Betta fish originate from stagnant and shallow waters does not mean they can live in poor quality water. Kept in small bowls with nothing to do they often become sick and die very quickly. The reason for this is that in your tank exists ammonia and other dangerous toxins which should be cleared by water changes. The truth is that Bettas are one of the easiest fish to care for. They don’t need much care and attention, just follow some simple works of looking after them and you will have healthy fish.
- About Betta Splendens (Siamese Fighting Fish)
- How to care for a Betta fish?
- Suitable tankmates for Betta fish?
- How to feed a Betta fish?
- How to keep your Betta fish happy?
About Betta Splendens (Siamese Fighting Fish)
A native of Thailand (once known as Siam) and neighboring Southeast Asian countries, the name Betta comes from the Siamese word Ikan Bettah, which is what the Siamese Fighting Fish used to be called. Currently, in Thailand, the fighting fish is known as pla-kad, which means “tearing or biting fish”, referring to the male Betta’s tactic of biting and tearing its opponent’s fins and tail.
Although there are over 60 species belonging to the betta genus – which in turn belongs to the Osphronemidae family – the Betta Splendens (Siamese Fighting Fish) is the most popular. They are usually about 2.5 inches long and originate from Thailand, Malaysia some parts of China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. They are found in shallow waters, such as ponds, rice paddies, and slow-moving streams.
From its humble beginnings as a drab, brownish-green little fish floating around In the rice paddies and canals, lakes and rivers of what was once Siam, the Betta Splendens has become guest in royal palaces and in far-flung lands at the same time that it has metamorphosed into one of the most spectacular and visually engaging fish ever collected. Its fierce aggressiveness is what first brought this minuscule fish to the attention of humans.
Today, since Bettas are mainly kept as pets in aquariums, they are prized mainly for the dazzling array of color combinations and fin shapes they possess, and breeders continue to come up with even more spectacular colors and shapes. They come in many colors such as red, orange, blue, green, purple and white. The males are much brighter and are more colorful than the females and have larger fins. Their lifespan is about 2 years and is an ideal fish pet for beginners to look after.
How to care for a Betta fish?
Fish tank: Selecting a small fish bowl may at first seem a good place for your fish to live, but it actually makes a terrible home for your fish. With no access to freely move around, you should not reasonably expect your fish to live to their full life expectancy. I highly advise you to use an aquarium that holds at least 2.5 gallons of water that will give some space for decorations such as rocks, live plants, plastic items, etc.
Never keep two males in the same tank as they will fight to the death (as the common name suggests, Siamese fighting fish). You can keep more than one female in the same tank. Bettas can be kept with other fish. They only fight with their own species, but you must make sure that you don’t put other aggressive fish in that may nip the Betta’s fins.
Plants: Because Bettas enjoy resting on the leaves of aquarium plants, Marimo moss balls, Guppy grass and Amazon Sword plants are some of the best plants for Betta aquariums. To put plants in the tank you should put in some gravel but don’t forget that gravel gets dirty very quickly and needs to be cleaned regularly.
Decorations: The best decorations for Betta fish are floating Betta logs and bed leaf hammocks, these things will provide the fish comfortable beds near the water surface to rest and gulp air.
Hood: Since Bettas are great jumpers, you should have a canopy or a top to prevent the fish from jumping out of the water and die. Even though Bettas look like normal fish, they are unlike most because they can breathe air the same as humans. It does this by coming to the surface of the water.
It is necessary to leave some space (at least 1 to 1.5 inches) between the water line and the neck of the tank so that the Betta has access to the water surface in order to get some air. Make sure that you have holes in your fish tank lid for the good ventilation because Betta needs fresh air to thrive.
Heater: The survival temperature range for Bettas is between 72 and 86 °F (22-30 °C) while the optimal range is between 76-82 °F (25-28 °C). A small 25-watt aquarium heater can do well for a small Betta tank under 5 gallons. Keep the tank away from sources that produce extremes of hot and cold, such as near windows, heaters, air conditioners, and vents. Also, be aware that any light fixture can easily overheat a small container.
Filtration: Betta don’t like to live in a turbulent water environment, so it will take you much time to research which is the best filter for Betta fish tank. The filter you choose for your Betta should be rated for your tank volume and features an adjustable flow rate. If your filter is too strong, you should do something to reduce the current output to make it perfect for your Betta.
Lighting: Bettas are accustomed to experiencing sunlight in their natural environment. If the room in which the tank sits does not receive natural light, a cheap clip-on LED aquarium light is the best option to provide artificial lighting for a small tank under 10 gallons. The light will not only benefit the Bettas but will also help the nitrification bacteria and plants located inside of the tank.
Maintaining: Change 15-20% of the water once a week is a great way to keep your fish thrive. You can use tap water for your Betta tank; however, the water should be treated with a water conditioner to dissipate chlorine compounds and remove heavy metals that are harmful to the fish.
Read the full guide for cleaning a Betta fish tank here: https://lovefishtank.com/betta-fish-tank/
Suitable tankmates for Betta fish?
Bettas are highly territorial, and will often fight with other fish that have an appearance similar to them, so it’s advisable to keep them separate from each other and other fish. Two males in a tank will result in constant battles; nor do males tolerate females much either, except for short spurts when they’re breeding.
The fact that Betta fish can display aggression when, somewhat artificially, kept in very small containers does not mean that they have to be kept alone. In fact, there are a lot of fish species that will quite happily coexist with a Betta. If you don’t keep them with fish that have large, colorful fins, or that exhibit aggressive behavior such as fin nipping then a Betta fish would be fairly content to share its home with other species.
Betta with Pepper Cory (Corydoras paleatus)
Fish that are NOT good tank mates for Bettas are ones that are similar to them in color and shape. Gouramis, for one, are too similar to Bettas since they belong to the same family. They too are very territorial and aggressive and will most likely nip the fins of a Betta, perceiving the Betta to be a rival. The same goes for other aggressive fish such as Paradise fish, Tiger and Rosy barbs, Red-Eye and Serpae Tetras, Piranhas, Oscars, and Bluegills.
More details: https://lovefishtank.com/betta-tank-mate/.
How to feed a Betta fish?
Betta fish are carnivores, a vegetarian diet will not work since it will not give him the protein that he needs and will make him sick. Remember that they have small appetites, so they can be overfed easily. Take care not to feed them more than the amount they can consume in 2-3 minutes.
The best fish foods for Bettas are freeze dried blood worms and dried brine shrimps with their high levels of protein and fat content. Bettas don’t like flake food much but will eat it sometimes. Another food they don’t like is freeze-dried worm cubes. These Betta fish foods can be got from most pet stores, ask the owner which ones they recommend as they sell many foods that are ideal for Bettas.
You might find that he will occasionally eat mosquitoes or flies that fall into his tank. You may find that your fish grabs his food and swims off to a safe cover to enjoy his find. When eating, fish can feel threatened even if there are no other fish in the tank.
Some Bettas can be finicky eaters. It is ok if your fish does not eat the food you give him that day. This commonly occurs when you first get your fish. It can sometimes take up to a week before they begin to eat. If he still has food left uneaten after 3 minutes, you should remove the leftovers and try again the next day. He won’t starve and will eventually start to eat.
Never over-feed your Bettas, once a day is quite enough, but if you do want to feed it more, make sure you don’t put in more than that it takes a couple of minutes to eat. If you do put too much in, make sure you don’t leave the uneaten food in the water.
Don’t be too worried if your fish is not eating every single day because it takes these fish 14 complete days to starve to death. And trying to feed your fish too often will only make the food sink to the bottom of your tank and create issues with nitrate levels.
You may like: How to grow live fish food for your fish?
How to keep your Betta fish happy?
Bettas are curious fish and, believe it or not, they can get bored. It’s important to take time to stimulate your betta so that they don’t become bored and lethargic. A bored betta becomes lethargic or ‘depressed’ looking which can have an affect on their health. They may also begin fin nipping, just out of complete boredom!
Keeping them entertained will also give them a chance to exercise. Although it may sound silly to exercise a fish, they need to be able to keep their muscles strong enough to carry their long heavy fins. Otherwise, they become really droopy and their bones and muscle structure become fragile.
Stimulating your betta can benefit him (or her) a lot with their health. Most importantly, it lets you bond with your betta. Bonding with your pets whether it be a cat, dog, or fish is important for you and your pet. Bettas can recognize their owners and will become less shy of you the more you interact with them. You’d be surprised at the little things they can do to make you smile.
Remember with any activity you choose to do, you avoid putting stress on your betta. If they are already easily stressed, some activities should be avoided. Every betta is different and may react differently with others. Always be responsible when playing with them and do not put them at risk.
Mirrors allow your betta to get some exercise by flaring their beards and strutting their stuff. Place a mirror in front of them and let them see their reflection. Soon they will start wiggling their bodies and flaring their beards. A couple of warnings: Don’t exceed 10 minutes of this activity. Some fish stress out easy so you might want to avoid this activity if your fish is this way. Avoid this activity if they already have a neighboring Betta they flare at. Use your better judgment for this activity.
You can cut a piece of thread and dip it in the water. Your betta might get curious enough and start to nip at it. You can move it around your tank and he will chase it. You can also dip the thread in the water and then in some pellets or bloodworms. The pellets/bloodworms will stick to the thread. Then hover the food over the top of the water and your Betta will jump for his yummy treat. Warning: Make sure that your tank has a hood so he can’t jump out of his tank after play time is over.
Ping Pong Balls:
Some bettas like to push around floating balls. Although it might not entertain him for hours, you might find your betta pushing it around from time to time. Just let it float around in their tank.
Bettas like to explore. They also love to poke their heads into things. Caves not only offer a safe hiding spot for your betta but also a place to swim around and “play”. Some bettas like to go under bridges, swim around caves, or play in live plants. Keeps them entertained and busy.
White Board Markers:
If you don’t mind writing on the outside of your tank, whiteboard markers can be a fun way to interact with your Bettas. Draw a shape in front of them on the outside of the tank. Some bettas will flare at them, trace the shape as you draw them, or ignore them. It’s always worth a try and when you’re done you can erase it!
The best way to stimulate your betta is with food! Here’s your chance to watch your betta use it’s hunting skills to catch a yummy treat. Live foods that you can give your betta include Bloodworms, White Worms, Black Worms, Grindal Worms, and Brine Shrimp.
Make sure to stimulate your betta at least once a week. Playing with them is a wonderful opportunity to bond and get to know your pet betta fish.