My name is Ellie and it’s so good to see you again. Today I wanted to talk about one of my favorite fishes, Bettas! I worked at a pet store for 5 years and made it my mission to teach people about these often misunderstood fish. You see these cute little guys for sale everywhere from Walmart to pet stores and in every container imaginable. If you’re like me you might have been wondering:
· Why are they in little cups? Should they be living in these cups?
· Why do they fight if you place them together? Can they have any fishy friends?
· Why do they lay on their side looking dead if they’re actually alive? Is that normal?
· What color Betta should I get?
Let me clear the cloudy water for you. (Haha) This is just my personal experience as well as hours of google searching. This does NOT make me an expert so always do your own research and take this with a grain of salt.
Why are they in little cups? Should they be living in these cups?
Betta or Siamese Fighting Fish, are native to Thailand and Vietnam. These areas have very inclement weather varying from dry spells to flooding. To live well in these areas Betta’s need to be able live in areas as vast as water filled rice fields to as small as a puddle. To do this, Betta’s can actually breathe surface air. Now, just because a Betta is capable with living in a puddle does not mean they should. No one can thrive in such a small area. Working at a pet store for almost 5 years, I’ve seen a lot. Including, people thinking these fish are sold in a home sized for them. Please, please, please do not keep them in the cups they are sold in.
Betta fish need a minimum of a 1 gallon tank. Even though they are able to breathe surface air they also need aerated water which is pulled in through their gills. This can be achieved with either frequent water changes or a small filter. NOTE: The filter should not be stronger that advised. You will know it’s stronger than needed if your Betta is being pulled into the filter constantly. If this happens switch out the filter for a lower powered version or back to basics water changing.
Your straight forward answer is: No Betta fish should not live in little cups.
Why do they fight if you place them together? Can they have any fishy friends?
Wild Betta fish are naturally territorial, people noticed this and started placing the fish in small spaces together and placing bets on what fish would survive. Over the years they began breeding the fish to be more colorful and aggressive. Your typical Betta fish can be placed with nonaggressive fish with short fins. Some examples of fish I’ve had living with my Bettas:
· Plecos/sucker fish - These are best because they have a hard outer skin that is resistant to a cranky Betta. Please note that these can grow pretty big so you will want to do research on a smaller breed or get a bigger tank later on.
· Ghost Shrimp – These clear little guys live off algae and are most active at night.
· Zebra Danios, Neon Tetras – These friendly fish prefer to live in schools so you’ll want at least 3. If you decide on this path I recommend a bigger tank.
· Cherry Barbs- These guys prefer groups of at least 5 and need extra space or they will nip your Bettas fins
· Short finned guppies
· This is not an extensive list. I recommend researching the type of fish and its temperament prior to introducing it to your Betta.
NOTE: Some Bettas are more aggressive and cannot be placed with any other fish. They are not looking for friends.
Your straight forward answer is: Some Betta fish want friends and some prefer the solo life.
Why do they lay on their side looking dead if they’re actually alive? Is that normal?
Very often in stores you will see Bettas floating on the surface, on their sides. It’s creepy. Betta fish sleep at the surface of the water to make breathing easier. They sell stick on leaves for your tank specifically for this purpose. You can also add floating live or fake plants for them to sleep on. It’s very cute. You see this very often in stores because lack of proper environment will cause Betta fish to be lethargic. So a healthy Betta will get much more active when brought into a suitable environment.
Your straight forward answer is: It is totally normal for Bettas to sleep on their side at the surface of the water.
What color Betta should I get?
The actual color of the Betta does not affect personality in any way. In fact, Bettas can change color over time, with age. They also change color when they are in the proper environment. In the cups they are sold in they are stressed out, not getting enough air, and possibly sick. After you settle them in it’s very possible that as they become healthier and happier over time they change in color.
Your straight forward answer is: It’s up to your preference-just know it may change.
If you have any other questions let me know! These are just some of the more common questions/concerns I find people asking about. Let me know what your favorite fish is in the comments!
See you soon!