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Betta Caresheet

BETTA GUIDE

No other fish has increased in popularity faster than Bettas. One of the reasons for that is that Bettas are one of the easiest fish to care and come in a variety of colors. A Betta will thrive in very small bowl or make a great addition to most community  aquariums.  If you want your Betta to live a long life and provide years of enjoyment you must follow a few simple rules.

Getting started

It is believed that Bettas were first discovered in Thailand over 100 years ago. Since that time Bettas have been found throughout Southeast Asia outside of Thailand. In the wild, Bettas are normally found in still or very slow flowing waters with thick vegetation. Their natural diet is small insects, crustaceans and small fish. They can be seen in the wild nipping at the roots of plants to obtain the small insects, crustaceans and eggs of other fish. It is the action of nibbling at roots that has lead to the belief that Bettas eat plants.  They are not herbivores or plants eaters.  Bettas are also known as Siamese Fighting Fish. This is because of the aggressive behavior of males when two or more males are placed in close proximity to each other. Males are very competitive flaring their fins and expanding the gills to show dominance in the presence of other males. This always leads to ripped fins and extreme damage to both male betas.   It is for this reason that you should never place two males in the same container. Male betas are only aggressive to other male bettas and not to other types of fish. Bettas make a great addition to any community aquarium provided no other male betas are added.  Bettas prefer a temperature of 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They can be kept at lower temperatures but it is advised not let the temperature go below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. As the temperature lowers the betta will become more and more still.  One of the most unique features about betas is that they are "labyrinth fishes". Labyrinth fishes have a unique ability to obtain oxygen from either the water or from the atmosphere. To do this they periodically swim to the surface and gulp air using a special organ called the labyrinth organ similar in many ways to our lungs. This unique feature allows us to keep bettas in very small bowls without any additional air supply.

Selecting the container

A small fish bowls works great. However a small aquarium is always better choice. The larger the bowl or aquarium the more room your new pet will have to move around in and the less often you will need to change the water. The more room the better the fins can grow and develop. Small fish bowls are what most hobbyists normally select to keep their Betta in.  You will need to find a location for your bowl or aquarium where it wont easily get bumped or be disturbed. The location should not be in direct sunlight or near heating or cooling vents. Now you should rinse and clean your betta container with tap water. Remember, never use soap or household cleaning products to clean your goldfish home or decorations. You should clean both inside and outside with a safe cleaner. Glass cleaners normally used for home windows may not be suitable. Your pet shop should have an aquarium cleaner that is safe and easy to use, suitable for this purpose. Decorating your betta home will make your betta happier. Make sure to use only decorations like gravel or ornaments and plants that are designed for use with fish. Decorations provide a hiding place for your betta during times of stress. Decorations also can add an added interest when you and your friends are looking at your betta. A small floating plant (plastic or real) will help to duplicate a more natural condition for the betta.

Selecting your Betta

Bettas are available in many different colors. The original types found in eastern Asia have been expanded on many times. Today you can chose from almost any color you can think of. They are available with long sleek fins and very wide crown tails. Take your time and select the fish that you like the best.

Adding water

Dont ever add betta to any container filled with plain tap water. It could be full of dangerous chemicals that can harm the fish. It is important to be aware that municipal tap water is treated with disinfectants (chlorine and chloramines) that are poisonous to bettas. Using a water conditioner instantly neutralizes these chemicals, making tap water safe for your betta. In the future whenever you add water lost do to evaporation you must always use a water conditioner to make tap water safe for your betta. Bettas can adjust themselves to a wide range of pH and water conditions. Bettas prefer water that is soft and low in nutrients, but adapt easily to almost any tap water.

Bringing your Betta home

The new fish will be stressed from netting and bagging. The best method to add new fish is to float the unopened bag of fish in their new home for 10 minutes to allow the fish to adjust to the water temperature. Then, open the bag and gently release the fish into their new home. The bag water may contain fish waste (ammonia), so try to avoid adding the bag water to the aquarium. Whenever fish are netted and handled their protective slime coat is rubbed off. When adding fish to any aquarium, be sure to add additional water conditioner to help relieve stress.

Proper feeding of your fish

Your Betta will require a good diet to develop beautiful colors and stay healthy. Bettas should be fed a well-balanced fish food fortified with vitamins and minerals providing them with the proper nutrition needed for maximum growth and vibrant colors. Overfeeding is one of the major causes of fish loss. Overfeeding promotes fish waste (ammonia) to build up to a harmful level. It is best to feed your betta only enough food that it can eat in five minutes. If food is seen sitting on the bottom of the aquarium or bowl, the fish have been overfed.

How to handle cloudy water

A few days after fish are added to the aquarium, the water may turn cloudy. This is normal and happens over time. Your fish bowl will require periodic cleaning and water changes are mandatory. In fact most fish bowls will need a water change every 3 to 5 days. Remember whenever new water is added or a water change is performed you must use a water conditioner.

A clean fish bowl is a healthy fish bowl

Dirty fish bowls not only look bad, they are also unhealthy for the fish. By following a few simple maintenance steps your fish bowl will always look beautiful. The following steps are an ideal regiment for keeping your fish bowl looking great.  To keep your fish healthy, every few days you should change at least half of the water in your betta bowl. First, remove half of the old water. Then mix the hot and cold tap water until it is the same temperature as the water your betta is swimming in. Next fill a container with tap water and add a water conditioner to remove the disinfectants that are toxic to your fish. Now, refill your betta bowl to the usual level. If you are keeping your betta in an aquarium you should perform a partial water change every week. Whenever you are adding or changing water you will need to add a water conditioner to protect your fish.

Betta Care Pamphlet Provided by PIJAC

Pet Industry Advisory Council, Washington DC

2003 Pet Industry Advisory Council

 

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