Siamese fighting fish or Betta splendens are among the most gorgeous aquarium fish for your fish tank. These friendly, interactive fish are best for people who are starting with their first aquarium. Although caring for a betta fish is an easy process, it needs to be kept alone in its tank. Betta fish live up to 2 to 3 years in a fish tank. One can differentiate between the male and female by their physical traits. The females are smaller and do not have the beautiful finnage of the males. Still, females are beautiful in their own way and are extremely touchy and huffy.
Betta Fish Varieties
Betta fish are available in a wide array of bright colors like royal-blue, steel-blue, turquoise, green, cellophane, white-opaque, yellow, pineapple, orange, red, copper, black, Cambodian, chocolate, etc. These beautiful fish are named based on their patterns, like Piebald, Butterfly, Marble, and Multi. Their names can also be based on their fin shape, like Spade tail, Veiltail, Doubletail, Roundtail, Delta, Super Delta, Halfmoon, Over-halfmoon, Sun or Combtail Halfmoon, Rosetail, Crowntail, and Combtail.
Betta fish are tropical fish found in Southeast Asia. They have their origins in Siam (hence the name), that is, modern-day Thailand. They swim in the shallow waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and some parts of China. They survive in warm and hot waters at lower altitude regions. They are also found in the slow-moving waters of swamps and rice paddies. In these areas, they find their meaty food, clean warm water, and plenty of places to hide.
Fish keepers are aware of the fact that bettas survive in shallow waters, thus they keep them in cups or tiny bowls. They mostly overlook another fact that bettas require warm temperature. They love heat and can live in temperatures up to 80 °F. They are dispirited easily when the temperature of the tank goes below 75 °F. Another aspect of betta fish care is that they can survive in waters with low dissolved oxygen. People are often mistaken by this fact, thinking that they require less oxygen than other fish. In reality, they have a special respiratory organ called a labyrinth. It allows the fish to breathe small amounts of air and utilize the oxygen available. Bettas are anabantidae, that is, they can breathe oxygen directly from the air. The water should be warm, soft, and have a pH that is neutral to slightly acidic. They can be kept in a community tank with suitable water conditions. They should not be kept with aggressive fish like the Cichlids, or fin-nipping fish like Danios, Tetras, or Barbs. One should remember that only one male should be kept in an aquarium or they should be separated by a barrier, otherwise they will fight to death. Females can be kept together in a group of 5 as they do not fight each other and develop a hierarchy among themselves.
Choosing the Right Betta Fish for your Aquarium
When visiting the local pet store or fish keeper, you should look for several qualities in a Betta before buying one. Some of these are as follows.
Color: Check if the color is bright and vivid. Do not go for very dull or pale colors. The most common colors available are shades of blues and reds.
Receptiveness: Observe if the Betta responds to your movements. See if it swims rapidly when you approach it or it just remains sulking at the bottom. It does not matter if you buy a docile betta as it may be resting or it may have become bored of the many people it may have encountered during the day.
Health: Check whether the fins are torn or damaged. The eyes of the betta should be in good shape. There should not be any lumps or parasites on the body.
The Special One: It may happen that one fish may be attracted to you and repeatedly swim towards you. Even if you feel that it is not healthy, consider taking it home. It may get better once it is put in a larger aquarium under your love and care.
Care Instructions for an Aquarium
The size of the tank or bowl should be large enough for these vivid and lively fish to swim about without injuring themselves. You can keep a betta fish in a dedicated aquarium meant specifically for it, or keep it in a community tank. One male and two to three females can survive in a 10 gallon dedicated aquarium. They require fresh, static water, with the temperature set between 77 °F to 80 °F, and the pH at 6.5. You can fill the tank with sand and gravel for decorations. Live plants that are used in a betta fish aquarium are Cabomba caroliniana or floating plants like Pistia stratiotes. Avoid plastic plants and decorations that can damage the males' fins. Ample hiding place should be provided for the females. Sick betta fish can be treated with antibiotic, antifungal, or anti-parasitic medications. These medications are available at local pet stores. You can ask the fish keeper or vet about the instructions for usage.
In a community tank, bettas should not be housed with fish who have colorful fins like male Guppies, since male bettas may confuse them for another betta and kill them. They should not be kept with aggressive fish. Though they are known as fighters, they are very slow and harmless towards other fish.
You should keep the tank clean as these fish love to swim in clean water. You should avoid washing the tank, decorations, and gravel using soap. Clean using warm water and an abrasive brush. If there is any trace of soap, it may prove fatal for your fish. Another important instruction for betta fish care is to cover the top of the bowl or tank. You should fill the tank with 80% water as these lively fish, when excited, love to jump over 3 inches high and may end up on the floor.
Betta fish should be fed 3 pellets or flakes once a day or 1 pellet or flake twice a day. These fish are carnivores and can be fed brine shrimp, Daphnia, pieces of cocktail shrimp, or bloodworm, occasionally. They can be very fussy and may accept only live food. They are also prone to constipation and therefore can be fed cooked, de-shelled peas once a week, followed by a day without food. They can survive for a week without food, if well fed beforehand. Do not over feed your fish as you may kill it. Remember, its stomach is the size of its eyeball.
Caring for betta fish is not a very big deal. Bettas can recognize their owners and can learn to play games. They easily become friendly with the person who feeds them daily. They are like any other pet which needs food, attention, and love from their owners. It is the owners' responsibility to provide suitable conditions and care to the betta fish. They do not require extra attention and maintenance, just provide them basic care and enjoy their delightful company and beautiful colors.