Novandro Manik

Novandro Manik is an amateur photographer from Indonesia who specialist betta fish portraiture. His photography captures the beauty and the art side of a betta fish like never seen before.

During his 16 years in the telecom industry, Manik was introduced to photography by a colleague. After exploring many genres, he found his passion resides in portrait photography. Between 2017 and 2019 he was exploring this genre by taking professional classes and joining many conceptual photo events.

When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in 2020, he had to stay home, so he switched his portrait object from human to betta fish. It turned out that betta fish can also produce the same beauty as the human object. He managed to capture both the beauty and art side of a betta fish, which all the poses are natural. He continues exploring the betta behaviour to understand the fish and ensure their well-being which in turn will lead to getting the best result from a shot.

The Tutu Skirt

Being consistent while taking thousands of shots to share with the world on social media channels, made his works well known and attract many clients from artists to musicians. His works have been used in NFT, digital music covers, pottery, fabrics, painting, and prints and showcased in Fujifilm Indonesia Macro Exhibition in 2021.

Novandro stresses the importance to appreciate that living animals aren’t decorations and agrees with concerns by some animal welfare advocates that the betta’s reputation as an “easy” pet is exaggerated. Critics argue that such popularity and misconceptions about their care and biology can lead to them being some of the most commonly mistreated fish in the pet trade.

A campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) aims to highlight the problems with betta sales and ownership. Betta’s will not be healthy or happy living in so-called “self-contained ecosystems,” confined in a vase with nothing but a plant on top to feed them—their natural diet is insects and larva, not roots. Bettas need filtration, warm water, enrichment like plants and caves to explore, and regular feeding and tank cleaning. Many fish tanks that you can buy easily, are nowhere near the appropriate size to keep a fish happy.

Copper Flower

In 2017, researchers at Ghent University in Belgium identified several common issues regarding betta fish welfare. They wrote that bettas can become stressed from sharing a tank with fish they see as rivals, especially when they are confined and can’t escape, or from seeing them in other nearby tanks. Too-small tanks, a lack of environmental enrichment, and mycobacterium infections also harm the quality of life for many bettas.

Christel Moons, one of the authors of the paper, explained that it’s especially important to set up a tank where the betta has companionship with fish that it gets along with and also has the option of avoiding them. “You want to look at species compatibility and you also want to make sure that it has the option for hiding,” Moons said. “Having said that, it’s the same for all fish.”

Fujifilm Macro, 2021