Betta Fish Care for Maximum Health

Betta fish are commonly called Siamese Fighting Fish, and are some of the most colorful and beautiful freshwater fish for the home aquarium. Learning how to care for the properly is important.

Betta fish are commonly called Siamese Fighting Fish, and are some of the most colorful and beautiful freshwater fish for the home aquarium. You can find them in many colors, fin shapes, and sizes in most pet and aquarium stores. In most stores, they are displayed in small plastic cups, often with blue tinted water. This is not the way to house betta fish for maximum health and happiness.

Basic Betta Facts

These popular aquarium fish are scientifically named Betta Splendens, and originate in Cambodia and Thailand. They grow to about three inches long. In the wild, they are usually a rather nondescript greenish brown color. However, years of selective breeding have created many amazing color strains and fin types. As with most fish, the males are much more colorful than the females.

Their life span is approximately two to three years, although many die much younger in improper environments they are often subjected to. In their natural habitats, Bettas live in ponds, rice paddies, and slow-moving rivers.

The Labyrinth Organ

One thing that makes Betta fish different than most other types is the existence of the labyrinth organ. This organ allows the fish to breath atmospheric air, and not dissolved oxygen in the water like other types of fish. Indeed, if they are in an environment where they do not have sufficient access to atmospheric air (i.e. at the surface of the water), they will suffocate and die.

The Wrong Containers

The need for atmospheric oxygen immediately discounts some types of containers for Betta habitats. The increasingly popular peace lily vase set up is essentially betta murder. Not only does the plant greatly reduce the surface area for breathing, the roots befoul the water and do not provide food for the betta as sometimes assumed. Bettas' natural diets consist of insects, as they are carnivorous.

Also, due to the fact that bettas exist in ponds, rice paddies and rivers, it can be assumed that a cup of water is insufficient space for a fish to live in. While bettas can live in shallow water, they should still have enough to swim around in.

Bettas are tropical fish and require a higher water temperature of seventy-five to eight degrees Fahrenheit. This necessitates a submersible heater in their tank. Most containers sold as betta bowls do not provide room for a heater.

The Right Betta Fish Set Ups

The ideal set up and habitat for a betta fish is an open-top aquarium of at least three-gallon capacity. It should have a heater and some plants to provide hiding places for your betta. Only one male betta should be kept per tank, though they can coexist with other types of tropical fish. The other fish should be community types that are not prone to fin nipping.

Betta fish, also called Siamese Fighting Fish, require appropriate housing and care for maximum health and happiness. Small cups and potted plant containers are not good places to house a betta fish. If you care for the fish the right way, they will live happily for years in your home aquarium.