Siamese fighting fish, or betta fish, are a vibrant addition to any home and don't require lots of fuss or muss, but what do you really know about this fish? The pretty swimmers only cost a few dollars at the pet store and are happy contained in small tanks. But there are a few important things to know before bringing one home. Click through for interesting facts and a few helpful tips for taking care of your own betta.
Betta fish are native to the waters surrounding Thailand and Cambodia. They are considered labyrinth fish, which means they have the ability to breathe oxygen directly from the air and through gills. This gives these fish the crazy ability to survive outside water for short periods of time, live in small fishbowls, and tolerate poor water quality.
These vibrantly colored fish also have unique combinations of beautiful tails and fins. Most females are slightly smaller, topping out at around 2 inches, and male betta fish can grow to about 2.5 inches max. You can encourage bettas to flare their adornments by placing a mirror in front of the tank.
Some Like It Hot
Bettas are freshwater tropical fish, which means they like warmer temperatures in the tank. Keeping the water temperature between 76-86°F makes for a happy fish. If you notice your betta lying at the bottom of the tank, it might be a sign that things are too cool. Bettas slow down and get lethargic when water gets cold. A tank heater will toast things up in no time.
Keep It Fresh
Bettas are fairly tolerant to water conditions and don't need tons of extra cleaning attention. To top off the tank, simply let tap water sit on the counter for 24 hours to release any chlorine. Bettas will jump from the tank if water isn't to their liking. They can live in small bowls, but running tanks are the best bet for a long and happy time together. Most of these colorful fishies can live up to four years — or even more! Using a filter system will keep the tank sparkling longer between cleanings.
Bettas are highly territorial and can challenge other fish in a community aquarium. Female bettas are known to get along comfortably, while males will fight each other. It's a good idea to start with one fish and then introduce any additional friends slowly to keep the tank happy. Smaller fish that are not brightly colored aren't seen as a threat to bettas. But be warned — they will attack other fish if feeling intimidated. Bettas also like having a spot to hang out or hide when feeling stressed, so add a big rock or cool decoration to your tank.