Betta or Beta fish care
When I saw the increasing popularity of betta fish (or beta fish to some) at pet stores, it brought back memories of my childhood days. Betta fish, or the Siamese fighting fish as they were commonly called then, were great first pets and I got my first betta at the tender age of 8. They were relatively inexpensive pets, easy to maintain and beautiful to look at. My first betta fish was a startling sapphire blue with hints of red through it. It had glorious long blue fins and lived in a recycled jam jar (one of the bigger ones). As my interest grew, I eventually managed to convince my parents to get me another betta – a ruby red one this time. It lived in another jam jar right next to my blue betta separated by a piece of cut-out cardboard so they couldn’t see each other. And when I felt like a bit of excitement, I would pull out the cardboard sheet and when they faced each other, the gills would flash and the fins would tremble as they tried to warn each other off…Nowadays they even sell dual betta tanks with a divider in between so you can have 2 betta fish together separated by a sheet of plastic/glass.
So much for the trip down memory lane…a little bit about the care of betta fish is called for…
The beauty about betta fish is that they don’t need a large tank to survive, they can cope quite well in a small bowl or those hexagonal fish tanks with no requirement for a filtration/aeration system running. This is because betta fish can live in water with low oxygen content after all, they did originate from the rice paddies of Thailand and Malaya. Keep them in a warm area – they are tropical fish! Whilst I did keep my betas in little jam jars, now that I am older and wiser, I find it rather cruel to keep them in anything smaller than a small gold fish bowl
The advantage of keeping your bettas in a tank rather than a bowl is that you can now decorate his surroundings and the likelihood of him getting sick from you neglecting to change his water often enough is smaller. And there are some betta owners who will swear that having a tank system with a full on filtration system running does seem to make for a happier fish. Contrary to popular belief, you can keep betta fish with other fish, just not another betta! That way you can really see the full splendor of your beta when it’s ‘flaring’ his fins and carrying on! And yes, as in most species in the animal world, it’s the males that are the dressier gender – all the betta fish you would find in pet stores would undoubtedly be male, the female beta is a bit on the dull side. Generally, the smaller the container for your betta fish, the more likely you need to do frequent water changes. They aren’t particularly fussy about food, you can feed them once a day or twice if you feel the urge to. There is even specially formulated betta fish food now available! Don’t overfeed because it would foul up the water and whilst betas aren’ t too fussed about a bit of organic matter in the tank, it would be advisable to change the water at least once a week. Just remember to use pre-aged water (not straight from the tap) – preferably left for at least 24 hours to let the chlorine dissipate or use one of the water agers on the market if you want to speed up the process.
What about those funny bubbles on the top of the tank that the betta fish seem to be making continually? Well, that’s just his way of making a ‘nest’. You see, in the wild, male betta fish make these lovely bubble nests and then when a female comes along, there’s a tribal dance routine with a lot of flashing of his fins and when she’s suitably impressed, she will spawn and he will fertilise the eggs as they are laid. Then, the loving daddy that he is, he will pick up those eggs in his mouth and place them in his bubble nest. That’s the end of their brief interlude together and just as the black widow spider will turn on the male after relations, so will the male betta turn on the female if she doesn’t turn tail and make herself scarce! The male beta fish will then care for the eggs till they hatch…after which he may choose to devour some of his young…so much for paternal love hey? Read on about breeding betta fish.
Beta fish care vet questions
These are some of the betta fish care questions that I've received from beta fish owners - pay just $9.95 (via Paypal) to read ALL the answers to these betta fish questions. Click here to pay.
- Question : I have a male betta whom I think may not make it. It has been approx. 9 days since it was discovered that he his body is covered in white cottony (fluffy) stuff---fungus? As I was pretty certain it was fungus, I immediately separated him from the other betta and put him in water treated with Fungus Clear which claims to work quickly. I have seen no improvements and I am desperate to try to save his life! What else can I do to help him!
- Question : I recently (today) got a beta and a plant to go on top. I have the small plastic cup to put the plant in and I have done so. However - when it goes into the vase it (the cup) becomes flush against the vase. Is this alright or does the beta need the ability to go to the top of the tank for fresh air?
- Question : My Betta has gotten very fat. I took him to the vet and he said he was bloated and I should feed him less often. This was 3 days ago. But the fish is getting worse, it's scales are ripping off all over badly and it can hardly move. I feed him dryed grubs. Please tell me what to do before he explodes! can I give him something? should I feed him something else? is he going to be ok? I am very scared.
- Question : My beta fish has been hanging out at the bottom of its home for about 3 weeks. It comes up for food once a day and is eating less and it has been spending much of it time resting on the marbles on the bottom. It is becoming grey around its face and upper portion of its body. It often looks dead because it does not move. I feed it TetraMin Tropical Granules The Rich Mix and I change its water once a week with tap water and Tetra Aqua Aqua Safe. He looks like he is dying and I hope I can do something to help him. (I do not know if it is a male or female).
- Question : My betta fish has developed what appears to be a huge bulge on his chest. It starts right after his little front fins and continues to his tail. Almost as if he's really fat. (I don't overfeed him though) His skin is so stretched the bulge is white. The poor guy is so top heavy and I see him laying on the bottom with his head down and his tail facing up. Also, he has lost some of his color on the rest of his body (it's faded) and has little white spots on him. I tried Ick treatment for the spots at the recommendation of the pet store but it doesn't seem to have helped and the bulge is getting bigger. I'm afraid to change his water because I don't want to make anything worse. I'm very afraid he's going to die. He still seems to be eating and swims around actively, but I know something is seriously wrong.
- Question : My Betta has a swollen eye, it's awful to look at and I'm very worried its a sign of an infection, or that its painful for him. Please help!
- Question : My betta lives in a largish fish tank with a filter set up and everything - I didn't like the confinement of the little jars. Anyway I've heard that it's fine to have other fish in with my beta - is that true? I know not to put another betta male in there but what about other fish like guppies?
- Question : My beta fish has been moping around for a week now - I've tried everything, he just sits down at the bottom of the tank and doesn't move much. I've used the antifungal meds, the antibiotics the salt baths and nothing works. In fact he now looks like his scales are popping off. I hate seeing him like this - I've had him for more than 2 years now and it breaks my heart to see him suffering like this. Is there any humane way I can put him to sleep without too much fuss? I just want him to pass away painlessly and not die this lingering death. Please help!
- Question : my beta fish has been not right for a couple of weeks now. First he propped himself up between the filter and the tank then he got pop eye which has been treated. Now he seems to be stuck on his side and I noticed that there is a bulge at the back of his body right before the tail starts.This seems to be what is keeping him from swimming upright. Any ideas of what I'm dealing with and what I can do for this fish?
- Question : my Male betta fish seems to be moping for weeks now, he's about 2 years old. I know this sounds pretty morbid but nothing I've added to the water has helped. How can I humanely euthanize him? My neighbor told me to just take him out of the water and let him die or to flush him down the toilet but I can't bear to do either. Please help!
More fish stuff
- See my selection of salt water fish tanks
- See my selection of tropical fish tanks
- New Oceanic Aquariums range
- Aquariums for sale at Petco
- Fish diseases - gold fish disease
- Take a look at fish lover gifts
- Fish posters