Caring For Siamese Fighting Fish

Last updated: February 4, 2016

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Lovely siamese fighting fish

Other names: Betta

Origin: Thailand

Adult size: 7 cm

Lifespan: 2-3 years

Natural habitat:

Rice paddies, shallow ponds and even slow moving streams.

Preferred temperature:

Originating in a tropical environment these fish prefer warm temperatures. Siamese Fighting Fish prefer temperatures 24-30 Celsius. In water temperatures below 24-Celsius these fish commonly become sluggish and may become inappetant.

Social: Males cannot be kept together

Tank Level: Top dweller

Minimum Tank: approx 14 litres

Diet:

Live foods preferable, will eat flakes and frozen foods. Naturally these fish feed almost exclusively on insects and insect larvae.

Further Information

The keeping of Siamese fighting fish in small containers is an area of considerable debate. RSPCA Queensland considers the following issues as clear indications for the provision of suitable tank size and enrichment.

Small Bowls do not allow for adequate temperature control of the water. Small bowls have a large surface area of glass in comparison to volume of water held accordingly such bowls result in rapid and excessive heat loss. At low temperatures these fish can become lethargic and even refuse to eat.

Siamese fighting fish are top dwellers and have a special breathing organ called a labyrinth. Fish require easy access to the water surface to breathe air directly. Small bowls may hinder this access.

Advocates for small bowls claim that pumps, filters, and other aquarium equipment, do not exist in nature. Their assumption is that by having fish in what ‘appears’ to be a natural environment that it is inherently as healthy as, if not healthier than, an aquarium. This is an incorrect assumption. In nature Siamese fighting fish live in shallow rice paddies and swamps however those waters represent a complete ecological system. This system simply can’t be replicated in a small vase. Rice paddies are individually shallow but remain part of a much larger body of water that serves to dilute toxins. Scavengers and bacteria present in native waters break down wastes and render them harmless to fish.

Quote from Shirlie Sharp:

“A dog or cat owner would never consider shutting their pet in a small closet with minimal heat, food, and air. The Betta should not be treated any less humanely.”

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