The vibrant, charming betta fish is marketed as a starter pet to many families across the world. They are supposedly easy to maintain, and always stunning to watch. However, these friends actually require a lengthy amount of steps in order to ensure that they live their best lives with their owners.
Betta fish come in a variety of hues and tail types, ranging from popular crowntails to deltas, and spade tails. They swim with elegance, and despite their title of “fighting fish,” they are easy to love and can become friends with their human pals. These fish can learn tricks and will even be able to recognize your face once you spend some time bonding with them. If you’re looking to add longevity and happiness to your scaly friend’s life, there are myths that must be broken down!
10 Myth: They Can Live In Small Bowls
Ideally, every betta fish should have a minimum of 2.5 gallons in which to swim, though five gallons will make them happiest. The small plastic cups that house them in the pet store limit their nature and mobility. Although they are known for living in rice paddies, their natural habitats actually span miles, despite being shallow. The idea that the paddies are limited in water probably comes from the visibility of bettas during the dry season. During the dry season, rice paddies leave bettas susceptible to death, and many must go through the paddies in search of more space. Limiting a betta’s ability to swim will result in a fatty liver, which will lead to a shortened lifespan.
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9 Myth: They Can’t Have Roommates
Female betta fish can actually live together, and males can share a tank with other species of aquatic life. There are snails, shrimp, and a variety of other fish that will happily co-exist with a betta. While bettas are known to be territorial, they do need the mental stimulation of interacting with other friends. Every roommate that you plan to give to your betta should be considered in the overall tank size. All new friends need approximately one additional gallon of water. Betta fish that become bored and lonely tend to display signs of aggression, and will not appear to be as active.
8 Myth: They Are Not Intelligent
Similarly to any other animal, they require love and can quickly evolve with the proper care! Betta fish can recognize their owners and even learn tricks, such as jumping through hoops and following your finger. Despite the Nirvana lyrics, “But it’s okay to eat fish / ‘Cause they don’t have any feelings,” these finned friends can experience pain and anger. Negative factors in their environment will breed pals that appear boring to watch, so treating them with kindness is beneficial to everyone. Bonds can be formed with animals of any size, so don’t write off the connection that can be established with your fish!
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7 Myth: They Are Easily Accessible
Betta fish are shipped from Asia to several other parts of the world to be the entrancing backdrops of every pet shop. However, during transport, they are housed in tiny plastic bags with no room to swim and are mostly kept knocked out with a chemical that keeps them fairly sedated. Unfortunately, the demand for these vibrant pals keeps the fish in a constant cycle of being taken from their habitats. The best option here would be to avoid supporting pet stores that sell bettas and to avoid contributing to their demise. However, if you already have a betta or receive one from a friend, be sure to value them a little extra—they went on a tumultuous journey to get to you.
6 Myth: They Do Not Require Heaters
Betta fish come from warm climates, so maintaining a tank temperature that mimics this is crucial. Your friend would prefer something in the range of 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit, which can be monitored using a thermometer. Betta displays and the overall marketing of these beauties can be confusing because there are so many simplistic bowls with photos of bettas on them. However, a cold betta is less likely to move, and will slowly suffer as it struggles to get warm. As well, bettas should also never be placed in direct sunlight as a cheaper alternative, as this will also send them to an early grave.
5 Myth: They Do Not Live Long
If housed properly, a betta fish can live for three to five years. However, inadequate care has led to many people believing that their lives are much shorter. While this lifespan is short in comparison to our own, many betta fish die within a few months when taken into uneducated households. However, the blame should be placed on companies that market the fish with this knowledge. According to the 2017-2018 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, there are over 150 million pet fish owned in the United States alone! People love the tranquility of fish tanks, and your fish are sure to keep your mood elevated when they feel at peace in their home.
4 Myth: They Do Not Care About Interior Design
Fish might not be able to choose floor plans and wallpaper, but they do long for an environment that keeps their mind stimulated. Betta fish will thrive with the proper plants and non-toxic décor. Ensure that everything you add to your tank is secure, and will not fall and harm your friend. Betta fish have delicate fins, and sharp ornaments can easily rip them, or snag at the fish. All animals are curious, and your betta would prefer to explore more than just a few colorful beads at the bottom of a tank. Bettas are omnivores, and can actually gain nutrition from certain plants that you place in the tank.
3 Myth: They Only Need Basic Fish Flakes
As mentioned above, bettas eat a wide variety of foods. They will benefit from a diet that ranges from plants to freeze-dried bloodworms, and even crickets. The documentary Pet Fooled actually discusses the lack of regulation in the pet food industry, so you’ll want to do your research before buying the generic flakes that are placed next to the betta section in pet shops. Bettas need a range of nutrients and enjoy a varied diet. Be careful not to overfeed your fish as well, which is more common than underfeeding. Overfeeding can lead to sickness, and leftover, rotting food will pollute your tank. A bulge in a betta’s stomach means it is overweight. Although some food will instruct you on how often to feed your fish, it is sometimes a marketing ploy to get you to buy extra food. It’s best to only give them small amounts that they can consume within two minutes.
2 Myth: They Can Be Disposed Of In Toilets
Although it seems like an easy option, fish should never be flushed when their time with us comes to an end. This can actually contribute to diseases in water. Unfortunately, some people even flush their scaly pals when they are still alive. Donating them is a much better option for everyone if you decide that you can no longer host your fish. There are reports of people discovering goldfish that become oversized after being released into waterways through pipes. Fish deserve nurturing just like any other pet, so please do not be careless and dispose of them inappropriately! Maintain the quality of the water around you, and find better alternatives.
1 Myth: They Never Get Sick
Just like us, fish are prone to illness. Bring your betta to the vet with a sample of tank water if you notice anything wrong. There are infection remedies on the market if you see your friend looking sick. A betta fish that is under the weather will be lethargic, scratch itself against the walls of the tank, and even have clamped fins. Incorrect tank temperatures contribute to many betta issues, and it’s best to slowly raise the temperature at intervals until you reach 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Fish cannot signal their problems to us as easily as cats and dogs can, so keeping track of their behaviors is crucial. Although owning fish is not as easy as it sounds, it is a rewarding experience, and your fish will surely appreciate the care!