A Betta is a tropical fish species that is also known as Siamese fighting fish. While beautiful to look at, these fish require specific care to keep them healthy and thriving. They originated from Southeast Asia, are reported to have been domesticated as early as the 18th century, and were first introduced into the US in 1910. This fish has come to be a favorite pet in many family homes.
These fish require a large tank that has a low-flow filter system, contains very warm dechlorinated water, and has just the right amount of soft decorative items for hiding in and swimming around. While these fish are territorial by nature, they do get bored unless they are housed with other sea life for interactions.
In the wild, they eat insects and insect larvae. In your care, they will enjoy a balanced carnivore’s diet of pellet or flake food on a daily basis. An intermediate to advanced hobbyist can expect to enjoy keeping these fish happy and healthy for three to five years.
The physical appearance of the Betta depends on the type of fins it has as well as color. It’s also worth noting that the male Bettas have more vibrant colors compared to the female ones. Let’s go over the most common physical appearances of a Betta.
These fish have some of the most outstanding fins and scales compared to other types of fish pets. In this section, we’ll learn about the different fins on different types of Bettas.
The veil tailed Bettas have very long tail fins coupled by equally long dorsal and anal fins forming a veil shape. The veil tail Bettas are the most common Bettas in the pet stores because they tend to be healthier and come in vibrant colors.
The tail fins of these types of Bettas are spread at an angle of 180 degrees forming a half moon shape. A good example of a Betta in this category is the Mustard Gas Betta.
The fish have tail fins that appear as two separate fins and very long dorsal and anal fins. The twin tail Bettas are available in many colors but aren’t common among aquarists due to their high susceptibility to illness. The fish in this category are prone to excessive fin rot, obesity, and swim bladder disorders. Generally, the Bettas with this fin type generally have a short lifespan.
The Delta Bettas have eye-catching fin types that spread out similar to those of the Halfmoon. The only difference is that the fins of the Delta Bettas spread out at less than 180 degrees.
The Bettas in this category have long droopy fins that form a crown. The crown tailed Bettas have a rectangular appearance on the body.
The rose tail Bettas are also common and have long fins that overlap each other giving the appearance of a flower petal. These varieties of Bettas also have many color variations making them very attractive.
Plakat Bettas are also very common in the pet stores and you can differentiate them by their short fins.
The fish is peaceful if placed with compatible tank mates. A male Betta cannot live with another male in one habitat because they may fight each other to death. One male placed with females can live without any problems.
If many female Bettas are put together in a tank, one of the females will become dominant over the others. You may notice some issues until it is sorted out, but after one asserts dominance there shouldn’t be any problems.
Bettas become aggressive if they see other large finned fish in the same tank or nearby tanks. Fish species such as the Guppies should not live with the Bettas.
The minimum recommended size for Bettas is a 5 gallon tank. If you have more than one Betta, the size of the tank should be much larger. Bettas are also active swimmers and need room to move around.
They also need several places to hide. It is recommended to add live plants. If you get artificial plants make sure that they are made of silk and not plastic. A substrate of gravel or sand should be used. It should be deep enough to support the plants in the tank.
In the wild, the Bettas are found in the shallow waters of marshes, rice paddies and slow-moving streams that have tropical climates. The temperature should be in the range of 76 to 81F and the pH of the water should be between 6.6 to 7.5.
The level of ammonia and nitrites in the water should be 0 and nitrate must be less than 40 ppm. Bettas need natural day and night cycles. Avoid providing direct sunlight to the tank.
The Bettas are not strong swimmers. To allow them to move easily inside the tank a filter that does not create strong water flow should be used. Using a sponge filter can be of great help. These filters use a sponge inside the filtration unit that does not create a lot of water movement in your aquarium.
Maintaining a healthy water quality will allow your Betta to live up to 10 years. Check the levels of ammonia and nitrates in the water regularly. Use a thermometer to regularly monitor the temperature of the water.
A 10 to 25% water change should be performed every 2 weeks. If you are adding tap water make sure you dechlorinate it before you mix it with tank water. A larger tank or a tank with more fish may require larger water changes.
Male and female should not be kept together in one tank. This is because the male will try mating with the females. It can cause females to stress out and become lethargic. You may keep multiple female Bettas together but only one male Betta should be kept in a tank.
Bettas are territorial and often act aggressively against other species. The female Bettas are more open to living in a community tank than males but they are less popular than males. This is because male Bettas have more bright and vibrant colors than females. Fish that are larger than Bettas or have a similar fin should be avoided.
The best tank mates for Bettas are –
Bettas aren’t usually susceptible to illnesses but in some cases, the fish can contract fin rots, Betta tumors, and problems due to overfeeding.
Fin and tail rot is a common freshwater disease that is named after what happens to the fish that have it. Fish infected with fin and tail rot will have fins or tails that appear frayed, or parts of them missing. The disease may also cause white milky areas on the body, especially on the tail or fins.
Like Ich disease, fin rot is also a result of poor water conditions and high stress levels. Fin and tail rot can be caused by fungi or bacterial infection. Identifying the cause of the disease, bacteria or fungi, is important to treat them because both are treated differently. Infected fish should be quarantined and treated in a separate tank.
The easiest way to prevent your fish from catching this is to keep their water as clean and healthy as possible. After that the next biggest causes are stress, or attack from other fish. Try not to keep fish that can attack other fish, and give your smaller fish plenty of places to hide with plants or decorations.
Antibiotics will be needed to treat any fish that have this disease.
The disease shows signs of lumps and cysts on the skin of the fin and is caused by a viral infection. The fish can also appear weak and with poorly formed fins. It’s possible to avoid the disease by feeding your pet on high quality feeds as well as maintaining clean water in its tank.
Bettas don’t stop feeding unless you stop offering them food. Bettas just like other fish species have small stomachs. If they overfeed problems with constipation could follow. A constipated fish floats on the water and may die if the overfeeding continues. To solve the problem, you should stop feeding your fish for a few days to allow digestion of the already eaten food.
Bettas require low attention because they aren’t messy. With about 25 % of weekly water changes, your fish can have a long healthy life. Filtration media in the Betta fish tanks should be changed every few months.
Although Bettas don’t require a lot of attention, regular cleaning of the tank is necessary using algae magnets and substrate vacuum cleaners. It is very important to make sure temperature remains constant at all times in your fish tank. You can monitor this quickly with a thermometer placed inside the tank.
Did you know that Bettas’ mouths face upwards? It’s the reason that they feed from the surface of the tank. The pets should feed on a diet mostly of proteins and fiber for a healthy long life. Fish flakes make the best food for Bettas because they combine the necessary nutrients and vitamins in easy to feed flakes. They also love eating brine shrimp and dried bloodworms. Since Bettas are carnivorous, feed them on foods rich in animal proteins.
No, because a bowl won’t give your pet enough space to swim. It’s also worth noting that Bettas do well in warm clean waters which can only be available in an aquarium fitted with heating options.
Just like Goldfish, Bettas will remember their caregivers over time especially those who feed them. It’s common for Bettas to seem excited and swim towards the surface of the tank when the owner approaches it.
Betta fish pets are picky eaters and can sometimes spit out what they don’t like. Spitting mainly occurs if you feed your pet on a certain food and then you decide to change its diet. You can also see your fish spit out food especially the pellets as a way of softening it for better digestion. If your fish is trying to soften the food, it will eat it again.
Bettas also can starve themselves to death and often spit out any food that gets into their mouth if they’re under stress in their habitat.