A fad has kinda swept the hospital where I work. These glass vases with
hydroponically grown plants- usually spathiphyllum (Peace Lilies) in a
small pot filled with marbles and the roots dangling into the water. Who
could ever have imagined the perfect mini- habitat for Betta splendens.
Certainly beats keeping the poor things in pint sized bowls!
I'm amazed someone did not come up with this idea much sooner. Betta can
survive in those tiny bowls as long as the water is changed every once
in a while but they certainly seem more at home in these new setups
where they can hide among the roots which also absorb the waste of the
fish. The only problems I see is when someone gets a little overzealous
about pruning and cuts the roots back too far. They regenerate but it's
hard on the plant and the fish is deprived of shelter for a while. The
other thing I would change if I had one is to omit the matching marbles
in the bottom- obviously for asthetic purposes but obviously bad for
reasons obvious to most serious fish hobbyists.
These kind of settups would probably work with some of the smaller
natives like Pygmy Sunfishes, Heterandria and the like. When I visited
Peter Rollo on my wanderings in 1996 I saw that he kept the same in
gallon jars filled with Java Moss. For A while I maintained similar
setups to winter my Pygmy Suns and for maintaining pairs of
Broken-Striped Newts but used the small species of willow moss I
collected at Gulf Hammock Fla. These were temporary arrangements but
they do work if you change the water frequently and have a low biomass
of animals and lots of plant material. Nitella would probably also work
well in hard water setups.
For those who are still concerned about the fish not having enough room
or wanting to keep something bigger like Bluespotted Sunfishes or
Mudminnows you could take water cooler bottles and cut the tops out of
them or find a similarly sized or bigger plastic containers and go with
a bigger plant.
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