This article gives simple, basic instructions on how to care for the male Betta, or Siamese Fighting Fish. They are fun, low-maintenance pets!
About the Betta (Siamese fighting fish)
The betta, or Siamese fighting fish, is not only one of the most beautiful freshwater fish, but also one of the easiest to maintain. The betta can live well in a small aquarium, but he can also be quite comfortable in a simple fish bowl. In fact, the betta is a better choice for a fish bowl than the traditionally-chosen goldfish, which produces more waste and will often outgrow the bowl. Bettas are an excellent choice for a child’s first pet, as they are attractive and fun to watch and require little maintenance. Bettas come in a rainbow of colors, from bright blue to silver to a deep red. The colorful bettas found in the small containers at the pet store are male bettas, the females being smaller and less brilliantly colored. The selection of a betta is a matter of personal choice–simply choose your favorite color! It is important to remember, however, that you must not get more than one male betta, as they are territorial and will instinctively fight with and kill one another. Male bettas can, however, live with other species of freshwater fish that are similar in size.
Making (And Keeping) the Water Safe for the Betta
Once you have selected your new pet and decided what type of bowl or aquarium you would like to use, it is important to provide your fish with the appropriate water. Tap water contains chlorine which is toxic to fish. This problem can be solved either by purchasing water dechlorinator drops, which are available in a variety of brands wherever you can purchase aquatic animals. It is strongly recommended, however, that you add double the amount of dechlorinator recommended on the package, as chlorine levels vary by region and occasionally, the recommended dosage is insufficient to neutralize the chlorine. Another alternative is to purchase reverse osmosis water, which is available at most supermarkets. This is the purified water often purchased from a large dispenser within the store. This water is already dechlorinated and will not need to be treated.
Water temperature is also important to fish. You do not want to place the fish into water that is much warmer or cooler than the water in which the fish is already living. This will stress the fish and could shorten his life. It is best to allow all water to come to room temperature before putting the fish into the bowl or changing/adding water to the bowl. Once you have place the fish in the bowl with the appropriate water, it is a good idea to empty about half of the water and replace it with new, fresh water on a monthly basis. This keeps the water from becoming overrun with waste and toxins and also keeps algae growth to a minimum. In addition, algae growth can be impeded by making sure not to place the fish bowl in direct sunlight. This is most easily done by emptying the water with a siphon or cup, and keeping a gallon jug of chlorine-free water on hand at room temperature to replace the water after it has been removed and discarded.
Decorating the Fish Bowl or Aquarium
There are a wide variety of decorations you can select for your fish bowl. Again, this is a matter of personal taste. Most fish enjoy having some foliage in which to hide. A wide variety of plastic and real aquatic plants can be chosen from to give the fish a comfortable home. In addition, the bottom of the bowl can be lined with aquarium gravel or even marbles, which will provide an anchor for your aquatic plants. The decoration of the fish bowl gives the pet owner a chance to really let creativity shine and can be a lot of fun.
Feeding the Betta Fish
A variety of foods exist for betta fish, from flakes to pellets. All of these are perfectly adequate, as are basic tropical fish flakes. An occasional treat of bloodworms (available at most pet stores) will help to enhance the betta’s beautiful color. The betta should be fed a tiny amount of food twice per day. It is important that the fish is only fed as much as he can eat in a few minutes. Overfeeding can lead to clouding of the water and possible health problems for the fish.
The male betta fish makes an excellent pet, especially for children. They are easy to care for and beautiful to watch. They are a good way to build a child’s sense of responsibility, but the most important thing to remember when caring for any pet is to have fun!