Also known as Siamese fighting fish, betta fish are one of the most popular home aquarium fish. They are available in a variety of different colors and shapes. These fish were first discovered in Southeast Asia in drainage ditches and paddy fields.
They belong to the ‘labyrinth’ category of fish, which means that betta fish breathe oxygen from their gills and also directly from the air. This is why they can survive for a short amount of time even if they are out of the water, provided they are moist. Given their nature, betta fish are often considered good aquarium pets, even for beginners.
That they can breathe directly from the air and through their gills is just one interesting titbit about betta fish. Some other betta fish facts are:
- There Are Dozens of Betta Fish Types
‘Betta’ covers a multitude of various fish species. However, if you go to a pet store and ask for betta fish, you will most likely get betta splendens (Siamese fighting fish). They are awarded the ‘fighting’ tag because of male bettas’ aggressive nature towards other bettas.
- They Are Carnivores
Pet betta fish are typically fed tubifex worms, dried shrimp, frozen bloodworms, live blackworms, or flakes and pellets that contain ingredients that are nutritional for them. It is also not uncommon for owners to feed live insects to their betta fish.
- Every Type of Betta Fish Has a Different Tail Shape
Betta fish come with different types of tails and are available in many colors. Some of these fish have feather, double, comb, or crown tails. Some others have delta, rose, spade, round, veil, and halfmoon tails. Oftentimes, a type of betta fish has its subtype.
- Selective Breeding Results in Colorful Bettas
Naturally, bettas are green with red fins or a dull brown. Their fins are also smaller and understated. The colorful bettas you see in aquariums are the by-product of selective breeding.
- Male Bettas Are Visually More Striking Than the Females
Male bettas are typically brightly colored and boast distinctive fins. On the other hand, the females are less striking visually and are smaller in size.
- Male Bettas Are in Charge of Caring for Offsprings
A male betta fish takes over once the female lays eggs. He gathers the eggs in a bubble nest and takes care of them until they hatch.
- They Are Intelligent
Over time, owners can teach their betta fish to recognize them. You can even teach them to perform little tricks like swimming through hoops or following your finger through the aquarium.
- They Thrive in Warm Water
Betta fish are their healthiest and happiest when placed in warm or slightly acidic water. In cold water aquariums, bettas’ immune system can decline. Under the right living conditions, bettas can live for up to three years. Some bettas even go on to live well into their teens.
Betta Foods and Feeding Habits
It’s a good practice to feed your bettas is once a day. Be careful not to overfeed them. Only give them as much as they can eat in one or two minutes. Overfeeding not only puts your fish at the risk of constipation but also dirties the aquarium. In case, feed them using food made for bettas, for a look at a couple of different betta food, follow this link. For baby bettas, smaller pellets or flakes with a fine consistency are ideal.
Here are a few signs to look out for with bettas:
- Decrease in appetite.
- They scrap their fins on objects.
- Bloated stomach.
- Discolored or inflamed fins/scales.
- Clamped fins on their sides.
If your pet bettas show any one or more of the symptoms mentioned above, it may be time to consult with a veterinarian who specializes in pet fish care.
How to Correctly House Betta Fish
It’s not uncommon to see betta fish in bowls. However, it serves them better when they are in an aquarium with a capacity of at least five to ten gallons of water. A larger tank means bettas have more room to swim around. Plus, the tank takes longer to get dirty.
Bettas thrive in aquariums with little to no current. Male bettas are territorial and become aggressive when they feel threatened. It is best to keep them separate from other bettas or other aggressive fish. However, they can share space with non-aggressive fish.
On the other hand, female bettas can coexist with other female bettas. They can also share space with other types of fish. It is also important to note that male and female bettas should not be kept together.
To ensure that their aquarium is in good condition, do a daily check of its water temperature and water filter. If it is a medium-sized aquarium, clean out 50 percent of the water once a week. For larger aquariums, change about 10 to 20 percent of the tank’s water every two to four weeks.
The Dos & Don’ts About Adding Bettas to an Aquarium
Don’t remove the betta from its bag as soon as you get home. Leave it in there and place the bag inside the aquarium for about 15 minutes. This way, the fish can get used to the water temperature in his new home.
Then, transfer the fish into the aquarium using a net. If you’re keeping fish as pets, it’ll help to remember that the chemical balance of the aquarium water changes every time you put in a new type of fish. Therefore, be vigilant and check the tank’s ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, and pH levels regularly.
What Do Betta Fish Need in Their Tanks?
A betta fish tank is like any other. Begin by layering an inch or two of gravel at the bottom. Be sure to rinse the gravel before you put it in the tank. The next step is to fill the aquarium with water. You want to leave some room in the tank because bettas like to breathe above the water sometimes. After the water is in, you can decorate the tank with plants, rocks, and other such items.