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Caring for your Betta

    Bettas are probably one of the most popular fish.  They are often called Siamese Fighting Fish.  They are from Thailand, which was once called Siam.  They are found in large and small bodies of water.  One of the popular places for them to be raised is rice fields, which have to be flooded part or most of the year anyway.  They are also found in swamps and other larger bodies of water.  It is safe to say that they don't live in mud puddles.

    What is true is that they can breath air.  That is important because it means that they can live in water with less oxygen dissolved in it than many other fish.  Some people have connected this to the ability to live in small puddles of water and a pint jar on their desk.  That is probably not correct.  While the ability to breath air means that they will not suffocate in a small bowl does not mean they will do well there.  Water quality is important to most or all fish.  Too much ammonia or nitrite can lead to problems for a betta.  Their ability to breath air does not help them against water quality beyond low levels of oxygen.

    So how should bettas be kept?  The first thing that bettas need is warm water.  Many people agree that the best temperature for a healthy and active betta is 80F.  This is hard to get and maintain in a small bowl, but any temperature between 75 and 85 should be fine.  It would be best to have a tank that gives the fish enough room to swim around.  The next thing that fancy male bettas (most of the male bettas sold in stores) need is still water.  This is because fast moving water from powerful filters will blow them around the tank.  Weak power filters can be used, as well as sponge filters and under gravel filters.  Remember, still water does not mean it can't move at all.  It just shouldn't move like a storm drain in a down pour.

    Bettas are not mean fish that will kill other fish.  That is a myth.  Bettas will live fine with other fish, but may become the target of other fish.  Gouramis, barbs, red tail and rainbow sharks, and tetras with the body shape of a bleeding heart or black skirt tetra are all possible betta-chasers and should not be kept with a betta.  Fish that do well with bettas are neon and glolight tetras, corys, otto catfish, smaller species of plecostomus (bristlenose, etc.), and African Dwarf Frogs.  There are others, these are just examples.

Copyright 2004