Betta Fish for Beginners
A beautiful betta fish is a sight to behold, thanks to their bright, vivid colors and marvelous flowing fins. These popular fish pack a lot of personality in a pint-sized package, so whether you’re thinking of adding a betta fish to your family or just want to learn more about these underwater wonders, read on!
While dozens of species of betta fish exist, one of the most common is Betta splendens, a species prized for their exotic coloring and eye-catching finnage. This species is a frequent choice for freshwater aquariums—and it’s easy to see why. Bettas are charming and enchanting, with an average size of approximately 2 1/2 inches long, and their gorgeous, flowing movements accentuate an aquarium in a way that few other fish can match.
Fin types in bettas vary widely, and can include short tails, veil tails, double tails, delta tails, and the highly impressive crown tails, among others. In terms of color, bettas are found in a veritable rainbow of beautiful shades. In the wild, bettas are usually muted shades of brown or grayish green, but pet parents can choose from bettas in vibrant shades of red, blue, green, yellow, white, black, and many others. Some colors also exhibit a striking metallic-like sheen.
Provide an ideal habitat for your betta fish by selecting an aquarium of the appropriate size that is outfitted with filters, plants, and décor. Be sure to keep water conditioners and a water test kit on hand to ensure that the water quality is correct for the optimum health of betta fish. Although bettas can handle cooler temperatures, they prefer a water temperature that ranges from 72 to 82 degrees F, with an ideal average range in the mid- to high-70s. For bettas it is recommended that you change at least 25 percent of the total volume of water once a month.
While some freshwater fish are quite content to live in harmonious bliss with other fish of varying types, betta fish tend to be less than compatible in group settings. Betta fish are known as Siamese fighting fish, and males will fight if kept with other male bettas—or sometimes even other types of fish that resemble bettas. Female bettas are less aggressive and can usually live in a community aquarium, but they too can exhibit aggressive tendencies, so must be closely monitored in case they begin to pick on the other members of their aquarium.
Thanks to their “labyrinth” breathing organ, betta fish are capable of breathing air from the surface of the water in addition to obtaining oxygen from the water via their gills. Due to their flowing fins, bettas thrive best in a tank that contains minimal water movement.
As with any freshwater fish, you’ll want to take care not to inadvertently overfeed your betta fish. Aim to feed approximately three times per week, and provide no more than your fish can consume in two minutes. (Feeding too much is dangerous to the health of your betta fish, and uneaten food causes the aquarium water to become dirty.)
A balanced diet is highly important, so be sure to choose the appropriate food for your betta fish. Aim to provide a diverse blend of flakes, pellets, freeze dried and frozen food to ensure balanced nutrition and a well-rounded diet for your fish.
A fish by any other name…
Interestingly, as popular as betta fish are, the vast majority of people mispronounce the name of this beautiful fish. Many people pronounce betta as 'BAY-tuh' like the Greek letter, beta, but that is incorrect. The proper way to pronounce betta is 'BET-uh', as in “you bet it is”.