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Scientific Name: Betta splendens
Family: Osphronemidae (Gourami)
- Care Level: Easy
- Temperament: Aggressive
- Lifespan: 3-5 years with proper care, rarely 6-10
- Water Conditions: 75–82 °F
- Maximum Size: 2.5" (not including tail)
- Diet: Carnivore
- Minimum Tank Size: 2.5 gallons
The Betta Fish, also commonly known as the Siamese Fighting Fish, is an incredibly popular aquarium fish. They come in a wide variety of colors and have many different types of finnage and are frequently line bred by hobbyists for desired traits; over the years, they have become very different from their wild counterparts.
Contrary to popular belief, housing a betta fish in a bowl or other tiny aquarium will almost always result in an uncomfortable life and an early death for the fish despite their remarkable hardiness. A single male should be housed in a tank that is at least 2.5 gallons with a small filter that has weak flow since they are not the strongest swimmers. As a tropical fish, they also require a heater for optimal health and activity levels. The tank should be set up in such a way that they have hiding places and feel secure, and not be too deep so that they can easily reach the surface and utilize their labyrinth lung to take gulps of air. Some will appreciate decor items that allow them to rest near the surface if they desire. The tank should have a lid to prevent them from jumping out.
They can be fed high quality pelleted, freeze dried or frozen food but should also be supplemented with live tubifex, bloodworms, daphnia brine shrimp and other protein-packed meals. They should be fed small meals once or twice a day and care should be taken to not overfeed them, as they can develop bloat easily.
Males are incredibly territorial and aggressive towards other males. Males that are housed together will definitely fight and if there is no route for the loser to retreat, he will certainly be killed. Males and females should not be housed together either except for temporarily for spawning purposes, as they will also quarrel for territory.
Multiple female bettas may be housed together under specific circumstances. The ideal set up for a group of females--usually called a "sorority"--is a tank twenty gallons or larger with plenty of hiding places. The optimal number of females is six and they will establish a pecking order. Sometimes, individual females will be too aggressive for a sorority setup and this should be taken into consideration before starting one. A sorority setup is only recommended for experienced betta keepers.
Depending on the individual's temperament, a single male or female can also be kept in a community set up with some peaceful, non fin nipping varieties of fish. Popular choices include small tetras, corydoras catfish, danios, snails and other small fish. Some individuals may be successfully kept with shrimp but others may make them a meal. Occasionally, the betta may not tolerate any tankmates whatsoever and must be housed alone, but this is surprisingly rare. They should never be housed with semi-aggressive or aggressive fish such as cichlids.
Bettas are highly intelligent, inquisitive fish and can come to recognize their owner's face and voice and may even learn simple tricks, like leaping up and taking food from your finger or tongs or swimming through a hoop for a treat. They will also flare out their "beards" and their fins in an impressive display if shown their reflection in a mirror, which can offer good exercise but should not be prolonged or they will become stressed. Sometimes, they may build nests of bubbles on the surface of the water.
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