Bettas/Siamese Fighters - FAQ

Discussion in 'Pets & Animals' started by Amran, Sep 2, 2009.

  1. Amran

    Amran Member

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    Hi everyone,

    EDIT - This is also on the wiki here.

    We often get people posting threads about Bettas in the forums and each thread usually turns into a carbon copy of the previous ones. This post should go a long way to answering your questions as well as giving you a place to ask more. Hopefully others will add 2c to the thread, especially the tank size debate :rolleyes: and I'll add it to this OP so it's all easy to get to...maybe some stickyness if possible?

    About me - I breed Bettas as a hobby and sell my excess stock to a number of local fish shops, I believe I have a very heathly and happy little community.

    Q1. Why keep a Betta/Siamese Fighting fish?
    A1. Betta's are beautiful, hardy, interesting fish. They can live for several years if looked after well. Under the right conditions, Bettas can really show an individual personality which makes them a great pet. Bettas also have several traits that make them suitable for certain tanks that other fish may struggle to survive in.

    Q2. Bettas? Are they the same as Siamese Fighting fish?
    A2. Yes, "Betta" (beh-ta) comes from the scientific name of one out of over 70 different species of Betta, the Betta Splendens.

    Q3. Do they have to be kept seperately?
    A3. Adult males of the species need to be kept apart as they will fight each other. Females can be kept together but there ideally should be a minimum of 3 females as they still tend to fight a little to establish a "pecking order". The more fish, the less aggression shown to each individual.

    Q4. Can you just stick a bit of glass between 2 males to keep them apart?
    A4. This can be done, but the male Bettas will still want to fight as long as they can see each other. In the short term, this is actually good excercise for them. However, over time they may become stressed. It is better to use a barrier that either fish cannot see through, and remove that barrier for 10-20 mins every day or so to allow the males to "flare" at each other.

    Q5. So, how big should a Betta tank be?
    A5. This is the 6 million dollar question, and everyone has something to say about it! There are a few things to keep in mind here:
    • Bettas originate from Thailand, where they can be found in the wild living in shallow puddles. This does not mean that Bettas are supposed to live in small amounts of water! The puddles in question, while shallow, are usually very wide and still contain quite a lot of water. Bettas may survive better than other fish in small quantities of water, but they will not be happy or healthy.
    • Changes in water quality have far greater effect in small bodies of water, as there is less water to dilute whatever problems are introduced.
    • The smaller the tank, the more often you will need to clean it and change the water
    • Don't take your cues from most local fish shops! They tend to keep Bettas in very small tanks/jars/vases etc that are by no means a long term solution

    You might have noticed I haven't actually quoted any volumes yet - OK here goes - these are my opinions based on experience and research *duck*:
    • For 1 male Betta, the minimum tank volume for a healthy, happy and long lived fish is at least 20 litres.
    • For a breeder with many Bettas, a minimum tank volume of 10 litres can suffice if other factors like water quality and space for the fish are optimal. This means filtered water and a good shaped tank (square) to allow the fish to move around. The main difference here is that the fish is still healthy and still swims around in a cheerful mood, but may not be as deliriously happy as it's brothers in the 20L tanks. It also may not grow as quickly as in the larger tank.
    • If you have a sick fish you need to quarantine or your tank suddenly springs a leak, cut the top off some 2L milk containers (washed of course) and keep your Bettas in there. In this case, the water should be 50% changed every day or so and you should be looking for an alternative solution ASAP.

    Q6. What about those vases with a Betta in it, they say you don't need to feed them because they eat the roots and you don't need to clean them because the plant sucks up all the bad stuff as nutrients.
    A6. Absolute rubbish - don't buy them. 'Nuff said.

    Q7. OK, so most people are going to want a 20 litre tank...what else should I know about the environment?
    A7.
    • Temperature: 25-28 degrees C (77-82 F).
    • Ph: Honestly they don't care much & there's not much info out there on it.
    • Filtration: Low flow, minimum water movement. Still need mechanical, chemical and biological filtration or regular water changes.
    • Oxygen: No airstones needed!

    Q8. What do you mean "No airstones required"?
    A8. Bettas have an organ on top of their heads called a "labyrinth" that allows them to breath air from the surface of the water. As such, the oxygen level of the water is less important than for fish that only breath through gills.

    Q9. How strong should the filter be?
    A9. Male Bettas in particular do not like a lot of water movement as it tends to drag them around by their long flowing fins. Any kind of filtration is going to create some water flow, which is fine considering the benefits of having filtered water. As a general rule of thumb, use a filter that changes the entire contents of the tank once per hour (a normal tank usually requires about 4x per hour). Use high quality filter media to ensure adequate filtering at low water flow.

    Q10. I see lot's of people keeping Bettas in small unfiltered tanks...is that OK?
    A10. It's fine as long as the tank is big enough and the water is changed often enough. Because Bettas don't need an airstone, it's feasable to keep them in a suitable sized tank and a warm room with no periphials like heaters or filters. Without filtration, the waste products from decomposing food and fish poo with soon make the water dirty and dangerous for the fish. Water changes are another subject of great debate, the best option is to invest in a kit that tests for ammonia/nitrites/nitrates and use it in conjuction with water changes to see what works best for you. As a rule of thumb, do a 50% change every few days. Try filling a bucket with water and leaving it to stand for a day before using it in the tank, this will help lower the chlorine content. A nice aquatic plant in the water will help a tiny bit with water quality as well.

    Q11. Can I keep my Betta with other fish?
    A11. Firstly, if you intend to keep any other fish with your Betta, you will need to ensure the tank is the appropriate size and has adequate filtering and oxygenation of the water (an airstone should suffice). Male Bettas in particular tend to mistake any brightly coloured or long finned fish for another Betta which may lead to fighting. Corydoras are a popular choice as are Bristle-nose catfish as both can help a little bit with keeping the tank clean and tend to get on OK with male Bettas. Small fast fish like Tetras are generally safe as well.

    Many people do keep Mollies, Guppies & others with female Bettas. This can be safe but it's always best to observe how the fish interact when you first introduce new fish to the tank. There may be some push and shove to establish dominance, but overall they should calm down and get along. Try to keep more of a particular species eg; 6 Mollies rather than 3 Mollies and 3 Guppies.

    Q12. Can you breed Bettas?
    A12. Yes. It takes a small investment in some basic equipment and your chances of sucess increase if you already keep Bettas and understand how to keep them healthy and happy. Be prepared to invest quite a lot of time into raising the spawn as well.

    Breeding is beyond the scope of this FAQ - you can read about my first attempt in my Betta Breeding Journal.

    Q13. What should I feed my Bettas?
    A13. Dry pellets are a good staple, use a quality brand such as Hikari Betta Bio-Gold. Bloodworms make a good supplement (frozen is fine) and can be fed twice a week. Thawed frozen peas (without shells) will help clean out the Bettas digestive tract and should be fed once a week. Try to feed your Bettas small amounts over multiple feedings as opposed to a large amount once a day. Un-eaten food will contribute to ammonia/nitrate levels and increase the need for water changes.

    More coming...
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2009
  2. OP
    OP
    Amran

    Amran Member

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    -- Reserved just in case the thread ends up huge or maybe for some pics --
     
  3. keeni

    keeni Member

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    I've always been interested in Bettas what is involved with breeding them?
     
  4. HairyMerkin

    HairyMerkin Member

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    What types of fish go well with Bettas in a tank?
    How do you actually say 'Betta' -Better, or baeta?
     
  5. tgf

    tgf Member

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    Brilliant idea for a thread. Props to the OP!
     
  6. Daft_Munt

    Daft_Munt Member

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    OP you might want to add this to the OCAU wiki.
     
  7. Sleepy Dude..

    Sleepy Dude.. Member

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    i used to have a Betta... but he died when i went on Vacation. :(

    I Named him Lord Fishywishy, and he Guarded my computer :D
     
  8. OP
    OP
    Amran

    Amran Member

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    Answered the questions that have been asked so far.

    Yep thats a good idea...I'm just thinking that most people tend to post a question here before checking the Wiki. I'll give it some time and see what works best, thanks for the suggestion though. I'm also worried that if I post this to the wiki then everyone is going to change figures for tank sizes to suit their own ideas without really have a constructive debate about it.

    Having said that, I'm working on the Wiki version now.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2009
  9. Baringa

    Baringa Member

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    I know nothing about keeping fish, so I'm interested to know what kind of environment/lighting is good for a betta.
     
  10. HairyMerkin

    HairyMerkin Member

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    Seconded, can I have awesome led lights and shit, or do I need a nice light at the top and that's it.

    I want purple and blue lights damnit.
     
  11. Baringa

    Baringa Member

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    I'm more interested on where in the house I should put them ;)
     
  12. HairyMerkin

    HairyMerkin Member

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    And at night, do you turn all the lights off, or put a sheet over the tank
     
  13. OP
    OP
    Amran

    Amran Member

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    As far as where to keep them within the house, pretty much anywhere is fine. Things to look out for would be big fluctuations in temp, exposure to sunlight (bad) and maybe keep them away from where kids might tap tap tap on the glass.

    Lighting, well I just have a timer that turns the lights on in the morning and off in the evening. The ones I have in the house get some more light in the living room during the evening, but really the determining factor in how long your lights stay on is plant life - usually the amount of algae you have in the water - too much algae means you should lessen the time the lights are on for.

    And blue/purple lights etc...well I've never tried it. I'd suggest getting a Betta, making sure everything else is right and then adding those lights - see how he reacts to it.
     
  14. Sleepy Dude..

    Sleepy Dude.. Member

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    Turn off the light. :thumbup:
     
  15. OP
    OP
    Amran

    Amran Member

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    Do you mean your tank lights or the light in the room? Turn off the tank lights and just do you own thing with the lights in the room. Assuming you are not too much of a night owl, they will still get plenty of time in the dark to rest.
     
  16. ryooma

    ryooma (Banned or Deleted)

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    is it okay to put 3 females + 1 male in a 60L tank (possibly bigger as I'm considering a 4ft tank)? I'll be throwing other fish (like those mentioned in this thread and other thread (e.g. tetras/etc)) in the tank as well.

    are live plants okay? drift wood/rocks?

    Thank you :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2009
  17. Urban_Jungle

    Urban_Jungle Member

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    Bugger the poor little guy I bought my wife on the weekend is in a 10 litre tank :(. Well a perspex ice bucket actually.
     
  18. tgf

    tgf Member

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    My hand goes up for this question as well. However my tank is slightly smaller. I reckon it's 20 maybe 25 litres. Currently have what I think is one male Beta in there at the moment with a few neons. However in the interest of having Beta's, neons can be moved to another tank if it's possible to have a couple of femal beta's in there.
     
  19. malignau

    malignau Member

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    22L and 60L are too small to be housing males and females together. You'll be needing a tank thats at least 4 foot long to house them safely together. The male needs to be able to establish his own territory and leave enough space for the males and females to hide from each other.

    However I recommend not putting females and males together full stop. I dont believe they should be in the same tank unless specifically for breeding and only during the breeding process. Housed in tanks that are of inadequate size can lead to dead males or dead females, either from attacking each other or being over stressed or a combination of both.

    Live plants are great for all types of fish including bettas. Just make sure your plenty of hiding spots and that the water current isnt too strong for them. Also make sure the plants dont cover the surface, as bettas need space to breathe at the surface. Driftwood + rocks are fine as long as they arent sharp.
     
  20. SuiCid3

    SuiCid3 Member

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    I thought male-female fighting wasn't as brutal as male-male?
     

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