How to Take Care of a Betta Fish
It’s not too difficult to learn how to take care of a Betta fish (Siamese fighting fish). This article will give you a nice few tips that will keep your fish nice and healthy. Betta splendens were originally bred for sport fighting across much of Asia. Due to their bright colours and high tolerance to less clean water, they are the perfect beginner’s fish.
1- Know what you’re getting yourself into. Siamese fighting fish are relatively easy to care for, however having a better understanding of their native habitat and preferences will better equip you as a keeper. Check on the internet on sites such as www.bettatalk.com or www.bettafish.com
2- Prepare the habitat. It’s far too easy and to rush out and buy your fish without first preparing its habitat. Bettas are accustomed to shallow but wide bodies of water in the wild, and so try your best to replicate this in your home. They prefer warm water of around 25˚C or 76-82F, so you will need a heater with a thermostat, and should you only be buying a single fish, or a pair, you will only need a small filter. Decorate the aquarium with plants and rocks, although take care that there are no sharp edges as these will damage your Betta’s fins. In order for the helpful bacteria in your filter to ‘mature’, you should have the tank set up for a week before hand, and have introduced a solution of live bacteria (see recommended products). Tap water needs to be treated to remove chlorine and harmful chemicals, and do not fill the tank too high as Betta’s can jump roughly 3 inches into the air. Live plants are preferred by the fish, especially when it comes to nesting, and they will also help to oxygenate the water, however you will need a low power light in order to keep them healthy.
3- Choose your fish. Look for bright colours, healthy fins, alertness and aggressive and dominant behaviour in the males, and fullness and healthy fins in the females. Avoid fish with growth/parasites or lumps.
4- Introduce the fish to the tank. This should be done carefully and slowly. If the tank has a light, turn it off, place the bag in the water intact, to first allow the water temperature to normalise, before slowly exchanging the water between the bag and the tank. Leave the light off for at least an hour.
5- Choose the most sensible food type. Flake foods or pellets are most common. Protein content should be at least 40%. Feed in small volume to avoid uneaten food contaminating the water. Occasionally treat your fish to live, frozen, or freeze dried brine shrimp or blood worm. Do not over feed (feeding rates should be advertised on the packaging). Your fish may be a fussy eater- watch him/him and her eating to check behaviour. A fish which does not feed is often unwell.
6- Clean your tank thoroughly every two weeks. Algae is purely an aesthetic issue, however should your tank be over ridden with brown algae, the water is too high in nitrates and nitrite- clean the water more often. You should make a water change at least once every fortnight, replacing 30% of the water with warmed, treated tap water (providing your tap water is drinkable, if not, use bottled water).
7- Put the right things in place for them to breed. Should your pair begin to behave differently with the male flaring his gills, opening his fins and twisting his body, and the female wriggling back and forth for example, ensure that there is organic matter in the aquarium, such as live plants, so that the male can build a ‘bubble nest’ and breed. Should they begin to adopt courtship behaviour, feed your fish with richer foods such as brine shrimp or blood-worm.
Medicines can be purchased at your local fish store. First check on the internet to try and diagnose, but failing that, take a picture of the ailment and show it to your local fish expert.
When moving Betta, catch them with a cup rather than a net in order to ensure that you don’t damage their fins.
You can encourage your fish to breed by carrying out a larger water change than normal in low light conditions, whilst playing loud music in the background. This mimics a storm and will often encourage many tropical fish to ‘get it on’.