Caring for Your Betta
Bettas for Beginners
One of the most popular aquarium fish in the aquarium hobby is the Betta or Siamese Fighting Fish (Betta splendens). These fish were originally found in the rice paddies and flood plains of Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. Today they are captive-raised and selectively bred for the aquarium hobby. The average lifespan of a Betta is between two and three years.
To provide a healthy, happy atmosphere for your fish, Petland recommends the following necessary equipment and accessories. We have listed them as your Betta's four basic needs: Environmental, Nutritional, Behavioural and Maintenance. When you meet or exceed these needs, both you and your new friend will benefit by creating a unique experience for you and your family.
Let us start off with the right container in which to house your Betta. While it's true that Bettas can live in a small environment, consider the following:
A. Small environments (as little as 1.5 L/0.4 US Gal.) are more difficult to maintain and may not be suitable for the beginner. The challenges with such a small container are in trying to maintain a constant temperature and clean water for your Betta to live in while providing adequate decoration.
Here at Petland, we house our Bettas in smaller containers as a temporary home so that you can easily see them in the store. We provide our Bettas with daily feeding & maintenance procedures to maximize their health during their short stay before you take them home.
B. A 3.8 – 7.6 litre tank (1 to 2 US Gal) is a better choice for housing a Betta. This environment provides a little more area for your fish to swim in which can be accessorized with lights, a miniature filter and heater to improve the water conditions.
C. The best home for your new pet is a nano aquarium (11.3 L/3 US Gal. to 53 L/14 US Gal. in size). These advanced little eco-systems have great filter systems and different lighting options, such as LED, to re-create a beautiful fish oasis.
Bettas require a constant warm water temperature (fluctuating no more than a degree or two) to maintain proper digestion and healthy enzyme production. The temperature can be between 24 – 28°C (75 – 82°F). Please take this into consideration when deciding on the placement within your household. Miniature aquarium heaters and thermometers are available at Petland and can make your Betta home more livable without the worries of temperature fluctuation.
Bettas are mainly insectivores (a type of carnivore). You can tell by their up-turned mouths that they prefer to eat from the water's surface. The best foods to offer are a combination of prepared pelleted foods, frozen or freeze-dried bloodworms (mosquito larvae) and live, frozen or freeze-dried brine shrimp. All frozen or freeze-dried foods are more digestible when rinsed or soaked in de-chlorinated water first.
A Siamese Fighting Fish's stomach is only about the size of their two eyes put together. Offering them only 2-3 pieces of food per feeding is plenty. Bettas should be fed once or twice per day. Don’t let uneaten foods sink to the gravel. The food can quickly “go bad”, creating harmful bacteria and/or fungus which may cause the small environment to become unhealthy for the fish.
Bettas have long flowing fins and prefer to stay near the surface of the water. The water movement in their home should be slow or have quiet zones so as not to create undue stress. Live or silk plant decorations should rise close to the water's surface to allow for refuge and resting zones. Bettas like to rest on leaves to conserve their energy. Enhance his home with smooth surfaced rocks or miniature decorations which won't snag on your Betta's beautiful fins. These also provide a comfortable refuge.
A small amount of aquarium gravel provides a base in which to anchor plants and decorations. It also provides a natural, aesthetic base while helping to improve the water quality.
Having a small water circulating filter is the best method of maintaining optimum water conditions between water exchanges. Ask your pet counsellor which is best for the aquarium you are selecting.
Small 20–25% water exchanges are necessary to maintain good water quality. If you do not have an aquarium filter, exchange the water in the container every two to three days. If you have an aquarium filter, once per week to a week and a half will suffice. Replace the aquarium water with fresh tap water that has been treated with a water conditioner & bacteria supplement to improve the water conditions.
We recommend using a soft algae cleaner or algae magnet to keep the glass or plastic home free of algae without scratching the surface.
Setting-up and Introducing Your Betta into His New Home
Getting home and setting up the aquarium in a timely manner is very important. This will greatly reduce the stress on your Betta:
- Avoid exposing the Betta to extreme temperatures on the way home.
- Rinse the container, gravel, all decorations and filters in lukewarm water. Never use any soaps or detergents.
- Place the gravel in the bottom of the aquarium and decorate the environment to suit you and your Betta.
- Gently add warm fresh water 24-28°C (75-82°F) to the container, filling it no more than one inch from the top. This prevents your nervous Betta from making that big leap.
- Add a water conditioner and a bacteria supplement to the water.
- Place the aquarium heater in the water, allowing it to acclimate for one hour before plugging it in.
- Float the Betta in its bag in the water and wait 15 minutes to acclimate the temperature.
- Remove the Betta from the bag with a fish net and place him in the aquarium. Discard the water from the bag; it's best that the water from the bag not go into the container. The fish net will also come in handy for removing uneaten fish food or transferring your Betta later.
- Feed your Betta the next day and observe his behaviour for the next couple of days.
- Betta tank or small aquarium
- LED light (optional)
- Small aquarium heater and thermometer (optional)
- Two different types of Betta foods
- Live aquarium plants (algae balls and cryptocorynes) or silk plants
- Miniature decoration
- Aquarium filter (optional)
- Fish net
- Water conditioner
- Bacteria supplement
- Algae cleaner