I have a confession. I usually search the internet for the phrase Betta For Sale/ Fighting Fish or Betta Fish for sale. I know that because, like you, I am thinking of the same thing.
I wanted to write this for a long time because you, as the buyer, need to know what to look for, and ignorance is no longer bliss! Here contains the behind the scenes Betta action in Australia.
We are Australia’s Online and Brick and Mortar Betta Fish (Siamese Fighting Fish) specialist with over 30 years of experience. We are your one stop shop for show quality Bettas (Fighting Fish) and Wild Bettas.
So, relax, and let’s begin the journey. Having a Betta fish is a rewarding experience for most people, but buying a betta can be daunting as you are purchasing a pet that you want to see grow and develop itself as it ages.
Now, I am not here to tell you a rehash version of what others are putting up in terms of caring for Bettas, Breeding Bettas, and all that.
But I do want to explain what to look for when you are looking for a betta.
Healthy Betta fish behaviour
Healthy things grow and develop active personalities. And that is no different for the fierce Siamese fighting fish or Betta. When you are looking for a Betta, see that it is an active fish and one that is not sulking at the bottom or the top.
The fish should always respond to visual stimuli to happenings in the fish tank, and it should always be ready to flare at its neighbour or its reflection. If it does not, consider that the fish is not healthy and you should not choose it!
Fish colour vs sick fish
Some fish looks crash hot in terms of it’s colour but there is a deformity or something that is wrong with its body. I am not talking about fins.. fins can grow back with some TLC.
What I am talking about here is are all its fins in the right places?
Are there any deformities or lumps on it’s scales (it might be evident of a benign tumour or nematode worms)
Are there any sunken bellies or inflated bellies? These are signs of intestinal worms or dropsy.
Irrespective, whatever you do when choosing a betta to buy look at these as it will help you with your decision.
Let’s be frank; changing one betta tank is easy. But changing a 200x 3 litre (0.75 gallon tank) or more..it takes a while.
In Nano Tanks Australia, we are proud to display our maintenance schedule in plain view. We change the betta water every two weeks by a full 100% water change with aged water.
Please note this level of changing the water is not possible for most more extensive operations the way they are set up, but it is recommended that you do so at home.
We’ve found with the live fish trade every chance to avoid sickness is a step worth taking, expensive and beautiful fish like Betta’s are a hard-hitting loss!
We also don’t go crazy with our feeding. No live food required (but still a great source when you want to bred). In fact, we feed our fish on two main pellet foods. The first is Dainichi Tropical Food or Hikari Betta Bio Gold.
We also feed our fish every second day instead of a daily basis.
Our tanks is around 2-3 litres of water each. Which is the minimum I would personally recommend for a shop to keep there Bettas in.
The tropical fish auction craze
Back in 2014, when Facebook was just starting to exert its dominance, we in Nano Tanks Australia found the opportunity, and we were the first to establish an auction site within the Facebook post system.
As time progressed, however, we discovered that this method has limited appeal while it increased our overhead time to do other things. In the Australia fish business costs must be carefully managed!
Just imagine an auction format of 20 fish. Each fish we calculated costed us from when we receive the fish to the time it gets sent off, and after-sales care cost us around 30 minutes PER FISH. That is 600 minutes or 10 hours every week for one purpose only.
Now, we were delighted with the auction format, and looking back I was very proud to be the very first to do it back in 2014 however, think about it, a Betta has a price range of around $5 to around $100 naturally speaking.
Most know what a $5 fish looks like. But most don’t know how a $100 fish looks like…and frankly, you shouldn’t because Bettas should be around the $25 to $50 mark. But to do that for EVERY fish and put it on auction is really such a waste of time.
Feel free to compete in auctions and win expensive fish. However, if you need variety without the overhead of an auction, the fish shop is still the go-to method for great and colourful Betta fish.
The fish market
This leads me to you, one small member of the marketplace. The market for Bettas is very narrow, especially male bettas.
Are you a casual and like the look of it for your tank?
On the other side of the spectrum, you have those who want to breed prize-winning fish and will stop at nothing to acquire it.
But let’s consider the possibility of this.
Let’s go to the other side of the coin on breeding prize-winning fish, etc.. Do you know that in Australia we don’t have the home advantage?
We don’t have the climate. We don’t have the freely available water, we don’t have low power bills, heck, we don’t even have cheap labour.
Compared to our live fish counterparts in Asia we are at a considerable disadvantage. The most significant factor is TIME. We don’t have the time.
We are not looking for a fish that can be historically sold for $50 a fish or $100 a fish. We are looking at a fish that can be wholesaled at $30ea MAX. And with those odds breeding a prize-winning fishes is not feasible in Australia.
The genetic diversity and the offshoot of colours you will get from ‘prize-winning fish’ mostly turn out to be runts. And that is from my long observation through the shop. (Sorry guys)
BUT, if you are looking for something like getting a club together that is sponsored by a veteran Aquarium shop Corporation, then contact us – we have got something like this in the works.
The volume of Bettas in Australia
Do you know that in Australia, on all the major and minor wholesalers combined Australia imports around 20,000 (twenty thousand) bettas on a monthly or bi-monthly basis? That is a vast number..which leads me to my next point.
Transhipping Betta singles
Now, this is a thorny subject, and I get a lot of people in the hobby ask me about this, especially through the shop. And that is ordering fish from overseas through the internet.
This is what I say. You can buy a Betta fish including online channels or classifieds. The Betta will get the best 5 minutes of its life with all the spotlights on it flaring away in front of a mirror. After that five minutes is up and the Betta auction is finished, what happens to it next?
Let’s say it get’s picked by you. Will it get consistently fed? Consistently water changed? Consistently cared for? Or will it get put aside?
How do you know what will happen to the fish after this? And to the time it is shipped to you?
Then what happens? This Betta, when it is time to get shipped goes from a village in an Asian country. Let’s say Indonesia (as that is where I am from).
For illustration purposes, let’s say the farm is in the outskirts of a town in Jember and it has to travel to Jakarta. That’s a 500km truck ride, and it will take judging being Indonesia more than 12 hours to get to its destination where it rests in the transhipping facility in Indonesia.
It then gets repacked and held for inspection to satisfy the health certificate requirements of Australian standards.
Then it has to be rebagged and then shipped to the export fish facility in Jakarta before making it’s 8-hour flight to Sydney (in this instance).
After reaching Sydney, it has to be unbagged and then wait another 7 days to clear our quarantine. After if all is good, then it gets sent to you — the buyer.
As a result, that is around 2-6 weeks of its life. When do you think it would have gotten fed? Or proper attention put on to it?
So, here is the crux. Australia wholesalers bring in around 20,000 Bettas, and most don’t need to be shipped in the as described above.
They get sent to a facility in Australia where Ichthyologist and professionals care for these bettas. And when it is ready, they are sold on to shops.
Now, compare the apples and make sure you consider in that 20,000 Bettas would there be a local one ready for you that would suit? And with a local one, would you need to pay transhipping costs and additional shipping cost?… (hellfire will rain down for me for sure :))
From one thorny subject to another!. Damn, I am definitely going to get burned alive…whatever, if you have read this far, it must be interesting!
Now, from school and from your parents you know full well that you shouldn’t marry your brother or sister as that will be gross and it will be incest.
But what do you think Sibling Matings are? They are brother and sister. Why are humans so different from fish? We still need that genetic diversity, and unfortunately, having sibling matings puts you at odds to mother nature… and guess what?
Our Asian counterparts do not do this. What they do is selective breeding and line-breeding (But that is for another night.)
Bettas Fish For Sale
You know what? As a shop, we have had our fair share of mistakes and guess what. What you read above is my own opinion, and also it was the pitfalls I fell into, and it is a pitfall I don’t want you to fall into as well.
How do you choose a betta that is right for you?
Let me boil it down to the following
- Buy Local and Buy from a brick and mortar shop
- Buy from somewhere that is transparent in how they treat their Bettas
- Buy for Health
- Buy the fish not the politics ✌️
By David Lo
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