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Old 12-28-2011, 10:29 PM   #1 
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Question What should I look for when buying my betta?

Hi everyone!

I'm a newbie. Not only to this forum, but I've never owned a fish before!

Some friends of mine got bettas, and I fell in love. That's when I started doing research into fish care, and found this forum. I've been lurking for a couple of weeks trying to learn everything I can.

My friends have their bettas in those little tiny "designer" tanks, which broke my heart (I am currently discussing with them why their fish deserve much larger homes!). So I decided on a 20 gallon tank for my future friend.

I have the substrate, fake plants, a cave, heater, filter, tank/hood. I will be washing everything tomorrow (no soap!) and setting the tank up to run for a day. Then I'm going to start a fishless cycle using Ammonia (10% ammonia, no scents or surfactants).

I will be a few weeks till my tank is ready for a betta. In the meantime I've been looking into what a healthy betta should look like. Which brings me to the reason for this post:

What should I look for when buying my betta? It's hard for me to imagine picking one out when they're cooped up in those tiny little plastic cups. I can't see if they are swimming strongly, etc. So are there specific things I can look for / avoid?

Thank you so much for your help! (and patience...I'm still learning!)
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Old 12-28-2011, 10:44 PM   #2 
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Hi, I'm relatively new to caring for bettas too but you'd want to find one who is active, make sure their fins aren't clamped together or damaged, make sure they don't have any little white spots or it looks like their scales are peeling off. Most of all I think you should just trust your judgement. If a fish isn't healthy you will probably notice right off the bat.
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Old 12-28-2011, 10:54 PM   #3 
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I usually, just go and see if a betta is either flaring at another betta or is trying to swim towards you (known as the wiggle) It has got me 3 bettas lol. As said above just look for one with nice finnage. You can get one that is not very active because with a nice environment they will perk up. Sadly the second one, Chester, died from ammonia poisoning because of the filthy cup water.
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Old 12-28-2011, 10:54 PM   #4 
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Move your finger around their container (without tapping it) and they should react to it if they're healthy. Also make sure to look for eyes that arent too popped out or too indented, bellies that arent bloated or expanded, fins that arent torn or damaged, and that their surroundings are at least somewhat clean. If theyve been swimming in old food and poop for days then its most likely that that betta is/will be ill.
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Old 12-29-2011, 12:22 AM   #5 
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I agree with everything everyone has posted. You can generally tell which ones are in poor health and which ones are in great health. My rule with buying them from the store is if I don't see one I fall head over heals for, then I wait a week and come back. If you're not completely sold on any at the store, wait and come back in a week. To get the prettiest and often some of the healthiest, it's a good idea to go right after the new fish are put out. I know my Petsmart restocks on Thursday, so if I go Thursday evening I get the pick of the litter so to speak.

I know you may want to save all those poor fish that look in bad condition, but it's not a good idea for your first betta to be so sickly. Wait until you have the experience and then go save them.

Another option is to buy a betta online from a breeder. This is going to be expensive, but the fish are gorgeous! - Sell or buy aquarium related equipment and fish in an auction format! is the site that a lot of users here buy from. I just like to drool over the fish because I'm plum out of space right now.
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Old 12-29-2011, 01:36 AM   #6 
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I tend to get the ones that can use some TLC, but in general, I look for:

1) ones that are alert and notice I am standing there.
2) make sure they do not have anything fuzzy on them
3) make sure they do not have rapid gill movement.
4) No Pineconing - if you look at them from the top make sure their scales are not sticking out like a pine cone. Dropsy is a possible cause and it is almost always fatal.

Fin Rot and torn fins are fairly common and is easily treatable. Fins will grow back but the fish may or may not have something else going on with it. For a first fish, i would aim for one that is healthy.
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Old 12-29-2011, 03:34 PM   #7 
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Thanks everyone!

I was wondering how I could see if a betta was active and healthy when they are in that little tiny cup. Thanks for the great tips!

I was in PetSmart today picking up a Master Test Kit, and I looked at the bettas. I could definitely see that some of them didn't react to me at all, and some would flare or swim towards me.

Thanks again!!!
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Old 12-14-2012, 09:12 AM   #8 
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You should make sure that they are not bloated. Also if thier fins are tore up let it pass. Another trick is to move your finger around the tank, if it follows then it is healthy and active. If it does not react it is not healty. Good luck! I hope you find a good one!
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Old 12-14-2012, 09:17 AM   #9 
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TheClaymore101, please don't bump up old threads. This thread is like a year old. Bumping old threads prevents the new threads getting shown and helped. Thanks.
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Old 12-14-2012, 09:28 AM   #10 
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I agree with everything that has been said, adding that i tend to not try to watch the wiggle, too many do that to me!!! I can't take them all!!! I the fish speaks to me, reacts to my voice, then i set it aside. After i have set aside so so many bettas, i place the bettas, male and femalenext to each other, one by one. I regard their reactions as a sign of how they may react to guppies, i own 50+ but i could be how they react to anything. Plus they tend to flare so i see their colors. Never get a sick fish.
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