Keeping a Siamese Fighting Fish (Beta)

Siamese fighting fish are ridiculously beautiful and easy to take care of. If their tank is kept at room temperature, they require no heat. Since they can get air from the surface of their tank, they don’t need aeration. They do have to be kept alone, but they are so beautiful, one lovely male is all that you need.

          

This fish’s tank is a two-gallon mason jar, with large, plastic jewel see-through “gravel”(many colors), placed on an ice sculpture light. The ice sculpture light has numerous small LED lights that won’t heat the tank. My ice sculpture light has color-combination choices, and it can be set to shift colors over time: more beauty and a nice nightlight for the hall. I already had all of these things from fishes past.

            

Or use a tank with no lights at all in the living room or on the kitchen table. Far more beautiful and entertaining than any dried flower arrangement!

The only work involved with keeping a beta is feeding him and giving him clean water to live in. I feed mine a crumb or two several times a day. He likes it and it’s fun! It won’t take them long to get excited about food when they see you. Betas can turn their eyes and their heads, making them seem quite smart, for a fish. I suggest using the food that floats on top of the tank in little pellets, not the flakes. They don’t like the flakes and the flakes tend to foul the surface.

Once a week you’ll need to change out about half of their water with fresh–more for a smaller tank. Always leave fish water out for an hour so the chlorine off-gases before pouring it into the tank or putting the fish into it. Also, avoid shocking the fish with temperature changes. A siphon makes this job fairly fast and easy. Or if the tank is small, simply use a fish net to transfer the fish to another container, maybe a quart jar, clean his tank, and put him back. Betas can survive in a very small tank, as you’ll see in the pet stores, but less than a half-gallon for their permanent home seems a little cruel to me.  If the water isn’t changed often enough, the fishes fins will turn ratty.

The cheaper fish at Walmart look awful. But take one home and in a few weeks, it will be a beauty. Betas are tough.  However, Walmart fish will probably never have the full fin structure available for a few more dollars at Pet Co, or a similar fish store. The fish, above, fish is from Pet Co.

This is merely an overview of what having a Siamese fighting fish pet might be like. Read up on how to care for them before buying one.

A few final notes:

  1. These fish are fought for sport in Asia. When males prepare to fight, even the drab, short-finned fighting class of Betas become iridescent with color, and then they fight to the death.
  2. Female betas are a drab taupe with short fins. She will become somewhat iridescent in color and thick through the middle when she’s ready to breed.
  3. When the male is ready to breed, he has created an impressive bubble nest on the surface of his tank. If you want to breed, I suggest putting the male in a 10-gallon aquarium.
  4. Male and female Introductions for breeding must be handled carefully, or the male will kill her. When both are ready–the male with his bubble nest, and the female full of eggs, introduce the female to the male (he has the nest).  If they are ready, the male will wrap his body around the female and squish the eggs out her. As he’s off merrily squirting his invisible seed over them, the female looks like she’s been killed. The male gathers up the eggs (with his mouth) to put in his bubble nest. The female recovers, and they repeat it a lot of times. When it’s over, get her out fast. The male goes into immediately into protective mode and might kill her. The male protects the eggs through incubation and even a few even a few hours after they’ve hatched.