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How to Take Care of a Betta Fish

14 Apr

imagesBetta splendens, also known as “Bettas” and “Siamese fighting fish”, are popular pets recognized for their aggressiveness, interactiveness, and relatively low cost for maintenance and care. Betta fish can prove to be man’s best friend for up to four years. Follow these tips to make sure your new pal has a happy and healthy life. They are not to be placed with other fish because of their extreme territorial behaviour. They don’t take a lot of space. They also enjoy real plants in their habitats and it’s also a very good accessory.

Steps

1. Research. It should be noted that typical large box stores don’t usually provide good information. You might consider researching online at sites like bettafish.com,bettatalk.com, ibcbettas.org, etc. You should have a general understanding of what to look for before buying. When purchasing your Betta fish, think about these main things:

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  • Color. Is the Betta’s color bright and vivid, or is it very dull and pale? Bettas come in a variety of colors, but blues and reds (dark colors in general) are most common.
  • Receptiveness. Does the betta respond to your movement at all? Does it swim around rapidly when seeing you, or does it merely sit at the bottom and sulk? Don’t repeatedly tap container, as it agitates them, and try moving your finger in front of the Betta instead. Don’t be afraid to buy a somewhat docile Betta though; they generally have many encounters with other people during their day, and may simply be resting.
  • Overall health. Are its fins in good condition, or are they torn or otherwise damaged? Are the Betta’s eyes in good shape? Do you see any odd lumps (parasites) on its body? If you see anything highly out of the ordinary, consider another Betta.
  • The right one. Sometimes, the fish will choose you, not the other way around. If there is one Betta that you look at, set down, move on from it, but are drawn back to it repeatedly, consider buying it. Even if it is not completely healthy, buy the fish you feel connected to, rather than the healthiest one there. He will likely heal up once out of the tiny cup and in warm, clean water.

2. Prepare your Betta’s home.You should always have a proper set up ready before bringing home your new pet. This prevents possible mishaps. Here are some points to consider:

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  • Choose a home. In the wild, Bettas inhabit Thai rice paddies. Hence, they are fitted to living in relatively shallow but spacious environments. However, consider giving your betta a decent sized tank to help prolong its life. Bettas deserve a good home. Pick a tank of 5 gallons or more for your betta to thrive. It may seem a lot, but it’s what your fish deserves.
  • Add the necessary equipment. The average Betta bought in a pet store has been bred to withstand a lot of the hassles of a pet life style. Make sure to get a heater with a thermostat. Bettas like water temperatures between 76-82F. Filters are always necessary in but make sure the current is not too strong for your betta.
  • Avoid jagged rocks or decorations, as they tear Betta fins.Make sure once a day that there are no tears in the betta’s fins. If there are tears, first check the water quality. Tears are typically caused by poor water maintenance.
  • Avoid hard plastic plants, as they can be rough on the fins. Use the ‘pantyhose test’: If a plastic plant will snag a pair of pantyhose when rubbed against it, then it will damage your betta’s fins. Be safe and buy silk plants instead. Think about what it would be like rubbing-up against plastic all of the time!! You can compare a plastic bag and a silk blanket/scarf to see what works best for you>
  • Live plants are a great idea. They’re prettier than fake ones, and Bettas love lounging on the leaves and hiding in them to sleep. Live plants also help to oxygenate the water and keep the water cleaner for longer periods of time.

 

3. Prepare the water. Use a water conditioner such as Prime before putting fresh tap water in the tank, as chlorine and chloramines can harm Bettas as well as kill off all that beneficial bacteria housed in the filter. Older sources may suggest aging the water (standing it for a time) but it’s best to use a water conditioner, as aged water removes chlorine but not chloramine and heavy metals. It is a not a good idea to use bottled water because this deprives your betta of necessary minerals and is not fish ‘safe’. Treated tap water is cheaper and a better alternative.

 

4. Fill your tank. If your tank is without a top cover, fill it about 80% high to ensure your fish won’t leap out. Bettas are very active and can jump over 3 inches when motivated! However, it is true that Bettas wouldn’t be trying to escape if they are happy in their home.

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5. Add your Betta.Being careful, slowly tip the container in which you received your Betta into the new habitat so that the new water and old water can mix, making the water easier for your fish to adjust. This way, if you’re habitat water is much colder or warmer than the previous water, it will not put the fish in shock. Be gentle!

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6. Feed your Betta. Your Betta’s diet should consist primarily of pellets. For special occasions feed frozen brine shrimp or blood worms. Check the ingredients of your pellets. The first three should be protein based. Experts say protein in the pellets should be no less than 40%. Tropical fish flakes, goldfish flakes, etc are not for bettas.

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  • Feed your Betta regularly. Overfeeding can be a problem in some Bettas, for some will eat as long as you feed them (which can be fatal,) while others will stop eating when they’re full. Overfeeding can cause bloating, though this is not as serious as a similar condition referred to as Dropsy. It can, however, cause bladder problems later on, which can also be fatal. Bettas are as different from each other as their colors, and so are their eating habits, so experiment to see how much food your Betta eats. Set up feeding times, e.g. once in the morning, once at night. You may find that your Betta will be waiting for you when it’s time to eat!
  • Clean up any extra food that your Betta does not eat. Similarly, watch your Betta to see if he spits up any food. This could be a sign that your Betta is a picky eater, or it could also mean that the pellets are too big for the Betta’s mouth. Ironically, most big fish food companies don’t realize that Bettas have smaller mouths than, say, goldfish or others. You can cut the pellets in half with a small razor blade or such to allow it to fit in the Betta’s mouth easier. If it still refuses to eat, try another brand of pellets or dried food.
  • Though live food may be exciting to watch, frozen and dried products still work great. They are safer and free from potential parasites. Frozen or dried blood worms are a great treat.

 

7. Clean your Betta’s tank. Place your Betta in container filled with old water while washing. Simply wash the tank with hot water, as some soaps will harm your Betta. If your habitat has rocks, rinse them thoroughly. Fill the habitat half way with fresh tap water, return the Betta and some of the old water, and then fill the rest with tap water again.

  • To learn more about how to care for your Betta fish, try asking someone who owns one or perhaps a pets store employee. Also, don’t just take what your hear as true. Perhaps check your local library or reliable research site online.
  • Be sure to add a de-chlorinator (also known as a water conditioner) to the water, this will remove harmful chlorine/chloramine that is in tap water that would kill your fish and filter bacteria.
  • Be sure that the water you are changing is the same temperature as the old water the betta was in to avoid temperature shock which can be deadly to your betta. Use an in tank thermometer to check the water temperatures.
  • In order to test water parameters each week you will need a master fresh water test kit. This will allow you to monitor your aquarium and take readings.

 

8. Have fun with your new friend! Do not provoke your betta fish by     tapping the glass often, but you can play with it by moving your finger around the tank and watching him follow you. Don’t forget to name your fish!

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Tips

  • ‘Bettas’ are members of the Anabantoid family (gouramis are also in this family) and have a back-up breathing system that allows them to breathe surface air, however, they still require a filtration system in their tanks. Bear in mind, the long-finned varieties do best with as little current as possible.
  • Bettas may require a heater in some cases for example if you live in a cold country or if you have an aquarium below room temp then a heater would be advised. Mini heaters are available for betta tanks between 1-3 gallons these are ideal for your little friend. During the winter you may want to add a mini heater or place your aquarium close to a radiator (1 m away) this will prevent your betta from becoming too cold.
  • Bettas recognize their owners and will actually learn faces and games. Keep your betta company and say “hi” once in a while, so he learns who you are! Bettas can and do recognize people (mainly because they associate you with feeding time).
  • Female Bettas are typically smaller and without the beautiful finnage that males possess, however, they can still be equally as beautiful in their own way—and feisty! Don’t keep them together though, the female may latch onto the male’s vivid fins, causing it to tear.
  • If a male likes a female, he flares his gills, twists his body, and spreads his fins. If a female likes a male, she wriggles back and front.
  • If your Betta gets sick, treat it with a proper medication whether it be an antibiotic, anti-fungal or an anti-parasitic. You can purchase these at your local fish store, most will need to be ordered ahead of time, always be prepared!
  • Avoid netting a Betta when possible, as this can damage their fins. Instead, try to use a small cup when transporting your Betta.
  • Male Betta fish build bubble nests when happy!
  • Avoid keeping Bettas with other fish.They can kill others!
  • Remember that your betta fish is fragile. Many people say they are “hardy” fish and people assume that they can rearrange the tank or remove the betta often for cleaning, but this is not true. Betta fish are only hardy to different water types such as hard and soft water, Meaning you should not change the water or rearrange the aquarium often.
  • Put a straw in it’s tank and watch it to see if it gets used to it. If it does and you have leftover Betta food it won’t eat, place one of the leftovers in the tank. Place the straw over it so the food is in the straw. Hold the straw over the fish and wait for it to find it. After it finds it,it will follow it. Slowly lift the straw up to the top of the tank until the food pops out. The Betta will eat it.
  • Don’t put a mirror up to the fish or he/she will think there is another fish and it will start slamming its self into the fish trying to kill the other which is his/her self and end up killing itself.
  • While bettas may be considered “hardy”, they have extremely delicate finnage, so a spong filter may be best.
  • Bettas love tankmates such as snails, Ghost or cherry shrimp, Neon tetras ect . As long as the fish is not bigger, more colorful or fin nipping, But some more aggressive bettas prefer to be alone. Look into what tank mate would be good for your betta.
  • Betta fish are very curious and often develop a strong bond with their caretaker. An important thing to remember is not to tap the glass of the tank/bowl. This agitates the fish and can cause the fish to go into shock and die. What you can do is slowly rest your finger on the glass and slide it along to see if your betta will follow it. If (s)he backs away and seems frightened then stop immediately. You can eventually try again once you the betta is more accustomed and less afraid of you.

 

But if your betta does follow it try hand feeding your betta as well as petting your betta very gently. If your betta let’s you pet him/her then please don’t do it very often. On their scales they have a thin coat of slime to protect them from getting sick, and if you aren’t gentle or do it too often, It will rub off. Just try and keep your betta entertained, and you will find the tho gas (s)he does like and what (s)he doesn’t like. I hope this helps you with your finned friend!

Warnings

 

  • Most people keep betta fish in bowls or small tanks-this is not ideal for betta fish and will require frequent 100% water changes to avoid deadly ammonia build up (see above), so it is recommended to have a larger cycled tank.
  • If you are starting a new tank, be sure to learn about the Nitrogen Cycle (also called the biological cycle) before adding your betta. If you introduce your fish before the tank is cycled, it could die from ammonia or nitrite poisoning.
  • Male Bettas cannot live with other male Bettas. They are named Siamese Fighting Fish for a reason! In an aquarium setting, they will fight to the death in order to protect their living space, regardless of the size of the tank. If your tank does not have a partition, do not risk losing one or both of your Bettas by allowing them to live together.
  • If you have a relatively large tank, you might consider having another fish to coexist with your Betta. Although some Bettas will tolerate tank mates, it is better to leave the fish with its own space. Avoid purchasing another fish that are brightly colored (such as fancy guppies), or fish with long flowing fins(again; guppies, goldfish etc) where your Betta might mistake it for another betta. Also avoid other aggressive fish or fin-nippers such as barbs. Danios, some tetras and most rasboras will work. Bottom feeders such as corydoras and ottos (otocinclus) are also good choices. Read fish forums online for suggestions.
  • Female Bettas will fight males and vice versa. Don’t put them in together. Read up onbreeding them if you think you want to try it, but remember that breeding bettas is a huge commitment, and not something to be taken lightly.
  • Bettas are sensitive to changes in temperature. In general a change in 2 to 3 degrees can lower its immune system, therefore,there is a need for a heater in your tank.
  • Do not use distilled water. Distilled water is actually water with all other minerals and nutrients removed. Bettas do not naturally live in distilled water and forcing them to do so can be harmful to their health.
  • Keep females either singly or in groups of at least five to lessen aggression. The tank must be at least 10 gallons and have several hiding spots if keeping multiple females. All females must be added at the same time. Don’t place only two female Bettas in your tank. They establish a “pecking order” and having only two female fish means that the less dominant one gets picked on exclusively.
  • No matter what the pet store staff or anybody else may say, don’t put your Betta in a tiny bowl, vase, or cup! Pet stores usually do this because they don’t have enough money or space to keep thirty or so 5 gallon tanks for a single fish. Place it in at least a 5 gallon aquarium or larger if it will share the tank with other fish. Your fish will enjoy having room to move around and it will get more exercise. You will also enjoy watching it more if it can move around and play a bit.
  • If possible, keep the lid on. Your fish might jump out!
  • Don’t let multiple males or females be together because they can fight with each other.
  • Do not put a baby Betta fish with an adult because the baby Betta will fight with the adult.
  • Don’t over feed Betta fish because if you do they will eat themselves to death.Btw, three flakes or pellets is safe.
  • Don’t put Betta fish in a cold environments because they will freeze to death.
  • Don’t tap glass as it can cause shock.

 

Things You’ll Need

 

  • Tank (1.5-10+ gallons) (5 – 38+liters )
  • Water conditioner (dechlorinator to make tap water safe for fish)
  • Fish net (brine shrimp nets work best); since nets might harm the fins, however, you may prefer to use a cup.
  • Betta fish food (high in protein)
  • Smooth stones or pool filter gravel to cover the bottom.
  • Some ornament to decorate your tank, doubling as structure for your betta to rest upon. Dragging fins makes your betta prone to bacteria on the floor of the tank which can lead to fin rot.
  • A water heater with a thermostat
  • A water filter
  • A Betta fish.
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