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 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.
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):
Wild Betta. You can see the common household betta has changed and morphed a lot:
Classification and General Care:
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 wonít 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 donít. A bettaís 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)
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 canít 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!
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.