Betta balunga is a mouthbrooding fighting fish and one of the wider circle related toB.pugnax within the narrower circle of theB.akarensis group.
It occurs in the NE region of Borneo. The location of the fish shown is
known as '32 km east-Tawau' or ' East Tawau Semborna' but apparently
this refers to only one location. Within this group of fish there are 4
species,- B.akarensis, B.climacura, B.chini and B. balunga. The relations within this group have yet to be definitely established.
In my opinion, it is possible to distinguishB.balunga from B.akarensis, if only because of its small (6cm) size. At this time as well as B.balunga,
I have young fish of B.chini and have noticed some differences in body
build and colouration. here one has to mention that the locations of
these fish are partly separated by mountains which act as watersheds
and these might be seen as arguments against classing these fish as one
very variable species.
instead of talking about the uncertain classification of this group, I
wish instead to go into the care and breeding. The male of B.balunga reaches
a length of 12 cm, the female is 10 cm. The sexes can be differentiated
when mature without difficulty as the male has extended dorsal, caudal,
anal and pelvic fins. The caudal, especially in the male is decorated
with a pretty net pattern and the anal has a dark blue edge and above
it, a light blue one. The white pelvic fin, when folded can be half as
long as the anal. On the grey-brown body there are several lustrous
spots. During aggressive and particularly courting encounters, the
females have stripes; 2 dark lines on a light background, one on the
back, the other in the middle of the body. depending on its mood, B.balunga displays
an attractive facial mask. On a light background, a dark line runs
through the eye and a second runs diagonally up to the eye, there it
bends and sometimes continues a little further. B. balunga has red eyes.
keep this fish, one should preferably use at least an 80 l aquarium. A
thick cover of floating plants should be used to diffuse and subdue the
light which helps the well-being of the fish. A good growth of plants
is recommended but these have to be plants which need little light,
such as Cryptocoryne affinis. In my aquarium, I also have a big root on which grow Java fern.
water should be soft and acid. It is also important to have a good
filter and keep the water clean. There is no problem if you wish to
keep other species, for example B.edithae, in the same aquarium. A
temperature of 23°C is sufficient. I feed my animals with white and
black mosquito larvae (not with red - because of my allergy!), with
mature Artemia, Daphnia and sometimes, but fairly rarely, withDrosophila.
If one compares B.balunga with other mouthbrooding fighters, such asB.dimidiata, it presents no greater problems except for being a little disease-prone.
these conditions, you should expect that the fish will son reproduce.
During courtship, the female will exhibit the stripes that I have
already described. The male does not change in the same way. He
displays lustrous spots on a brown background. The fins and their edges
are especially clearly coloured. If the male displays in front of
another fish he first lifts the caudal fin peduncle, with the fin
folded and then suddenly spreads the fin out. As a spawning site, all
pairs chose a location above sandy substrate under the root, bout 12 cm
from the base. Pairing near the water surface only occurs if another
pair already has the place under the root. In this area a small hollow
appears, probably from the swimming activities of the female.
thing I noticed during spawning was that during the embrace, the male
bent his tail to an angle of about 90°, this angle becoming smaller at
the end of the embrace. This behaviour means that the female has a
better chance to free herself earlier from the embrace and catch the
eggs quicker and more efficiently in her mouth., which makes spawning
in running water possible. This seems to be a pointer to the spitting
out of the eggs. usually about 8 eggs are spat out by the female when
the male is about 3 cm away. So it can happen that an egg can be
carried away by a slight flow of water at the spawning site and then
land somewhere where it cannot be found (- or possibly aBetta edithae eats
it!). Only rarely does the female spit just one egg at the male but it
can happen. As far as I could see, the female does not defend the male
any further after spawning. After spawning, the male usually stays near
the surface of the water, among the floating vegetation.
about 14 days, the young fish are released from the mouth. If the male
is still carrying the larvae in his mouth after 10 days, one can assume
he is not going to eat the brood. At this point, I put the male into a
smaller aquarium. To do this, I wait until the male positions himself
near one of the glass side-panels. I then remove the cover carefully
and put a 2.5 l Plexiglas basin in the water behind the male and then
push it against the side panel. I have now caught the male and can
transfer him without him spitting out the young.
rearing tank should be similar to the breeding aquarium and it should
have plenty of hiding places. Once the male has spat out the young, he
can go back into the main aquarium. There can be as many as 100 young
which can be fed immediately on Artemia larvae. If the young are raised
in good conditions there should be no problems except that they are
sometimes prone to illness.
REPRODUCED WITH THANKS FROM 'DER MAKROPODE'