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Care and Feeding of Bettas

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Congratulations on your decision to purchase a Betta Splenden!! Hi, I am Mo, a Betta Splenden!! I will walk you through this online care guide.

Betta Splendens are very hardy fish. We can put up with some pretty harsh conditions, although I have to admit, we don't care much for them. We have an organ (the labyrinth organ) that allows us to breathe air from the surface of the water. This is how we prefer to breathe, and let me tell you, it comes in handy for our owners! Having the ability to breathe from the surface eliminates the need for oxygenation in the water. Seeing as how we like calmer water, this is great because we won't need any aeration!!

We like our water to have a neutral PH, but we can handle slight variations in either direction. PH measures the acid or alkaline in the water. A higher PH means it is more Alkaline, and a lower PH is more acidic. A neutral PH is 7.0. Getting a PH test kit is an excellent idea.

When it comes to temperature, we prefer warmer, tropical water. We originate in Asia, and we have nice warm water there. So if you can keep our water anywhere from 70F to 82F, we will be happy. If you keep us in a tank that really can't hold a heater, we usually get along fine in room temperature water. (We aren't all that picky)

When you get us home, you should float us in our bag in the tank or bowl you plan on keeping us in. Do this for about 15 minutes, then add a little of the tank water to our bag. This will get us used to the temperature and condition of the water in our new home. Whatever you do, DON'T let any of the water from my bag get into my new tank. If you haven't noticed, a lot of pet stores' water isn't all that pleasant. Even if the pet store where you bought me has clean tanks, it is still a good idea not to chance it.

After another 15 minutes you can plop me in my new home (being careful, of course, not to get my icky bag water in my nice new home!) Give me a little food and let me get all relaxed and comfy in my new surroundings.

Lesson 1: We like calm water;
Lesson 2: We breathe from the waters surface with the Labyrinth organ.
Lesson 3: We like a neutral PH of 7.0.
Lesson 4: We like warmer water, 70F - 82F
Lesson 5: Get us used to the water and DON'T put our bag water into our new tank!

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Homes For Bettas

When it comes to our homes, we aren't that picky either, but try to keep in mind that just because we can survive in just about any container, does not mean we will thrive.

Of course we would LOVE to live in a nice large tank, we would even get along with most other fish if you kept us in one! But, most people purchasing us do so because we can be kept in small, itty-bitty, tiny bowls (*shivering at the thought*) To tell you the honest truth, those bowls are really too small. We can survive in them, and some of us may even like them ok but we really do enjoy swimming around. You will be amazed when you move us from those tiny bowl into even just a one gallon tank. We develop these WONDERFUL personalities, and do all sorts of silly things. I have even heard a pet store owner tell a customer once that we had to be kept in those small bowl because we couldn't swim around!! He said we would over exert ourselves!!! I had NEVER laughed so hard!!!

I would say that anywhere from a 1/2 gallon container to any size up you could spare would be great for us. A nice live plant (fake if you don't have live ones) are really nice, too. I personally like to rest on mine. They also make great spots to build out nests.

When it comes to putting us in a tank with other fish, keep these things in mind: We have long fins, so PLEASE don't stick us in with fin-nipping fish!! I personally get along fine with ottos, cory cats, neon tetras (although I have had a few cousins decide to make snacks of them), guppies, mollies, swordtails, & platys. It all depends on the betta you have, just try and see.

There are many tanks and bowls on the market today. One thing to keep in mind is that we have a tendency to jump. It is not necessarily that we MEAN to commit suicide, we just get the urge, and jump!!! So a vented lid is a very good idea on our bowls. Otherwise you may come home to find an empty bowl!

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Feeding Your Betta

Ok, so now you know what kind of homes we like and how we like out water. Now, what about our food?

Betta Splendens are carnivorous fish, which means we are meat eaters. This is one reason why those little Betta/Plant things being sold are a crock. We don't live off of plants, we live off of meat.

Most betta owners will probably not be into feeding live foods, but many do especially breeders. Live Bloodworms & Tubifex worms are the most common live food available. You can usually get them at you local fish store. We also enjoy live brine shrimp and live mosquito larvae. Some Fish Stores carry these. You can also buy Brine Shrimp eggs and hatch and grow your own. We will also eat the baby brine shrimp, but we would prefer the big ones. Some people may not agree with this, but many of our owners feed us live baby guppies. Those are excellent! Makes me hungry just thinking about all this live food!!

If you can't find live food in you area, you can often find frozen food. The same ones listed above can be frozen, later thawed and fed. There are also freeze-dried forms of these foods.

When it comes to dry foods, there are many choices. Most bettas will eat any of them, but you are very likely to get a finicky one. The favorites out there are Hikari Betta Bio-Gold. You get a very small amount of them in a package, so I recommend using Hikari Cichlid Gold-baby size. It is the same thing except you get a lot more for your money. HBH Betta Bites is also another popular choice. Flake foods are definitely not our first choice, but we will eat them if forced to.

Now, we have a great reputation for being piggy-fish. We will eat as much as you will give us, so feed us only what we need. If you notice us getting rather pudgy, cut us back a little bit. There is no set rule on how much to feed, it all depends on your betta.

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Keeping Your Betta Clean

Ok, you are in the groove now. You know what to do with our water, what kind of home we need and what to feed us. Now you will need to think about keeping us clean!

Unfortunately, fish bowls and even small tank normally don't have filters. This means that we mainly are swimming around in our very own toilet bowl! YUK! Keep this in mind when you are deciding how often to clean our bowls. Leftover food as well as our feces will decay in our bowl, causing ammonia build up. Ammonia is toxic to us, so that is why it is important to keep our bowls clean.

The smaller the bowl you have us in, the more often you need to clean it.  A 1 gallon bowl should be cleaned once a week. Anything smaller, should be cleaned about every 3 or 4 days. This makes for the best possible health and happiness.

You should keep water for our bowl changes ready so that they are the same temperature. Letting it sit overnight is long enough. This will get it to the same temperature as the room as well as allow the chlorine to evaporate. If you live in the city, your water if full of chemicals that will kill us. Getting products such as Kordon's Novaqua & Amquel will detoxify the water and help us regain our stress coat. These are excellent products to have. There are many other brands, such as Aquatronics Sheildex. It is also a good idea to use a preventative such as Aquari-Sol. This will help keep us healthy :) There is a large controversy as to whether or not Aquarium Salt is good to use or not. Salt is a very good preventative as well as a healing agent. Salt can be harmful to some fish, but not us. We don't mind a little salt in our water. Since it doesn't hurt us, it can do nothing but help.

One tip I can give is to NEVER pour us out of our bowl over an open sink. If you do not wish to net us out, then pour us into a cup or plug the sink!! I have heard TOO many horror stories about bettas accidentally getting poured down an open drain! What a way to die!! ARG!!!

So, change our water regularly, condition it if you live in the city or know you don't have perfect well-water. Use water that is aged at least over night and be very careful not to send us to an untimely death down the sink. I think that about raps it up :)

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Transferring Your Fish

I don't like to use nets.

One, when the fish are in there, they move around and get me wet.

Second, I think it stresses them out. Suddenly they're in the air and disoriented. What I usually do is use my custom-made betta scoop which all the betta shop owners and breeders use in Thailand. If you've had your betta for a while, it shouldn't be hard because they'll swim to you. Then, you can slowly scoop it up and let it sit in a container with some new water in it while you're preparing the tank or vase. But be sure to put a cover just in case he feels he can fly. They do jump. When I put my fish back, I put the scoop in the vase and slowly let some of the new water flow into the scoop. Then, I just let him swim out of the scoop by himself. Tada! That's how you do regular changes.

OH! Important. Some recommend a weekly change of 50% of the water if it's a one gallon size but you can do a 75%-90% change of water if it's a 1/2 gallon size by just adding some old water from several scoops to the new water.

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