I don’t think that there is any great debate over what makes an ideal “starter fish”. For decades, bettas have been recommended and successfully kept by budding aquarists of all ages. These little fish can lure just about anyone with their brilliant colors and impressive fin displays. They make great starter fish because they are low maintenance and not very demanding. A few bits of food and a weekly partial water change is about all they need. For just a few dollars and with a little creativity, anyone can have a beautiful betta habitat in their home or office.
Creating an ideal betta home begins with a container. Since bettas don’t require a lot of space, they are able to be put in just about anything. Almost any large decorative container will do, from large jars and vases to bottles and bowls…any transparent vessel (you want a good view) with a wide enough opening can be made suitable. They don’t require additional equipment like heaters (most homes are warm enough), filters and lights so you won’t have to worry about cords and clutter. You may choose a more traditional aquarium or bowl, or something outside the box, like a modified (recycled or re-purposed) blender or a clear coffee or tea pot as your betta bowl.
Once you’ve chosen a vessel, you can customize with decorative accents for a truly unique set-up. A coffee or tea pot tank may be decorated with dark brown or black gravel for substrate, and a small espresso cup could be placed as an ornament. Add a small amount of black water extract to condition the water, and it will give the water a slight yellow-brown tint. A blender, (sealed without the blade) might be decorated with clear gems to look like ice or multi colored stones to accent your betta’s color. A floating plant strand or cluster of java moss could create a swirl of green. Both of these would be great conversation pieces on the kitchen counter! The possibilities are endless!
A lot of people ask us about the betta bowl on the Fish Room information desk counter. In the set-up, we uses our small floating pond planters in a slightly different way than it was intended. This bowl has a rather natural appearance, with simple black fluorite and a Brazilian sword, much like the popular betta vases a few years ago. Instead of a flimsy plastic dish, we used one of the floating foam planters to top the bowl. Though they are marketed for floating plants in outdoor ponds, they work great to create the same floating plant effect on the betta bowl. The foam was trimmed to fit the top of the bowl and small holes were cut for airline tubing to allow a flow of oxygen in and out of the bowl (lids and other toppers can’t be airtight, since bettas have to breathe free air). This bowl is still a work in progress, we wanted to let customers see how the planter could be adapted for this use.The next step is to find some smaller, trailing plants to put around the base of the Brazilian Sword to conceal the planter and accent the bowl…maybe some Baby’s Tears or Inch Plants (stay tuned!)
These are just a few ideas for interesting and creative betta habitats. Do you have an interesting betta set-up idea to share? We’d love to hear about them in the comments or you could share a pic on our Facebook page! Read more about bettas and betta set-ups at the links below.