The Fish Keeping & Aquarium Guide.

How To Care For Betta Fish

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Betta Fish (Betta splendens) is well known as Siamese Fighting Fish and very popular in aquariums due to its brilliant and bright colors; flowing and fluttering fins and variant shapes of tails. It is a lovely and beautiful scene in aquariums if you have betta fish in there. When you decided to have betta fish in your aquarium, knowledge about taking care of them is the must to keep them happy and healthy. In the provided information about the care guide of betta fish in this article, you will learn and able to provide a healthy environment for the betta fish. 

Factors & Things You Must Know On Betta Fish Care

Appearance

It is well known with it appears in a wide range of colors; this is because of the pigmentation layering in their skin. Nowadays, there are many types of betta fish with different colors, different shapes of fins, and tails. All of these are come from selective breeding to optimize their appearance to make them attractive. Male betta fish is bright and colorful, has flowing fin and different shapes of tails compare with female betta fish, which is dull in color, smaller size, and has shorter tail and fin. So, it is easy to identify between male and female betta fish. If it suddenly gets shocked or feels threatened, it will flare their gills. Typically the betta grows to the size of 2.5-3.0 inch in length and can live for about three years. If proper care is taken, it can live longer.

Behavior

Besides their beautiful and colorful that always heard from others, betta fish is intelligent species and smarter than what we thought. It can recognize the owner and able to perform some tricks very well. It can be trained to do tricks such as jumping from the water to hit your finger, swimming through different hoops, pushing a ball through a hoop, and follow your finger by moving back and forth along the aquarium. 

It has the nickname of Siamese Fighting Fish because of its highly territorial and aggressiveness like male betta fish. It will attack and fight with each other if placed in the same tank. The female can get along very well with each other; however, if the female betta is lived in too small space and stressed, it will turn up become territorial same as the male betta. So, the small-sized tank should be avoided.

It is a unique type of fish that has a labyrinth breathing organ that makes them able to absorb oxygen from the air above the water surface and directly absorbed into their bloodstream. This allows the betta fish able to survive at low oxygen content water or poor water quality. But this point has given people the misconception that the betta fish able to live in an unmaintained tank without cleaning and maintaining. This is totally wrong because all the fishes need a clean and good quality environment to stay happy and healthy as humans do. 

The poor water quality will cause sickness/illness. Proper care with a regular maintenance schedule can make them live even longer. Keep in mind to make some space between the water surface and the tank lid or cover to allow the betta fish to gulp the air at the surface. It also allows the betta fish to do the “exercise” without hitting the lid or cover. It is also a great jumper, make sure the tank is always covered to avoid losing the betta fish.

Water Quality and Temperature

Providing good water quality and optimal temperature for betta fish is very important to promote the best environment for them and let them live happy, healthy, and grow properly. Besides that, there is a lot of problems, including sickness or disease can be avoided if the tank is well maintained. Betta fish is tropical fish that required warm water, which the environment with temperature 75-82°F (24-28°C) and pH range 6.5-7.5. If the water is too cold in the cold weather, it will cause the fish sick. So, the heater and thermometer are required to monitor and maintain the water temperature and pH range. The heater is not recommended for the tank below 1 gallon because it can heat up the tank water too quickly and harmed the fish. 

Most of the fish keepers will use tap water to add to the tank because it is easy and convenient. However, the thumb of rules is the water added into the tank must be clean and free from chlorine, chloramine, and other contaminants. It can be done using the betta water conditioner. Always kept away any possibility that can harm the beta fish. Keep in mind that distilled water must be avoided because all the essential minerals that betta fish need to live healthy has been removed. 

Tank Size, Environment, and Maintenance

We know that some fishkeepers keep their betta fish in vases, small bowls, and small tanks because of convenient and less expensive. Although the fish can live in this small habitat, they are not enjoying, not happy, bore, feel stress, and can’t swim freely. Betta fish just like other fishes that like more space as possible, so the recommended tank size is about 2.5 – 5.0 gallons; the 2.5 gallons is the minimum tank size for betta fish to swim freely. If smaller tank size is used, then the maintenance frequency should be increased to make sure the water is clean and free from the ammonia or the waste.

The benefit of using the larger tank size is easier to maintain the water quality and temperature. The smaller size tank will cause a drastic change in water quality and temperature due to the small volume of water. In fact, this is very dangerous to the betta fish because they are susceptible to the changes and will cause fatal. Given this, to maintain the cleanliness of the tank, never change the water all in once. Change about 20-25% of tank water weekly. Before adding the new water, make sure it has the same temperature with tank water to avoid the drastic temperature changes.

The betta fish need light so that they can have a regular activity schedule, awake when day time and sleep at night time. In the tank, better to have artificial light for mimicking their natural habitat so that they can have a regular sleeping pattern. The most common artificial light is LED and florescent light that does not have intensive lighting. Keep in mind that the location of the tank should be located away from direct sunlight; it could quickly raise the water tank temperature to become overheating. It also led to the rapid growth of algae that dirty the tank and growth of bacteria, and turn up the betta fish suffer from diseases caused by a bacterial infection.

Plants can be placed in the tank as a decoration that can make it looks more attractive, beautiful, and mimic their natural habitat. It is also essential for betta fish as a hiding place, resting area, and sleeping place. They treat the plants as a home that felt safe and not stress when hiding there. Plants play an essential role in the aquatic environment; they help to provide better water quality and reduce potential diseases and bacteria. However, it required maintenance to keep it healthy. Plants are capable of removing the ammonia and increasing the pH level. They are taking out carbon dioxide in water for the photosynthesis process and directly reduce the carbonic acid in the water, thus increase the pH level.

The common live plants such as Amazon Sword, Java Fern, Java Moss, Marimo Moss Ball, Anacharis, Betta Ball, Anubias, Amazon Frogbit, and Hornwort. Besides the live plants, there are another option – artificial plants also trendy for beginners as they are inexpensive and required less maintenance compared with live plants. But they are not able to improve the water quality in the ecosystem. The material should be made from silk if possible, instead of other materials and ensure the surface and edge is smooth and not harm to betta fish.

Betta Fish Feeding Guide

Betta fish is carnivore by nature, and in the wild, they mainly eat insects and their larvae at the water surface. The food must be rich in protein; this is what the betta fish needed. The right and healthy diet are required to keep the brilliant and bright colors of their body, fin, and tail. There are different types of food for betta fish, such as pellet, flake, live, and the freeze-dried option of brine shrimp and bloodworm. The most common and convenient food is a flake that is simple to use and cheaper. Although the flake is affordable and comfortable, it is messy. It won’t stay on the water surface too long and easily sink to the bottom of the tank become waste. Most of the time, betta fish will treat the flakes that floating at the water surface is debris so that they won’t take the flakes. In the end, the flakes are turned to waste and increased the ammonia content in the tank. 

Freeze-dried bloodworm and brine shrimp also can be used to feed betta fish as these foods are their favorite. No matter which type of food is used, ensure they are free from the fillers that harmful to betta fish such as chemical substances of antioxidant butylated hydroxyanisole (BHT) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), and plant sources of corn, soy, rice, and wheat. The chemical substance of antioxidants is to prolong the shelf life of the food with prevent the oxidation occurred, while the food is added with plant source is to keep their cost down. The fillers of corn, soy, rice, and wheat are hardly digested by betta fish due to its short digestive tract and will lead to bloating and constipation. The fillers are not absorbed and just let go in the tank as waste and turn to ammonia. Read the ingredient listing at the packaging carefully before purchase any of food for betta fish to ensure the right and healthy diet is provided to betta fish.

Some beginners are facing a problem of how much of the food should be fed to betta fish to avoid overfeeding. It has a tiny stomach that about the size of its eye, so the overfeeding is a big issue and can lead to swim bladder disorder, bloating, constipation, increased of ammonia content in water due to uneaten food at the bottom of the tank and lower pH level of water and even death. The ideal food amount to be fed is 2-3 pellets (if using the pellets) or 1-2 pieces (if using the life or freeze-dried) twice a day, it can be once in the morning and once in the night.

Actually, it is a good idea to skip the meal for 1 day every week that allows the digestive system to process all the food and also can avoid the constipation problem. If you are not around for few days or on vacation, better don’t dump extra betta food in the tank as compensation. They won’t finish the food, and it will cause a lot of leftover sink into the bottom of the tank. Tank water quality will be affected and lead to sickness and even death. In fact, the betta fish can survive up to 14 days without food, so no worries when you are going away, just let them without food.

Disease

Betta fish also can get sick, although it has the nickname of “Siamese Fighting Fish,” the diseases mostly are caused by the fungus, parasite, and bacteria. The common diseases such as fin and tail rot, dropsy, swim bladder disorder, ich/ick, columnaris, popeye, hole in the head, velvet, betta tumor, and mouth fungus. The diseases can be easily identified if we observe. If the betta fish is found with the symptoms of damaged fin and tail, lack of aggression, poor appetite, keep hiding, lethargy, stress, white spots on the mouth and body, bulging eyes, swollen abdomen, elevated scales, swim abnormally, faded colour mainly male betta and red color in the mouth. The immediate action should be taken to ensure the betta fish is treated effectively, and potential damage can be minimized. 

Major Causes of the diseases and illnesses are infection after injuries, cleanliness of tank, water tank quality (temperature, ammonia and pH level), and overfeeding. To avoid the betta fish get damage from the cut, all the artificial plants and decorations in the tank should be without the sharp edge; it must be smooth and safe for the betta fish. While the artificial plants and leaves are recommended goes for the silk material instead of plastic. Besides this, the water must be clean all the time with the proper and systematic tank maintenance schedule. If not, it will lead to the fast growth of bacterial and increased in ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate level.

The waste and uneaten food at the bottom of the tank and algae or debris at the plants are the causes that lower the water quality. Daily monitoring and checking on the temperature, pH level, and betta fish behavior is necessary, to make sure the temperature and pH level are in the controlled range and betta fish is in healthy behavior. If the opposite way is observed, then the necessary and immediate action should be taken to prevent severe illness. The best way is prevention is better than cure.  

Tank Mate

Betta fish is very aggressive and highly territorial; it is hard to get along well with each other, especially the males. If two males are in the same tank, then end up fighting each other and usually result in one or both is severely injured or dead. However, females can live together with others very well. Never housed the male and female together in the same tank, too, unless for the breeding purpose for a short period and precaution step must be taken. It seems like male betta fish has to house lonely in the tank that not let it attack others. If you do so, it will feel bored and may begin to hurt itself by biting its fins and lead to infection and diseases. So better to have friends for male betta fish. 

Although it is rarely “make friend” with others, there are some fishes that can make good tank mates such as Corydoras Catfish, Kuhli Loach, Neon Tetra, Ember Tetra, Harlequin Rasbora, Clown Pleco and Bristlenose Pleco. When choosing the tank mates, make it wisely. Goes for the fishes that small in size and peaceful in nature, and avoid the fishes that with bright colors, long fin and tail and bigger size than betta fish. The aggressive and territorial level of betta fish can be minimized with increased tank size and added in the plants and decoration items. These allow the fishes to have plenty of space to hide and rest.

Furthermore, the larger tank provides enough space for them and makes them stress-free, happy, and healthy. The rule of thumb to get the right tank size is 1 gallon for 1 inch of each fish. Keep in mind that the fishes felt stress if housed in crowded and small space and will turn to aggressive and attack the tank mates.

Conclusion

Once you know to take good care of betta fish, you will be realized that it is not hard work. Routine monitoring and checking on the water quality, temperature, pH level, and betta fish behavior, feeding schedule, and tank maintenance must be in place to keep the betta fish stress-free and healthy. Proper care is essential because they deserve the right to have live longer.

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