The Betta, or fighter, is a fish native to the Mekong River in Asia, with graceful and colorful fins. It can live between 4 and 8 years and requires special requirements, despite the fact that it is very popular with aquarium beginners.
Choosing your fighter fish
You will find many fighting fish in specialized pet stores. You should check that its scales are shimmering colors and not dull. The male is easily distinguishable from the female with its highly developed fins and strong coloration. The female is smaller, with duller colors and more discreet fins.
Check his general health: integer integument, fins in good condition (not torn), healthy eyes, no lumps…He must be receptive and react when you move your finger along the aquarium. However, a fish that does not move can simply be sleeping. Still try to make a first contact before acquiring your fish.
The fighting fish should live in a spacious aquarium, at least 20 liters, ideally 30 liters. In any case, the water temperature must be stable, between 24°C and 27°C, and regularly controlled. The water should also be lightly filtered, but not too much, because this fish does not like strong currents. The pH should be close to neutral, between 6.5 and 7. The addition of Terminalia catappa leaves is very appreciated and helps to protect the fish.
Pebbles with sharp edges, or sharp decorations, which can injure the fish, should be avoided. In any case, it is necessary to regularly check the condition of its fins, in particular to verify that they are not torn. Plastic plants should also be avoided. On the other hand, live plants can be introduced into the aquarium, with an illumination of about ten hours per day.
The aquarium must be covered to prevent fish from escaping. However, make sure that there are small openings to ensure good aeration and to avoid too high a temperature rise.
The aquarium must be carefully prepared before introducing your fighting fish for the first time. Once the water, floor, plants, filter and heating are in place, your aquarium should be left running for 3 to 4 weeks without fish, the time to let the nitrogen cycle take place. During this period, make sure to regularly check the water parameters.
Tap water should be treated with a conditioner, which will reduce the chlorine and chloramine load.
Maintenance of the aquarium
It is necessary to avoid changing the environment of the fighting fish too often. To clean your aquarium, place your fish in a covered container containing aquarium water. Wash the aquarium only in warm water, without soap. Fill half of the aquarium with new water. Put the fish back in with some of the old aquarium water. The next day, fill the aquarium with fresh water. Don’t forget to add conditioner again. Above all, make sure that the new water is at the same temperature as the old water, so as not to cause thermal shock. Afterwards, the water should be tested weekly.
Fighting fish appreciate live prey (mud worms, artemia, etc.). You can also give them dehydrated or frozen larvae. The diet of fighting fish should consist of at least 40% protein.
The meal of fighting fish should be served at a fixed time, usually one in the morning and one in the evening, but habits may vary from one animal to another. Be careful not to overfeed them! Some animals do not regulate themselves and will eat whatever you give them, but it is not good for their health.
Make sure to clean the water from food waste. If they spit out their food, it may mean the pellets are too big for them. You will have to cut them in half. If this does not solve the problem, change the brand or type of food.
You can make the meal a moment of play and complicity with your fighting fish. For example, play with a straw from which the food comes out. Once your fish gets used to it, it will follow the straw like a toy.
And the company?
Find out before you choose a companion for your fighter fish. Indeed, it is a solitary fish, territorial and aggressive with other fish and even snails, which it will be able to attack and eat. A male fighter cannot cohabit with another male fighter, they will fight and one of them will die. As for the females, they must live alone or in groups of more than 5, the aquarium must be big enough and have a large number of hiding places. If you take only 2 females, one of them will be martyred: to be proscribed then! It is very difficult to make cohabitate a male and a female fighter, and the breeding is thus very delicate.
Are also to be proscribed:
Very colorful fish (like a guppy) or long-finned fish (like a goldfish). Your fighter could mistake this showy fish for another fighter and thus a rival.
Other aggressive fish or fish that like to bite the fins of others, such as barbels.
Danios, Loches, Platis and Coridoras are generally wise choices. It is imperative to take advice in a pet store.
The master/fish relationship: it exists!
Fighting fish are animals that can recognize several people and with which it is possible to weave a strong bond. They are very curious and will enjoy your company. You can play with them by moving your fingers along the glass of the aquarium. However, be careful not to bang against the glass, as this will make your fish very nervous.
When a male fighter is happy, he often makes a “nest of bubbles”! A good way to know the state of mind of your companion!
When you know your fighter well, you can pet him gently, but this gesture should nevertheless remain exceptional, because you can damage the layer of mucus secreted by your fish on its scales.