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Male Super delta
Picture courtesy of The Betta Cave
40 years of experience speaks for its self!

Dave's Betta Bowl

Dedicated to my daughter Natalie, and a Fish named Dappy*

Return to the Portal (my other pages)

Last update 10/7/03

Just say "no" to Bettas in a Vase...

Recently, there's been some disinformation spread that a betta does great in a small vase with a Peace Lilly in the top. Umm...no. Bettas actually have to take little gulps of air to survive, and too big a plant could make it hard (or impossible) for him to reach the surface. Silly as it may seem, you can drown your fish! The same sheet often claims that the fish will eat a little bit of the plant for his food. A Betta might eat a plant out of desperation, but they're carnivores; nothing but a plant won't cut it! He needs real food!

Welcome to my betta web page! 

If you're here, we'll assume that you have some interest in the Betta Splendens or "Siamese Fighting Fish". While male bettas (and occasionally females) will fight with each other, they can co-exist quite well with peaceful community fish in your aquarium, despite their fierce reputation. Beware putting them in with fish that like to nip fins however, like some barbs and angel fish. You'll likely wind up with a Betta with torn fins, and possibly a badly beat up tank mate, if it is slow enough that the betta can catch it.  

I've been keeping these fascinating fish for over twenty years now, off and on, though I've never been more than a hobbyist with them. Recently, I've taken an interest in attempting to breed them, and am now looking for stock to work from. Unfortunately, the bettas you get at your local fish store aren't very good examples of the breed, and good fish cost quite a bit of money. A good betta starts at around $20, and the prices can go up rapidly from there. As such, the project is in a holding pattern while I save up a little money and watch for the right fish to buy. 

really Basic Betta keeping
Bettas tend to pop up in some odd places (jars on counters, desks, dorm rooms, etc) due to their hardy nature and ability to survive in small amounts of water. Note I say "survive" rather than "thrive". While your betta can tolerate a week in a few ounces of water (chances are he was in a tiny little cup with 4-6 oz of water when you bought him), this isn't ideal conditions. Bare minimum is 2 quarts of water, and the water will need to be changed every two or three days if this is how he is housed. More is better as far as Mr. Betta is concerned, and he'd really prefer to be in a tank with a gallon (or more) of water, filtration and heat. While a betta can survive temperatures down to 70 degrees (and possibly lower), it isn't his preferred temperature range, and will put undue stress on your little friend. He prefers his water to be more in the 76 to 79 degree range, and he'll reward your care by being much more active! His colors will be better as well. Beware of setting his container on something that is warm, like a TV set. They can put off more heat than you realize, and will fluctuate his temperature when the appliance is on or off. If in doubt, an easy test is to drop a fish tank thermometer in a two liter pop bottle filled with water, and leave it in the location where you'd like to put a betta. Leave it 24 hours, then check the temperature. Keep checking at different times if you think there might be temperature variations. 

(continued from previous column)
Bettas are carnivores in nature, where they eat stuff like mosquito larvae. They'll take dried flake food, but prefer to have some variety in their lives. Frozen food will do, and is easily bought at a fish store or pet shop. Of course, if a wounded gnat or mosquito just happened to fall in the bowl, your betta wouldn't complain... Live brine shrimp are also happily gulped up. Just don't let your kids see you feed them to the betta, unless you enjoy pleas for shrimp mercy... I've heard of guys feeding baby guppies, but I know I'd never get away with that in my house (see shrimp mercy above). Don't overfeed! A pinch is plenty for one little fish! A rule of thumb is that everything should get eaten in a few minutes. If there's leftovers, you're feeding too much. Once you have the hang of how much to feed, there shouldn't be much uneaten food. It's better to start with a tiny bit of food, and then feed more than to feed too much. Bettas are beautiful, but kinda dumb when it comes to food. Their stomach is exactly as big as their eyeballs, if you take my meaning (they'll keep eating everything they see...). Hey, that's life in the fishbowl! 

Water... Bettas aren't real fussy about their water. Most are happy with tap water to which de-chlorinator has been added. Not sure what that is? Talk to the guy or gal at the fish store, and they'll set you up. It removes the chorine and other nasty stuff that the water company added to kill germs, bacteria, and unfortunately, fish. Mr. Betta will be much happier without it! 

Water changes are a necessary part of keeping your betta happy (also read as "alive"). How often you change the water is a function of tank or bowl size. Assuming you're keeping him in a bowl of some kind with no filtration, you'll need to change the water once a week if it's a 1 gallon bowl. If it is smaller (like 2 quarts) then make that every three days. I really wouldn't recommend anything smaller than 2 quarts. The reason you need to do this is to get rid of the ammonia and nitrites that build up in the water. Too much food makes it build up faster, by the way. 

A turkey baster  makes a good, cheap, vacuum for his house. Use it every day or two to get rid of waste (fish poop) and uneaten food, then top of the water. 

That's the basics! There's tons more information available on other web pages. In particular, try BettaTalk, which is also in the Links section to the right. I don't think I could outdo the owner if I tried, so I won't!

Male Plaket (wild betta)
Picture courtesy of VangBettas

Beautiful Blue  Plaket (wild betta)
Picture courtesy of VangBettas

Betta Links:
Deep Blue Bettas
The Betta Cave
Katie's site, new but nice fish!

General Aquarium
Fishless aquarium cycling



*Dappy - the first of several fish of the name, Dappy was dubbed such by my then-3 year old daughter. Unfortunately, the fish food was within reach, and Dappy was loved to death. I'm sure Aslan has a big warm pond in heaven for Dappy & company.