Whether you call it a Betta, Beta or Siamese Fighting Fish, the Betta Splendens (the scientific name for the Betta) is a small, colorful, freshwater tropical fish, originally from Asia. It is often found swimming solo in ornamental containers at the home or office and can be purchased at most pet stores in small glasses of water, stacked on shelves.
What's in a name? The Betta takes its name from an ancient clan of warriors in Southeast Asia known as the Bettah. Betta fights became very popular in Siam with the winner being declared based on bravery. The Betta fish was discovered initially in Southeast Asia, calling rice paddies, drainage ditches and floodplains home. Its habitat was subject to floods and droughts, however, and the Betta fish developed into a labyrinth fish, a fish that can take oxygen directly through air and through its gills. Because of this ability, Betta fish can survive in smaller containers than a normal fish.
What's in a shape? Bettas have several different tail shapes, including the "veil tail," "half moon" and "double tail." Bettas come in many colors, the most common being red, blue and green. Other color variations also exist.
To be or not to be alone? That is the question inexperienced fish owners ask when considering purchasing a Betta. The afishionados at Pet Sitters International explain that the Betta fish is not a schooling fish and prefers to swim alone. In fact, when placed with other Bettas, they will fight. In addition to being alone, Bettas need a comfortable place to hide such as an aquatic cave or dense, planted corners. Female Betta fish are not as aggressive as males. If you are determined to have multiple Bettas, make sure they're female and have adequate hiding places. Two male Betta fish in the same tank will produce an eventual fight to the death.
Double, double, toil and trouble? Betta fish are one of the easiest breeds to care for. Systematic changing of water, about one-third the amount of water for small containers, will keep your fish healthy. Bettas prefer slightly acidic, warm water. Bettas usually live two to three years.
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