Betta Albimarginata Care: Habitat, Breeding, Tank Requirements for the Whiteseam Fighter of Southeast Asia

The Betta albimarginata is a wild type fish native to Malaysia and Indonesia. Its name refers to the white coloration on the bordering their fins; albi for white, and margo for margin. The species is also known as the Whiteseam Fighter. The species is a paternal mouthbreeder, belonging to the albimarginata complex.

The aquarium should contain at least 20 gallons of water for a pair. It can be placed in community aquariums, however it is preferable that the species be paired with others of its own species with a 1 to 1, male to female ratio.

Habitat

Peat swamps, Indonesia.

To provide the albimarginata an aquarium inspired by its natural habitat, we must study the environment in which it is native from. Albimarginata typically occur in tropical shallow waters, surrounded by riparian vegetation. In the depth of the waters, which ranges between 5 and 10 centimeters, we find a variety of aquatic plants. At the shadowy bottom of the waters, we see a litter of leaves on top of peat.

Since the albimarginata is tropical fish, it’s important that you equip your aquarium with a betta tank heater. The temperature of the aquarium should range between 20 and 28 degrees celsius (68 to 82 Fahrenheit). This will ensure that your fish is comfortable in the aquarium and prevent several diseases like constipation and infections.

In the aquarium, albimarginata may benefit from a few aquatics plants. Like most bettanoids, the albimarginata is usually found in shaded waters. To shelter your fish from the light of the aquarium, you may like to use Salvinia or duckweed. By lowering the brightness of the aquarium, you will encourage your fish to roam around, as it will feel less vulnerable and in a safe space.

The albimarginata prefers slightly acidic water, ranging between 5 and 7. This can be achieved with Indian Almond leaves or moss balls.

To provide an environment true to albimarginata’s native habitat, you should use leaf litter in the aquarium. This can be achieved with Indian almond leaves, also known as catappa leaves, which will tint the water slightly darker. Health benefits are also associated with the use of Indian almond leaves, particularly for its ability to kill parasites and bacterial pathogens.

Male, neutral mood.

Appearence

The albimarginata is sexually dimorphic which means that males and females have a different appearance. The male typically is typically more colorful and has bigger fins. Females are less colorful and do not possess the namesake white margins on its fins.

Breeding

Female, neutral mood.

The albimarginata is a paternal mouthbrooder. Males keep fertilized eggs in their mouths until they hatch. Females do not contribute to the rearing of the eggs or fry after the spawning stage.

Betta fish can be fickle when it comes to choosing a partner. In some cases, the pair must be exposed to each other for longer periods of time before they can begin to spawn.

For breeding purposes, the Albimarginata should not be placed in a community tank. This will reduce the stress level of your fish, and increase the chances of a successful batch. Males have a tendency to swallow the eggs if they feel vulnerable or stressed.

Spawning

Betta albimarginata embracing.

The spawning stage can be encouraged through a large water change. 

The male and female will first engage in the courting process in the typical fashion of most betta fish. The male’s color will deepen and flare its gills, while the female displays dark horizontal bars on her body. On rare occasions, the male will also display breeding bars.

Once ready, the pair will begin the Betta embrace, where the male will flip the female over and squeeze her body. This will trigger the female to spawn her eggs, from which it will sink to the bottom of the tank.

After which, the male will release the female and retrieve the egg with its mouth.

The female should then be removed from the aquarium as the male will begin the brooding stage.

Brooding

The males will brood the eggs for 2 to 3 weeks in their mouth. During this period, it will not eat and will become less active than usual.

It’s important to provide a sheltered environment for the male after the brooding stage. If the male feels unsafe or agitated, he may decide to swallow the batch of eggs in his mouth. To ensure this doesn’t happen, remove other fish in the aquarium and provide places of shelter with plants.

Once the brooding stage has ended, the male will release the fry from his mouth. At this point, the male will have lost weight since the beginning of the breeding cycle and will need to be fed and gather his energy

Since father and brood will be hungry, you may begin to feed small live foods. We recommend infusoria since 

You should have a lid on your aquarium. If you don’t have a lid you can use wrapping paper. Make sure that  your lid it’s tightly fitted on your aquarium. This will ensure that  the air in the aquarium is hot and humid. This is helpful for Betta fry, as they develop their Labyrinth organ, which enables them to breathe oxygen.

Betta Albimarginata for Sale

The Betta albimarginata is not commonly available in pet stores and even most local fish stores. Since its species is wild in type, you will generally never find it in retail stores.

The best way to find Albimarginata is through the internet. Before you go and find an exporter from Asia, you may be able to buy or trade it from another fishkeeper, who resides in the same country as you. 

Social Media

A good way to find other fishkeepers is through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  On Facebook, search: “betta” + “the name of your country” and search for groups.. This will give a list of all betta hobbyist associations, join them. In Canada, we have the Betta Breeder Canada Association.

Following the rules of the group in which you joined, you may be able to request for “Betta Albimarginata”. More often than not, you’ll find another hobbyist who has the betta albimarginata for sale.

Through outreach, you avoid having to import fish from Asia, which can be expensive, riskier, and a bit more complicated. 

Importing

To import fish, most countries will require that you find a transhipper. A transhipper is a licensed fish importer that lives in your country. The transhipper is the one to retrieve your package at the customs, ensure that your fish are healthy and then ship them to you.

There are a few breeders who export wild betta fish from Southeast Asia. Frank’s Bettas, is a well-known exporter from Thailand. In Singapore, Iven Betta is also a reputable source of wild-type betta fish. Just note that not all species will be available at all times, you need to keep going back to see what’s for sale.

WC, F1 & F2

When you are purchasing any wild betta fish, make sure that you need which generation the fish is from. There are 3 categorizations, first is WC and stands for wild-caught. The second category is F1, which stands for the first filial generation, which represents the offspring of 2 wild-caught (WCs) parents. The third category is F2, which stands for the second filial generation, which are the offsprings of F1 parents.

The behaviour of WC fish may be prone to stress as they were born outside an aquarium. On the other hand, F2 fish are typically less colorful due to in-breeding. We therefore recommend F1 fish, as they will be better for life in an aquarium and display strong coloration.

References

Froese, R., and D. Pauly. Editors. 2019. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, (12/2019).

“Labyrinth Organ”. Seriouslyfish.Com, 2020, https://www.seriouslyfish.com/glossary/l/labyrinth-organ. Accessed 2 June 20.

Betta Albimarginata. Seriously Fish, 2020, https://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/betta-albimarginata/. Accessed 2 June 2020.

Image: “What Are Wetlands? – Wetlands International”. Wetlands International, 2020, https://www.wetlands.org/wetlands/what-are-wetlands/. Accessed 2 June 2020.

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