The Betta Splendens
The betta fish is without a doubt one of the most popular fish ever. With their endless colours and magnificent tails they are one of the most spectacular tropical fish you can bring home! The betta, also known as the Siamese Fighting Fish, is originally from Thailand, and is now also found in Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Malaysia. Betta fish today who are sold in pet stores are never wild-caught. Because we do not catch bettas in the wild, breeding betta fish has led to the variety and beauty of all the different bettas we have now.
A Better Betta Home
The average lifespan for the betta is approximately 3-5 years. However, it is not unheard of for some bettas to live for 5 or even 6 years! If you want to have a long-lived betta then you need to ensure that you are keeping them in the best conditions possible.
Coming from warmer regions such as Thailand, the betta fish needs to have a home prepared for it to match as closely as possible to these requirements. We will look at each—tank size, pH, temperature, lighting, filtration, diet, tankmates, décor, and betta health, to better understand these amazing fish.
Bettas love to have space, and they need to have several different types of décor to feel safe in their environment. Plan on a minimum of a 5-gallon tank to have sufficient room. For optimal betta health, it is important to keep your water parameters correct for your fish. The pH should stay within 6.7–7.1, and temperature needs to be within 75–80°F
Lighting requirements are fairly simple unless you plan to keep live plants with your betta, and bettas love live plants! Plants have specific requirements to thrive and you will need to provide that to keep them alive. For a betta fish only, you can use any aquarium lighting which fits your tank. Betta fish are diurnal, meaning they are awake during the day and sleep at night, so ensure you give them at least 12 hours of darkness so they receive the proper rest they need.
Filtering Your Betta Home
Many people tend to think that because the betta is a labyrinth fish (meaning they breathe air from the surface,) that they do not need a filter. This is not true! Betta fish live in an aquatic environment which can be susceptible to changes just as other fish tanks are. Such as ammonia and ammonia by-products. A sponge filter or an internal submerged filter are the best choice. Both types will provide a home for beneficial bacteria (this is what helps remove ammonia and ammonia by-products,) and both keep the surface of the betta tank undisturbed which is important for betta fish.
Diet, Décor, and Friends
Betta Splendens are carnivores, this means they need a high-protein diet. In their native environment, betta fish would live on insects and insect larvae. Feed a diet to your fish which includes this type of protein. You can find proper betta foods available in flakes, pellets, freeze-dried, and frozen forms. Try using a little of everything as your betta will enjoy and thrive on the variety of food.
In their native environment, betta fish live in slow-moving bodies of water with plenty of vegetation, some rocks, and small bits of wood. Consider keeping live plants to mimic a more natural environment as well as adding small décor such as caves and wood for bettas to have homes and hiding places to feel safe.
Betta fish in general are fairly solitary and do not need to have tankmates. In a 5 gallon tank you could add some corydoras and otocinclus catfish to help clean the bottom areas and accumulated algae. Small tetras such as neon tetras in a group of 3–5 and dwarf aquatic frogs are also good companions for bettas in a 5 gallon tank.
When your betta is healthy and flourishing, they will give you many indications. They’ll have a good appetite, vibrant colours, interact with you, move energetically from the surface to favorite areas in the tank, and even may begin to build a bubble nest! (Males only)
If your betta ever shows any of these symptoms: loss of appetite, lethargy, sitting in one place, dull colours, marks, growths on their body, or withering fins—any of these can indicate your fish is unwell. If you notice any of the above you should seek assistance to help your betta.