“Putting a betta in a tank that size is like putting a human in jail. I can tell you from experience that it’s awful; I wouldn’t want to put any animal through that,” said a Walmart customer.
One of the great travesties of the modern West is that people seem to be conditioned, through extensive marketing campaigns, to think that bettas, those beautiful fish you see in cups at pet stores, don’t require care. It is common to see a parent get their child a small bowl and a betta. They’re easy, right? Wrong!
Betta Splendins is a fantastic pet for any to own, even beginner fish keepers. However, it requires more than we’ve been led to think. First, products like a half gallon aquarium are about the equivalent of suggesting a large dog is fine in a travel kennel.
Bettas need, at minimum, a 2.5-gallon tank, not a bowl, to thrive. This gives the fish room to swim and breath. Speaking of breathing, bettas must have access to open air, as they have evolved a labyrinth system, which supplements their gills to acquire oxygen in low-oxygen environments.
Bettas are also tropical fish, finding their roots in the South-East Asian rice paddies and other stagnant waters. It is very important for the tank to have a heater and thermometer to keep the temperature stable at around 80 degrees.
Bettas also prefer still waters, as their long fins make it difficult to swim in currents. To achieve this, a sponge filter is very highly suggested, as they create minimal water turbulence and harbor the necessary bacteria for good aquarium keeping.
Understanding the nitrogen cycle is also important to keeping any sort of aquarium. While it sounds complicated, it’s quite simple!
Living creatures and decaying things create ammonia in the water. Bacteria then feed on this ammonia to make nitrites, and, in turn, other bacteria turn nitrites to nitrates. Plants in the ecosystem then consume those nitrates and carbon dioxide to produce fresh oxygen, which animals use to create more ammonia.
Cycling a tank requires a filter, sponge is the best, with media, such as ceramic cylinders, for the bacteria to grow on and, of course, the bacteria themselves. These are easily obtained in packages at your local fish store. You can even use media from an established tank.
While some like the vibrant, wacky colors of fake plants, these plastic creations can cause a lot of harm to the fragile betta. Their fins are almost like silk and tear very easily. To avoid this, it’s a great idea to grab some live plants instead.
There are many, such as anubias, amazon swords, and marimo balls, that are hardly and require little to no care. These plants look fantastic and your betta will love you for it. They’re also important for helping a tank stay healthy and clean.
Caring for betta and other fish is simple and easy, but not so much as buying a bowl and sticking a fish in. Please, do your research. Fish are animals too and deserve to be cared for just as much as any other living thing. The hobby can be beautiful and rewarding, so long as you avoid that impulse purchase.