Lots of people see these little guys and have questions. Here I attempt to answer the more common questions and dispel myths.
How do you pronounce Betta?
How do you pronounce Betta?
Say Bet Uh, not Bait Uh.
How can you tell males from females?
Typically, males are more colorful, and have fancier fins than females. Most of the fish you see are males. Breeders usually keep the females for breeding purposes. To be truly sure of their gender you want to look for a white spot just ahead of their anal fin, that being the big fin on their underside. The presence of this spot indicates a female.
Can you put them together?
No, they will fight and kill each other. In the wild the weaker fish would try to escape from the stronger one. Males will even fight females, and unless they are in a fairly large tank, females may try to fight other females.
If you cannot put them together how do they breed?
To breed Bettas, you need to put the female in the same tank with the male, but with a barrier between them. After a period of time she will enter her breeding phase, in which her color pattern changes so she has vertical markings on her sides. She will secrete a hormone into the water to indicate to the male that she is a female and is ready to breed. After they spawn the female should be removed so the male can tend the eggs.
Why is my fish blowing bubbles?
This is common in male fish even if females are not present. He is making a bubble nest. If a female were present he would build a more elaborate nest.
Can you put them with other fish?
If your tank is large enough you can, however it is important that the fish look nothing like Bettas. Guppies, for example, resemble Bettas, and as such a Betta will chase them and bite their fins. Bettas are quite happy on their own so do not require companionship. They prefer still water so the filter and aerator, in larger tanks, may disturb them.
How often should I change the water?
In the wild they live in muddy ponds so are somewhat tolerant of dirty water. However, in tanks the water evaporates making the remaining water very contaminated, and salty, over time. You should change their water every two weeks to four weeks. To not traumatize your fish too much you might only change a portion of the water, one-fourth to one-half. Make sure the new water is at the same temperature as the water in the tank. Do this by leaving the new water out for a few hours. If your water is treated you must remove the chlorine, either by using special chemicals or by sitting the water out for 24 hours.
How big of a tank should they have?
In stores they are often kept in cup sized containers. This is somewhat cruel as they can not straighten out their bodies to swim Your container should be at least three times the length of the fish. Make sure your tank has a lid as they can jump. Never buy a fish from a store where they cannot straighten out their body, you are supporting the sellers for keeping them cheaply.
How much do you feed them?
There is a myth that you do not need to feed them and they will eat from plants you provide, however this is untrue as the fish are carnivores. They require fish food specifically made for Bettas, generally sold as pellets. They can be fed 2-3 small pellets a day, or 4-6 every two days. You can also feed them brine shrimp. Some people feed their fish only once or twice a week but this is harder on their stomachs. Do not over feed your fish or it will die.
How do they breathe?
Unlike most fish they usually do not use their gills, they do not need oxygen in the water. They have a labyrinth organ that allows them to breath oxygen from the surface. Therefore it is very important they have lots of surface area at the top of the tank and it is not crowded with plants.
Why is my fish not swimming around?
Betta’s prefer warm water conditions, they are not as active in cooler tanks. Or your fish is sick.
How long do they live?
Betta fish can live for four years or more. Unless you purchase from a breeder, you will not know how old the fish is when you buy it, but you should expect it it live for at least three more years.
When you buy your fish, try to select one from a reputable seller, do not buy the fish kept in tiny jars because you feel sorry for them. Not only will you be rewarding the seller for his cruelty but your fish will not be as healthy.
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