Betta fish, also referred to as Betta Splendens, Siamese Fighting Fish and/or Japanese Fighting Fish, are one of the most colorful and elegant freshwater fish around. These fish have brightly colored bodies and long flowing fins and are also one of the easiest fish to take care of. Their beauty and their ease of care have made them favorites for many people; unfortunately, there are many myths and misconceptions about betta fish and I figured it might be time for me to clear some of the confusion. Here are some of most common betta fish myths that you have probably heard and that I get questioned about on a regular basis.
Myth # 1 – Japanese fighting fish prefer to live in dirty water
When you look at the natural habitat of the fish, for example, the pond, swamp or stream, the water looks dirty to you. The organic particle, tanning from plant decay and mud gives the water a dark and murky appearance. For this reason, some people believe that it’s ok to let them live the same way at home in an aquarium. However, in an aquarium, it is extremely important to maintain clean water to have a healthy thriving fish. Remember, the wild ecosystems are carefully balanced with organisms and processes that maintain ideal conditions for the fish to survive. When it comes to an aquarium, the organisms & processes work differently, so it is crucial that you keep the water clean, or else you will introduce disease into your betta aquarium. Having a filter and doing regular water changes will go a long way.
Myth #2 – Japanese betta fish will panic or die when placed in larger aquariums
In the wild, betta fish can survive in ponds and rivers that contain millions of gallons water without dying. An aquarium that has a larger capacity of water is nothing compared to their natural habitats. In their natural environment, bettas live around clusters of plants to protect themselves from predators. When you put your betta in a big and open aquarium, they will start doing the same thing, which is to look for plants and other areas where they can hide. As long as you have enough places for them to do so, they should do just fine.
Myth #3 – Japanese fighting fish do not require a heater
Betta fish are tropical fish that are found in Southeast Asia, where the water in these regions is shallow and warm. Although bettas can survive at temperatures below 75 degrees F, the ideal temperature is between 76-82 degrees. Even if the room where your tank is located generally keeps the temperature around that level, I would still recommend a heater. Why? Because if there is a fluctuation in temperature for some reason (i.e.: room gets cold all of a sudden, etc.), this can cause additional stress on our little friends, which can lead to sickness. With a heater, you can set the temperature at a specific degree and it will always keep it around that level.
Myth #4 – Japanese fighting fish prefer to live in small/mini tanks
In the wild, these fish live in a variety of habitats including rice paddies, shallow ponds, swamps and streams. In the dry season, most water in these habitats evaporates trapping them in small pockets of water, then the betta fish will live there until the rain comes again, providing them with more water. Although they can survive there, it is not the best living habitats for the fish. The same goes when putting them in an aquarium. Can they survive in a 1-2 gallon aquarium? Maybe, but that’s not the point. Just like any other animal, they need room to move around in order to have a full and happy life. If you are going to go small, I wouldn’t recommend getting anything under 3 gallons. The larger, the better.
These are just some of the misconceptions that I often hear about japanese betta fish. If you are planning on owning one soon, it is important that you educate yourself on their care. You won’t regret it. And remember, the best betta tank is a clean betta tank!
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Need a new aquarium? Check out our reviews on the Fluval View, Fluval Chi and/or Fluval Edge 6 Gallon. They are fantastic tanks to get started.