With it’s long flowing fins and brilliant colors, the Siamese Fighting Fish or Betta Splendens is a favorite aquarium fish and one of the most beautiful for the fresh water tank.
Although these fish can live in a goldfish bowl with as little as 3 gallons in the tank, they will have the best chance for survival if you put them in a larger tank with proper aeration and filtration and can live up to 3 years under optimum conditions.
At the fish store, you will often see the Siamese fighting fish in small bowls – typically they are referred to as Bettas and sit alone in the bowl without ornamentation or even gravel. You may be tempted to keep one like this yourself, but you and your betta will be better off if you put him in a regular fish tank. Although they live in shallow waters in nature and can survive in a bowl, the will need to have the water temperature of about 78 degrees (never below 75 degrees) in order to live a long and healthy life so a heater is recommended.
In addition to the proper water temperature, your Siamese fighting fish will benefit from the good water quality that the proper filtration system will provide. The water in a small bowl will soon become toxic and kill the fish unless you are very attentive to water changes. When picking out your filtration, be aware that the Betta does not like too much movement of the water so make sure you get a gentle system that doesn’t create too much of a stir.
Additionally, make sure your Siamese fighting fish can get to the surface of the tank as he can actually breathe the air from the surface! This is the reason that they can live in a small bowl – if you watch him, you will see that he periodically comes up to the top and takes a gulp of air. His mouth is conveniently has a “tipped up” placement so that he can easily put it up to the surface of the water.
In the wild, the Siamese fighting fish like to eat insects but this may not be practical for your tank feeding. If possible, live foods are best, but you can feed your betta freeze dried foods such as tubifex worms, brine shrimp and even flake foods. Since he is a “meat eater” by nature try to make sure he does get some meat as opposed to all flakes, although he will adapt to eating flakes.
The males of this species will fight with each other (thus the name – Siamese fighting fish) and only 1 male can be kept per tank. It is easy to tell the difference between the male and female as the males have the very long fins while the female has sorter fins but is still a beautiful fish. More than 1 female can be kept in a tank. Even the male betta will coexist with other fish, but try to keep them separated from fish that tend to nip at fins.