Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - Contents -

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.

Favourite fish?

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.

Favourite plants?

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.

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