My life has not been the dream life of a betta… It took me a long time to get here… longer than I would have liked. I’m pretty happy, don’t get me wrong, but you should know the before story. Who was I before this?
I was born the same as any other betta. I was a fry, an itty bitty little fishy in a big bubble. I spent my first day in this bubble. I couldn’t see or hear or swim. I was just a baby! Just a transparent and miniscule baby. Eventually I was able to break free and swim out. The water was warm and murky, which I kind of liked. I sensed other tiny babies around me, and recognized them later as my brothers and sisters. We all looked the same, with clear bodies, big black eyes and teeny fins.
I spent a few weeks in this tank, growing bigger and stronger. After a month or so, a big net came down and scooped me into a tiny little half gallon tank. It was small, but so was I! I could deal. I was a little lonely without my siblings, but I was fascinated by my fins. I would wake up, swim to the surface to get some fresh oxygen for my labyrinth, and then swim in a nice tight circle so I could see how my fins were growing. I saw some nice red and green and white, and saw them grow bigger and bigger every day. I was becoming very proud! After 4 months, I was a beautiful half moon betta fish. My fins spread to a perfect 180 degrees, and I could swim really fast if I wanted to, with just a few flicks of my ginormous tail. It was amazing; I couldn’t believe I looked the way I did.
2 months later, and I was bored. Well, I’d been bored for 1 month and 29 days, but I jumped a little. There really isn’t much to do in a half gallon tank. I had a plant, but I could only swim through it so many times. Well, one day I got something new. And it wasn’t good.
Some grouchy human grabbed my tank roughly and carried me to the sink. My water was dunked out and I fell into the dreadful net. It tore at my fins and scales, and it hurt me! I felt air whoosh past me as I was carried over to a counter. I was roughly dunked into a cup with freezing water that tasted like metal. I tucked my fins in to keep me warm, but the water was so very cold. I looked around me and saw my brothers and sisters around me. They looked miserable, but we were a pretty set, with some delta tails and half moons. We all sat clamped up, waiting to see what would happen next. Then, a big hand came down and scooped us up 2 at a time and put us in some kind of box. I struggled, and put my head to the bottom and swam in a tight circle around and around, terrified. It didn’t matter. I was put in the box next to my brother and sister.
My sister was a cute tiny girl, white with blue and black speckled scales. I think that’s called marbling. Her fins were a mix of red and blue. That was something I hadn’t seen before. Red, white, blue, and black. My brother was a red half moon with blue wash, but only a little. “I sure hope they find good homes, they’re pretty” I thought to myself.
It turns out our box was in a big truck. This truck obviously didn’t like us, because it seemed to hit every rut and bump in the road. We bounced and splashed for an hour, then two. I was feeling awful then, the worst I’ve ever felt. I had a scratch on my head and my fins were torn. Most of my water had splashed out of my cup and I was gasping for air. I hoped I would live, but I didn’t want to continue suffering. I would have gone to sleep but the bouncing was awful. I couldn’t take it, I needed to rest, please…
A few minutes later, the truck stopped. An old lady came out of some building and gave us a once-over. She gave some green paper to the driver, who grinned and winked at her. She rolled her eyes and gently took us inside. She placed us on a long sleek table, with us in the box at one end and around 75 big fish cups at the other end. She netted us quickly and put us in some refreshing warm water in the cups, filled all of the way to the top. It tasted good, and I gulped mine up greedily. I was placed on a big shelf, with bettas on 3 sides. I was gratefully placed in the front of the shelf, where I could see people come and go.
My red brother was on my right, and my sister was on my left. Behind me was a grouchy looking delta tail I named Scary. Scary immediately did this weird thing when he saw me… he made his head look enormous and he puffed his fins out. I didn’t know how to do that! So I made a face and ignored him. My red brother did the same. I liked him, and I named him Dude. He became my buddy.
My sister was very shy and scared, the poor little thing. She was very pretty. I called her Marbles. Dude and I tried to comfort her, and I think she liked us. But she hated scary. She was always terrified that he would somehow hurt her! I promised her he couldn’t harm her, but I wasn’t sure. He was a very mean fishy, and our cups didn’t have lids, just some plastic with some air holes punched through. I was pleased when a young girl took Marbles home. Marbles looked very scared at first, but she recognized the girl. I did too, I realized. This sweet thing had been begging to get Marbles for a week. I guess she finally was allowed! Marbles waved her fin at me and Dude before being carried away. I prayed her tank was big and roomy and wonderful.
Well, I was at that store for 2 weeks. I was still feeling okay, but I was hungry often because we were only fed one worm every other day. Once I actually took a few chomps out of my tail because I was so stressed and hungry. My brother and I blew bubbles and talked, but Scary was always watching us. One day, Scary was doing his poufy thing again just as a teenager came up to us. He was a nice looking kid. He saw Scary and just about fainted. He grabbed him up and picked out a 1.5 gallon tank with green gravel and a filter. I was glad he left, and happy that his home was so nice, even though he was mean.
The days seemed to grow longer, and Dude and I were still there. I watched my other siblings numbers dwindle, and many wonderful and pretty bettas leave. A blue male got a half gallon tank, a red female got a 1 gallon tank, a green male got a 2 gallon tank… I waved to them all. Everyone needs encouragement! But Dude and I were growing weaker. We still talked, but we spent more time sleeping and trying to stay warm.
Finally, the day came for Dude to go. A young female girl came into the store and went straight to the bettas. She picked out a little plant before coming over to check us out. She immediately took a liking to Dude. She spun his cup around a few times, and Dude waved his fins proudly. Dude turned around to look at me and wave a little goodbye wave, and the girl looked back to see me. She smiled and said “You’re lovely too little guy, but I can only get one today.” She carried Dude to the counter with the plant and a great 2.5 gallon tank. I read the sign on the side. “Mini-Bow”. Well, I hoped Dude liked his “Mini Bow”, whatever that was. It sounded cool…
A few more days passed, and I wasn’t doing very well. I did my best to be encouraging for the other bettas, but I started becoming jealous. I was beautiful too, wasn’t I? Didn’t I deserve a home too? I was annoyed that so many bettas were taken before me! Even Scary got a home ages ago. When was it going to be my turn! I frowned and was about to go take a nap when I saw the girl who took Dude away a few days ago. She literally ran straight over to me. She looked relieved that I was still there. She smiled at me and grabbed my cup.
The girl carried me to a counter and ran back to the fish section. She came back with a 1.5 gallon tank. She bought me then and took me to her vehicle. This car ride was much smoother than my last, and I was very happy that I was going to see Dude again. It was comforting to have something familiar to look forward to.
At the house, she put me in the new tank. While I was waiting, I saw 2 other bettas inside of 2 other tanks. There was a red crown tail and a green veil tail. They both waved and did that weird poufy thing again. I still couldn’t do that!
The girl set me up in my tank and put me next to Dude. He looked amazing, and he was doing that poufy thing too! I asked him how to do it, and he taught me. “Puff out your fins all of the way and make your gills wider, then make a grouchy face and swim really fast!” I followed his instructions and by the end of the day I was an expert at “Flaring”. The tank was very comfortable and had a filter. I was wary of it, but I guessed it was okay. I was just happy to be out of that cup.
Turns out I was right about that stupid filter. I was swimming around the next day, checking out an interesting little plant near the filter, when suddenly “Plunk! Swoosh! Thbbbbt!” A horrific series of noises issued behind me, and suddenly my tail felt awful and funny. I turned around to see that half of it was gone! Oh no, my beautiful tail! It couldn’t be, no! I swam to the side of the tank closest to Dude, and he did a double take when he saw me. “Oh man, what happened?!” he gasped. I started crying and I hid under my leaf, ashamed of my tail and filled with hatred for the filter.
The girl came home a few hours later and gasped when she saw me. She looked very upset and was almost in tears. She immediately ripped the filter out of the tank and took it away. She put some kind of drops in my water, and my fins felt loads better. Definitely not as achy and stiff, but they were still raggedy. I was finally brave enough to check out the full extent of the damage, and was horrified to see that not only was the top half of my tail completely gone, the bottom half was shredded and torn. I was very sad, because the only thing a betta is ever proud of is his tail. Now mine was permanently ruined. I moaned for ages.
My tank became dirtier much more quickly without the filter. It was cleaned every other day, and the girl started looking exhausted from the work. I felt bad, but a fish has to poop sometime!
A few days later, the girl came back to the house with a bunch of bags that said “Wal-mart”. I had no idea what that meant, but I hoped it meant something good. And it did! She opened the bags and voila; A 2.5 gallon tank, all for me! It was the same Mini Bow thing that Dude had! Turns out it was fancy too. This glorious tank had a filter, light, heater and thermometer. The whole deal.
She filled it with cool gravel (purple/green/blue in my case) and added some new soft silky plants. She turned the filter and heater on and added some dechlorinator. Could these really be mine? No way, I thought… that’s just crazy!
But it was. After letting the tank run for a few hours, the girl put me back in my cup and let me float in the tank. 15 minutes later, I was free! I was so happy! The water tasted clean and perfect, and the filter was nice and gentle. I could barely feel it, and the suction didn’t affect my tail at all. I was very grateful for that!
My tank was amazing. It had 2 silk plants, 1 plastic plant and 1 small cave with 6 different openings! My favorite game was to poke my head out of one window, swim back inside and poke my head out a different window, and then repeat. My owner called it “peek-a-boo” and from then on, my name was Hidey, because I could “Hide like nobody’s business.”
My fins have slowly made some progress, and even though there have been a few more little tears from crazy excursions around my tank, ¼” has already grown back in 2 short weeks. I was hoping that in a few months, they would be at least halfway back!
The girl got a big shock a few days after I was introduced to my new tank. Her favorite betta, the crown tail, had suddenly died. “He was old though, almost 4 years” she said sniffled… Well, she went out to the store and came home with a new little crown tail she named Spike. Spike was a tiny thing, but very lovely. He was all red, with orange tips on his crowns. The blessed thing became a member of our family! Dude and I gladly welcomed him into our group. The veil tail named Sparkles was already a beloved member.
A couple of weeks passed. I had a new friend in my tank now, Benny the baby Cory catfish. He was cool, but he didn’t like playing very many games. He just ate and slept! But he was fun to have around.
One nice afternoon, the girl gave me a huge water change. 75%! I was like “Wheeeee! It tastes good!” I blew a few bubbles and waved to let her know I liked it. She gave me a funny look, like she felt sorry for me. I thought that was weird, but I didn’t think much of it until after she came home from the gym. She had yet another betta fish with her now… the betta looked oddly familiar, I couldn’t place it… oh no! It was Marbles!!! What was that on her back?
Marbles explained that the young girl who took her home was very sweet, but didn’t know anything about bettas. She had taken Marbles home and put her in a tiny bowl, only ¼ of a gallon! She said the nights were freezing and she was always hungry, and the tank was never cleaned. Her water was murky and she was forgotten about, and she developed some fungus on her back. When the young girl finally remembered her fish, she was disgusted and didn’t want Marbles anymore, so they took her back to the pet store. I was very upset that that would happen to her, and I hoped she too could get her own tank just like mine! How ironic I can be.
My owner set up a cute little half gallon tank with a small plant in it. “That’s good for Marbles,” I thought. “She’ll heal very nicely in there.” Well, the tank wasn’t for her. A net came out of nowhere and dunked me in there! It was like my breeders house all over again, but this tank had gravel and a plant. She carried me in this tiny thing to another room, where an excited boy came to look at me. I was so sad. I cried all night about missing Benny and my filter and special cave present. I was furious at my owner and Marbles for taking that home away from me. How could they do that? I had torn fins and I missed Benny and I was kind of cold and I couldn’t see very well and I missed my tank and I wanted to go home! I sobbed and sobbed. I was very depressed. I still kept my fins out though, and I ate every pellet and I swam every day. I knew that my water was still clean and clear, I was still fed plenty and a young boy loved having me. I was blessed, even though I was never satisfied…
2 days after moving in there, I was put in a big glass vase with my comforting old heater. It held much more water, and I loved it! I still pined for my Mini Bow, but this was fine. I had more than a gallon of swimming room here! This could work. I worked late into the night on a large bubble nest. My new boy owner was very gleeful when he saw. He gave me an extra pellet, and I wriggled my fins for him.
My (previous) girl owner carried my jar to her room today. I saw Marbles, and her fungus is already gone, after only a few days. She wriggled her fins at me, and we talked some more. Her best friend now was Benny, who liked to play tag with her. I was a little hurt that Benny would play with her and not me, but then I realized that when he first moved in to my tank, I was aggressive and nipped at him a lot…
The girl carried me back to her brother at the end of the day.
So now, finally, after what seems like hundreds of different tanks and awful cups, here I am. I live in a big ole vase with pretty gravel and a plant. I am fed a lot of food and I am well cared for. So, although I’ve had better, I’ve also had much, much worse! And who knows what might happen tomorrow?