The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

How to: caring for a betta fish

3 min read

By Krystle Goldstein

Eye catching colors, long flowing fins, and relatively easy care and maintenance make the Betta fish (also called Siamese, Oriental, or Japanese Fighting fish) a popular pet among college students and all pet owners alike.

Choosing a Betta fish is the first order of business. The male Bettas have long flowing fins and a larger and brighter color pallet than the female Bettas.  Betta fish are best to live alone, especially the male Bettas.  Males are physically aggressive towards one another, thus giving them the name of “fighting fish.” Even female Bettas are rather aggressive towards one another, so they need a tank of at least two gallons or more. Generally, however, Betta fish are happiest living in solidarity.

After choosing a Betta fish, it is time to choose a proper home. A larger amount of water should always be considered if more than two fish live together.   There are a variety of Betta containers available in any pet store.  Some Betta fish owners enjoy decorative glass vases, preferably short and wide rather than tall and thin. With vases that are tall and thin, the fish will be less active because the water has a lower oxygen ration.

To ensure a more active fish, an air stone and pump can be used. The air stone and pump will produce bubbles that rise through the water and cause agitation at the water’s surface. This renews the surface water, keeping it more oxygenated than a stagnant water source. The Betta fish will be more active and more interesting to watch.

A container size of at least one to two gallons should be cleaned weekly. This includes cleaning the bowl and replacing the water.  With a container of less than one gallon more frequent cleaning is necessary.  This could mean as often as two or more times a week depending on the size.

Any time water is replaced or added to the Betta’s container, a water conditioner should be used. Water conditioner, which can be found at any pet store, will detoxify chemicals found in tap water that will harm or even kill a Betta fish.  These chemicals make water safe for human consumption but make it unsuitable for fish. Prepackaged bottled spring or distilled water can be used instead of tap water.  Bottled spring water is the best choice because of the natural minerals found in it, giving the Betta some of their nutritional minerals.

Decoration for a Betta container is purely aesthetic and is the decision of the owner.  Sharp edged decorations should be avoided so that the fish does not get caught and tear its fins.  Aquarium gravel, marbles, or glass beads, can be placed at the bottom of the container to complement the vibrant color of the fish.

Pet stores carry a wide variety of Betta fish food.  Betta food can be flakes or pellets, freeze dried or frozen.  A varied diet is recommended to keep a Betta healthy and happy. Bettas are carnivorous, so keep that in mind when choosing a Betta food.

Pelleted or flaked foods are often a good start.  While flakes can be messy and difficult to measure, pellets are usually easier to measure, and easier to remove from the water if the fish is accidently fed too much.  Most Betta should be fed about three to five pellets, depending on the size of the fish and on the size of the pellet.  Fish only need to be fed once a day, or even once every other day.  Freeze dried or frozen foods, like bloodworms and brine shrimp, can be given to fish occasionally instead of flakes or pellets.

The vibrant Betta fish can be the perfect silent study companion or an interesting centerpiece in any room.  Betta fish are affordable and easy to maintain, perfect pet for a college student.  They need food just every other day, and new water once a week the Betta fish require minimal care for a happy pet.