Monday, 4 August 2008

Betta Fish Care

If you have visited a pet store, a chain discount store, or even a florist, lately, you've most likely been attracted to the rich colors and long-finned elegance of the betta fish. Bettas, also known as "Siamese fighting fish" are relatively inexpensive, but exceedingly beautiful. For these reasons, they have recently (and unfortunately) become popular not so much as pets, but as decorating accents, due to misleading reports that they're meant to thrive in tiny amounts of water and need very little looking after. However, betta fish care entails much more than plunking your new fish into a wine goblet with a marble or two for company. Taking care of a betta fish requires preparation, education, and compassion. Let this brief tutorial turn you into a better betta owner!

Perhaps the misconception that bettas are "meant" to live in small amounts of water stems from the fact that bettas are usually sold in containers no larger than a teacup. Unlike most other fish at the aquarium store, bettas are extremely aggressive towards one another, and cannot be housed with other fish. Since they must be sold separately, they're put into cups and stacked row upon row to save room. Potential betta owners are then happily informed that the fish needs very little oxygen or water. The sad fact is that many bettas die within a few weeks of purchase due either to ammonia buildup in their small habitats or lack of oxygen. With this in mind, let the first item on your betta fish care checklist be an adequate tank-at least one gallon, but preferably three or more. With optimum room to swim and an aerator providing fresh oxygen, bettas have been known to live for ten or more years!

When you go to the store to select your betta, know first of all that almost every fish is going to be a male, unless otherwise specified. The male bettas are what earned these fish the title "Jewel of the Orient" while the females are remarkably dull and short-finned, by comparison. Most bettas sold in pet stores will be around nine months old-just after their fins have lengthened and their mature coloration has arrived. When selecting a betta, seek out the healthiest specimen by looking for and avoiding torn fins, dull color patches, and wounds. Most bettas will appear extremely droopy as they float in their alloted six ounces of water, but rest assured that when you take them home and introduce them to their new, larger dwelling, they should perk up immediately and start gliding about, unfurling their magnificent fins for you to admire.

When it comes to a betta's diet, moderation is key, as a betta's stomach is about as large as the black dot in the center of his eye! With that in mind, feed your betta one specialty "betta pellet" once a day. For a treat, try giving him a pinch of frozen bloodworms about once a week, as it will help maintain his jewel-bright complexion. Other than taking precaution to not overfeed your betta, the most crucial factor in betta fish care is water quality. Never place your betta in water straight from the tap! There are many products on the market that will instantly make water safe for fish, or you can use bottled spring water. Ensure that your betta's tank is kept warm enough (but never placed in direct sunlight!), especially during the winter months. You can get a small thermometer, and if needed, a heater made especially for fish tanks, to make certain the water temperature is kept between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. When changing the water, replace no more than half of the water at any given time, and always make sure the replacement water is purified.

With this betta fish care advice well in mind, you'll always have a healthy betta. Remember: a healthy betta is a beautiful betta, and a beautiful betta is one you'll be proud to enjoy and share with friends and family for years to come!

Betta Fish Care