Ok everyone, I have it finished, finally.
What I have done is to leave Cody's content in tact, and then have posted corrections or additional information where I found it necessary.
Cody, if you would like to rewrite the page to include the proper information that I listed here for you, please feel free... I really don't have the time right now to do a complete rewrite of the entire page.
Otherwise, feel free to have Lupin copy the entire thing with corrections inserted. This may help to dispell a lot of misinformation that is floating around on the internet and in pet stores today.
General Betta Care and FAQ
-Classification and General Care
-Needed Tank Equipment
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.
Bettas come from tropical areas in Thailand. Here is a sticky for that needed information: http://www.fishforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=10494
Bettas range across Asia. From Thailand to Borneo, to Malaysia, to Cambodia, etc. depending on which species. Betta splendens found in pet stores also come from fish farms in places like Florida and California.
Males have longer fins than females, and are generally more colorful.
Male bettas can also have short fins. Wild males have short fins. Female bettas can also have long fins. The only way to be positive of the sex of a betta is to look for the ovipositor, otherwise known as an egg tube directly in front of the anal fin. Only females have an egg tube. In young bettas is can be very difficult to tell the difference.
Two male bettas should never be placed in the same tank unless it is over 100 gallons, or has a divider.
No betta should be placed in a standard 100 gallon aquarium. The only 100 gallon aquarium that would be safe for any betta would have to be 18 inches tall or less. Betta spendens are air breathers. They also are not very strong swimmers. A tank more than 18 inches tall can make it impossible for a betta to reach the surface for air, thus the fish drowns.
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. In small tanks, there is no where to hide, thus leading to deaths. Bettas are also known as Siamese Fighting Fish for that reason.
In the wild bettas tend to live in rice paddies and other small, shallow, slow moving and still water areas. When 2 males confront each other, the less dominant fish tends to jump to another area to find safety from the dominant fish. This is one of the reasons bettas are so famous for their jumping ability, and why they should always be kept in a covered tank.
Classification and General Care:
-Scientific Name: Betta splendens
-Common Names: Betta, Siamese Fighting Fish
-Care Level: Easy when under proper conditions (see needed tank supplies)
-Max Size: 3 inches
-pH level: 6-7.5
A safe pH range for a betta can range from 6.0 to 8.0. The important thing is that pH must remain stable, and the fish must be acclimated to it slowly. Many of the fish found on lfs shelves are being raised on fish farms right here in the USA and the average pH range for those fish is 7.8 – 8.0.
-Temperature: Should not fall below 78 degrees. Bettas are tropical fish that need high temperatures. A heater is needed.
Safe temp range for a betta is 76 – 86 degrees. Again it is most important that it remain stable, and that acclimation is done properly.
-Life Span: 2-6 years.
Average life span for a healthy betta splendens is 3 – 5 yrs
-Behavior to others: Peaceful when given the proper tankmates. Some people beleive bettas should only be alone as males, or in a specie-only tank. They should not be housed with fish with long, flashy tails (EX, Angelfish and Guppies) or fast moving, nippy fish (Tiger Barbs). Good tankmates are some tetras, cories, and plecos.
Plecos make very poor tankmates for a betta spendens. Due to their lack of swimming ability, bettas are unable to easily escape an attack, which plecos are known to do for no reason. If the betta becomes sick or injured, or as it ages and slows down, it is likely to become pleco food. Plecos are catfish, and they will eat sick, dying, and dead fish. The trick in finding a safe tankmate for a betta is in knowing what area of the tank they spend most of their time and claim their territory. Corydora catfish make wonderful betta companions, as do kuhli loaches. Peaceful bottom dwellers that are out of a betta’s territory (provided they have a shelter/cave of their own), will help to avoid conflict between them. Dwarf frogs are another good betta companion. Small snails are likely to become betta food, but larger snails such as mystery snails and apple snails can also make good companions to a betta. Some shrimp also make good betta companions. Ammano shrimp, ghost shrimp, cherry shrimp, and other small non aggressive shrimp are safe.
If keeping companions such as those listed, please be aware that temperature may need to change and filtration will be needed.
-Diet: In the wild, they feed off of mosquito larvae. In the home aquaria, they will take pellets or flake (pellets are generally better) as a staple diet, but they should be fed meaty foods at least twice a week. Good foods are freeze-dried or frozen bloodworms, brie shrimp, or blackworms.
In the wild bettas feed on mosquitoes, mosquito larvae, 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 some other
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 2.5 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.
A betta spendens can live happily in a tank or bowl of under 2.5 gallons provided the care needs are being met.
-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. This may sound odd, but bettas can breathe air, and breathe underwater. In the high temperatures in which bettas live at, the water is often depleted of oxygen. Bettas have a labyrinth organ which takes in oxygen for the fish.
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.
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 100% change should never be done, unless your betta is in a tiny 1 gallon tank. In a 2.5 gallon, 25-50% twice a week will work, and in a 5+ gallon, 10-50% each week should be the best.
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.
Water testing and bettas doesn’t work quite the same way as water testing for the standard aquarium. Due to the need for frequent water changes, it is more often the tap water that needs regular monthly testing for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH. These things are known to fluctuate in tap water depending on weather changes and season changes. Adding polluted tap water to a betta tank that receives frequent water changes, and for most without a filter, that can make a betta’s tank water toxic instantly. Water testing for a betta should be done monthly on tap water before it is put into the betta tank, and on the betta tank anytime something appears different or not right/normal for your fish/tank. Water testing is also the first thing that needs checking when diagnosing and treating illness problems, so having test kits on hand is very important.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
-How do I breed bettas?
Let me say this right off the bat. Do not even think about breeding them unless you 150% know what you are doing. This is a very complicated process in which takes a lot of work.
You need both a male and female betta, kept in separate tanks for a month at the least. They need to be fed very well, and kept in proper conditions. The male should have a bubble nest, and the female should have vertical bars. If you are ready, lower the water level in the female’s tank to about 3”. Divide it in half, and add the male to the other side. Floating plants help here. The female will try to get over to the male, show vertical bars, and flare a bit. The male should build a nest. At these stages, remove the divider. They should chase each other, and then embrace. The male will make the eggs fall out of the female, and this should go on for about 30min to 5hrs. When they are done, remove the female. The male will take care of the babies until they hatch. When the fry can swim, remove the male. You need to feed the 150+ babies live food, then frozen, then eventually graduataing to pellet. When the mature, you need a separate container for EACH male, and a tank for all the females (55G+). Then you can sell them to friends/family/local breeders/some fish stores.
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 78 degrees farenheit. These are tropical fish that will not tolerate cold water.
A safe temp range for a betta is 76 – 86 degrees, provided it is stable. Air temp is also important, and a betta tank should always have a cover. If the air temp at the water’s surface (the air the fish will breathe) is more than 2 – 3 degrees different from water temp, it can cause the fish’s body to go into shock. Air temp will alter body temp, but water temp will also alter body temp. If the difference is too extreme, it can be fatal. Using a cover over a betta tank will help to trap humidity, which will help to keep the air temp at the water’s surface close to the water temp. If a betta is allowed to breathe air temps that differ greatly from the water temp, the fish is then at risk of infection to the labyrinth organ, both bacterial and fungal. These infections can be extremely difficult to treat and are most often fatal.
-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.
The mention of bubble nests and air breathing would put them in the category of labyrinth fishes. Their phylum is Chordata.
Species: Betta splendens
-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, most Minnows, and some cichlids. 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. There is no species of cichlid that is safe to keep with a betta spendens.
-My betta is bloated. What do I do?
Don’t feed him/her for a day or two, and then feed him/her an unshelled pea. This unblocks and nasty stuff in their digestive system and makes them not bloated. Feed them a pea a day until they are not bloated.
[/b]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. [/b]
-What kind of water do I use for my betta?
Unless your tap water is filled with nitrates and other terrible stuff, then Tap is fine. If not that, use RO/DI water. Bottled water can be even worse than bad tap.
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 be the most pickiest fish when it comes to eating. Eventually, they will learn to take their staple diet, which should be pellets. Bloodworms ARE NOT a staple diet. This is a treat and should only be used once/twice a week.
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?
Bettas are known to change colors very often. They change colors dependant on their mood, other fish, proper tank stuff, etc.
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.
It also means he is healthy and ready for spawning.
-How long do bettas live?
Anywhere from 1 year to 6 years.
The average lifespan of a healthy betta spendens is 3 – 5 yrs.
-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 the proper conditions.
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?
No, but it sure helps. If you do get one, get one with a very low flow. The Azoo Palm Filter is perfect.
The whisper i series of internal filters also work wonderfully for betta tanks.
I hope this information will help everyone keep their betta for as long as they can in thriving conditions.