I purchased a betta fish a couple of weeks ago. This is a male Dragonscale betta, and I’ve named him Michaelangelo (because for some reason, his coloring reminded me of my favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle).
If you aren’t familiar with these beautiful fish, they are also known as Siamese Fighting Fish, and are native to the “inner waters of Thailand” (source: National Geographic). The males are territorial, and will flare up at other males if they get too close. Therefore, you can’t keep males in the same tank together. (That’s why you see them in separate cups in pet shops.) Females can be kept in a tank with other females. (Note: Males should not be put into the female’s tank. And you don’t really want to introduce a female to a male’s tank unless a) you’re trying to breed them, and b) he’s making a bubble nest. If he’s not making a bubble nest, he very well may kill the female.)
It has been a while since I’ve had a fish… The last time was during my college years, and at that time I’d acquired two males (in separate tanks) and three females (which you may keep in the same tank). Five bettas in three tanks was a little ridiculous.
I’ve rather missed having a pet, even if it’s just a fish. If you are interested in having a betta for a pet, there are a few things you should know before heading to the pet store.
Before you buy the actual fish, you will need to purchase:
- water conditioner, to help with the fish’s slime coat and reduce stress.
- aquarium (with filter if possible), 1 to 2.5 gallons.
- aquarium-safe gravel.
- plants (live or fake, since the fish needs a place to hide).
- betta fish food (ask the pet store if they have been feeding with flakes or pellets, and buy the same kind).
- betta treats (freeze dried bloodworms for dietary variety).
- a fish net.
- a thermometer (bettas are tropical, and like to stay in the 77 degree range).
- a heater if you don’t live someplace warm. You can buy one that’s specifically preset to the right temperature for bettas, and many of these can be buried under the gravel.
- Good bacteria for betta tanks: this is like adding a probiotic to the water. It helps break down waste, and helps create a healthier tank environment.
Get the tank ready ahead of time. A one-gallon tank is fine, but I think a 2.5-gallon tank is a bit better. Bettas don’t really need more than this, though, as their territory in the wild is usually no bigger than this. Ask a knowledgeable salesperson how to set up your tank: you’ll need to know how much of the good bacteria and water conditioner to add, and make sure that the heater isn’t going to be too strong and cook your fish.
I also purchased an otocinclus, which is a type of algae-eating fish. The otocinclus is better for a small tank like this, because he won’t get much bigger than an inch. He’s not that exciting to watch, but he does help keep the tank clean. Michaelangelo basically ignores him, treating him like part of the furniture. Since he basically acts like a vacuum cleaner, I named the otocinclus Kirby.
I haven’t killed either of them yet, so hopefully that trend will continue!