Betta fish, or Siamese fighting fish, are popular aquarium fish. They are often called ‘bettas,’ and are part of the gourami family. They are well known for being territorial fish and ‘fighting’ if two are placed together or they see their reflections. Betta fish originiate from Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand natively. Despite popular belief, they are not found in puddles. In the wild, they live in standing waters, often in rice paddies, floodplains, or canals. In the wild, they are less territorial due to the large space they live in – they will only spar, not fight to the death.
Betta fish grow to be no longer than 3 inches, typically. Their usual lifespan is 2-5 years. They have brilliantly colored fins, and various tail types. Common colors include red, blue, black, white and orange. More rare colors include metallic, copper, and turquoise. Though some betta fish are solid, they can be multicolored and often have different tail appearances.
Betta fish can breath directly from the water surface, as they are labyrinth fish. Thus, a common misconception is that betta fish can be placed in a cup and will be happy. Though they can survive in such a small cup to some extent, betta fish should be kept in a minimum 2 gallon tank. The temperature should be kept at 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Colder water can kill the betta, as the betta’s immune system will slow and make them susceptible to disease. Hotter water can make them uncomfortable and age quickly, as their metabolism will increase. The temperature should be maintained with a heater.
Betta fish should also be kept in a tank with a filter. The filter will keep bacteria and other toxins from hurting your fish. Additionally, the water should be treated with a dechlorinating agent to keep chlorine and heavy metals from killing the fish. These are often sold commercially as ‘water conditioners.’
The pH should be kept between 6.5 and 8. Water should be changed often, at least once a week, to ensure that the fish has fresh water.