Purchasing and Caring for a Betta Fish

Betta splendens, generally known as Siamese fighting fish or bettas, are stunning-looking fish. If your child spots one of these fish in the pet store it’s a good bet you will soon be asked to take one home. The purchase of a betta comes with certain responsibilities so if you’re considering one for a pet, here are some helpful points on purchasing, fish food and maintenance.

Before you buy

When it comes to the health of the fish itself, carry out some quick checks in-store. Take a close look at the fins to see if there is any damage or tears and always go for a fish with bright, clear eyes. Avoid ones with strange lumps or parasites attached to the body and check out the receptiveness of the fish by drawing your finger slowly past the tank to see if the fish follows. Betta fish should boast vibrant colors and if the fish is dull and grey it may either be unhealthy or the water may be too cold.

Betta fish and feeding

Pellets of fish food specifically made for betta fish are the best feeding option. The protein in the pellets should make up approximately 40% of the ingredients. Bettas should be fed every day but one day per week should be skipped to give their digestive system a chance to rest and to clean itself out. It’s also good advice to give them a pea once a week to regulate their system; boil or zap a frozen pea in the microwave for a couple of minutes, cool it in some cold water and then peel off the skin and feed a small portion of it to the betta.

The fish tank

Always use a water conditioner before filling the tank with fresh water as this will kill bacteria as well as the chloramines and chlorine in tap water. Only fill the tank to 80% as betta fish are lively and can jump up to three inches if they wish to escape. You will need a heater and thermostat – betta fishes need temperatures of between 76F and 82F to stay happy and healthy. A filter should be used but keep the current weak. Live plants are a good way to keep the water clean for longer periods and to oxygenate the water.

 Tankmates for betta fish

It won’t be possible to simply place your betta fish into an already inhabited fish tank; they’re called Siamese fighting fish for a reason. Betta fish are solitary creatures and will attack and try to kill other fish. Male betta fish will also try to kill other male betta fish and will also attack female betta fish. Bettas will basically try to kill anything alive in the tank but there are some exceptions you could think about, including African Dwarf Frogs, Ghost and Red Cherry shrimp, loaches and certain types of catfish.