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A tropical freshwater fish that is often kept in aquariums.

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Great low maintence fish friend!

  • Nov 3, 2009
  • by

Bettas make great fish friends.  They fairly low maintenance and are thus good starter pets for children and companions for adults who don’t have time for pets that require more care.  I’ve kept several bettas in my life and they all have had different personalities and traits.  There are many varieties of bettas and they vary in cost.  The variations are mainly based on fin types which are bred into them by people.  No matter the fin type, bettas always come in a variety of colors and blends of colors.  I would say that 99% of bettas sold are male bettas because they have the pretty long fins.  The females have much shorter fins and usually duller coloring.

When purchasing bettas, do not be tempted to buy a male and a female thinking they will make betta babies without be prepared with plan B.  Bettas are naturally aggressive to their own kind and they may not appreciate an arranged marriage.  Attempts to breed bettas should be left to the experienced aquarists who has extra tanks and equipment and is ready to separate if needed.  Even though bettas will fight to the death with other bettas, they can make good community fish in a larger tank.  As long as the tank mates aren’t also long-finned fish of similar size that the betta may confuse as being another betta, it can get along pretty well with most other tropical community fish.

There are a lot of misconceptions about bettas and their required care.  The most common one is that they are cold water fish who rarely need their water changed and only need a small amount of water to live in.  Bettas are COOL water fish, NOT COLD water fish.  Goldfish and koi can live in cold water for extend periods of time, but bettas are still semi-tropical and would be much happier and comfortable in water temperatures in the upper 70’s.  A bettas habitat should be kept away from a/c vents and windows.  If it is close to a vent or a window, I strongly recommend a small heater be used.  There are special heaters for tanks/bowls under 5 gallons.  These heaters are only about $15.  The other misconception is that they can live in a cup of water since that’s how they are generally sold anyways.  This again is not completely  true.  Sure, they can live in a cup of water just like how a person can live in a jail cell but it’s not comfortable.  They should be in containers of at least 1 gallon of water and there is no such thing as being in too much water.  The natural habitats of bettas are shallow pools of water in rice paddies in tropical and humid environments such as Thailand.  These are not cool environments and the water is steadily replenished with rain water.  Bettas can live in stagnant water because they have a special labyrinth lung which allows them to breath oxygen directly from the surface, but that doesn’t mean that a filter with a gentle water flow is not beneficial.  There are several compact filters available that are perfect for betta tanks.  Bettas are not built for strong currents so please adjust the water flow of the filter if it looks like your betta is running on a treadmill.

There was a nasty trend of selling bettas in vases and leading people to believe that the semi-aquatic plants sold with these vases would take all the care needed…that the betta would eat the roots and the plant would naturally filter the water.  This is only semi-true.  Yes, the betta would eat the roots because it’s starving.  The plant is beneficial to the water by absorbing the nitrates and ammonia, but the water still needs to be replenished and changed regularly.  Water changes should be done at least once a month if not once a year.  I feel that most of the tiny and creative looking little betta habitats that are sold are inadequate.  Most of these containers are more focused on form than function.  As I mentioned above, a betta habitat should hold at least one gallon of water.

Bettas are omnivorous and need meat in their diet.  There are special betta pellets that are very good for them, but like any animal, a variety in diet is required for optimal health.  I’ve found that bettas absolutely love blood worms.  Blood worms are mosquito larvae and it is sold in frozen packets at any store that sells fish supplies.  I simply thaw it out and feed 3-4 worms a day.  Bettas are infamous for being picky eaters.  It is not uncommon for a betta to not eat anything for a few days after you bring it home.  Don’t worry too much about it.  Continue to feed and remove what’s uneaten.  It will learn pretty quickly and start eating.

A betta's life span can be several years but this varies due to environmental conditions and genetic disposition.   I my experience, bettas are more susceptible to dropsy than other fish probably due to the lower volumes of water that they live in.  Dropsy is the main symptom of an internal infection.  Dropsy is evident by bloating on the fish and what looks like a pine coning affect on the scales.  It is nearly always fatal.  However, under quality care and attention, a betta can provide years of companionship. 

Aoshi the Betta Vulpix the Betta

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February 08, 2012
Ive heard they fight and chase around other fish. Ive seen one attack a gold fish once. Anyway cool review
July 07, 2011
Sounds interesting.
December 18, 2009
Great overview! I'm looking to add a Betta to the family after New Year's.
November 04, 2009
Wow, I had no idea about all of this! What an interesting review. I AS WELL am upset about places that sell bettas in vases...NO animal (no matter how small and non-furry) deserves to be treated like that :(
November 03, 2009
nice review rebecca!! very thorough. thanks for sharing!
November 03, 2009
I've had several bettas before and they've never required much care.  I just put the fish bowl in a cool location and make sure to change the water once in a while, putting in special solution to make the water the right ph level.

I, too, am disgusted by companies that sell bettas in vases.  Especially the ones that completely sealed and are marketed as never having to be opened.  I think that's pretty abusive, just about as abusive as keeping a betta in a tiny cup.

And yes, I've found that bettas love bloodworms, too!  I always love buying those and watching them being eaten, even though they smell kind of nasty.

Super awesome review, Rebecca! :)
More Bettas reviews
review by . October 29, 2009
Another low maintenance pet that apartment dwellers can enjoy.
I love Bettas.  They're an amazing fish that is beautiful to look at and doesn't take a lot of time and effort to take care of.  Bettas also known as Siamese Fighting Fish.  The fish earned that nickname because the males of the species usually don't get along with one another and they will fight to the death if kept in the same aquarium.  A hardy fish that will live in a small tank (I used to bring mine to work).  All you need to do is change the water every other month …
About the reviewer
Rebecca Low ()
Ranked #138
I'm a mommy to 6 rats, 1 beta fish, and a dozen freshwater fish and married to my college sweetheart. I attend anime & comic book conventions, collect toys & figures, and own a popular Sailor … more
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Betta is a large genus of small, often colorful, freshwater ray-finned fishes in the gourami family (Osphronemidae). There are 28 known species of betta. The type species is B. picta, the spotted betta. By far the best known Betta species, however, is B. splendens, the Siamese fighting fish.

All the Betta species are small fishes, but they vary considerably in size, ranging from under 2.5 cm (1 inch) total length in B. chanoides to five inches in the Akar betta (B. akarensis).

Bettas are anabantoids, which means they can breathe atmospheric air thanks to a unique organ called the labyrinth. This accounts for their ability to thrive in low-oxygen water conditions that would kill most other fish, such as rice paddies, slow-moving streams, drainage ditches, and large puddles.

The various bettas can be divided into two groups, based on their spawning behaviour: some build bubble nests, like B. splendens, while others are mouthbrooders, like B. picta. The mouthbrooding species are sometimes called "pseudo bettas", and are sometimes speculated to have evolved from the nest-builders in an adaptation to their fast-moving stream habitats.

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