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Old 12-28-2008, 06:21 PM   #1 
Cody
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MUST READ! General Betta Care and FAQ (V. 3.0)

General Betta Care and FAQ
Index:
-Introduction
-Background Information
-Classification and General Care
-Needed Tank Equipment
-Maintenance
-FAQ


Introduction:

Bettas are one of the most popular fish kept. Most people think they need zero to little care, but that is not the case. Here is an important topic for everyone wanting to see the best conditions for their betta.


Background Info:
Bettas come from tropical areas in Asia, from Thailand to Borneo, to Malaysia, to Cambodia. Here is a sticky for that needed information: http://www.fishforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=10494. Two male bettas should never be placed in the same tank unless it has a divider. In the wild, bettas do not fight to the death. They fight until there is a clear winner for territory, then the lesser male will go off and hide, or jump to another area to find safety (which is why bettas should always be in covered tanks, but still have access to air). In small tanks, there is no where to hide, thus leading to deaths. Bettas are also known as Siamese Fighting Fish for that reason.

Sexing:
Male Betta Splendens *generally* have longer fins than females, but there some cases in which that is incorrect. Male Plakats have short fins, for example. The only sure way to sex them is to look for a white, egg spot on a females underside near the anal fin. Here are some basic pictures of Betta Spendens to show that.

Male Betta (with labeled features):


Female Betta:


Wild Betta. You can see the common household betta has changed and morphed a lot:


Classification and General Care:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Actinoptergii
Order: Perciformes
Suborder: Anabantoidei
Family: Belontiidae
Genus: Betta
Species: Betta splendens

-Scientific Name: Betta spendens
-Common Names: Betta, Siamese Fighting Fish
-Care Level: Easy when under proper conditions (see needed tank supplies)
-Max Size: 3 inches
-pH level: 6.0-8.0
-Temperature: Should not fall below 76, better yet 78 degrees. A good range is 76-86F. Bettas are tropical fish that need high temperatures. A heater is needed.
-Life Span: 3-6 years.
-Diet: In the wild, they feed off of mosquito larvae, mosquitos, other insects and their larvae, daphnia, and worms. In the home aquaria many bettas won’t eat flake food. If you choose to try offering flakes, please be sure they are specifically betta flakes and not tropical flakes. Tropical flake food does not provide the proper nutrition for a betta. Meaty foods should be their staple diet. Vegetables should be avoided. Peas are sometimes suggested for bettas, please don’t. A betta’s digestive tract is not designed to handle that kind of roughage in their diet, thus the reason it acts like a laxative. Feeding peas to a betta can severely damage their digestive tract and lead to permanent damage and early death.
-Tank Region: All over, but mainly the Top.


Here is a list of betta species. All have their own special needs, and are very exotic (Scientific name, then Common Name)

Quote:
Betta akarensis (Akar Betta)
Betta albimarginata (Betta Albimarginata)
Betta anabatoides (Giant Betta)
Betta balunga (Betta Balunga)
Betta bellica (Slender Betta)
Betta breviobesus (Betta Breviobesus)
Betta brownorum (Brown's Betta)
Betta burdigala (?)
Betta channoides (?)
Betta chini (?)
Betta chloropharynx (Greenthroat Mouthbrooder)
Betta coccina (Wine Red Betta)
Betta dimidiata (Dwarf Mouthbrooder)
Betta edithae (New Ediths Mouthbrooder)
Betta enisae (Blue Band Mouthbrooder)
Betta falx (?)
Betta foerschi (Betta foerschi)
Betta fusca (Brown Betta)
Betta hipposideros (?)
Betta imbellis (Peaceful Betta)
Betta krataios (?)
Betta livida (?)
Betta macrophthalma (Big Eye Mouthbrooder)
Betta macrostoma (Peacock Mouthbrooder)
Betta miniopinna (Small Fin Fighter)
Betta ocellata (Eyespot Mouthbrooder)
Betta patoti (?)
Betta persephone (Black Small Fighter)
Betta pi (?)
Betta picta (Javan Mouth-Brooding Fighting Fish
Betta pinguis (?)
Betta prima (Threelined Mouthbrooder)
Betta pugnax (Forest Betta, Malayan Betta, Penang betta)
Betta pulchra (Beauty Mouthbrooder)
Betta renata (Betta Renata)
Betta rubra (Red Sumatran Fighter)
Betta rutilans (Redish Dwarf Fighter)
Betta schalleri (Schallers Mouthbrooder)
Betta simorum (Simor Fighter)
Betta simplex (Simple Mouthbrooder)
Betta smaragdina (Smaragd Fighting Fish)
Betta spilotogena (Double Lipspot Mouthbrooder)
Betta splendens (Siamese Fighting Fish)
Betta strohi (Father Strohs Mouthbrooder)
Betta taeniata (Betta Taeniata)
Betta tomi (Tomi Mouthbrooder)
Betta trifasciata (Betta Trifasciata)
Betta tussyae (Tussys Small Red Fighter)
Betta unimaculata (One Spot Mouthbrooder)
Betta waseri (Wasers Mouthbrooder)
Needed Tank Equipment:

-Tank of AT LEAST 2 Gallons. Some people believe in 5 gallons as minimum. Yes, a fish can live in small tanks, but they thrive in proper conditions in roomy areas.
-Heater. heater, heater, heater. This is absolutely needed. The temperature in the tank needs to stay at least at 78 degrees. These are tropical fish, and become very lethargic if kept in cold water. A light will not be sufficient enough for heat. In the night, temperature can easily drop 8+ degrees, which can kill as fish. Room temperature is not enough either. Hydor makes a wonderful heater for small tanks of 2.5 gallons and less. It resembles a heating pad and they work wonderfully while not being overly expensive.
-Hiding Spots: Hiding spots, such as caves, make bettas fell secure. This way, they can escape from light and rest. Make sure the hiding spots are not sharp, as bettas have very delicate fins.
-Filter: This is actually not needed, but it helps. Bettas need a light filter with low flow. They should have very little water movement in a tank. The filter will also keep water clean.
-Light: This helps when it gets dark. Most tanks come with some sort of light, but if not, that should be fine. Simple desk lamps or reading lamps can help give yoru betta the right amount of light.
-Thermometer: This will help keep the temperature under control.
-Liquid Test Kit: A liquid Test Kit will help keep you know your Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH levels. Ammonia and nitrite should always be 0, nitrates under 20ppm, and pH at a level of 6-7.5.
-Access to Air. Betta spendens gets its oxygen from breathing air at the surface. That is the function of the labyrinth organ. If a betta can’t reach the surface for oxygen, it will drown. For this reason, while it is important to offer a well decorated environment, it is also important to make sure the betta has plenty of easy access to the surface of the water. The air temp above the water needs to be close to the temp of the water to avoid infections and shock.

Here is a good Betta Tank:

It includes a heater, hood, live plants, and hiding spots. Perfect!

Maintenance:

A betta needs some sort of maintenance, as would any other fish. They are not "magic fish" and can take care of themselves. Here is a list to insure the best care of your betta in which you, the owner, must provide.

1) Weekly Water changes. A filter cannot take out everything in the water. Would you like to live in your own poop? This is why bettas need regular water changes.
A betta tank should never need 100% water changes unless working with medications. Too drastic of a change in water params can cause illness and death to any fish. Bettas can withstand more than the average tropical fish, and 50% changes are good for them if done frequently enough. The smaller the tank size the more frequent the water changes should be done. Anything under 2.5 gallons should have a 50% change every other day. 2.5 and more should have 50% changes at least twice/wk. If a filter is running in the tank, 50% changes once/wk are usually plenty.
2) Testing Water. You need to keep an eye out for your bettas water paramaters. Water params are nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, pH, and water hardness. A good liquid test kit will help determine what is in the water. Ammonia and nitrite should be at 0, and nitrates under 20. The pH level should be between 6-7.5. If any levels seem wrong, do a water change to get clean water in the tank.
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Old 12-28-2008, 06:25 PM   #2 
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

-How do I breed bettas?
Spawning bettas is not necessarily difficult if you know what you’re doing and are prepared for the outcome. The fish first need to be conditioned by feeding well with good meaty foods such as brine shrimp and live blackworms. The female should get nice and plump full of eggs during this time. Most bettas can be conditioned for breeding within about 2 wks. Once conditioned, the fish should be safely introduced to each other where they cannot yet come in contact with each other. Putting the female into a covered cup (with small air hole in cover) half full of water and floating that in the male’s tank is one method frequently used. Dividers can be tricky due to the betta’s ability to jump over it.) If the fish have access to each other too soon it is possible for them to fight instead of mate, which can be potentially deadly to either fish. Once exposed to either other by sight, the male will then build a bubble nest as he courts the female with frequent displays in front of her. They both will flare their gills at each other in their mating display. The female’s stripes will change direction. Once the bubble nest is in tact, then the female can be released into the male’s tank. It is very important that she be removed immediately after the spawning has taken place, and this must be done without disturbing the bubble nest. For this reason it is a good idea to use a long shallow tank (a 15 – 20 gallon long tank filled 2/3 of the way with water works nicely) with lots of shelter for the female to hide away from the male and his nest. Eggs hatch within 24 – 48 hrs. The fry are born with a yolk sac, and will feed on this for the first day or 2. Once the fry are free swimming, the male should be removed. Some males will eat the fry. Care for the fry is the hardest part of spawning bettas. Their water must be extremely clean at all times, yet they must be fed 3 – 5 times/day. Airline tubing works well for removing any solid waste and dirty water, but care must be taken to ensure the fry are not sucked up.
Bettas grow rather slowly, so they don’t usually show color until they are 3 – 4 months of age. They must also be watched closely, and separated as soon as aggression begins among them. This can happen as soon as 8 wks after hatching. Each betta should have a container of its own at this point, males and females both. Female siblings can sometimes be kept together a bit longer than the males, but females are just as aggressive as males, so this is only temporary.
A betta spawn can include up to 100+ fry. The difficulty in spawning bettas is usually in separating 100+ fry so each has a container of its own, with daily water changes and feedings 3 – 5 times/day until they reach the size of 1 – 1 ½ inches.
Proper foods for betta fry include daphnia, newly hatched and strained brine shrimp (this can be a difficult and messy process), and crumbled betta flake food. A combination of these foods is best.
It’s always a good idea to plan an outlet for betta fry BEFORE spawning begins. Many lfs’s won’t take bettas younger than 6 months – 1 yr old, or until they are at full size and color.

-What temperature should I keep my betta at?
Minimum 76 degrees farenheit. A safe range is 76-86. The important thing is that it needs to be stable. These are tropical fish that will not tolerate cold water.

-Why do bettas fight?
They are in the Ananbantid phylum, and mark their territory with bubble nests. Males will not tolerate other males who enter this area.

-Can I keep bettas with goldfish?
No. Goldfish require large tanks with massive filtration, and coldwater. Bettas are tropical and need very low flow.

-What fish can I keep my betta with?
Any fish that is tropical, is not nippy, and does not have long fins. Bettas are very slow fish and should not be housed with fish like Male Guppies, Tiger Barbs, Angelfish, Goldfish, and most Minnows. You can also keep ADF’s, some shrimp, or snails all depending on the personality of your betta. Bettas do best with peaceful bottom dwellers and/or inverts.

-My betta is bloated. What do I do?
Peas are not healthy for a betta and can cause permanent damage to their digestive system and shorten life span. If a betta is bloated then it is time to take a look at water quality and feeding habits, as well as temperature. An overfed fish is an unhealthy fish at risk of bloating. An adult betta should be fed once/day and should be able to finish all food within 2 minutes. Bettas have very small stomachs and need time to digest food before consuming more. Improper foods can also cause bloating, as can digestive tract problems and intestinal parasites.

-What kind of water do I use for my betta?
A reliable source of spring water can be used safely for a betta. The use of RO/DI water will require the addition of needed minerals & nutrients, as would distilled water. The purification process done with distilling makes distilled water the most pure, and thus the most dangerous for a fish. The process of RO and DI will also remove many minerals and nutrients the betta fish need for their organs to function properly. Tap water is usually the safest, but use of water conditioner is very important. Water conditioner will neutralize chlorine and chloramines, as well as toxic heavy metals that may be found in tap water sources. Testing tap water before using it for a betta is important. There are other, more complicated ways to make tap water safe. If you find you have high ammonia, nitrite, and/or nitrate in your tap water, and can’t find a good source of bottled water, then those other options should be considered. (other options include using a bucket, filter, and filter media to clean the water before using it in the betta tank)

-My betta wont eat!
Bettas can get bored with the same food every day. The best way to get your betta to eat is to try a variety of foods. When he is hungry, he will eat if the food is proper. Brine shrimp, live blackworms, and very small snails can often tempt even the fussiest of bettas. By keeping a variety of foods in the diet, this will prevent the fish from becoming bored with the food, and will also prevent any risk of malnutrition. Food sources should be meaty foods, such as small insects, insect larvae, small worms, brine shrimp, etc. Vegetables such as peas can cause severe damage to a betta’s digestive tract and should be avoided.

-Why did my fish change colors?
A mature betta shouldn’t change colors other than to get a bit brighter during spawning, and the stripes on the females will change direction. Faded color in a betta is a good indication that something is wrong. A sick fish will lose color and luster, as will an old fish and/or a stressed fish. If you notice a color change in your betta, it is then a good idea to do some water testing, check temp, be sure there are plenty of decorations, air is easily obtained from the surface, and be sure he’s getting the proper diet. If all needs are being met, then it is time to begin looking for other signs of illness.

-Why are there bubbles on the top of my tank?
These are made by male bettas. This means he is happy, healthy, and ready for spawning (but doesn't mean they have to spawn).

-How long do bettas live?
Anywhere from 1 year to 6 years, but a healthy betta is generally 3-5 years.

-My betta is laying down on the bottom of the tank!
Temperature is too cold. A heater will fix this up. Bettas become very lethargic when kept at low temperatures. This can also be a sign of illness and/or stress. Be sure the fish has plenty of hiding places, water params are in good standing, and there are no other signs of illness such as tattered fins, fins with holes in them, white patches on the body, fuzzy growths, swelling of the eyes or abdomen, or anything else that appears to be “off”. Laying at the bottom can also be a sign of old age. As bettas mature into old age they slow down, both in metabolism and activity level. It is often necessary to lower water levels for older fish so they don’t have as far to swim to obtain oxygen.

-Can a betta’s tail grow back?
Yes, when kept at proper conditions. However, that is also largely dependent on why the fins were lost in the first place. If it’s an infection such as fin rot, medications would be needed before healing could begin.

-Does my betta need a filter?
Need, no. Recommended, highly. The only reason that people don't like bettas with filters is because they are often found in still-water rice paddies. But why would a betta be so special as to not receive proper care? The Azoo Palm Filter/Red Sea Nano Filter, as well as the Whisper internal filters are great.


I hope this information will help everyone keep their betta for as long as they can in thriving conditions.

*Many thanks to Bettababy for the new, extra information*
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Old 12-29-2008, 08:18 PM   #3 
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Im glad you made this post. I am now in the process of setting my 5gal tank back up to put a Betta in. All the great people in the forum talked me into it. Never had a Betta, and they made me feel I was missing out on something great. I do have a question. Why are they sometimes kept in blue water at the stores?
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Old 12-29-2008, 08:21 PM   #4 
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I am not 100% sure to be honest. Someone else will know.

Last edited by Cody; 12-29-2008 at 08:25 PM.
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Old 12-29-2008, 08:22 PM   #5 
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The blue water is medication. I was told that they use it as a disease preventative.I'm glad we talked you into getting a betta. You'll be glad you did:)
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Old 12-29-2008, 09:30 PM   #6 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Twistersmom View Post
Im glad you made this post. I am now in the process of setting my 5gal tank back up to put a Betta in. All the great people in the forum talked me into it. Never had a Betta, and they made me feel I was missing out on something great. I do have a question. Why are they sometimes kept in blue water at the stores?
You won't be sorry. They are amusing, entertaining fish with loads of *personality*.

Great post, Cody! It should be a must read for anyone considering keeping a betta(s). Nice job.

Last edited by aunt kymmie; 12-29-2008 at 09:30 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 12-29-2008, 10:58 PM   #7 
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Blue water is methylene blue. Disease preventive measure is snake oil. Just a pathetic excuse in my opinion. The fish does not need meds in its water as long as the water is replaced frequently to cope with the wastes that is responsible for the deterioration of water quality and even health issues.
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Old 12-30-2008, 08:24 AM   #8 
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Yeah, but unfortunately, petstores don't change their water frequently enugh.
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Old 01-08-2009, 12:58 PM   #9 
MADxMAC771
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Twistersmom View Post
Im glad you made this post. I am now in the process of setting my 5gal tank back up to put a Betta in. All the great people in the forum talked me into it. Never had a Betta, and they made me feel I was missing out on something great. I do have a question. Why are they sometimes kept in blue water at the stores?
I also heard it was for disease "prevention". Most walmart that carry bettas never seem to have anyone on staff qualified or educated to the point of caring for the fish properly. Take a look at all the tuperware they are kept in next time. Any ones with the blue water most likely still have feces all over in their "tank". All the ones that are dead (normally most of them) are sitting rotting in water that is no longer blue... there is no point for preventative medication anymore.
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Old 04-24-2009, 03:34 PM   #10 
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Very informative and helpful, thanks for sharing.
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