Bettas Myths and My Bettas

Also known as the Siamese Fighting Fish, Betta Splendens are a popular but misunderstood pet fish. Here I document my journey into the world of bettas while also dispelling some common betta myths.

The above is a picture of a 10 gallon low tech planted tank home to Dratini the betta and Nautilus the snail (he's hiding behind the log so he's not visible).

Accidentally getting my first betta

I was at PetSmart on a whim when I picked up a gorgeous blue and white betta and decided to take him home. I bought him and a little 1-gallon tank to keep him in. At the time, I didn't really think he would make any special impression on me, I just wanted him because he was pretty.

The morning after I got him, I went to feed him and he was waiting for me at the top of the tank and — for lack of better word — “wagging” his tail at me. That's when I realized hey, this guy is actually kind of cool. I observed how he carefully marked where the pellets were that I dropped and aimed for them, a big difference from the goldfish I used to have that would gulp mindlessly at the surface of the water.

I began to actually do research on betta fish and I realized I was doing everything wrong (protip: do your research before you buy a pet). There's a long list of things you need to do before you even get the fish, so I won't get into all of it here, but the subreddit /r/bettafish helped me a lot to get started.

One of the biggest misconceptions that I fell victim to was that betta fish don't need a lot of space since they live in puddles in their natural habitat. Actually, they may not need a lot of space compared to other fish, but though their natural habitats are shallow rice paddies, these rice paddies actually stretch hundreds of miles. Yes, they can and do sometimes live in puddles when the water dries up, but they have the ability to jump from puddle to puddle when the water quality deterioriates. They are not meant to live in these puddles for the long term.

3 gallon tank
Ice Cube in a 3 Gallon Tank

I upgraded my betta to a 3 gallon tank once I realized that the 1 gallon was definitely not going to be sufficient for him.

Although the suggested minimum is 5 gallons, I was still in college at the time and had limited space. I also needed to be able to transport him easily back and forth from school and home.

Bettas can change colors

At the pet store, they can be under a lot of stress and not in their ideal conditions. Bettas are tropical fish and require water temperature of 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They also require good diet of meat-based food since they are carnivores (a lot of betta pellets‘ main ingredient is wheat flour).

Once they're home in clean, warm water, their true colors and personalities will come out. Ice Cube, my first betta, was super active and hyper since day one. On the other hand, my second betta, Dratini, was extremely shy and scared of everything for the first week I had him. Now he goes crazy when someone approaches the tank because he thinks he's going to get fed. Ice Cube would hide when I stuck my hand in the tank to clean it while Dratini follows me around and even attacks my fingers.

Take a look at the photos below to see how much each of my bettas changed in less than a month after I brought them home.

ice cube
dratini before
dratini after
I hope you learned something about bettas!
If you're interested in learning more, as mentioned above you can visit /r/bettafish or watch LifeWithPets and Creative Pet Keeping on YouTube.