Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Siamese Fighting Fish!
Did you ever have a fish as a child? If so what kind did you start out with? My guess is either a Goldfish or a Siamese Fighting Fish! These two types of fish are very popular, mostly because their care requirements are not highly specialized. We had many Siamese Fighting Fish when I was a child. My dad even bred them on a few occasions. We had several little tanks set up in a row! My favorite memory of these guys was when my brother and I would argue over who’s fish was prettier; my blue fish or his red one! Of course they were both beautiful!
The Siamese Fighting Fish Betta splendens, commonly called just the Betta, is a popular fish for several reasons. First, Bettas do not require a lot of space. They can be kept in relatively small aquariums and do not grow very large. Second, they are very hardy fish and don’t require specific water conditions. Third, they do not require a lot of time or maintenance. Because of these reasons, they make great pet fish for children and beginners! In captivity the males have been selectively bred to have long beautiful fins. In the wild the males do have longer fins than the females, but they are not as long as in captive bred fish.
The Betta is quite possibly one of the oldest fish kept in captivity. They were first described in 1910 by Regan. They hail from Thailand and the Malayan Peninsula. Their natural habitat there is in slow moving waters with lots of vegetation. They are listed on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable. This is because their natural habitat is being degraded, which could lead to an endangered status. Siamese Fighting Fish received their name for a reason. The “fighting” part came from the fact that these fish fight! Males will not tolerate each other and will fight to the death if they are kept in the same tank. For this reason, only one male can be kept in a tank. Usually more than one female can be kept peacefully together though.
Siamese Fighting Fish only live 2 to 3 years and are therefore not a long-term commitment. As I stated before, they require minimal care and maintenance. They only reach up to 2.5 inches and do not need a large aquarium space. Belonging to the Labyrinth Fish family, they have a special “labyrinth organ.” This organ allows them to live in waters with less oxygen for short periods of time. Another Labyrinth Fish is the Dwarf Gourami which I recently wrote about in December. Because of this Bettas can live in as small as a 3 gallon tank, but would appreciate more room if you can spare it! Also, if you plan to keep more than one fish you should provide a larger aquarium. They don’t need any special lighting or water movement and can be kept in comfortable room temperature water. Bettas are carnivores and should be fed a typical fish flake or pellet. Feel free to give them small amounts of food several times a day.
The Siamese Fighting Fish is a good social fish under most circumstances. You will only want to keep one male per tank, but can keep several females together if you wish and the tank is large enough. They generally get along well with most other community type fish, although you will want to make sure nobody is getting picked on and that everybody has plenty of hiding places.
Breeding Siamese Fighting Fish is both simple and difficult. By putting a male and a female together, you will almost certainly have mating going on. They male builds a “bubble nest” like most other Labyrinth Fish. The eggs are spawned in the bubble nest and the fry will hatch there. Once the eggs are hatched, keeping them alive becomes much more difficult. Males will often attack the young and infection in the babies is high. For more information on how to breed successfully, read here on Breeding Labyrinth Fish.
Most of you have probably owned a Betta or two in your lifetime. If not, and you are interested in an easy fish to keep, definitely think about keeping the Siamese Fighting Fish!
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.