The betta, or Siamese fighting fish, is a popular household pet.
And just about every dentist's office seems to have one in a vase on the reception desk.
Bettas, which got their name from a group of ancient, Asian warriors called "Bettah," have been favorites since the 1800s, when the sport of fish fighting became popular in Southeast Asia; so popular that the King of Siam monetized it by imposing taxes and regulations.
The betta is a labyrinth fish, which means it possesses an organ that allows it to breathe oxygen from the air as well as through its gills. This adaptation owes to the betta's native environment, the rice paddies and flood plains of Southeast Asia.
Constant, catastrophic flooding and droughts forced bettas to evolve into labyrinth fish so that they could survive in changing environmental conditions.
Establishing the right environment for your betta is crucial to his health. Although pet stores sell them in small cups, bettas actually need far more space to be healthy. They do best in tanks that hold at least two gallons of water (minimum) and that water should be conditioned (de-chlorinated), cleaned regularly, and kept at a constant temperature somewhere between 75-82 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cold water can have negative consequences for your betta's immune system.
Bettas are lone wolves. As such, it is always safest to house them by themselves. Under no circumstances should two males be housed together.
In the right circumstances, female bettas can be kept together, but establishing a betta sorority (the term for a community of female bettas) requires very specific conditions, and even when those are met, females can still be aggressive toward one another.
Bettas are carnivores. A healthy betta diet consists of bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia. High-quality commercial betta pellets combine these foods along with other vitamins and minerals essential to your betta's health.
A proper diet helps your fish maintain his vibrant color and will prolong his life, which, on average, lasts about two to four years.
A little research and preparation makes a big difference in optimizing the health of your betta. By providing the right environment and a healthy diet, you can help your colorful little pal stay happy and healthy for a nice long time.
You can learn more about keeping bettas as pets here.