Betta Fish /Siamese Fighting Fish
Know Your Fish
The Betta Fish' also called Siamese Fighting fish/Fighter/Betta Splendens & so on; this fish belongs to 'Gourami Family' called Labyrinths. Some types of Betta can grow up to 5 inches in length & have known to live for 5 years or more. Betta fish were originally found in slow moving waters & paddy fields across Southeast Asia. Initially they were bred for Betta Fish Fighting somewhere in 1800's due to their aggressive nature. Siamese Fighting or Betta fish have an organ called Labyrinth which allows them to breathe Atmospheric air. This seems to be vital for survival in their natural habitat due to harsh conditions & drastic change in water level. Even though Betta fish is common in most homes, there are few types of Betta which are endangered in the wild & some are extinct in few places.
Siamese Fighting Fish live up to their name, both Male & Female Betta can be very aggressive, they are meat eating fish. Selective breeding has got us some colorful types of Betta Fish, most of the Betta fish in 'Ornamental Fish Culture' are named after the color or shape of their fins. Popular breeds include Half Moon, Crown Tail, Comb Tail, Double Tail, Delta Tail, Rose Tail, Half-moon, Full moon & so on. Betta Fish is a Prime Option for a Beginner in Fish Keeping Hobby, they demand very less maintenance & a simple aquarium setup. There are few things to Learn & Understand about Betta Fish before getting them Home. Little Research will help the Fish to stay Healthy & makes the Fish Keeping Hobby more Fun.
Visual differences between Male & Female Betta Fish
Male Betta fish are the ones with longer fins & are usually more aggressive than females. Since, these days we have females with longer fins & are as colorful as males; best way is to look for an egg spot under belly, to tell the difference; one with egg spot is a female. In some strains the fins of female Betta are shorter, they are less colorful; female betta have somewhat swollen belly, this is due to the female Betta holding eggs.
Building a bubble nest is usually associated with the male Betta; however, some females also build bubble nests.
Betta Fish Aquarium Care
Betta is usually kept alone in a nano tank which is under 15 gallons; this makes it both easy & difficult to care for them at the same time. The reason is chances of water parameters changing in a nano tank is much higher than a bigger aquarium. Like it or not, pH, GH, Temperature, are much more stable in bigger tanks due to the volume of water, larger bottom & surface area which contributes to stable water conditions.
Few things one would require in a Betta tank to provide optimal conditions are: at least a 5 gallon tank, with live or artificial silk plants, Indian Almond leafs, a clay pot or rock for the Betta fish to call it home, a air-stone or a sponge filter or any small filter with minimalist water movement. Last but not the least or probably the most important thing is commitment. One should be committed to keep the conditions right all the time for the Betta to stay healthy & happy.
What your Betta Fish needs?
Aquarium size for Betta Fish:
5 gallon or bigger - If its a single Betta fish, this gives enough space & has worked well for me on long term. It also gives enough place to add few live plants.
15 gallon or bigger - If its a community tank with smaller tank mates.
20 gallon or bigger -If its Female Betta Sorority Aquarium or medium sized tank mates.
Betta Fish Lifespan: These Fish are known to live up to 5 years.
Aquarium decoration for Betta: I've used artificial plants in Betta fish tanks for decoration when I was new to the hobby, with time & experience I learnt live plants help in maintaining water conditions & my Betta fish seem happier in tanks with live plants. So now I recommend live plants like slow growing Anubias & Java Fern. They also enjoy floating plants as they build bubble nest around them.
In smaller tanks Anubias, Java fern or Java moss can be tied to a rock or a small piece of driftwood & added to the aquarium, these plants would not require much fertilizing or expensive lighting to grow; water lettuce is another great option for floating plants & so is Water Lilly as they love building a bubble nest under its floating leafs.
Creating a cave or hiding spot is a great way of giving the betta a home in an aquarium. I use small clay pots or ceramic pots for this purpose.
Adding a Indian almond leaf to the aquarium; tea color of the water released by the disintegrating Indian Almond Leaf is loved by Betta fish; the leaf also helps with keeping the Betta happy.
Driftwood can also be added to the betta fish tank as it helps maintain lower pH level & gives a more natural look to the aquarium.
Water Parameters for Betta Fish:
Temperature range - 78 to 82 degree F (25.5 to 27.5 degree C). Betta fish is a Tropical Fish, lower temperature can cause diseases like Ich, Clamped fins etc.
pH level - Ideal ph for Betta what I follow is 6.8 to 7, as betta fish prefer little acidic water conditions.
Water hardness - under 120 ppm would be ideal.
Lights : If you are planning on live plants in your tank, make sure you get suitable light for your plants. If you get artificial plants any light will do. Just make sure the light does not heat up the water in the tank too much. Remember to turn the light on & off everyday at the same time or as required by the plants you have in the aquarium. You may use low light plants like Anubias, Java Fern, Java Moss etc in Betta fish aquarium.
Filter/Air pump : Filter will help you keep the tank clean & an Air pump will keep the tank nicely oxygenated if you have small Nano Tank. They tolerate low water movement in the tank, hence even a sponge filter would be ideal in Betta fish Tank.
Water conditioner : Tap water in most places are treated with chlorine. This is not good for fish. So get a water conditioner & make the water safe.
Betta Fish food : Betta must be fed varied food for best results. I feed once a day food equivalent to 4 to 5 pellets, readily available Betta fish food can be fed, they come in the form of pellets, flakes, freeze dried worms, blood worms etc. I feed spirulina based pellets at least once a week this helps in coloring.