about myself

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a little glimpse into my world  

 

Well, I may not fit your typical betta breeder profile, but then again, is there even a betta breeder profile? If you imagined a little old lady with a flowery hat, imagine again! I am actually a recording artist, or should I say I am actually a juggler, since I have mastered the art of juggling effortlessly and flawlessly between my day job, my recording career and my betta breeding (effortlessly and flawlessly? Yeah, right!!!). I am also a webmaster so I have built and maintain both this site and my band site, so as you see, I keep quite busy! 

I have my own band, named ALTERNATE FAITH which I have founded in 1995. My music is a cool blend of modern rock flavored with exotic instruments, such as the sitar, tampura, oud, tabla, dumbek, mandolin, windcatcher, etc...

I am the front person, writer and singer and I also double on guitars, sitar, oud and mandolin. I also produce and engineer for my project's recordings. My only regret is that I only have two arms and two hands...  I keep busy at all time. LOL... I am in and out of recording sessions, rehearsals and live concerts, with little ‘in-between’ swims in my betta tanks. If you want to know all about me and my band, your best bet is to surf our huge band website. There you can find photos, soundbytes, a bio, lyrics, and a whole bunch of band related cool stuff. Just click below:

 ALTERNATE FAITH 


I was born in France and raised in Beirut, and speak three fluent languages, although at this point none of them well ;). After residing for 16 years in Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A, I am starting to lose my French while my English still gives me trouble here and there (Oh well, so much for giving up my music career and becoming an English teacher LOL). Although my main passions remain music and bettas, I have many hobbies and a wide variety of interests, including, ballet, lindy hop (also known as swing dancing), horse riding, working out, camping, drawing, writing, video production, photography, graphic arts, riding my bike, cooking, decorating, gardening, etc... 

The most important thing I can say about myself is that I am a very spiritual person and have been nurturing an intimate relationship with God for over 20 years now. I am a Christian and basically am completely amazed and fascinated by Jesus of Nazareth whom I have been following all these years and whom has taught me many things, helped me grow and change, making me who I am today. . Well I am a work in progress, so don't expect perfection here hehehehe. But we aim for it and who knows, with a little help from above, we might reach it one day :). As I often say: Everything beautiful about me today, I owe to Him. 

les 3 beautes cropped.GIF (100250 bytes) So God is by far my biggest Love, the corner stone on which my life is built, the strong cement that keeps the pieces together ;). But there are also many other dear ones my life is blessed with. For example, my sister Elisabeth and her ever so cute daughter, Karine. And then there is George and Therese. From him I inherited my narly sense of humor (hehehehe) and artistic side. From her, my intuitive and caring side. Yes, you guessed it, George and Therese are my folks. Here they are on the left, the beautiful specimen that provided me with such a fine gene pool LOL. 

Well, back to bettas :). As I stand today, President of LABS (Los Angeles Betta Society) ( Southern California's chapter of the International Betta Congress) with over 170 spawns under my belt and about 2800 betta shipments on my records, I guess I can no longer pass for a happy betta beginner. Still I am always puzzled when people email me saying I am a Betta Goddess, Betta GURU, an inspiration and etc... ?????????????????????     

                                                                          little ol' me? 

Truly I am not worthy of such titles or praises :), which should be saved for people such as Gene Lucas or Bonnie Mc Kinley :). And even though I have become an experienced breeder, I am still learning everyday and have a lot of more learning to do still! :). The more you know, the more you realize you don't know enough!

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In 2002, I was featured on Animal Planet. In late 2003, the BBC network flew in a crew from England to film by bettas and myself. This second documentary is scheduled to air worldwide on BBC and Discovery channels starting early 2005. San Francisco Bay brand (a top US fish food company) features one of my halfmoon bettas on their betta food package as well as on all their print adds :). With this heavy international media exposure, I guess I have become a betta celebrity of some sort (yikes) and how that happened is still not entirely clear to me LOL, except maybe that I have been working my bunzzz off for many years now (so maybe it is only fair that it would be acknowledged?). Well, who knows, I guess I was not prepared to become the center of attention but here I am, praised/loved/looked up to by many and criticized/hated/flamed beyond recognition by a few others (jealousy will make people do many weird things), the whole lot that comes with success (I guess). At least I'll be prepared for what awaits me if I ever become a Rock star LOL! Apparently everybody and their mothers (and even their neighbors) know about me, my website and my bettas. I must admit that many many many hours of hard work have been poured into creating, updating and consistently improving and expending this website, a work I do en-ti-re-ly myself (from A to Z). Where do I find the time you ask? I don't. I steal it. I take it from my sleepy times, my lunches, my leisure time and basically drive myself nuts with all this. But then again, I have been nuts for a while so I had nothing to lose there!! LOL.

Wait. Back up a bit you say? How did I get started in the first place?

Oh yes, I got a bit side tracked there :). As far as breeding bettas goes, I guess it was a natural progression. I have always loved breeding, and have tried my hand at breeding canaries, mice, and Yucatan Sailfin Mollies as well as some easy cichlids. About 10 years ago, I got a pair of bettas and got my first spawn. It was actually a frustrating experience, as most of my fry died (only 8 survived), which is a clear indication that, at the time, I did not have a clue what I was doing. :)))

To top it all off, my 8 survivors never looked like anything, they just wouldn’t grow and all were blue females, thus neither did they have the color nor the finnage.

I got discouraged and gave up.

But then, I was bit by the bug again (oh NO!!!!!!!). It was like a running fever. One day I was a normal recording artist, the next, I was a completely neurotic Betta Freak (with a capital F). Fish tanks kept popping everywhere in my house.

And as you can probably guess, it all was Flame's fault .

Flame?

Yes, Flame. He was that innocent looking, harmless (it seemed at the time) little betta I bumped into accidentally (does that sound familiar?? :P ) at a local pet store. See, this whole betta madness was not my idea. I am innocent! He lured me into it, and boy was he good! First, it was the “I am so cute and unique looking, why don’t you buy me? Look, I have a nice butterfly marble pattern! My fins even look like flames when I flare. Look! I’ll flare just for you right now!! See?? See?? Why don’t you buy me and take me away from that dreadful pet store?? I promise I’ll just stay in my little corner and won’t bother you”

Of course, I was foolish enough to believe him.

So I took “Flame” home.

Soon he was giving me the:(sigh) "It sure is lonely around here... I am so beautiful... Wouldn’t it be a pity if I just went and died all of a sudden, and my line was forever extinct..." (other, deeper sigh)... "Oh, I don’t feel so good all of a sudden..." (simulated convulsions)...

Of course, I rushed the very next day to locate a female to insure my dying Flame's descendants... I think he even faked a seizure or something... How else could he have me wrapped around his little ventral fin like this??

The rest is history. The only thing that can remotely rival Flame's persuasion skills is his sexual appetite. Casanova in fins. :). I bred Flame with different fancy females (special thanks to my good friend Patrick Ciccone, who provided Flame with a harem of exotic, beautiful females from his superb award winning stock).

This time, I had the whole nine yards: brine shrimp hatchery and microworm culture and chimney glass thing (or whatever it is called), and more literature than I could possibly stomach in 10 years. Having completely mastered (yeah, right!!) betta genetics, I decided that safe, conventional breeding was not for me.

I am therefore into experimentation with color crosses of the most extreme. Living on the Betta Edge, boldly going where no betta breeder has gone before (the few who did go, never actually returned LOL). I am mostly focusing on:

Double Tails, Delta tails and Halfmoon genos, with super cool patterns. Marbled, butterflies and bi-color, as well as tri-color bettas. In short, not your average looking betta. Breeding a red betta with a red betta to get more red bettas is not my idea of fun...That is why I do not stick with conventional breeding. Beside, the betta world needs some of us Mad Scientists Genetic Mutant Wackos out there. Or else how will new Betta strains come to be? I now have hundreds and hundreds of bettas, and they are quite beautiful and cool looking. I also created several strains and brought back the DT opaque strain from extinction. See the "meet my bettas" section for more on this.

And Flame?

Well Flame is still alive and well, swimming about in his cozy little 1 gal hex tank on my bathroom counter, relaxing... No doubt he will outlive me.

Sometimes, I could swear he is laughing his little burgundy head off every time my back is turned...

PS: No actually Flame died many years ago, of old age, and I outlived him (a good thing ;) ).

He is still missed :(.

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'flame', the pet store betta who started it all