Betta splendens, or Siamese fighting fish, are among the most interesting and vibrant fish. Not only are they relatively easy to care for, but they add a touch of flourish, color and mystery to even the most mundane setting. Betta fish have several requirements to keep them healthy but with a little imagination you can meet these needs with elegance, style or whimsy.
Though it was once in vogue to keep bettas in tiny containers or vases, enlightened fish keepers provide their bettas with a more suitable, life-sustaining environment. Those tiny 1/2 gallon tanks made "for bettas" are not nearly big enough for your fish to be comfortable and happy. The tank should hold at last a gallon, with 2.5 gallons or more being the better, and more humane, choice. So start with a good-sized tank to ensure your betta continues to thrive. Fish tanks come in a variety of shapes and many feature simple filtration designs to help cut down on the required water changes while maintaining a chic, streamlined appearance. Betta tanks are available in kits, or you can add necessities "a la carte."
Aquariums marketed for a feng shui environment are available at many pet supply stores and online. One company, Fluval, offers a line of elegant and simple fish tanks in several sizes. Their 5 gallon square tank is perfect for betta fish because of the filter design. The filter fits on top of the tank and the water is drawn up through the filtration and seeps back gently into the tank. This design eliminates a strong current, which betta fish don't like. Decorate the tank using a clever theme such as an ancient underwater cave with bamboo or select a combination of foliage. A simple square tank is also perfect for an under-gravel filter, which uses a biological system to clear the tank of toxic waste.
Bettas need warmer water than the average aquarium fish. Place a small, black disk heater in the tank, decorate the tank with tiny chairs and a tiny, ceramic television set and now you have a fish with his own satellite television. Since bettas enjoy betta hammocks, install one of them as well, and your fish will love lounging around watching "the game" on TV.
Male betta fish cannot be kept in a tank together, it's a hard and fast rule. With a long, 10 gallon aquarium, you can double your fun and still keep your bettas safe. Set up a 10 gallon tank with an under-gravel filtration system to avoid using a filter that produces a strong current. Insert a divider in the middle of the tank. Decorate each side with complimentary or contrasting colors or themes, and then choose two bettas instead of just one. In the beginning, they will be able to see each other; this will keep them busy for hours. Over time, however the divider, being plastic mesh, becomes opaque so they can only see blurred images. A typical aquarium hood with inset lights will suffice to warm the tank.
Michelle A. Rivera is the author of many books and articles. She attended the University of Missouri Animal Cruelty School and is certified with the Florida Animal Control Association. She is the executive director of her own nonprofit, Animals 101, Inc. Rivera is an animal-assisted therapist, humane educator, former shelter manager, rescue volunteer coordinator, dog trainer and veterinary technician.