Do you ever feel guilty about how many you've had?
Since late 2010 I've had 5 bettas. Given their potential life spans I have to admit I don't feel too great about that turn over (though I did have several at the same time). Sometimes I look at the numbers and feel like I'm completely failing as a fish owner and that, when my last betta dies, perhaps I shouldn't replace her.
Commie [Owned 8/13/2010 - 6/23/2011]
He was my first fish ever. I never even had fish as a child since my parents knew they would just die. He started in a .5 gal cube and died in a warm 3 gallon nearly a year later. I... don't know why he died. It was sudden.
Xochipilli [Owned 9/11/2010 - Nov/2012]
He was my baby but he was also chronically ill. He'd almost die... and then I'd get him better. Then he would get sick again. And then he'd get better. And then sick again. I still miss him.
Oh goodness, I can sympathize with you quite a bit here. If you include the females and all the little guys I bred, or even not and only counting the males, since I started back in 2009 I don't even like to bother going back and counting the amount of bettas I've had(but I can assure you is FAR more then just five....you, my dear, in comparison to me shouldn't at all feel guilty!). Though a great many of them I did rehome when I moved, there is still a large number that passed on in my care from a good number of various causes and there is never a time when one does that I don't question my ability as a keeper and wonder if I'm really doing these fish any favors.
Currently the betta whos spent the most time in my care has been with me for just a little over a year, and considering their potential lifespan this does make me wonder sometimes as well.
However, I also remind myself that these bettas(at least the ones I take home, but I assume the majority of yours were as well?)were bred in places that are mass-producing fish to meet supply and demand, and then are sending them off to be kept in small, cold, dirty cups for often several weeks usually when they're still quite young in a lot of cases. Being kept in these conditions and treated so poorly I think really does a number on their lifespan, messes with their immune system, and opens them up to all kinds of issues that can develop right away, or just hit them later on and life, even in some of the very best conditions.
So, though its always hard, I think at the very least we were able to give them a taste of what it was like to live in a proper, loving home before they passed on, even if they had a terribly short life. So try not to feel too guilty!
Honestly, I feel bad about the ones I don't remember. . I've had so many Betta in my life. I got my first fish when I was maybe 5 or 6, then I always had at least one (sometimes 2) until I was around 20. That was when my last one (Gerard) died. I was really upset when he passed, and I swore them off. But, between my first one and Gerard I can only remember maybe 4 or 5 of their names. It wasn't until Neptune (6 years after Gerard died), that I again had Betta. This time, I'm doing it correctly. I don't feel bad about getting more when another one dies. I'm not replacing anyone, you can not replace a life, but I am offering the proper home, love and care to another fish that needs a home. That's why all mine are "rescues" from pet stores. I want a AB fish so badly, but I know those fish will get good homes. I would be willing to take in some culls too, if I could save their lives.
I try not to think about the fish I have lost. A lot I have sold on, quite a few I have culled and a larger number than I would like to admit have died due to my ineptness or stupidity.
I lost probably a dozen or more wild bettas due to jumping. Even in tanks where I have used cling wrap and glass lids, I still have found fish on the floor. Nothing is more depressing than finding a fish dead on the ground when it should be so preventable. I haven't lost a fish to jumping in ages now but I still feel guilty about those who had to suffer what would have been quite a horrific death, particularly the three or four juveniles I had jump out one night when I accidentally knocked their lid and went out for a couple of hours.
There are probably a couple of deaths I really regret and wish I could turn back the clock and make a different decision. One was my breeding colony of Betta brownorum that I culled after they sort of failed to recover from velvet. I wish I had given them longer in hindsight. Then I lost my two year old female rutilans somehow during a tank move. I was absolutely devastated over that and bawled my eyes out for the rest of the day.
I think fish are definitely not pets for the soft-hearted as they do seem prone to just randomly dying even when it seems like everything is perfect.
If it makes you feel any better, when I was 15, I killed one of my fish by forgetting to add the water conditioner. Never again have I found a fish like that. His color is hard to describe but he was a very heavy metallic pastel blue veiltail, I loved that fish! at that time I had to move in with my dad (didn't grow up with dad) and his girlfriend, away from my home and a new school, that fish was my only comfort ! I tried everything I could to save him, he was in the chlorine water for about 20mins before I realized something was wrong, I watched him die slowly. I literally cried when that fish died, mostly out of guilt.
I don't think anyone can beat that, who forgets to add water conditioner??? I guess my point is, it could be worse. I still think your fish lived longer than the ordinary betta who goes home to ignorant owners.
I can't say I feel guilty. But looking back I've had several females, and they all seemed to die fast compared to my males. I've only had fish for a year and a half-ish now. I've had 5 males and like....9 or 10 females total. Most at one time was 9 though, since the girls were all in the sorority.
Maybe it's the fact that they're all together in a tank that females don't last as long as males for me. Idk.