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A Bevy of Beautiful Bettas – Various Forms of Betta splendens

Half Moon BettaOne of the most popular fish among aquarists of all ages and skills levels is the Betta, also known as the Siamese Fighting Fish. Although there are almost 70 recognized species in the genus Betta, the one most often found in shops that sell fish is Betta splendens. Some people are surprised to learn that the long, flowing fins that most people think of when they hear  the name “betta” are actually not what are found on bettas in the wild. It is a special variation that breeders have “designed” by using the genetics of the fish to bring out certain qualities – and it is far from the only kind! Here are some of the most common varieties of Betta splendens that you may see at your local pet store: Read More »

Acceptable Plants for Bettas – Common Aquarium Questions

Bettas have long been popular as beautiful, low maintenance pets.  They are visually appealing and easy to care for, a terrific option as a child’s first fish or someone on the go.  We’re happy to answer questions about these terrific little fish any time, as with this one sent to Marinebio@thatpetplace.com:

Nancy Wrote:

I am wondering which plants are okay for betta fish. I will be doing many bowls and would like variety if possible. I wasn’t seeing anything specific on your plant info and I certainly don’t want to harm the fish!

Marine Bio Wrote:

Plants are a great addition to any betta set-up, whether you choose plastic, silk, or live varieties.  They let the fish feel safe and secure by providing cover with their roots or foliage.  Bettas do not eat the plants, but some plants can be toxic. If you want to use a plant that comes out of the top of the bowl or vase, choose a Spathiphyllum sp., commonly known as a peace lily, “Lucky Bamboo” which is actually a Dracaena sp., or many types of vining philodendrons can work as well. You can find a wide variety of foliage shape and color in these plants. For example, there is a variegated from of peace lily called ‘Domino’, and several different philodendrons that should be safe and will root in the water.  If you want plants that are submerged, try a strand of anacharis or hornwort, or a small cluster of riccia or Java moss. The main issue with keeping aquatic plants vibrant would be making sure that they have enough light. The plants I listed above should work in lower light conditions fairly well. A well lit room with lots of natural light coming in from windows would be sufficient. Just remember that you do not want to keep the betta bowls in the window because sunlight coming through the window can actually heat the bowl up if it is lit directly by the sunlight. Also, at night, the window tends to be one of the colder spots in the house. So the fluctuating temperatures would be bad for the fish.

For more information on bettas and their care, please read these helpful articles in our archives:



Carnival fish part 2: The Betta

Crowntail Betta

The Betta fish, Betta splendens, is another commonly found “prize fish” that you may have the pleasure of become the new owners of. Bettas are one of the most beautiful freshwater fishes that are available in the aquarium hobby; their striking color and ornate finnage are quite remarkable.
Bettas are often chosen as prizes because of their ease of care, and ability to do well in very small amounts of water. The Betta is native to areas of Thailand, where they are exposed to times extreme rainfall and drought, which during times of drought can result in little more than a puddle to live in. Unlike most fish, the Betta does not solely rely on oxygen from the water it resides in, it has the ability to breathe air. Bettas are members of a group of fishes called Labyrinth fishes. Labyrinth fishes have a specialized breathing organ, called the labyrinth, which allows them to breathe air at the waters surface, somewhat like a primitive lung. The ability to breathe air allows the Betta to survive in very warm water with little or no dissolved oxygen. This is how Bettas are able to cope with very small fish bowls, and is often how they are displayed and sold.
PLEASE do not use this as an excuse to keep a Betta in extremely small environments for extended periods: although they can survive in only a few ounces of water, they will not be happy and comfortable.
Bettas can be kept in unfiltered bowls, provided adequate water changes are maintained (at least 20% per week), and water quality is monitored. Larger aquariums of at least several gallons are preferred, the bigger the better. There are a number of small desktop aquariums that are ideal for Betta keeping.
There is another side of the Betta fishes heritage that there is much controversy surrounding. Another common name for the Betta, is the fighting fish, or Siamese fighting fish. This name comes from the aggressive nature that these fish have towards one another, especially two males. The Thai name for these fish is”pla-kat”, which means biting and tearing fish. When placed in the same tank, two male Betta fish will literally fight to the death. There is a whole world of fighting and gambling involving the Betta in other cultures. Fighting Bettas is not considered an appropriate practice in the hobby.
There are many commercially produced Betta foods, in pellet, flake and freeze dried forms. A good varied diet is best. Feed only as much as the fish will eat in a few minutes, take extra care not to overfeed, especially in unfiltered bowls. Bettas prefer warm water, 72-78 degrees, so avoid cool areas like window sills, and hallways when possible. Direct sunlight should also be avoided; this will lead to unwanted algae growth, and temperature fluctuations during the day. While you can not keep bettas together, they can be kept in peaceful community tanks, with other types of fish.
If you have any futher questions about bettas or other carnival fish, post them and I’ll be sure to answer.
Until next time,