Pet Fish Secrets - Caring for Bettas
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Pet Fish - Caring for Bettas

Bettas, also known as Japanese fighting fish, are so beautiful that they don't look quite real.

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Bettas, more popularly known as Japanese (or Siamese) fighting fish, are so beautiful that they don't look quite real. You've probably seen these fish housed separately in tiny bowls at your local fish store. This is because male betas will fight to the death with each other until there is only one male left.

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However, this is not a good way to care for your betta once you bring it home.

When purchasing bettas for your own home aquarium, you should only buy one male fish. You can add several female betas to the tank if it is on the large side. Male bettas are known for the way they constantly fight aggressively with each other, so putting more than one of them in the same aquarium is a bad idea. Female bettas also fight amongst themselves, but not as aggressively as male bettas.

Bettas are able to survive in small spaces because, unlike most other pet fish, they can actually take oxygen out of the air to survive. Still, it is not a good idea to put them in an aquarium that is extremely small. The larger an aquarium is, the better the environment will be for your fish. If you are not planning on buying more than one betta and want to house your fish in a small aquarium, a vase or a bowl, you should be aware of a few things. Fish, like all living things, give off waste, and this small container will soon be filled with ammonia, which can be dangerous to the health of your betta.

To make things worse, this ammonia is then broken down by bacteria to form nitrates, which are also dangerous to the health of the fish.

While a common way of showing the Betta in a store, if you are taking proper steps for caring for a Betta, a vase or a bowl will probably not be large enough to allow for efficient biological filtration and is too small to allow for the amount of bacteria needed for a filter to work effectively. In reality, you'll need to replace up to fifty percent of the container's water several times a week to prevent ammonia and nitrate levels from becoming too high. Make sure you use dechlorinated water. You should also put a lid that allows air to pass through it on top of the aquarium, so the fish will not be able to jump out. You will also need a mechanical filter, heater, substrates and the appropriate lighting for the container.

Bettas are carnivorous fish, so you'll have to give them meat-based food.

Foods you may feed betas include freeze dried bloodworms, brine shrimp, daphnia and food made specifically for bettas, which can be found online or in a pet store. Make sure you thaw out any frozen food so the bettas won't have any problems digesting it. Give them food in small amounts at least twice a day. Avoid overfeeding because the remaining food will eventually rot at the bottom of the aquarium and cause the water quality to become toxic. This could lead to your betta becoming ill.

As with all fish, temperature fluctuations can be quite harmful. Water temperature should be around 78 to 80°F (26 to 27°C). Do not put the tank close to windows or vents or any area that allows for draft or sunlight or the betta may become ill and die.

You may want to add plants to the tank or bowl, as they can improve the water quality in the aquarium. Live plants will help with the nitrogen cycle diminishing the amount of ammonia and nitrates in the aquarium.

Learn more about caring for Bettas at Betta Fish Secrets.

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Page Updated 12:51 PM Monday 10/20/2014