Bettas, or Siamese fighting fish can make wonderful and surprisingly social companions.
They are interactive, playful and can be your best friend for up to 4 years with the right home and care. Read on to follow the story of Fernando our Betta and learn how to pick out, care for and create the perfect home for your Betta.
Making your Betta’s home
It is important to have your Bettas home ready before you bring home your new friend. The less time you have it outside its tank the better.
Although you can keep a Betta in a small bowl, this is not ideal to keeping it happy and healthy. In the wild, Bettas live in rice fields where the water level is low, but their space is vast. They are most happy when they have room to swim, play, hide and interact with their surroundings.
The Tetra Waterfall Globe is a great choice! It is spacious enough, but it easy to maintain and clean. It also has a filter (which means you do not have to clean it as often), LED lights and a waterfall for movement.
The next step is to furnish their new home. Smooth rocks are the best option for the base, as anything too sharp will tear their fins. Bettas often like to rest on the bottom of their home. Avoid using sand as this can get messy when cleaning and can clog the filter if it gets stirred up. Plants are a great addition and will not only make it look great, but your Betta will love playing and hiding in them. Avoid buying plastic plants and choose silk instead. The hard plastic will hurt and tear the fragile fins of your Betta. The last thing to include is a hiding place. Bettas get a lot of joy out of going in and out of hiding places.
For Fernando we choose a silk plant, some grass and a hollow log for his furnishings. The base is Spectrastone aquarium gravel which is eco-friendly also, its coating is made from 30% plant products. We also added a “Betta Bed” for him to rest on, and from experience they do use and love this leaf bed!
The last step is the water! Use regular old tap water in the bowl. Distilled water is missing many of the minerals that they actually need and find in our tap water. Unfortunately, we do add things to our water they don’t need. Make sure to add a water conditioner to make it safe for your new pet.
Choosing your Betta
The home is ready and waiting, now it is time to pick your fish. There are important factors to consider when picking your Betta.
- Colour: Bettas come is many colours and types. Bright and vivid, or pale and neutral? You will notice that dark colours (blue and red) are the most common, but you can find some very unique colours also!
- Receptiveness: As we said earlier, Bettas can be very social with their owners. When you approach the Bettas do they swim around or back up and sulk at the bottom? Do not tap at their containers as this will agitate and stress them out. Gently put your finger on its containers and slowly move it around. The more social the Betta, the more it will play along and follow your finger. But if you are draw to a calmer Betta, this isn’t a bad thing. They can sometimes just be tired and resting.
- Health: You want to choose a Betta whose fins are in good condition and are not torn or damaged. Check for lumps, which are parasites or anything else out of the ordinary. The colour does not represent its health. A bright fish may not be any healthier than a dull one. What you do want to notice is if it’s shiny. This is a sign of good health.
- Caught your eye? Is there that one that you’re drawn to and keep coming back to? This may be your new pet!
Your Betta at home
So you’ve chosen your Betta and have brought it home. It is so exciting to welcome this new friend into your life! But don’t be hasty with tossing him into his new home. Make sure that the water is room temperature, not too hot or too cold. When you add the Betta make sure to add him in with some of his own water from the bag you brought him home in. Pour him in very slowly and gently. If you need to take your Betta out, avoid netting them and instead take them out in a cup of their water. Bettas do not need companion fish and are more likely to attack them than be friends. There are fish that you can pair them with, but your Betta will be happier an only fish. Also, do not put two Bettas together, they are called “fighting fish” for a reason!
Another great addition to your Betta’s home is a thermometer and a small heater. We learned with Fernando that if the water gets too cold, your Betta will get depressed and lethargic. We added the heater and he is back to normal!
Bettas need to be fed daily. Their diet should consist mostly of pellets made specifically for Bettas. If you find the pellets too large and your Betta is not eating them, try breaking them into smaller pieces. Your Bettas deserve a treat too! Feed them freeze dried brine shrimp or blood worms.
Not all Bettas are the same. Some will eat small amounts twice a day, others a bigger meal once a day. Experiment with their feeding and see what they prefer. Take care not to over feed them. Some Bettas will stop eating when their full, others will eat as much as possible. When they are done eating scoop out any leftover food.
Cleaning their home
This is where a filter comes in handy and will cut down how often you need to clean their home. If you see a buildup of sludge on the sides of the glass or on any plants it is time to clean! You may also notice a smell coming from their home. When cleaning their home do not use soap as this can harm your fish once they are put back in. Instead use hot water and scrub it thoroughly, this includes the furnishings and rocks also. Once you are done, do not forget the water conditioner and to let it sit for about 15 minutes to get closer to room temperature, you do not want to shock your Betta.
Betta fish come to recognize their owners. They will learn faces and even play simple games. Keep your Betta company and make sure you socialize with them so they learn who you are!