Betta fish: The myths and the truth – Part 1. 

Maybe you just finished setting up your freshwater tank and you are thinking on getting a Betta. And as you should, you are doing a little research about Betta fish before getting one and you are reading a lot of things about these particular fish. So today I’m going to talk about Betta splendens: this beautiful creature that we all love and is so neglected in our society. I’m going to enunciate some of the things that are said about these fantastic animals and I’m going to tell you which ones are true and which ones are false.

“Bettas can live in a glass of water” – FALSE!

This is the worst and most frequent lie. The fact that they can survive short-term in a glass of water does not mean they can live life at its fullest in that glass. I guess you would be able to survive living in a closet, but you wouldn’t call that ‘living’, am I right? Well, the same goes for Betta fish. They actually enjoy swimming in their tank.

“They live in muddy and dirty water in the wild, that’s why you don’t have to worry about water changes” – FALSE!

Yes, they live in mud puddles (yes, that’s their natural environment) but that does not exactly translate to “dirty water”. One thing is a crystal clear water and other thing is a fishtank with a 0 ppm ammonia reading. Those are two different types of ‘clean water’. When we do water changes it’s not because the water is ‘dirty’, we do it to remove the nitrates in the water (assuming that we have the proper filtration system). So the fact that they can live in muddy waters does not mean they can live in waters with high ammonia readings.

“Because their natural environment are rice puddles, that means they don’t like to swim” – FALSE

Maybe they don’t need a very deep tank, but they do like to swim for thousands and thousands of miles in the wild. They actually need to swim in order to live a full life. If they don’t swim much they are probably going to die withing two years. That’s why they need at least a 2.5 gallon tank.

“They don’t need anything to survive. Just water” -FALSE!

They need a heater because there are tropical fish and if the water temperature is too low they go into an hibernation state and that’s not good for them. Also they need an air pump. The fact that they can breath oxygen from the air (they have a labyrinth organ that permits them to breathe air) doesn’t mean that they don’t use their gills to breath, so yes they need oxygenated water. They can survive without an air pump but, like I said, that does not mean ‘living life at its fullest’.and they are going to die within a couple of years. And last but no least, they need a filtration system. These are fish that can tolerate a little bit of ammonia in their water for a little time and they are not going to die because of that because they are hardy.  But they need a a filtration system in order to maintain the proper conditions for them to live life at their fullest.

“These are very aggressive fish” -TRUE

These are not friendly fish. They don’t do well in community tanks. Of course there could be some exceptions, but that is not the rule. Males can’t be in the same tank as others betta males, they are literally going to fight until one of them ends up dead. On the other hand, female bettas can be friendlier towards other female bettas, and maybe (if you are lucky) you can have a sorority tank -which is a tank full of female bettas- but it’s a risky thing because they might end up killing each other or hurting themselves pretty bad. Also I would not recommend having a male and a female betta in the same tank. It’s really risky. If you have a community tank you have to do your research because it’s a species that doesn’t get along with a a lot of species, specially with those that like to bite fins or those with huge fins that resemble other bettas.

Pinky 2 winner.jpg
This is Pinky: my female betta. I love her very much.

There are a thousand myths about these fish so I’m going to write several articles  regarding this issue. I’ll write ‘Part 2’ soon!
So next time you see betta fish in a store and they are in tiny cups or you hear a seller telling a client that  Betta fish don’t need much to live, and saying things like “they are ok like that”. Say something, speak up! Because those fish are going to die in a year or so without their owners really knowing why. This is not about shaming these owners; is about educating them because most of them don’t know that what they are doing is not ok. They trusted the seller and they bought the fish maybe because they’ve always wanted to have a fish that they were desperate enough to believe a fish can live in those conditions!  So lets go and educate people about this, let’s raise awareness!

What do you think about these amazing little creatures? Have you ever saw one in a tiny cup? Do you have a betta? Do you have any questions about them? Maybe other myths that we can debunk? I would love to answer to all your questions in the comment sections below! I hope I see you next time… bye!

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