.
About the Author
Jan Hvizdak owns https://www.aqua-fish.net which is dedicated to raising freshwater and marine aquarium fish.