This article has been taken from RSPCA’s Magazine The Biscuit, Issue 12. You can read more on pet care by subscribing here.
Bettas have an average lifespan of 3-5 years. Unfortunately, many bettas can have their lifespans cut short due to improper care. Bettas require a tailored environment to suit their needs. Here are some essential things to make sure your Siamese fighting fish has the best life possible:
To meet their behavioural and psychological needs, bettas need a minimum of 15 litres of water, although 20 or more is ideal. Your tank should also have a lid, as bettas are known to jump.
Filtering and oxygen
Bettas prefer a low water flow, so make sure to buy a filter with an adjustable flow so you can set it at the right level. Bettas also require occasional surface oxygen, so make sure there is a gap between the water surface and the tank's lid.
Because they come from a tropical climate, bettas prefer to live in warmer water of about 24 degrees Celsius. Submersible aquarium heaters are ideal to ensure a constant, suitable temperature.
Ammonia from accumulated waste as well as any old uneaten food can be harmful to Siamese fighting fish, so the tank water should be partially changed by around 10% weekly. A gravel vacuum can be used to remove waste from the bottom of the tank, and to avoid algae growth the tank should not be left in direct sunlight.
Bettas should be fed 1-2 times a day in very small amounts. 2-3 high quality pellets or granules, supplemented with black worms, brine shrimp, frozen tubifex worms and daphnia. Ensure the food is broken into small enough pieces before feeding.
Have several plants in the tank, both short and tall. This mimics the betta's natural marshy habitat and provides hiding places as well as surfaces to rest near the surface when taking in surface air. Make sure all tank ornaments are smooth to avoid fins getting caught, and never place a mirror in a betta tank as it causes 'flaring' behaviour, which if done frequently leads to stress and exhaustion.
It is possible to have tank mates for bettas, although not essential. If you choose to get fish friends for your betta, do not house two males together, and only house short-finned, plain species with male bettas. Females can be housed together but aim for more than four to avoid dominant behaviour.
For more information on proper fish care, visit the RSPCA Knowledgebase.