Better to know betta, fish care

By Abbey Serena and By Abbey Serena

Siamese fighting fish aren’t an aggressive species and shouldn’t be known as a killer, as if it’s a type of anglerfish that can only survive by hunting. While they are competitive and will go after fish with long tails or bright colors, and specifically their own kind, this can be prevented. Like many other college students, I adopted my first pet from a dirty cup—an eight-inch-circumference that a small, plain fish had known since the day that it hatched from it’s egg. Because I had raised betta fish before, I was aware that science has misinformed people on their proper care for years, and I had to search through the recesses of old books to find out that betta fish are actually very fragile, and as needy as any other fish.

Unfortunately, a large percentage of other college students knew what they had been told from pet stores, or from a website that has no actual scientific background. Betta fish are known to be able to survive in shallow puddles, but just because they can live through those poor conditions doesn’t mean that they should. In an ideal environment, a betta fish is most comfortable in a tank or a bowl that is at least one gallon deep, with a scattering of pebbles on the bottom. These pebbles collect all of the particles that sink to the bottom, such as leftover food. If a filter is allowed for the type of aquarium that the fish is kept in, it should be kept on the lowest setting. Strong streams can distress the betta fish. Other items that are strongly advised are a plant with long leaves, because betta fish often rest against these, and a cave for them to nestle down in.

You can be sure that your betta fish is at his happiest (I say male because most pet shops offer this gender, rather than females) when he swims to the surface and blows a nest of bubbles. This habit comes from their breeding habits, which involve the male betta encasing the eggs in bubbles and pushing those up. At this point, he knows that his home is a satisfactory place to provide for his young.

While most people think of betta fish as violent creatures that attack any moving object in sight, I can reassure them that betta fish are docile and calm creatures, which will follow your finger and rush to the top in a feeding frenzy whenever you so much as bump the food container. I have two bettas, one that lives in a pack with three other species of fish—a fat goldfish that really does eat everything, two Panda Garra that are annoyingly hyper, and a Chinese algae eater that thinks he’s the boss of the tank. He’s been in there for years, and is the one that I call the peacemaker. My other fish lives in his own tank, and is residing with me in my dorm room. He enjoys being spoiled as if he’s an invaluable species of the rare warm-blooded fish.

Betta fish will act however you make them act, and while they’re not normally frantic and violent, they will be if you put them in a tank with the wrong fish. Just like dogs and cats, fish are reactive to the people who own them, and their behaviors will reflect if you are taking care of them properly. Siamese fighting fish will only fight if you want them to.

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