Within the past few decades the Betta fish has quickly become a household staple and a favorite fish to keep in the aquarium hobby, especially among the younger or newer audience. Because this fish is so popular, you are going to hear varying opinions about care from store to store. Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths about the basic care for this beautiful fish that are simply not true, here are the 5 most common ones you may hear!
1. Betta Fish Prefer Small Aquariums
First of all, yes, Betta fish can be shipped and temporarily housed in small containers or aquariums aquariums. Much like cat adoption windows, temporary housing at pet shops does NOT reflect an ideal permanent enclosure for a Betta fish! A single Betta fish should be kept in no smaller than a 2.5 gallon aquarium. Even more ideal is a 5-10 gallon long, as Betta fish prefer to swim side to side, not up and down. A Betta fish aquarium should be treated like every other aquarium, no bowls!! If you must use a bowl, you should still be able to provide heat and filtration.
2. Betta Fish Don't Require Heat
Yes, your betta will survive without a heater. Will it be active and comfortable, no. Betta fish are tropical fish and require water ranging from 78°C - 81°C! You will find that with a proper heater, your Betta is much more active in your aquarium. The lack of heaters common in the keeping of these fish is the reason why they are pinned as "lazy fish". They are not lazy, they are cold and likely stressed!
3. Betta Fish Don't Need a Filter
As we mentioned above, Betta fish should be treated like any other freshwater aquarium set up. This means the tank should be fitted with a heater AND proper filtration! Even if you had decided to go with the bowl set up, it is still very easy to equip with a small sponge filter. Filtration and aeration help maintain the water quality for longer periods of time, keeping your fish happy and healthy, and reducing the frequency of water changes and maintenance. With filtration, a Betta tank should get a 15% water change weekly.
4. Betta Fish Live in Small Mud Puddles
It is true that wild ancestors of the now domesticated Betta fish lived in shallow rice paddies in SouthEast Asia. However, though shallow, these shallow waters stretched acres and acres of land. The myth of the "puddles" is when these bodies shrivel and evaporate into small puddles during the dry season, in which many Betta fish die due to crowding, limited food and poor water quality!
5. Only Happy Betta Fish Bubblenest
Contrary to popular belief, bubblenesting is not done to express contentment or pleasure. Instead, they bubblenesting expresses the fish's urge to mate! Like pretty much all animals, mating is the supreme goal outside of basic survival. If you Betta is not stressed, or struggling to survive, you should see these bubblenests in male Bettas fish. Even young males will bubblenest in poorer water quality. Water changes, temperature spikes and seeing other Betta fish can trigger an instinct to bubblenest. The lesson to take away from this is do not use bubblenesting as an excuse to slack on your aquarium maintenance!