Tuesday, June 11, 2013

How to Take Care of a Betta Fish?

Betta splendens, also known as "Bettas" and "Siamese fighting fish", are popular pets recognized for their aggressiveness, interactiveness, and relatively low cost for maintenance and care. Betta fish can prove to be your best friend for up to four years. Follow these tips to make sure your new pal has a great, happy and healthy life.
1.Know your betta fish. There are various important characteristics and needs of these fish that every owner needs to be aware of. Having a general understanding of what to look for before buying will mean that you make choices that help to ensure the longevity of your pets. When purchasing your Betta fish, think about these main things:
-->Color. Is the Betta's color bright and vivid, or is it very dull and pale? Bettas come in a variety of colors, but blues and reds (dark colors in general) are most common.
-->Receptiveness. Does the betta respond to your movement at all? Does it swim around rapidly when seeing you, or does it merely sit at the bottom and sulk? Don't repeatedly tap the container, as doing so agitates the fish. Instead, try moving your finger back and forth in front of the Betta. Don't be afraid to buy a somewhat docile Betta though; they generally have many encounters with other people during their day, and may simply be resting. The average Betta bought in a pet store has been bred to withstand a lot of the hassles of a pet's lifestyle.
-->Overall health. Are its fins in good condition, or are they torn or otherwise damaged? Are the Betta's eyes in good shape? Do you see any odd lumps (parasites) on its body? If you see anything highly out of the ordinary, consider another Betta.
-->The right one. Sometimes, the fish will choose you, not the other way around. If there is one Betta that you look at, set down, move on from it, but are drawn back to it repeatedly, consider buying it. Even if it is not completely healthy, buy the fish you feel connected to, rather than the healthiest one there. He will likely heal up once out of the tiny cup and gets a fresh start in warm, clean water.
2.Do some initial background research. There is a lot to know about betta fish, even beyond the basics just outlined. In general, large box stores aren't in the business of providing detailed information, unless you happen to strike a betta enthusiast salesperson. As well as having the basic understanding of betta outlined above, you might consider researching more details about betta fish online at sites like bettafish.com,bettatalk.com, ibcbettas.org, etc. These sites will remain useful for you after purchase too, as you'll be able to ask questions, check up health and nutrition notes and find like-minded betta fans to share stories with.

House For a Betta Fish
1.Prepare your Betta's home. Have a proper set up ready before bringing home your new pet. This prevents possible mishaps. 
-->Don't place Betta fish in with other fish without doing your research on compatibility first. In general, assume that the Betta fish will be aggressive toward other fish and may well try to kill them (some exceptions are provided below when discussing suitable tank-mates).
2.Choose a suitable home. In the wild, Bettas inhabit Thai rice paddies. Hence, they are suited to living in relatively shallow but spacious environments. To meet the spacious need, consider giving your Betta a decently sized tank to help prolong its life. Pick a tank of 5 gallons or more for your Betta to thrive. It may seem a lot, but it's what your fish deserves.
3.Add the necessary equipment. Various equipment is required for the successful keeping of Betta fish:
-->Purchase a heater with a thermostat––Betta fish like water temperatures between 76-82ºF/24-27ºC. Bettas may require a heater in some cases––for example, if you live in a cold country or if you have an aquarium below room temperature, then a heater is required. Mini-heaters are available for Betta tanks between 1-3 gallons. During the winter, you may want to add a mini heater or place your aquarium close to a radiator (1 meter away), to prevent your Betta from becoming too cold.
-->Filters are always necessary but make sure the current is not too strong for your Betta. Bear in mind that the long-finned varieties do best with as little current as possible. Some experts recommend the use of sponge filters, to protect the fins.
-->Avoid jagged rocks or decorations. Such decorations can easily tear Betta fins. It's recommended that you check once a day that there are no tears in the Betta's fins. If there are tears, first check the water quality, as tears are typically caused by poor water maintenance.
-->Avoid adding any hard plastic plants. Again, these can be rough on the fins. Use the 'pantyhose test': If a plastic plant will snag a pair of pantyhose when rubbed against it, then it will damage your Betta's fins. Be safe and buy silk plants instead.
-->Live plants are a great idea. They're prettier than fake ones, and Betta fish love lounging on the leaves and hiding in them to sleep. Live plants also help to oxygenate the water and keep the water cleaner for longer periods of time.
4.If you're considering adding tank-mates, do your research. Betta fish tend to prefer being alone and may kill other fish and even snails if added to the tank. Some people believe that Betta fish are good with tank-mates such as snails, ghost or cherry shrimp and neon tetras, and consider that as long as the fish sharing the tank is not bigger, more colorful or fin nipping, it should be okay. That said, some of the more aggressive Betta fish simply prefer to be alone and will attack even a snail. Before adding any sort of tank-mate, do thorough research by asking questions of the retailer, reading in books about Betta fish or checking online sites dedicated to Betta fish (ask other Betta owners in the forums). If in doubt, leave the tank-mate out.
-->Male Betta fish cannot live with other male Betta fish. They are named Siamese fighting fish for a reason! In an aquarium setting, they will fight to the death in order to protect their living space, regardless of the size of the tank. If your tank does not have a partition, do not risk losing one or both of your Betta fish by allowing them to live together.
-->Keep female Betta fish either singly or in groups of at least five, to lessen any aggression. The tank must be at least 10 gallons and have several hiding spots if keeping multiple females. All females must be added at the same time. Don't place only two female Betta fish in your tank. They establish a "pecking order" and having only two female fish means that the less dominant one gets picked on exclusively.
-->Female Betta fish will fight males and vice versa. Don't put them in together. Read up on breeding them if you think you want to try it, but remember that breeding bettas is a huge commitment, and not something to be taken lightly.
-->Putting a mirror up to the side of the tank can cause a Betta to flare because he/she thinks that there is a rival in his/her territory. This can stress out the fish, so avoid mirrors.
 Add Water to Tank
1.Prepare the water. Use a water conditioner such as Prime before putting fresh tap water in the tank. The chlorine and chloramines in standard tap water can harm Bettas, as well as kill off all that beneficial bacteria housed in the filter. Older sources may suggest aging the water (standing it for a time) but it's best to use a water conditioner, as aged water removes chlorine but not chloramine and heavy metals.
-->It is a not a good idea to use bottled water because this deprives your Betta of necessary minerals and is not fish 'safe'. Treated tap water is both a cheaper and better alternative.
2.Fill the Betta's tank. If the tank is without a top cover, fill it about 80% high to ensure your fish won't leap out. Bettas are very active and can jump over 3 inches/7.5cm when motivated! However, Bettas usually won't be trying to escape if they're happy in their home.
Adding Your Betta to the New Home:
1.Add your Betta. Slowly and carefully tip the container in which you received your Betta into the new habitat, allowing the new water and old water to mix. This will make the water easier for your fish to adjust to––if the habitat water is much colder or warmer than the previous water, mixing waters will help allay any shock for the fish. Be gentle as you tip in the Betta!
-->Avoid netting a Betta when possible, as this can damage the delicate fins. If you need to pick up a Betta, try to use a small cup to scoop him/her up with care.
Feeding the Betta
1.Feed your Betta. Your Betta's diet should consist primarily of pellets specifically made for feeding Betta. For special occasions, feed frozen brine shrimp or blood worms.
-->Check the ingredients of the pellets. The first three should be protein based. Experts say that protein in the pellets should be no less than 40%. Tropical fish flakes, goldfish flakes, and the like, are not suitable for Betta fish.
-->Though live food may be exciting to watch, frozen and dried products are generally best. They are safer and free from potential parasites. Frozen or dried blood worms make for a great treat.
2.Feed your Betta regularly. Betta fish vary in eating habits from each other, so experiment to see how much food your Betta eats. Set up routine feeding times, for example, once in the morning and once at night. If you stick to this routine, you may even find that your Betta will be waiting for you when it's time to eat!
-->Take care not to overfeed the fish. Overfeeding can be a problem in some Betta fish, as they will eat as long as you feed them (which can be fatal). On the other hand, other Betta fish will stop eating when they're full. Overfeeding can cause bloating, though this is not as serious as a similar condition referred to as dropsy. It can, however, cause bladder problems later on, which can also be fatal.
3.Clean up any extra food that your Betta does not eat. Similarly, watch your Betta to see if he/she spits up any food. This could be a sign that your Betta is a picky eater, or it could also mean that the pellets are too big for the Betta's mouth. Ironically, most big fish food companies don't realize that Betta fish have smaller mouths than, say, goldfish or others.
-->You can cut the pellets in half with a small razor blade or such to allow it to fit in the Betta's mouth easier. If it still refuses to eat, try another brand of pellets or dried food.
4.Turn feeding time into a little enrichment exercise. Put a straw in the tank and watch your Betta to see if he/she gets used to it. If he/she does, and you have leftover Betta food he/she won't eat, place one of the leftover pellets in the tank. Place the straw over it so that it is inside the straw. Hold the straw over the fish and wait for him/her to find it. After your Betta finds it, he/she will follow it. You can then slowly lift the straw up to the top of the tank until the food pops out and your Betta will eat it.
Keeping the Betta Tank Clean
Betta fish are only hardy to different water types, such as hard and soft water. This means that you should not change the water or rearrange the aquarium too frequently.
1.Clean your Betta's tank. Place your Betta in container filled with old water while washing the tank. Simply wash the tank with hot water, as some soaps will harm your Betta. If your habitat has rocks, rinse them thoroughly. Fill the habitat half way with fresh tap water, return the Betta and some of the old water, and then fill the rest with tap water again.
-->Be sure to add a de-chlorinator (also known as a water conditioner) to the water; this will remove any harmful chlorine/chloramine that is in tap water that may kill your fish. It will also filter bacteria.
-->Be sure that the water you are changing is the same temperature as the old water the Betta was in, to avoid temperature shock; such shock can be deadly to your Betta. Use an in-tank thermometer to check the water temperatures.
2.Test the water weekly. In order to test water parameters each week, you will need a master fresh water test kit. This will allow you to monitor your aquarium and take readings. Follow the instructions for testing provided by the manufacturer.
-->Place notes in your calendar or diary to remind yourself that it's time to test the water.
Ongoing Enjoyment
1,Have fun with your new friend. Betta fish come to recognize their owners. They will actually learn faces and even simple games. Keep your betta company and say "hi" once in a while, so he learns who you are!
-->Betta fish are very curious and often develop a strong bond with their caretaker.
2.Play with your Betta fish. Betta fish are enjoyable to watch and spend time with. You can play with your fish by moving your finger back and forth along the tank edge (never bang the tank or poke the water). Watch your Betta follow you. And above all, don't forget toname your fish!
-->Never tap the glass of the tank. This action easily agitates the fish and can cause the fish to go into shock and die. To interact through movement, simply slowly rest your finger on the glass and slide it along to see if your Betta will follow it. If he/she backs away and seems frightened, then stop immediately. You can eventually try again once you the Betta is more accustomed and less afraid of you.

Fun Facts About Betta Fish
A few things that it's nice to know about Betta fish:
-->Betta fish are members of the Anabantoid family (gouramis are also in this family). They have a back-up breathing system that allows them to breathe surface air, however, they still require a filtration system in their tanks.
-->Female Betta fish are typically smaller than make Betta fish. They lack the beautiful finnage that males possess. However, they can still be equally as beautiful in their own way—–and feisty! Don't keep them together though, as the female may latch onto the male's vivid fins, causing them to tear.
-->Male Betta fish build bubble nests when happy!
-->If a male likes a female, he flares his gills, twists his body, and spreads his fins. If a female likes a male, she wriggles back and front.

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