In Depth: How to Better Know Bettas
Looking for a low maintenance pet? Where you don’t have to worry about fur balls collecting around your house? Hair filling the air? Not to mention one that doesn’t bring with it any super stinky odors and doo-doo to pick up? Then it’s about time you considered getting a brightly colored betta fish as your new best bud, don’t you think?
True they are low maintenance and all. But let’s not confuse low with no maintenance. They have a set of expectations when it comes to housing. Or what you might call optimum conditions in order for them to thrive.
From all appearances it would seem not too many know this. But betta fish can last like five years if well taken care of. On the other hand one wrong move can cost your betta its life. Not that they are super demanding or anything. Yet this is what makes owning a betta exciting. And a bit challenging. So read on to learn more about these tiny dudes with a big attitude.
Bettas are popular among fish owners because they add to the aesthetics of anyone’s tank. With their flashy fins and their gorgeous colors especially the males, there’s no reason why they’d go unnoticed.
Another reason why many people are so hooked into bettas is because of the quirkiness these bettas show. They won’t be called Siamese fighting fish for nothing. So expect that fighting and fin flaring are just two scenes of the entire act. One tank is too small for two bettas. So it’s highly recommended that males should be kept individually. By themselves. Otherwise they won’t stop fighting unless one of them finally surrenders. Female betta fish on the other hand can be kept in a sorority tank. But two females can’t stand each other either so you’d have to place 3 or more girls together.
Now if you’re considering becoming the proud owner of a gleaming betta fish with fins a flarin’ you have to be well prepared before you bring him home. Because it’s not as simple as getting a bowl, furnishing it with gravel, filling it with water, and you’re done. Setting up a betta fish tank actually requires a bit of planning. Plus some add ons to make it your fish’s dream set up.
First off you need to get a tank that’s the right size. Rule of thumb: the bigger the better. That’s right don’t chintz on the gallons involved. A five-gallon tank would be the smallest you should go for your average sized betta. You see, your goal is to provide an environment that closely resembles the betta’s natural habitat. Since bettas in the wild live in long, narrow rice paddies where they have more than enough room to swim around as they need their space.
Proper water condition is a must if you want your betta to thrive. The temperature should be within 76-83 degrees ideally. They’re tropical fish so they naturally love warm water. Which is why you want to buy your pet an aquarium heater. This will maintain the temps to keep them warm and protects them from possible extreme water temperature fluctuations which aren’t good for them.
Weekly water changes are crucial to healthy betta living. Never do 100% water change since this can put your betta into shock. Instead, only change 50% of the water once a week if you’ve got a filter installed. If none, then do it twice a week. The water should also be tested regularly keeping these levels in mind: ammonia – 0, nitrite – 0, and nitrates – under 20.
One other thing about your betta’s water. You want it to be a more neutral pH. Plus you don’t want to use water straight from the tap. The more sensible approach would be to utilize plain tap water that has been treated with water conditioner. This will get rid of the chlorine that’s good for you but bad for the fish.
Other materials you need to secure are filter to insure clean water, hiding spots such as caves and plants to make your betta feel at home and secured, artificial light to mimic a natural setting, thermometer for water temperature monitoring, and a liquid test kit so you can monitor the levels of pH, nitrates, ammonia, and nitrite in water.
Okay so on balance this really isn’t all that bad. Especially when you consider the hours of enjoyment you can get from your betta fish. But it is more than sticking them in a pint sized bowl and calling that good.
Now once you’ve set up your tank perfectly, you’re ready to add your betta to their very own water world. But your responsibility doesn’t end here. Because another aspect in betta fish ownership is betta fish care and maintenance. Oh and let’s not forget about the proper betta fish diet.
Bettas are always hungry. Yet that doesn’t mean you should give in to their whims. Instead, bettas should only be given 2-3 betta pellets twice a day. If you give more then you risk overfeeding them. And that can make your betta sick. Frozen brine shrimp and bloodworms make the ideal meal for our finny friends while betta pellets make a great snack. Now the trick is to get a little variety into their diet. Keeping in mind these pets have a reputation as being somewhat picky when it comes to what they’ll eat.
Granted you can’t take your betta fish for a walk. And you do have to know some about betta fish care to pull this off successfully. From setting up the tank to the proper care and maintenance involved. All lovingly done to insure your betta lives a happy and healthy life under your care. But just wait. It gets better. Some love their bettas so much they get bit by the betta fish breeding bug. Things can really get exciting should the breeding bug bite and you end up with baby bettas all around.