Scientific Name: Betta Splendens
Originates From: Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Thailand
Average Adult Length: 2-3 inches
Average Lifespan: 2-5 years
Betta Fish have also been termed “Siamese Fighting Fish” due to the male’s aggressive, territorial behavior. Typically, males housed together will posture (face one another with flared fins and gills), and may even attack each other. As a precaution, it is a general rule of thumb to house males solitarily. Female Bettas, on the other hand, do well when kept in multiples; a group of female Bettas is called a “sorority”. Betta Fish are naturally found in rice patties, canals, and small streams in Asia. This species of fish does remarkably well in small aquariums of stagnant water. Because they excel in bowls and small aquariums, Bettas have become the perfect fit for the classroom, workplace, bedroom, or kitchen countertop. While wild Bettas are typically brown in color and exhibit short, plain fins, Bettas have been selectively bred in captivity to enhance desirable color and fin characteristics. Pet Bettas have come a long way and there are now many beautiful color and fin variations on the market today. Betta fish are very hardy and easy to care for, making them a simple pet to brighten almost any space.
Unlike other fish, Bettas can live in small aquariums. However, do not attempt to house a Betta in anything less than half a gallon of water. Most desktop aquariums and bowls range between 0.5-1.5 gallons, a suitable space for a single Betta. If the intention is to house a group of female Bettas, it is recommended to provide a 2.5-gallon aquarium or larger, depending on how many you intend to keep. Whether using bowl or tank style aquarium, fill the base with 1-2 inches of pre-rinsed aquarium gravel or sand. Pre-rinse and place a few plants and/or decorations to provide some concealment and areas to rest (yes, Bettas are known to “relax” and lay on plants and décor from time to time!). Fill the aquarium with reverse osmosis (RO) water, or tap water conditioned with Stress Coat (an instantaneous dechlorination and slime-coat promoter). Furthermore, begin your tank with a dose of QuickStart to establish a colony of beneficial bacteria, and a pinch of aquarium salt (dose according to label directions). Use a tank with a lid or leave the water level of an open-top bowl 1-2” from the top in order to prevent the Betta from hopping outside of the aquarium.
Lighting and Heating
Bettas are a tropical fish, requiring a water temperature between 75-82ºF. With small aquariums, this water temperature can often be accomplished by positioning the aquarium under a desk lamp. In cooler homes/workplaces, a BettaTherm heating pad can be placed under small bowls to increase water temperature or the Mini Heater 10W can be submerged in the bowl or tank to increase the water temperature. The Mini Heater is a great choice for classroom or work Bettas because they turn on and off automatically to maintain a consistent water temperature (especially important if the building’s heat is off for the weekend). Having an aquarium light on for several hours each day can promote algae growth. However, aim to maintain an approximate 12-hour photoperiod using natural lighting, house lighting, or a nearby lamp, turning lights off at night to simulate a day and night cycle.
The diet of Bettas should primarily consist of high-quality Betta pellets. This is a meat-based fish food that comes in the shape of small spheres, (roughly the size of candy sprinkles). Bettas should be offered 3-5 of these small pellets every other day. This may not seem like enough food, but they are small fish and these pellets are high in protein. Too much food can cause constipation, which can be very dangerous and will also dirty the water with excess food and/or waste. In addition to the pellets, you may offer Betta treats of freeze dried bloodworms and shrimp. Bettas are very interactive and in many cases recognize their caregiver. Betta keepers can train their Betta to hand-feed from a small feeding spoon and may even come to the surface to be pet (although excessive touching is not recommended). Most Bettas will be fine without food for a few days if their owner leaves for a short vacation. For longer absences of more than a few days, Betta Banquet 7-Day Feeding Blocks can be used to slowly release a seven-day food supply, or the BettaMatic automatic feeder can be used.