I've heard arguments that bettas live best in 5 gallon tanks and others that they're accustomed to small cups. I've also been hearing that they live longer when they're not "babied" (large tank, high quality food, etc). What do you think?
They most definitely live longer when "babied" with a large heated, filtered tank and good quality food! For every one person who has an outrageously hardy betta (due to genetics) that lives for years in an unheated, filthy bowl, there are thousands more that soon die in such conditions (and that isn't counting the numerous bettas that die in pet stores before even being sold). Think about which scenario you hear more often - for me it is definitely the "disposable betta" situation, where people truly believe that bettas only live a few months. Every once in a while I'll come across someone with an extraordinarily long-lived betta in a bowl, but it is much more common to hear about old bettas on this forum where people take good care of their fish.
It's really silly when you think about it. When I first got Wally (my fist betta!) I was keeping him in an unheated probably half gallon critter keeper. I was changing his water weekly and he looked to be doing fine, but it just didn't seem right to me that this could possibly be ok for any type of fish. Doesn't any pet need a clean and comfortable environment with plenty of activity to really thrive? I would never keep my cat in a tiny cold box that only got litter changes once a week.
So now Wally is in a heated, filtered, 5 gallon tank and I'm itching to get him into a ten gallon :)
I guess it just comes down to how you feel about the animals you keep. Are they valuable to you and a part of your family? Or just there for your pleasure and amusement. Everyone is different. I love my pets, and animals in general. I want the best for all that are in my care :)
I just have to say well said guys^^, couldn't agree more! All of my bettas have 3-5 gallons, a heater and a filter. They are fed blood worms and New Life Spectrum brand pellets. And im religous about water changes.:)
For someone keeping, growing out and potentially creating some breeders/show fish out of their stock, yes, you want to give them every advantage possible to reach their fullest potential. When I've got a spawn that I plan on selling I do like to harden them a bit, get more skimpy with water changes & general cleanliness, make sure they'll be OK with a lower quality food, and so on.
The reason being I don't want the ones that can't handle a bit of adversity going out with my name on them. While some people will keep the fish they purchase in a clean tank, 50% weekly water changes & so on there's plenty of others who will change 25% monthly, and feed the ALPO equivalent of fish food.
If they are going to be a bit weak I'd like to see it happen in my tanks, where I can do something about it, and not see them perish in their tanks.
I think this is something that would be next to impossible to truly determine as there are so many variables.
It's like how some dogs can live to old age without vet care, adequate exercise, and eating only the cheapest, nastiest brand of dog food. Whereas, another dog whose owner is more conscientious with its care may be plagued with health problems and die early.
I think it's more genetics, luck, and the hardiness of the individual that determines longevity rather than whether a fish is 'babied' or not.