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:
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.
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!
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
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
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
Of course, I was foolish enough to believe him.
So I took “Flame” home.
Soon he was giving me
"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..."
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
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.
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 :(.
pet store betta who started it all