My ancestors came from the shallow stagnant waters of Thailand's rice paddies. Us Bettas may look like ordinary fishes, but we are actually very special: unlike all the other common fish, we can breathe air from above the water’s surface. Of course, we need water to live, but we don’t need any aeration, airpump, or filtration. So we are extra easy to care for and do well in small bowls, providing they are kept very clean. We can also be happy in a fish tank, with other gentle community fishes, as long as they don’t nip our beautiful fins (that hurts!). However, never ever put two of us male bettas together as we will fight to death and tear each other’s fins to shreds within seconds. We are very competitive with each other. We also are very aggressive towards our females, but gentle with other fish species (go figure). Our female bettas usually get along well with each other and can be kept together and/or with other gentle fishes without problem.
I can get as old as two years, which, in fish years, is pretty impressive! So how do you care for me?
OK, I am very easy to care for, but still have my needs, likes and dislikes (watta you expect?):
DO feed me once a day, only what I can eat within 5 MN. I don’t usually like flake food, but any betta food will do. I LOVE live freezed dried brine shrimp or blood worms, ‘betta bits’ or other fish store betta food. I don’t like freeze dried worm cubes, though. (blah!). Don’t let uneaten food rot in my jar. It will make me sick. Also if you do feed me live food, make sure to rinse it well and only give it to me if it is alive and clean. Semi dead live worms which have been marinating in brown putrid deadly bacteria sworming water is not my idea of a gourmet meal. Yeuk!!! It will make me sick and possibly kill me.
DO clean my bowl once a week if it has no filtration. Keep around a 2 1/2 gallon plastic water jug to pretreat water for my weekly cleaning: fill it with tapwater, add 10 drops of ‘Amquel’ (to remove chlorine, which kills me) and 10 drops of Novaqua, one teaspoon of aquarium salt (not table salt!!). Make sure water is the same temperature as my jar’s water. Use cold tapwater only, then let it sit until it reaches room temperature. Your finger is a great tool to try to match temperatures :) I would also really appreciate it if you would get a PH kit to test the PH of your local tapwater. It may be necessary to slightly adjust the PH which often times is very high. A PH of 7.0 (neutral) is best. But I do fine in anything from 6.5 to 7.5. If your tap water has a very high PH, do not add more than 2 drops of PH down per gallon. Even if that means my PH s still high. Better a high PH than burning my fins/skin with the acid contained in PH down! Or you can mix distilled water and tapwater, but do not use only distilled water. When time comes for my cleaning, simply gently dump me in a soft fish net, rinse my bowl well, fill jar with new clean water and gently dump me back in there. Boy, I just love clean water!! I feel like blowing me a little bubble nest now…
DO keep the top of my bowl covered, because I am a good jumper and will jump out to my death :(. A lid with some holes for air, or a piece of computer transparency sheet works well.
DO plant a live plant in my bowl, it is healthy for me. I like to rest on the leaves like a butterfly... You can buy ‘Betta Bulbs” at Petco, they are inexpensive, grow well and last long. Just don’t let the plant take all my space, though. If necessary you can trim it down if it gets too big. If leaves rot remove them, as they will pollute my water. If you put a plant in there you will need some gravel. Warning though!! Gravel accumulates lots of debris and unless you rinse it well every time you clean my jar, it could get me sick.
DON’T place my bowl in direct sunlight (it freaks me out), or near a cold vent or draft or in a cold room. I prefer warmer, even temperatures. I need my water to be NO LESS than 62F and NO MORE than 82F, and I am happiest if it stays between 70 to 80F.
DO make any water condition changes VERY GRADUALLY. If you decide to put me in bottled water for example, you should gradually mix my tap water with the bottled water over the course of a week or so. So I get a chance to get used to it. I know all waters look the same, but not all waters are the same. For example, would you drink water from your toilet bowl? No, I didn’t think so. Get my point?
DO rinse very thoroughly my jar if you wash it with soap. Never let soap (or any chemicals) drip or come into contact with in my water or I will die.
Us males sometimes blow a whole bunch of bubbles on the surface of our bowl. It is called a bubble nest. This is a good sign because it shows we are healthy, so don’t worry if the water looks like it foamed!! My colors are brighter during the day and I can look pale when I am sleeping but that is normal. If you place a mirror near me, I will huff and puff and flare and dance around thinking I am seeing another rival male. I look very impressive when I do that... But it also wears me out so don’t forget to later remove the mirror.
If you keep me in a community aquarium with other fish, and they pick on me, it may make me sick. I may stop eating or stay in a corner at the surface and not move. If that is the case, or if my fins look torn (from other fishes nipping them), I should be removed and kept in a jar of my own.
If my water is kept clean, I shouldn’t get sick. But in case I do get sick, you will have to isolate me, and play doctor. Fortunately, you can find right here on this marvelous web site (hum… I am plugging my Mom’s site BETTATALK