Betta fish, or Siamese fighting fish, as they are also known, are incredibly popular fish in the home, probably because of their vibrant colours and the fact that they are relatively easy to care for. Betta fish have a very aggressive nature, so it is imperative not to house males together unless the tank is large enough that both males can establish territory. Whilst males do not fight to the death in the wild (instead the loser retreats) there is nowhere to retreat in an aquarium, and so the winning fish will continue to attack the other until death. One possible alternative is to use a dual tank with a glass divider - in this way you can have more than one male in your aquarium without having to worry about one attacking the other. Take some time to study the temperament of your males - if they are mild-tempered, it may be possible to keep them together.
Females, however, can be housed together provided that there are more than two - betta fish are hierarchical by nature and so with at least three females, a pecking order can be established (with only two, one fish may simply pick on the other)
Males and females may mate, but as a precaution it is always a good idea to have a separate container in which the female may display, without risking being harmed by the male. If all goes smoothly, the couple may produce up to 1,000 eggs in a single mating session. The male will tend to the eggs and newborns, but after that it is down to you to look after the youngsters.
Be aware that Betta fish may jump! If motivated, their jumps can reach up to 3 inches high. To avoid a belly flop ending, ensure the aquarium is covered securely, and that the water level in the tank is at least 2 inches below the top.
Caring for a Betta Splendens or the Siamese fighting fish is relatively easy. You don't need a large well equipped aquarium that costs hundreds of euro’s. A small bowl or vase will work, but if you can get a small 1-2 gallon aquarium with a filter that will work best. If you do use a bowl or vase make sure it is big enough for your new Betta to swim around without bumping into the side. While the Betta can breathe air from the surface it is important that the opening of your Betta’s bowl is wide enough to allow good oxygenation of the water.Another point to remember when it comes to caring for your Betta fish is to not over-feed them. They can be fed once or twice a day but only a few pellets of Betta food or flake at a time. They will not eat much at one time and if you feed them to much the remaining food will fall to the bottom and muck up their bowl
The ease of caring for a Betta fish makes it appealing for people who do not have the time or space to care for more high maintenance pets like dogs, cats or even an aquarium full of fish. They can be placed just about anywhere, on a shelf or counter top, in an apartment or home.
If you properly care for your Betta fish they will easily live for 3 to 5 years and provide you with a healthy happy companion that will become more than just a pet.
© www.irishfishkeepers.com – October 2008