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Betta: A Guide For Proper Care And Living Enironment.

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#1 Matt_1

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  • Joined: 09-February 09
  • Location: Woodlands

Posted 22 May 2009 - 08:03 PM

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The Betta splendens (Siamese Fighting Fish) has unquestionably become one of the most popular freshwater fish in the aquarium trade. In just a few short years, this species has gone from a well-kept secret among serious aquarists, to being found in nearly every office and for sale in every pet store or major supermarket chain in America. This article will help guide you in the correct care of your Betta and dispel some of the myths that still persist about this beautiful fish.

Why the Betta is so popular

The Betta is a beautiful fish that is somewhat tolerant to poor water quality. It is easy to breed in an aquarium and is relatively inexpensive. While these facts add up to make it a good beginner's fish, the real success of the Betta resulted because it was sold as a novelty. These fish were displayed in a glass vase where a large water plant with an intricate root system filled most of the vase. The theory, was that all you had to do was water the plant, the fish would eat the roots, and you would have this beautiful living novelty on your desk. Everyone would want one, and they did. Even Martha Stewart touted them on her television show. The problem is, that despite the fact that these fish are extremely hardy, they still cannot survive without their basic needs being met, and if left in these suboptimal conditions, they will die. In fact, the sheer number of Bettas sold every year is proof that most of these fish do not survive very long, and are frequently replaced. If every Betta survived to their minimal normal life span of at least two years, the total sales would be a fraction of what they currently are.

Problems with the bowls and vase-type aquariums

The problems with keeping these fish in a planted vase are many. Firstly, these fish are carnivores and they need to eat meat. While they will graze on plant roots, they derive no nutritional value from them and will slowly starve if not fed a meat-based diet. The second problem is temperature control. Temperature fluctuations are extremely stressful to all fish including Bettas. Small bodies of water are much more susceptible to temperature fluctuations than large bodies of water. A small vase of water will heat up in the sun and cool down at night, etc. If these small containers are not placed in a very temperature-controlled environment, away from sunlight and all drafts, the fish will become sick and die. The third problem has to do with water quality. Fish produce a large amount of ammonia through breathing and bodily waste. This ammonia builds up and needs to be converted by bacteria to nitrite, which then needs to be converted to nitrate. The nitrate then needs to be periodically removed from the water by removing old water and adding new water. If any of these waste products build up, they can be stressful and eventually deadly to the fish. The problem with small containers is that it is difficult for enough bacteria to establish a good working biological filter to remove the ammonia and nitrite. As a result, very frequent water changes are needed to keep the water from becoming toxic.

The best environment for Bettas would include a larger (6 plus gallons) aquarium with a completely functional mechanical and biological filter. A heater, lights, and appropriate substrate and cover for the fish would be added. A well set up community tank with several other compatible species is an ideal environment. If these fish are then fed a suitable meat-based diet and appropriate pelleted food, they can live long, happy, healthy lives.

Properly maintaining Betta bowls

While some Bettas are successfully kept in bowls or commercially-made, mini Betta tanks, many others do not do very well in these set ups. While it is more difficult to keep these fish in smaller containers, it can be done successfully if you are extremely careful about temperature control, diet, and water changes. Some tips for successfully keeping Bettas in small containers include:

Provide a good container, the bigger the container the better.

Feed a fresh or frozen meat-based food once a day; small worms like white or blood worms work well, as do crustaceans like brine shrimp and daphnia.

Supplement the diet with a small amount of commercially prepared Betta food, if your fish will accept it.

Keep the water temperature constant at around 29C.

Avoid drafts and direct sunlight that can alter water temperature.

Change 25% of the water 2 to 3 times per week.

Treat the new water with an appropriate water treatment to remove chlorine; be sure it is the same temperature as the water in the bowl.

Keep a ventilated lid over the top of the container to prevent the fish from jumping out, but still providing air exchange.

Consider adding plants to help improve water quality and to provide much needed cover.

Never keep more than one male Betta in the same tank.

Special disease considerations in Bettas

While starvation, chilling, and ammonia or nitrite poisoning are responsible for the vast majority of death in Bettas, there are three diseases that appear to be fairly common in this species. The diseases are fin rot, velvet, and ich. These are bacterial or parasitic diseases that can successfully be treated with a variety of medications designed for each disease. However, all three of these diseases usually occur as a result of stress caused by temperature fluctuations, poor water quality, and improper diet. Therefore, most healthy fish kept in the appropriate environment will not develop these conditions. If your Betta does get sick, you need to examine its environment and make sure the water quality, temperature, and diet are all acceptable; otherwise, the same or a different illness will occur once the treatment period is over.

Bettas are wonderful fish and can make great additions to many home aquariums. It is unfortunate that so much misinformation was initially spread about these fish resulting in the mishandling and death of so many of them. There is nothing magical about Bettas. They need the same care that all species of freshwater fish need. If you choose to keep your Betta in a small container, make sure you follow all of the guidelines to ensure proper temperature, diet, and water quality. Once people quit perceiving Bettas as a novelty in a vase, and start viewing them as a unique living creature with simple yet specific needs, the species will once again become the beautiful prize of the home aquarium that they once were, and should be again.

Twin Tail Betta

This variety of Betta has a striking, elaborate tail that differentiates it from other Bettas. The Twin Tail has a split tail, almost giving the suggestion of having two tails. A similar fish, the Crown Tail, has a teardrop shape to its tail. The Twin Tail Betta is a type of "Siamese" Fighting Fish. These fish have been bred over the years to enhance the fins and remarkable variety of colors of the males, as well as making them increasingly combative. Therefore, only one male should be kept in a tank; however, smaller, shorter-finned females may be housed together. Females can be as colorful as the males, although, they rarely have the long finnage that is seen with the males

Crown Tail Betta

The Crown Tail Betta has a striking, elaborate tail that differentiates it from other Bettas. The Crown Tail has a teardrop shape to its tail while the Twin Tail is split, almost giving the suggestion of having two tails. The Crown Tail Betta is a type of "Siamese" Fighting Fish. These fish have been bred over the years to enhance the fins and remarkable variety of colors of the males, as well as making them increasingly combative. Therefore, only one male should be kept in a tank; however, smaller, shorter-finned females may be housed together. Females can be as colorful as the males, although, they rarely have the long finnage that is seen with the males.

Crown Tail Bettas are considered labyrinth fish, meaning that although they are equipped with gills, they also have a special organ which allows them to also breathe directly from the air. As a result, they must have access to the surface of the water in the aquarium. The Crown Tail Betta requires a warm, stable temperature, low light level, and a densely planted 10 gallon or larger aquarium.

Once laid by the female, the eggs are tended by the male in a bubble nest. Fry appear in about 24 hours and must be fed very small food initially, such as crushed or powdered flakes and newly hatched brine shrimp. Fry will also take finely chopped hard-boiled egg yolk.

A carnivore, the Crown Tail Betta will eat all types of live food as well as freeze-dried flakes and frozen foods.

Ideal tank mates include:

SOMETetras (dependent on fish personality)

Quick Stats:
Family: Belontiidae
Range: Cambodia, Thailand, Laos
Size: Up to 3 inches
Diet: Carnivore
Tank Set-up: Freshwater: Densely planted
Tank Conditions: 24C - 31C; pH 6.0-8.0; dH to 25
Minimum Tank Capacity: 37L
Light: Low
Temperament: Peaceful
Swimming Level: Top
Care Level: Easy
Reproduction: Egg Layer

Aquarium Maintenance: 10 Easy Steps for Water Changes and Cleaning a Freshwater Aquarium

Regular changes are one of the most important aspects of maintaining good water quality. For live plant tanks, weekly changes are best to replace trace elements lost. In an unplanted freshwater aquarium, water parameters should be checked weekly with test kits, and water changes performed accordingly. Aquariums with a good filtration system, should have a monthly water change at the minimum, regardless of test results, generally to reduce the amount of nitrates in the water.

Here are 10 easy steps to efficiently clean your freshwater tank and perform a water change while reducing the stress on your fish.

Unplug the heater.

Remove any artificial plants and decorations, and clean all sides of the aquarium with an algae sponge.

Turn off the pump. Disconnect the filter and take it, along with the artificial plants and decorations, to a tub or sink.

Clean the filter, artificial plants, and decorations. During this time, any debris that was stirred up will settle in the tank.

Connect a gravel cleaner. This may be a siphon which attaches to a faucet, or a manual siphon used with a bucket to collect the water. Start the siphon and push the gravel cleaner into the gravel all the way to the bottom, and leave it there as debris rises into the siphon. Continue until the water starts to clear, then either pinch the tubing or partially close the valve to let the gravel fall back down. Lift the gravel-cleaning tube out of the gravel and push it back down right next to the last section you just cleaned.

It's time to stop when you have removed 25-30% of the water (the water level drops to 3/4 to 2/3 of what it was before you started). If you did not get through cleaning all of the gravel, you can start where you left off with the next water change.

Take the temperature reading in the tank, then go to the sink and adjust the water temperature to match. This is a very important (but often overlooked) step. Adding water of a different temperature can unnecessarily stress the fish, making them more susceptible to diseases such as Ich.

Flip the faucet pump to run water into the aquarium, or fill a bucket and pour the water back into the tank to original levels. If using a faucet pump, while the tank is filling, add some de-chlorinator if you have chlorine in your water source. If you are using a bucket, add the de-chlorinator to the water before pouring it into the aquarium.

Replace your artificial plants and decorations and reconnect the filter.

Plug in the heater and restart the pump.

Note: If you don't think the tank is clean enough redo before adding water conditioners


Q. What do I feed my Betta?

A.The food for bettas tends to be more of a meat diet than for most other fish. Some fish are very picky about what they will or won't eat. It's completely different with each fish, though, and depends a great deal on what they were raised with. Most bettas will automatically adore and devour all types of live food, brine shrimp, tubiflex worms, black worms, mosquito larvae, daphina, etc. But most people don't like to keep (or aren't able to keep) the live food around constantly, so dry foods are developed for the fish. Check with the local pet stores for pellets or special flakes for bettas, but be warned that if the betta hasn't eaten them before it might take awhile for him to develop a liking to them (or even to start eating them). Another type of dried food is the freeze-dried products such as bloodworms, brineshrimp, worms, etc. (Be careful of the bloodworms, though, some people, including me, develop allergy reactions to them.) I also train my fish to eat regular flake food that I feed the rest of my aquarium fish and alternate that with the live food.

Q. How do I handle a Bully Fish?

A. Adding new fish to an established aquarium can quickly cause disaster.

You must allow the new fish time to adjust to its new home without constant harassment from established tank mates. To best achieve this:

Quarantine the "bully": Whenever possible, remove the established "bully" fish from the aquarium and house it in a separate quarantine aquarium. Or, keep it in a holding container located within the main aquarium. Breeder chambers and in-tank refugiums make ideal holding containers for small and moderate sized fish. Keep the "bully" in isolation until the new fish becomes comfortable in its new home, and is eating well.

Divide the aquarium: Catching a fish within a reef aquarium for removal is often very difficult if not impossible so your only option may be to separate the bully and newcomer with an aquarium divider. Lighting egg crate, available at any hardware store, offers an easy and economical solution to dividing your aquarium. Simply choose a dividing location in the aquarium (making sure to provide the new fish with hiding places), and cut the egg crate to fit the location. Secure the divider in place with plastic zip ties and suction cups (also available at hardware stores). Add your new fish and remove the divider when the fish become accustomed to each other typically within a few days. Please note: Do not use tank dividers made with metal, as metal corrodes very quickly in water and leaches harmful elements into your aquarium water.

Q. What do these betta variety abbreviations mean?

A. bf = butterfly
ct = crowntail
ddr = double double ray
dt = double tail
hm = halfmoon
mg = mustard gas
pk = plakat
sd = super delta
st = single tail

Q. Can I keep bettas with other fish?

A. Yes. Bettas are actually very friendly fish as long as you don't put two males together. They get along with most other fish, and what you really have to watch out for is the fish that harass bettas.

Bettas are slow moving fish with very long fins, so they can't be kept with any quick fish that have a reputation of fin-nipping, like zebra danios. They get along *great* with most variety of tetras, and I raise my baby fish with baby neons all the time. Mollies and platies and other of that variety also work well.

I've had bad experiences with keeping bettas and guppies, as the male bettas will mistake a male guppy tail for its own sort and fight. Other people do fine with them, though.

No goldfish. Goldfish come from cold water and bettas from very warm water, so their temperature requirements are very far apart, and also their general water conditions. Goldfish are very heavy water pollutants and require an absolute minimum of an inch and a half of fish per gallon of water (the usual way to estimate how many fish in a tank is one inch per gallon).

When mixing bettas in a community tank, the thing to keep in mind with bettas is that they are fish that originally came from very an area with slow moving water. So any type of major filtration on the tank will shock a betta and make him hide in a corner away from the current. You have to balance this with the other fish in the tank that require the current and bubbles for the oxygen in the water for them to live. On the other hand, once a betta gets used to the "current" from a filter, you will sometimes see the betta 'playing' in it for fun. Just make sure that there is a quiet area in the tank for the betta to move to when they are tired.

Q. I've heard that bettas like to live in jars, is this true?

A. Not true. What the situation is, is that bettas are fish that originally came from very warm areas in Asia. They grew up in very slow moving water where rice and other plants grew. To adapt to this stagnant water with low-oxygen content, they developed a special organ called a "labyrinth organ" that acts sortof like a mammal's lung in that the fish goes to the surface of the water, takes in a breath of air, and then the organ allows them to process the oxygen from the air, instead of a normal fish that gets the oxygen from the water through its gills.

Because of this special ability of bettas, they _can_ be kept in small jars and enclosures and be able to live. They don't require the movement of the water and the amounts of water like other fish.

However, that doesn't mean they're happy fish kept in the small jars. They do like to swim around and move and associate with other fish and things... They are generally very happy fish in larger containers, and a small bowl or jar should only be a temporary tank for a betta.

For the most part, one gallon of water is a good size to keep a fish in with bi-weekly water changes. Anything less than that and there are two main problems that start coming up -- first of all, the water will get dirty *very* quickly and so will need to be changed more often (for the betta hexes, probably every other day or so), and second, the fish can't swim in it.

If you don't have an aquarium, I'd personally recommend a plastic or glass 1 gal goldfish bowl for a first container for a betta. Those are fairly cheap, allow the betta plenty of room to move around it, and are easy to clean. Even a 1/2 gal bowl is fine for most bettas as long as the water changes are kept up with.

Websites for Identifing Betta Diseases and Treatment



http://www.bettatalk...ta_diseases.htm (this one has pictures)

http://www.waynesthi....com/killer.htm (This is one man's Dairy of his Betta's that also show ways to treat illnesses)

#2 garlic shrimp

garlic shrimp
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  • Joined: 07-September 11
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Posted 24 June 2012 - 07:58 PM

very informative mate ,good job,cheers,
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