ME & MY TANK
Readers’ aquariums revealed: Sophie Perret from Scotland tells us why she loves Bettas, hoses and being patient!
Fishkeeper: Sophie Perrett Age: 27 Occupation. Sales assistant Where in the world are you? North-east Scotland How long have you been a fishkeeper? 13 years
Can you describe your tanks?
Planted and natural. I’m not a fan of the brightly coloured or plastic decor you get in most stores. My 30l tank has a ’scape I made from broken slate roof tiles, with dwarf hairgrass and a Java fern.
My 240l tank is a Walstad-style set-up. I was extremely nervous about setting it up as a lot of hobbyists thought I was mad to set up a system with no mechanical filtration. The tank has been running since June 2017 and the only issue I’ve had is that my recent long work hours mean that the tank lights are often on for 10 hours or more, causing a bit of an algae bloom.
Bettas! I often hear the same story of the sad male kept in a community tank with badly nipped fins, or of someone who bought a couple of females that are now terrorising all their other tank mates. I’ve been there myself: I had a drab male in my community tank and he never did much, just sat in the corner looking all droopy and sad. Five years later I bought another boy and put him in a tank on his own, and I realised what a fantastic little fish they are – full of colour and personality.
Once you’ve fallen for their charm, one Betta isn’t enough. Unfortunately, males can’t be kept together, so it’s quite common for enthusiasts to get MTS – multiple tank syndrome! It was then that I decided to keep a tank full of females as I haven’t got the space for lots of males.
Most challenging fish you’ve kept?
I believe if you stock correctly and look after the tank, the fish will look after themselves. My Bettas have had their moments as they’re naturally inquisitive, so I’ve had to rescue a few of my males from behind filters.
Their aggression can be problematic, especially with the females as they quarrel among themselves, so you have to keep an eye out for any injuries. Some of mine have had a few torn fins, but they usually heal fast.
Right now I’m all about Javas and Anubias. They’re pretty easy to find in shops and aren’t too demanding.
What’s your dream aquarium?
My Betta ‘sorority’ tank has been a dream of mine for some time. I’ve had cash flow issues in the past and I’ve had a lot of help from nice people in the hobby to get me to where I am today. I can’t thank them enough.
Advice you’d give newcomers?
Research and ask all the questions; it’s better to take your time and get it right than have a tank full of sick fish you no longer want.
Most hobbyists are more than happy to answer questions and give advice where possible. With various social media platforms available it’s easier than ever to get the information, help or support you need.
Any money-saving tips?
Being patient really pays off – often things go wrong if you try to rush them. Keeping an eye on local sales pages helps too; there are often people closing down their tanks and selling off various things cheaply.
Any time-saving tips?
Get lots of hoses! There’s nothing more time-consuming or back-breaking than carrying buckets of water through the house!
What do you wish you’d known when you started fishkeeping.
Everything! I was only 14 when I started out in the hobby and didn’t know anyone who kept fish. The internet wasn’t a thing I used much and social media didn’t really exist.
Most advice I got was from guys selling the fish in a local garden centre, and it was usually bad advice. My early days of fish keeping were trial and error, and a very steep learning curve.
A very naturalistic set-up for Sophie’s sorority of bettas.
One of Sophie’s lovely female Bettas
Ottocinclus help to clean up.