“Can guppies live with Bettas?”, asked my father when I was a child and pleaded with him to bring home the beautifully coloured betta we saw at the aquarist. As a child my brother and I would look longingly at these beautifully coloured and flamboyant tailed fish and we wanted one. I didn’t know the answer to my father’s question, and we didn’t get one that day.
Eventually I got my first betta when I was much older. He was Samson and he was smart. Now do all fish owners say that? I learnt to take care of him and he was with me for 4 years and taught me a lot. Ever since then I have had a few betta males and females and have added to my knowledge of bettas and I understand they are not easy fish to care for but have a wonderful personality.
In this article I will help you answer common Betta questions, and ready yourself before you bring home a Betta.
Can guppies live with bettas? It depends. Read on to understand why.
Where do Bettas come from?
Betta, also called the Siamese Fighter fish, is a common aquarium fish. They are called Siamese fighter fish because these fish were first found in Thailand, once upon a time called Siam. These fish are territorial and fight for their space and territory.
Bettas are commonly found in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. They are found in water canals, paddy fields in large non flowing water bodies. Betta’s do not fight to kill but they spar and they can hurt each other, pull each other’s fins and that can leave a betta vulnerable.
What are Betta characteristics?
Betta’s are a truly colourful fish and the males have beautiful long flowy fins. They come in solid vibrant colours such as red, blue, orange and black. Then they are the more metallic colours and many have two colours and some may even have more.
The females do not have such long flowing fins and are less vibrant than the male. They have a torpedo-shaped body with an upturned mouth.
Fun Fact: Why do Bettas have upturned mouths?
The upturned mouth of a Betta helps them to eat at the surface.
What is a Labyrinth Fish
The reason a Betta can live in lesser amounts of water, is because it is a Labyrinth fish. It is unlikely that they will suffer oxygen deprivation, because like a goldfish because it can take in atmospheric air from the water’s surface. Labyrinth fish are known to have breathing organs that help them live outside water for short periods of time.
How big do Bettas get?
Adult males can be 2 – 3 inches. The females are smaller because they lack the flowy fins.
What is the lifespan of a Betta
The average lifespan for a Betta is about 3 years. A well looked after Betta can live upto 5 years.
What are the types of Bettas?
Betta’s are categorised based on their tail, colour and the patterns of these colours. This article will go off track if we try to jot down all the types and names. To just give you an idea and we shall give you a few examples to help you understand.
Types of Bettas – Tail categorization:
Betta’s are categorised according to the shape and size of their fins, especially their tail fins. Some types of bettas categorised by tail are. Fantail Betta, Feather tail Betta, Halfmoon Betta, Crowntail Betta, Plakat Betta, Veil tail Betta, Double tail Betta, Round tail Betta, Spade Tail Betta, Dumbo ear Betta
Types of Bettas – Colour and Pattern categorization:
Betta’s are categorised based on their colours and the pattern of their colours as well. Like we mentioned earlier there are solid or single couloured bettas and since they come in many colours.
Here are a few examples: Red, Blue. Green, Orange, Mustard, Black, Purple, Green, Gold, White, Metallic, Cellophane and more. Moving to the various patterns that are seen, it depends how the colours are found on the body. Here are a few types of bettas: Dalmatian, Marbled, Butterfly, Dragon scale, Full mask, Koi colour, Bicolour etc.
Are Bettas temperamental?
Betta’s in general are known for being territorial and aggressive. They are introverted and like to have their own space in an aquarium set up that has loads of places to hide. They can be friendly and curious. They can sometimes develop a bond with their caregiver and swim up for food or even to be stroked. They have lovely personalities and each one is different.
Are Bettas Aggressive?
Males bettas are more territorial and aggressive than their female counterparts. It is a good idea to never keep two males in the same tank. They will most likely fight to death. Seeing another brightly coloured fish with long flowy fins your betta may assume the presence of another betta and can get aggressive, resulting in fight which could leave him or your other fish in bad state
Female Bettas are less aggressive than the males, but we still need to be careful. The females will also exhibit territorial nature and they can fight each other too. It is less common though. Females can usually live in groups of 5 – 6 other females.
This group is called a betta sorority. It is important to ensure that the tank is large enough and provides each one enough space. It is important to know that all females do not necessarily approve of group life and can be just as aggressive as a male to get her space.
What do Bettas eat?
Bettas are carnivores. They have an upturned mouth that helps find their food at the surface of the water such as small invertebrates and insect larvae. A good diet should consist of dried brine shrimp, daphnia, freeze dried or dried blood worms. Online you can find pre-formulated pellets or flakes for Bettas.
Our suggestion is to try a variety of them and give them a varied diet. It is commonly mistaken that Bettas survive in tanks with floating plants thinking that they will survive eating the plant roots. For a while when you add your plants you might see them eat at the plant roots but it is the small creatures that live on them that they will consume.
Unfortunately in an aquarium set up the microorganisms do not last long and hence it is important to feed your Betta.
So, can guppies live with bettas? List of fish that can live with Bettas
Choosing tank mates is just as important for Bettas. They are loners, territorial and need their space. They do not get along with all kinds of fish. Below is a small list of fish that can live with bettas
1. Kuhli loaches
3. Tetras: ember, neon, black neon, diamond,
4. Cory catfish: albino, panda, pygmy
6. Female guppies
The reason we have chosen this list of fish to live with your betta is because they are available in India and they do not have long flowing fins and bright colours which might threaten your Betta. Also, all of the above are peace loving creatures. Having said this we would still ask you to observe their interaction for a few days till you are sure there is no aggression or territorial behaviour showing.
How to set up a Betta Tank
Betta fish require complex and expensive care that many fish owners do not expect. It is not a suitable starter fish. To keep a Betta in good health it is required to take in a few factors.
Bettas need space, so putting them in a small cup size container is inhumane. It is believed that since they live in shallow water bodies that they are happy living in small spaces. This is completely wrong. Betta’s should have at least a 5 L tank to move, explore and be in.
Providing a good filtration system for the tank is a must or regularly change/refresh the water. It might be convenient for you to build a nice ecosystem which doesn’t need to be touched or handled a lot and will allow your Betta to feel comfortable. Changing the water can be a stressful ordeal for both you and your Betta.
Choose a dark coloured substrate for your Betta tank and clean them out before you introduce it to your betta tank. This substrate that you choose should be small and soft gravel. The bacteria that live in this gravel will help break down waste food or faeces.
This is harder when the size of the substrate is large. We say smooth to prevent your beautiful betta from getting his fins caught and torn on sharp sides.
The tank itself should be cleaned well using a mild soap. We use salt and synthetic vinegar to disinfect and clean our fish tanks.
The kind of water you put into the tank is very important. Ensure the water is dechlorinated and if you are unsure about whether the water you get at home is dechlorinated or not we suggest you fill a large bucket and let it stand for two days.
Bettas prefer more acidic water so maintain the water between pH 6.5 – 7. You can find a pH indicator on Amazon.
The Filtration system that you pick should be one that has a slow flow. You must remember we are trying to replicate Betta’s habitat. If you can’t find one which specifically ensures slow flow, pick one where you can regulate it.
Water temperature should be around 22 – 30°C. Betta’s like warmish waters. Get a submersible heater which you can easily monitor. If the water temperature is lower than what is ideal then your betta’s immunity will be compromised and lead to being more susceptible to disease.
If the water temperature is too high it speeds up your Betta’s ageing process. Select a heater that has a thermostat so it’s easy to monitor.
Betta’s habitat consists of lots of shady dark hiding places and we need to recreate that for our Betta friend. Your Betta tank should have both surface plants and other kinds. The rooted variety needs a substrate about 2 inches thick so they can comfortably root. Remember plants help keep the water clean.
Add hiding places and caves but ensure that whatever decorations you add don’t tear or hurt your beautiful curious and adventurous Betta.
If you are adding your Betta to a community tank ensure there are enough hiding places and the tank mates are getting along
How do Bettas breed?
It is possible but it is very difficult and because of the nature of the male and female a lot has to be taken care of. We are just giving you a brief introduction to mating and breeding in bettas.
When you find your male betta making a bubble nest he is ready to mate. In a breeding tank, put the male in, let him make his bubble nest and then you can introduce a mature female. Now here comes the tricky bit.
The female needs to approve of him. He will try to show off his fins, make himself big and it is her choice. If she approves, yay!, but if she doesn’t she can become aggressive and try fighting the male. You will have to take her out and try with another female.
Once the female has chosen the male they go through a beautiful mating dance which looks like ballet in the water.
She releases the eggs and the male collects each egg in his mouth and then puts each egg in its own specific bubble. The mating process can take quite a few hours. Finally the female has done her job and she can be very carefully removed from the tank without disturbing the bubble nest.
The male takes care of the eggs and spends time remaking and building the bubble nest ensuring each egg is safe. In three days little fry will emerge and they continue staying in the bubbles created by their father for the next few days.
You will then notice the male stops paying attention. This is when you take the male out and the fry can be left on their own.
The fry need to be looked after with a lot of care. The Temperature, water condition and food have to be just right.
After reading this we hope you understand why keeping a betta is not a beginner fish, but if you prepare yourself adequately, you can have years of joy from caring for this beautiful creature.
Picture Credits – Pixabay