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Siamese Fighting Fish - Betta splendens
Conservation Status: Unknown. Tank bred specimens are popular as a pet.
Threats: Not in IUCN Red List.
Size: Max. size: 6.5 cm TL; maximum reported age: 2 years. May live longer in good aquaculture.
Water Requirements: clean, freshwater, temperature 25°C - 27°C is ideal; can tolerate warmer water to 30°C. Tolerates a wide range of conditions, from slightly acidic, moderately soft water to alkaline hard water (pH up to 8.0 is tolerated), which means that any domestic water supply is suitable once dechloraminated and aged.
Tank Habitat: As Bettas are air breathers, the tank must be fitted with a close-fitting lid and must have an air space between it and the water so that the fish breathe humid air of the same temperature as the water. These fish will survive in limited space or water with low oxygen levels. However, holding male Bettas in very small containers should be discouraged; a well planted tank is best. Frequent water changes are essential, with well conditioned, chlorine and chloramine free water used and care taken to adjust for temperature and pH. Tank maintenance for healthy Bettas.
Diet: Omnivorous; small insects, insect larvae and crustaceans; adapts well to flake foods, pellets and frozen foods such as beef-heart mixes; condition for breeding by feeding brine shrimp or black worms.
Sexing: Sexual dimorphism is obvious; male have longer fins; females have short fins, more rounded bodies and show several lateral, horizontal stripes. Some domestic strains have females as colourful as the males but these females usually show horizontal markings when ready for breeding.
The "Siamese Fighting Fish" is a fascinating fish to keep- not for fighting but for the pleasure of enjoying its beautiful form and iridescent colouring.
Regardless of their common name, Bettas are not aggressive species EXCEPT for mature males which flare and contend with any mature male Betta that they come across. They are peaceful towards other fishes and in a community tank they are often timid and hide. Males certainly show 'attitude' when another Betta is close- even displaying to their own reflection. I do not support exploiting any animals in fighting or for gambling and blood sports. I also do not support the keeping of Bettas in tiny "fish tanks" or vases and deplore some of the current practices in selling Bettas in very small containers. Enjoy keeping Bettas but create a suitable habitat for them.
in very small containers for
all of their lives is a cruel, deplorable practice and is to be
Bettas are anabantids, belonging to a special group of fishes that have a secondary breathing organ- the labyrinth organ- that enables them to breathe air directly from the surface of the water. This enables them to live in oxygen depleted water. ANATOMY
It is this factor than enables them to also survive in small amounts of water or in oxygen depleted pools. That does not mean that we SHOULD keep these fishes in small containers, however. Like all fishes, they need space in which to swim and to carry out their lives - and surely that is our aim in keeping them.
Yes, Betta splendens will survive in half a litre of water- but they will not thrive for long. Mature males are frequently kept in large jam jars and are often displayed that way in shops. Such commercial practices are maintained by frequent water changes (hopefully) to remove wastes such as uneaten food, faeces and any ammonia and nitrite build up. Using small containers is not good practice for keeping your pets, however.
Let us keep fish and not torture them by confining them in small containers or keeping them in the bottom of vases.
A current American fad of selling Bettas in Peace Lily vases is a deplorable practice.
|Bettas do best in a properly
environment, with water temperatures maintained around 27°C
Most home and office rooms are kept at temperatures less than that
and are not constant, experiencing temperature drops at night that are
not good for the fish.
When daily water changes are possible, I recommend keeping Bettas in at least 1 litre of water per fish, with care given to maintaining an even, water temperature of 27°C and good water quality. Adult male Bettas may be housed temporarily in 5cm x 5cm "barracks", partitioned from each other within a larger aquarium with good filtration flow. Smaller amounts of water are satisfactory for transportation, exhibition and temporary housing. A surface area of 625 squ.cm is adequate for breeding pairs, with at least 15 cm depth of water. Fry can be raised in 50 litre tanks.
Selling fish in small containers may be profitable retailing but it is very poor aquaculture and cruel animal husbandry. The fish do not do well and develop disease because of confined spaces are conducive to poor water quality.
I once rescued four, small male Bettas from a pet shop in that sold them in containers that held less than half a litre of water as well as a handful of dirty gravel and a stiff, plastic plant! The fish were already showing curled gill plates from nitrite poisoning and the stress of cold temperatures. The shop staff was dumb-founded when I complained of their cruelty. If you see such examples of poor fish culture, telephone the RSPCA, who will take action if the fish are stressed.
Bettas in large jars and bowls: maintenance information.
Be a responsible Betta fan: house your Bettas in suitable containers or tanks.
|A small "2 gallon" tank such as the one illustrated is ideal
a single male Betta. A range of similar products exists, allowing
larger sizes to be used with a small floor space. Some are fitted
with heaters, lights and filters. Shop around.
Small tanks still require frequent, partial, water changes to maintain good fish health. A larger tank is easier to maintain than a small one.
Suitable plants for such a tank include Dwarf Anubias, Java Fern, Java Moss and Vallisneria.
Other suitable containers include large, wide mouthed jars (1 gal. size), quart jars, and goldfish bowls. Close fitting covers are essential for Bettas and a suitable cover can be made from plastic wrap. Remember, small containers will require frequent partial water changes for good maintenance and health for your fish.
Bettas are bubble nest builders and nest guarders. The males build bubble nests at the surface of the water: these can be very large structures incorporating pieces of vegetation. Mating takes place below the nesting site. The male will display and chase the female to a spot below the nest. He eventually wraps himself around her in an embrace and she releases her eggs which he will take up in his mouth and transfer to the nest in a bubble. Males raise the fry in the bubble-nest for a few days. The nest is guarded vigorously and the bubbles are renewed as necessary. Eggs that fall are caught and returned to the nest. Hatching is in about 24 hours and the tiny fry swim free at about four days.
The newly hatched fry feed on their egg sacks until used up and then on micro- organisms.Feeding fry (which are very small) in the early stages requires "infusoria" and rotifers. A culture of "green water" may be useful.
HINT: begin a culture of micro worms before mating the fish, to be ready for feeding the fry.
Females show readiness when the abdomen is rounded with eggs and the body shows horizontal brooding markings and a white egg-spot is seen at the vent.
Place the pair together in a small tank (a surface area of 25 x 25cm is adequate) with at least 15cm depth of water.
Remove the female after eggs are laid and allow her to recover in peace. Treat any wounds with Melafix.
Remove male when fry are free swimming and feed the tiny fish on plankton, rotifers or "infusoria", then on newly hatched brine shrimp nauplii.
Fry can be raised in 50 litre tanks. MORE
Tank Community: A single male (or several females) suits mixed community of quiet fish; males of some strains can be kept together without fighting occurring; males will hide in tanks heavily populated with other species. The Betta is really a shy fish and does best when kept in a species tank, with the sexes separated until breeding time. Keep male separated if space is limited: in my experience, brothers from the same brood do not fight unless separated and returned to the same tank. Females are usually very peaceful.
All of my green Betta strains seemed to be able to be kept in
mixed batches without fighting. Acts of confrontation and
occurred but fights never happened. Interestingly, when I have seen
of other strains fight, they do not cause harm, other than to rip a few
fins apart, and even stop fighting when an opponent goes for air.
Males are aggressive when guarding bubble-nests, however, and females are best removed after spawning.
Incompatible Species: Larger fish, fin nippers and boisterous fish.
Comments: Bettas are fishes that live short lives and breed easily. They make interesting subjects for studying genetics and are used for that purpose in some Universities and Colleges. Breeding your pets is very rewarding. Please house them in bio-friendly, fish friendly containers with room to carry out their life. Help STOP Keeping Bettas in small jars- its like keeping a Huskie in an old fridge case- you simply don't do it over the long term.
The genus Betta includes other notable species, including B. bella, B. bellica, B. imbellis, B. macrostoma, B. picta and B. pugnax.
These species are not generally available in Australia and are shown here for interest.
Male Betta imbellis - closely resembles the wild type B. splendens.
|Basic Anatomy of Bettas||Colours
and Genetics in Bettas
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