Betta Fish Deserves Better!
By Shahu Sardar*
Betta fish, one of the coolest fish around – they are hardy, look really cool, and make one of the best fish pets! But their extreme hardy nature and ability to adapt to various conditions have led them to really sad conditions in the aquarium hobby. Everybody knows that bettas are seen as fish that can be kept in bowls or in any other water body and can be fed anything. But, actually, betta fish also do need care and better tanks to grow and remain healthy. So I am going to guide you to setup a perfect betta tank.
First of all, never get a fish bowl for a fish – your betta will only suffer and die. Get a minimum 18–20litre glass tank. The tank should be square or rectangular and not circular. Remember to wash the tank once with only water.
For setting up a betta tank, start with gravel. Gravel should be soft and not hard big sized pebbles and never put brightly coloured or neon coloured pebbles in the tank.
You can either go for artificial plants or live ones. Bettas like both, live plantation as well as artificial plants, so the choice is yours. If you are setting up artificial plants, make sure they have blunt ends so that they don’t injure the betta fins. Live plants work best with bettas and also there is less chance of injury to them. Go for broad leafed plants with lots of spots to hide. Also keep some empty place to swim and play. Add caves and tunnels, because bettas love cozy places to sleep. Also you can keep a small mirror in the corner, which would be of great excitement for your betta. But never keep mirror for prolonged periods as that may cause stress. I also suggest a lid for the tank, as bettas have a natural tendency of jumping out. If your betta thinks his tank is not good, he will definitely jump out.
Bettas don’t produce much waste, still a simple hang-on back filter is recommended. Also, if your filter has flow controller, keep it at least power, because bettas live in still water so the water flow should always be gentle. Sponge filters also work great for bettas due to their slow currents.
Without a filter you will have ammonia accumulation, which would lead to sickness.
Bettas are tropical fish, so heater is a must. Keep temperature from 24–28C. Remember, cold water will kill your betta. It will slow their immune system and lead to death. Heaters primarily keep constant temperature in the tank, which helps in maintaining good metabolism.
Bettas don’t really need air pumps because they can breathe oxygen from water surface. But make sure your tank is well ventilated.
Many people keep their tank light running for the whole day… but with bettas, it can lead to stress! Bettas wake up and play when you turn on lights, and go to sleep when lights are switched off. So follow a day night schedule for light in the tank.
Setting Up The Tank
- First of all, rinse all decorations, plants, and gravel with normal water to get rid of small dust particles and other materials.
- Add gravel and setup plants. Plan the placement of plants according to the environment discussed above.
- Install your heater and filter.
- Once you are done with it, slowly fill it with water and add some Dechlorinator and water disinfectant.
- Switch on your light, filter, and heater, and start cycling.
- To do this, just add some food pellets in the tank and leave it for 15 days. This helps to buildup good bacteria in the tank.
- When cycling is over (after 15 days), you can add your Betta fish.
Choosing The Right Betta Fish
There are good chances that betta fish in the store is ill, this is because they don’t treat bettas well. They are generally kept in small plastic cups or small pouches that are almost the same size as the fish! So this is how you choose a healthy and happy betta:
- Bright colouration, bright eyes, and no dullness.
- Should be active. If they have kept it in a small pouch or glass, ask them to put it in a tank for some time, to see if the betta is really active.
- Should flare his fins when he sees other betta or you.
- Should have no deformities like missing eye, torn fins, and abnormal swimming patterns.
Bettas cannot be kept with many species because of their territorial and aggressive behaviour. Bettas can be housed with short-finned small species like tetras, barbs, and guppies. But always have a second tank ready as you never know when your betta can get extremely territorial killing all the others.
Feeding The Betta
Bettas are not fussy eaters and will eat whatever you give them. But mostly prefer carnivorous diet. Also, their diet should be varied for optimum health. Common diet for bettas includes – bloodworms, brine shrimp, and betta pellets.
Feed sparingly, 2 times a day. Just put enough food that it can complete within 15 minutes.
Bettas can make really great pets and are just perfect for beginners and children. They need proper care and best life as any other pet. Stop anyone from keeping bettas in fish bowls! If proper care is taken by following the steps given above, your betta can live for 3–5 years. Perform 20% water change every week to keep the environment healthy.
*Author is one of the youngest Fish keeping hobbyists and enthusiasts from Pune, Maharashtra. He has been in this hobby from the age of 10 and has really learnt a lot about freshwater fish keeping. He also runs his own fish keeping blog named AquaNation (www.aquanationURL.blogspot.com), where you can find all fish tank maintenance related articles. Also, soon he is going to start a You Tube channel of his own.