Betta fish are one of the most popular aquarium fish in the world due to their easy freshwater habitat and beautiful appearance. They are sold in Walmart stores across the world and still growing in popularity.
Another benefit to this species is their ability to not need a bulky aquarium like other pet fish. The most popular Betta fish is the male sex type. Males have very long beautiful fins that vary in vibrant colors. They are very aggressive and can only be kept alone in 95% of cases.
Today’s topic is going to concentrate primarily on the less desired female Betta fish. The female is not nearly as popular as the male but strongly holds other benefits to owning it. I have personally owned these fish for years and have a deep passion for them. They are less beautiful than males but can be schooled up and hold many other desirable traits. Please excuse all grammar and punctuation errors. After all, I am an aquarium geek and not an English specialist.
The physical appearance of the male versus the female is pretty prevalent. Although at times it is easy to mis distinguish a young male from a female. Without the full growth of its dorsal fins, these fish will all look pretty similar. These large beautiful fins that only the males achieve are what separates the sexes between each other.
The females are only going to come in a couple of different colors. They will hold a solid color throughout their body and won’t be as vibrant as the males. I’ve heard the term “ugly duckling” thrown around a lot and it does suit the female pretty well when compared to the male. It kind of makes a person feel bad for the females but that’s just the way Mother Nature intended.
Largest downfall to the male betta is it’s aggression. The female betta on the other hand is much more friendly and can be kept with other fish. People that love Bettas usually school these females up in aquariums and let them enjoy themselves. Other tropical fish get along well with females too. Molly fish, Gourami fish, and almost all live bearers. It makes for a cool addition to be able to have a community tank versus just one male Betta by his lonesome self. As far as having a lot of them in one tank, consider the general rule of thumb for one inch of fish per one gallon of water. So if you have a 30 gallon aquarium, you could keep roughly 15 of them in there. Let me tell you, it’s quite a site to see that many females inside of one tank.
The betta is popularly known for its bright vivid colors. Vivid blues and reds make this one of the most popular aquarium fish. The females obtain the same colors as the males besides not having long dorsal fins and different designs of coloration. The male Betta has the ability to have designs of different colors. Almost like a beautiful pattern in a way. The female is mostly one solid coloration but on some occasions I have seen some slight patterns of coloration. At the end of the day though, the female is a basic solid color in most cases.
Foods & Nutrition
These fish are meat eating carnivores. The pellet food just doesn’t cut it for their appetite. Get them some dried bloodworms or dried shrimp at bare minimum. Wondering why your betta seems to hate the flake food you feed it? Maybe its because they are meat lovers.
It’s kind of like feeding a shark flake food.. They love dried shrimp, bloodworms, mosquito larvae and natural meat based foods they would eat in their natural habitat. Live food is the best but not always most ideal in all of our circumstances. Their stomach is the size of their eye ball. Just feed them enough to fill that stomach once a day. These fish eat less than what you would think. Not to mention they have digestion issues when they eat too much.
Even though these fish come in these tiny little Dixie cups.. doesn’t mean they like it. I would advise a minimum of 5 gallons for a betta fish. They love large tanks too. I have a 30 gallon tank and they have been living in there for years. Promise me you will not put these fish I a flower vase people. They will survive in these tiny bowls because they breath their air in a labyrinth style from the surface. Even though these little cups have terrible water parameters, a Betta will survive because of its surface style breathing.
The bigger the tank you have the cleaner your water will be and the less you will have to clean your tank. Bigger is always better when it comes to fish aquariums. It also helps your filter not have to work as hard.
Unlike the very aggressive male betta fish, the female can have happy tank mates. Females get a long with all sorts of fish. More or less, any non aggressive freshwater fish could get along with a female because the female betta is not going to be the one showing aggression. Let it be known that all fish have different personalities specifically and will tolerate roommates differently. I have personally seen videos of female bettas being more aggressive than males. Now that’s a very rare occasion, but that shows that all fish are unique in their own ways. Roommate for the females commonly include Molly fish, platy fish, Swordtails, and much more. Research your desired tankmates on the Internet. Get into Google and search “angel fish with betta” or your desired fish to learn about stories or videos of how people are doing with those as tank mates. There are vast amounts of online communities with great people willing to help.
This style of fish has a labyrinth setup for lungs like i mentioned before. Without getting too scientific, they do most of their breathing at the surface of the water. That’s why not having too much water current is key. Most filters are not enough to bother that water surface. Not really a huge factor when caring for them but more or less a cool fact to know. If your filter is pushing a lot of water movement, maybe look into setting up a “pad” like water base to ease your water movement out of your filter.
Feed your betta fish once a day and plan on only feeding them enough to fill their stomach. i already mentioned their stomach is the size of their eyeball. Yes, that is small huh? It doesn’t take much to fill a small fish stomach. Over feeding these fish is very common and they are already known to have bowel issues so.. that adds to it. A betta fish that is over fed will get sick and a lot of them die from this. Be strict on yourself. Over fed Betta fish are known to get bloated and have their fins stick out. If this occurs, immediately stop feeding your fish for a couple of days.
This sounds funny but its completely true. Take a cooked pea that you get at the grocery store (most canned peas are pre cooked). Remove the the skin from the pea and feed to your fish in small hunks. Peas really help with illness and digestion issues that occur in betta fish. The pea helps their digestive system perform easier.
The pea is going to want to sink and Bettas prefer their food at the surface. So if you can get small hunks of pea to float, you will be better off. Remove any uneaten pea from your tank to rid of decaying waste into your water. Bettas need very clean water remember so keep up on removing food that goes uneaten after ten minutes.
I’m aware that was a lot of information on just the female sex Betta fish but its important to understand your pet. If you can leave with three main factors then this will be well worth your time. 1. Don’t use a tiny tank. 2. Feed them good food that are meat based. 3. Keep up on clean water water & filtration. I like to also preach to all fish owners to stick up for the female Betta. Everyone talks about the male but the female is also an awesome addition to the tropical freshwater scene. Lets make a commitment to share some passion to the females. Good luck with your fish keeping and don’t forget to stop around the “AquariumGeek” online community.
More In Depth Info on Bettas
Although bettas breathe through their labyrinth organ, water quality is still of utmost importance. Many people think they are like a goldfish and require little maintenance. This is not the case. Your betta’s water should be changed at least twice a week if kept in a half gallon jar. When changing water, make sure it is the same temperature (bettas do best at a temperature of 77 to 80 degrees) and has been dechlorinated. We do recommend at least half gallon size jars for male bettas.
Side Note: With the right knowledge on how to take care of these fish properly, they can live for a very long time.
Maintaining water quality will help keep nasty things like fin rot from occurring. A little prevention goes a long way. Aquarium salt can be added as additional prevention in addition to other various medications and treatments. Just remember to use aquarium salt, not table salt! Water quality is a major factor in fish quality and overall health. If you are trying to rear fish to show, water quality is of the utmost importance. If you are raising your betta as a pet, he still deserves top quality water. If you only have a fish or 2 for pets, you should be able to afford to give them extra special attention. In other words, all bettas need good water!
We like to use a turkey baster to remove uneaten food and fecal material. A small pump can also be used but too much suction can suck the fish right up. Sucking a fish into a pump would most definitely be the end of the fish. Use caution even when using a turkey baster not to cause enough suction to damage fins or even injure your fish.
Bettas prefer neutral to slightly acidic water. A pH from 6.7-7.0 is the norm of their natural environment, although they can adjust to and tolerate hard alkaline water . To test your water, use a pH test kit. You can adjust your water pH by using PH down which is usually the case. We would caution you that consistently high pH levels may indicate hard water. Test KH before trying to change pH. If you add a pH decreasing product to hard water, the pH will decrease initially but then bounce back in 24 hours, causing pH shock to the fish resulting in death.
Some places do have acidic water and people who live in these areas should use PH up or just use pure drinking water. You can also add drinking water or distilled water to your tap water as a pH “adjuster”. Remember the buffering ability of your water will play a role in whether or not your pH will remain constant. Distilled water is acidic and drinking water is usually neutral to alkaline depending on brand. Never ever use only distilled water for your bettas! Distilled water does not contain any of the electrolytes and minerals bettas need, and it will kill them in short order.
Bettas prefer still water but can tolerate very slight movement. I stress the word slight here. A little movement when changing water or using a baster will be handled with ease. Constant movement can wear the fish out to the point he or even she succumbs and begins to swim with the current instead of against. At this point the fish is in serious danger. Slightly swirling the water a little once a day can be good exercise; just remember not too fast and don’t over do it.
FEEDING & Nutrition
Bettas should be fed twice a day. It is best to get into a routine and feed them in the morning and in the evening. If you are leaving town for a few days it is no big deal; they will live. However, if you plan to be gone longer than 3-4 days, you should get somebody to stop by and feed your fish once a day. Make sure you teach this person how to correctly feed your fish way before you take off. Make sure it is somebody who is responsible and will refrain from over feeding.
Bettas should be fed what takes no more than 2 minutes to eat. If they really like what you are feeding them probably less. Wild instinct tells them to eat as much as they can. Being that we know when their next meal is and they don’t, we have to control food intake. Fat and obese fish loose points in betta competition and can be unhealthy to the point where “over conditioning” them is negative. Female fish can actually become somewhat infertile because they can’t release their eggs due to internal problems. Plain and simple, don’t over feed.
What you feed your bettas is very important as you may have well figured out by now. There are 3 basic choices: live food, frozen food and dehydrated food. Our personal choice is live food for 2 main reasons. First of all live food is more nutritious. Secondly it pollutes the water less. Others may disagree but it is simple to see there is less immediate pollution from waste particles. If you change your water often, you will avoid bacterial build up. This may mean doing partial water changes every day you don’t do full water changes. Make sure your water quality is always constant though. This being said our favorite live foods are wingless fruit flies, guppy fry and daphnia.
Guppy fry should be raised by you. Feeder guppies bought at the fish store can carry disease and spread them to your prize fish. This means you would have to start a guppy tank or 2. Guppies are prolific live bearers and breed with a much more simple set up than bettas. Our bettas just love guppy fry and it keeps them very healthy.
Bettas are carnivorous and it is our belief that bettas most likely eat betta fry in the wild. Eating live fish or fry means mega protein and our bettas grow quite fast. Once again remember not to over feed and don’t try to feed your bettas guppies that are too large. We are not going to get deep into breeding guppies at this time. There are many other sites with such information. We suggest getting some decent sized fancy female guppies and male feeder guppies. Larger females will produce more fry. Small feeder males will be less likely to chase guppy fry and will help keep the size of the fry small longer genetically. Guppies are quite simple to take care of.
Other choices for live food are Daphnia, Brine Shrimp Grindal Worms, White Worms etc. Brine shrimp are extremely difficult to raise to adult size but can be purchased online or at your local pet store. We haven’t used worms often though the fish seem to like them. They are messy, and somewhat bothersome to raise. Lots of water changing. Worms are very rich and can cause constipation. They can also cause bacterial build up. Make sure you keep your water changed often if you feed your fish worms or any live food for that matter.
Daphnia are a great natural laxative. Daphnia can also be raised from a culture and are not extremely difficult to raise. The trick to raising Daphnia is a natural water source like a pond with no fish. We can actually draw water right from our tap without a problem. It is said Daphnia are extremely sensitive to metals and hard water or water raised through pipes. We don’t seem to have a problem with this. Many daphnia keepers like to have a constant supply of “green water”. Green water is water full of algae and algae is one thing Daphnia eat. Green water can be cultured fairly simple. Just get a decent sized clear container with a lid preferably. Make sure the container can breathe. Add some clean pond or rain water to the container and place in a sunlit location. Adding some water from your community aquarium may help speed up the process.
Daphnia can also be fed yeast. When we don’t have any green water we use bakers yeast. Just add some bakers yeast to some lukewarm water and swish it a around until it dissolves. Once dissolved add some to your Daphnia culture. Only put enough in to make the water slightly cloudy. Repeat once water begins to clear. Remember to use water that you know daphnia can thrive in.
The next choice would be frozen food. We still like to use frozen blood worms. They are rich, fairly inexpensive and bettas love them. Just be careful not to over feed and constipate your fine finned friends please! If it happens you can always give them some live Daphnia. It is like salad or Metamucil for your fish, roughage. Frozen brine shrimp are ok but somewhat messy and require immediate clean-up.
As far as dehydrated betta food, we have had success with both Bio-Gold and Atison’s Betta Pro food. Remember though to break out the turkey baster to remove uneaten food.
Other Points Of Interest
Never put 2 males in the same container or tank. They will fight and damage each other and possibly end in the death of a fish or even both. Long finned Bettas are not designed for fighting. They have been bred for their beauty and uniformity. The fish used and bred to fight are short finned. Many other fighting attributes are bred in as well, such as sharp teeth, tougher scales, attitude body shape, size and more.
New bettas should be acclimated to their new water. The best way to do this is to float the bag they came in in the water they are to be placed into until the water becomes the same temperature. Then open the bag and put a little bit of your water in the bag, maybe a few tablespoons. Let the bag float for another hour and put another 3 tablespoons of your water in the bag.
Keep repeating this until the bag is too full to continue. Now empty the bag and your betta into his or her container or tank. Continue to add small amounts of your water to the container every hour. The longer you take with this process the better it is for your fish. Once you get your container to where it is full don’t stop. The next day do a partial water change, very partial though. When you remove the uneaten food and fecal material with the turkey baster add more of your water. Eventually you will have the fish acclimated to your water.
Remember bettas can jump right out of their container. This can be devastating. Sometimes a fish will jump from one tank or container to another. They can jump to their death, fall on the floor and dry out. If you do find a betta on the floor, try to revive him by putting him in some water with aquarium salt and/or slime coat. Of course if he is dried out and dead nothing will revive him. Covering your betta containers in a very good plan as you can see. Use something that will breathe.
Don’t use the same net or any utensil on a sick fish that you do on a healthy fish. Don’t mix the water from a sick fish to a healthy fish. Actually don’t mix the water from one fish to another any more than you have to. Use a net dip solution once a week and keep that net clean. You should have a minimum of 2 nets, at least one for sick fish and at least one for healthy fish. Of course if you raise guppies and other live foods you will need more nets. Always thoroughly clean the container a sick fish has been kept in. Use bleach water and be sure to totally rinse ALL the bleach out of the container!
Bettas can become very delicate when exposed to high bacterial situations. What happens is the bacteria attacks your bettas and usually the first sign is fin rot. Keeping your water clean and free of waste will keep bacteria down. Frequent water changes also help deter bacterial blooms and aquarium salt will also help protect your fish. There are also medications for fin rot as well as other diseases and ailments.
Putting plastic plants in jars with males is asking for damaged fins. Putting fish next to each other usually stimulates them. This usually makes for a more happy fish. Just like us, happy = healthy. Sometimes fish that have been sent in the mail may get stressed and go into a “sulking type” mode. Giving them a neighbor seems to help prevent and/or help snap them out of the “sulking mode”. Although too much of a good thing can be bad.
Sometimes bettas, especially males, can actually split their fins from flaring too much due to overstimulation. Placing paper or cardboard between containers can help aid in fin damage prevention. The idea is to let the fish “exercise” for a while then put the cardboard back once the fish have had enough. You have to be the judge once again. I think many fish react best when they have “cardboard’ time. They get “bored” during this time.
When the cardboard is lifted they again see their neighbor and react. If you are raising show fish, you will want your fish to react well as they will be judged greatly on their reaction. I like to keep my cardboards on during feed time also. This helps the fish concentrate on feeding so he cleans up every scrap quickly. Again, this helps keep the water clean. Live food also helps keep your betta more active. Chasing guppy fry can be all it takes to bring a “sulking” betta around! This is not a guaranteed cure though.
If you choose to keep stones, gravel or marbles in your betta containers you must clean this stuff, once a week at least. Remember the 3 most important things for the health of your betta are water quality, diet and care!! Giving your betta the best of all 3 will keep him healthy and happy.
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