I mentioned in my first blog post that I was a keen aquarist. Whilst landlords often object to larger/messier pets, they will often consent to aquariums so fishkeeping was a fitting choice for me as a tenant. When I began, I chose bettas as a beginner fish and have been keeping it up fondly ever since. I’d certainly recommend the experience for others and, accordingly, here’s a some quick info about whether it might be an interesting hobby for others and how to get started.
fast facts about bettas
Also known as Siamese Fighting Fish, they originate from south-east Asia and typically inhabit bodies of fresh water such as floodplains, canals and rice paddies. There are variations of bettas named for the shapes of their fins. They’re normally friendly in community aquariums but males will fight (often to the death) with other bettas of either gender. They can live in enclosed spaces on their own but will start to lose their colour if put in a wide open environment without ornaments to hide behind.
is it the right pet for me?
Here are some reasons why a betta might be suited to you:
- When properly looked after, they’re a beautiful ornamental fish.
- You’re willing to put some time and money into setup and maintenance. Startup could take up to a weekend and about ~£100.
- You can house them separate from fin-nippers and other bettas.
- You and any housemates would enjoy the ambience provided by a display aquarium.
Alternatively, there’s a list of reasons to avoid having one of these too:
- You have another pet that may see a fish as the wrong kind of opportunity, e.g. a cat.
- You are hoping for a more interactive companion than a fish.
- You’re unable to spend extra time looking after it should issues (such as sickness) arise.
- You frequently go on holiday for more than a few days at a time and don’t have anyone who doesn’t mind helping to feed the fish.
- You’re impatient – aquariums need time to cycle and require additional maintenance while doing so.
If it seems like an interesting prospect, keep reading…
Here’s a short list of things you’ll need whilst getting started.
- An aquarium. Ideally, one that is above 10 litres. It’s possible to keep a betta in a large-ish vase or similar, but it’s less than ideal and requires more frequent cleaning. It’s also much harder to regulate the temperature.
- A heater + thermometer. These are a tropical fish and won’t survive at room temperature during winter in the UK.
- Food, because starving them is cruel. Bettas are carnivores and food for them is often different from that intended for other tropical fish.
- Water conditioners and test kits. Tap water needs to be treated for harmful chemicals before it can be put in an aquarium and test kits are required to monitor the various parameters.
- A first-aid kit. Unfortunately, like all animals, bettas are prone to certain illnesses. The betta-community is somewhat divided on which medicines are most effective but I’ve had good results with Melafix. Different conditions will need to be treated differently but it’s worth keeping some broad range medicines in case a common disease strikes suddenly.
- A live plant – not a necessity, but bettas like these to rest on and they also help oxygenate + purify the water.
An air pump isn’t necessary for just this fish alone but one would be if you’re hoping to make it a community aquarium.
Do let us know if you’ve had any interesting experiences keeping aquarium fish. Should you decide it’s an interesting thing to try, remember to research a lot and be patient during start up – it will be worthwhile once it gets going! Best of luck to any who decide to try keeping one of these interesting creatures and, as always, do feel free to shoot us any questions and comments!
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