Bettas: The Fish with a Personality

Tired of those dull, boring gold fish that swim around mindlessly? Looking for a new, entertaining pet that is easy to take care of? Buy a betta! Betta splendens, commonly referred to as bettas are the fish you see in stores kept in cups, away from the others so no fighting or killing occurs. These cups make the betta seem boring and dull, when in reality each has their own, separate personality that will delight you for years to come. To begin your betta experience, select your fish! They should be active, and healthy looking. Fins should not be shredded, eyes not protruding, and they should look well fed. An active betta is a healthy betta, so try and steer clear of the ones that don’t look well unless you’re trying to save the poor thing. Next, select a tank. Bettas should live in nothing smaller than one gallon, and fish bowls should be avoided at all costs. Bettas can jump, so make sure it has a top.

To line the tank, choose gravel, or some sort of glass stone. Bettas also like to hide, so don’t forget a plant or two. Oh yeah, and a thermometer. Bettas like temperatures of 72 degrees or higher (but do not exceed 84, you don’t want to kill him). One that sticks on the side of the tank will do just fine. When choosing a food, don’t feel overwhelmed as there are a lot of choices. Some bettas like flake foods, while others will scoff and swim away at this ‘food’ you are trying to feed them; others can’t wait to gobble up the tasty treat. The most common food type seems to be pellets, and there are many brands. Hikari is a popular, although expensive brand; others opt for lesser known name brands (and they do the job just as well). One last item on your betta supply list is a de-chlorinator! This is vital.

Chlorine can kill fish; you don’t want to kill your new pet within the first few days they are home. When you finally arrive home, your new friend in tow, it’s time to start setting up the tank. Wash all the parts to remove any left over residue and add gravel and plants as needed. Add the thermometer to the tank and fill it up, not forgetting to add the correct dosage of your chosen chlorine remover. Wait about 20 minutes or longer until the water is about room temperature and add your betta! Feed them a bit and give them time to explore their habitat. If your new friend doesn’t eat for a few days after arriving home, that’s ok. Most bettas take awhile to adjust to their new home, and not eating for a week is pretty common. Keep offering food and if they don’t take it, remove it so it does not contribute to its waste build up. If your betta seems very listless, lying at the bottom or staying at the top of the tank, check out your water temperature. Is it too hot? How about too cold? Adjust accordingly and things should improve. To keep your betta tank clean, complete water changes once a week (for a one gallon tank) are the ideal, and more time can be placed between tanks with higher water capacities. To keep your betta from getting bored, find out what games they enjoy playing. Some like nibbling on your fingers when you stick them in the tank (don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt!) others enjoy charging the tank whenever you come near it. And showing your betta a mirror every once in awhile will help as well. Just don’t leave it there for more than 10 minutes at a time! With tender love and care, bettas can brighten your days for 2 years or more.

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