Your DIY guide to caring for a finny friend in a mini home.

The Fish

The Betta is a popular species of freshwater aquarium fish. It is scientifically known as Betta splendens which is Latin for “Beautiful Warrior”. Thanks to its brilliant coloration and long flowing fins, it is one of, if not the most recognized aquarium fish. It is rather common for people to just pass by a pet shop with no intention of buying a fish in the first place and then end up carrying a fish bowl kit with a Betta as they go home.

The beauty about Betta fish is that they don't need a large tank to survive, they can cope quite well in a small bowl without the requirement of filtration or aeration. Let me emphasize that A FISH BOWL IS NOT THE BEST HOME FOR ANY TYPE OF FISH. A larger tank with filter would surely make a better home and a happier fish. Nevertheless, if a fish bowl is properly cared for and maintained well, a Betta fish will do just fine in such a small environment.

The Betta is also commonly known as the “Siamese Fighting Fish” because the males will always fight each other. You should never keep males together for this reason, but can keep a Betta with other gentle fish if you have a large aquarium. In a fish bowl, however, it is best to keep a SINGLE Betta. Putting many fish in a bowl means more waste, poorer water quality, and eventually a sick fish. Remember, a Betta fish will be happy being alone and will not get bored.

Bettas are tropical fish. They thrive on temperatures between 24°C (75°F) and 30°C (86°F). Since you cannot equip a fish bowl with water heater, you should situate it where it's very warm and never put it in a room where the temperature can get exceedingly cold.

An interesting characteristic of the Betta fish is its capability to breathe surface air. It has a breathing organ called “labyrinth” which is somewhat similar to the human lungs. This is an important factor that allows the Betta fish to survive in a bowl without aeration.

Another interesting trait of the Betta fish is its ability to recognize its “master”. Once your Betta gets to know you, he'll flutter around happily when you approach. He'll show off his vibrant color, spreading his beautiful fins, and push against the glass of his bowl as if he wants to greet you. This in fact means that he is begging for food, but isn't that just lovely? Other fish don't even know you're alive.

A funny thing about Betta fish is that when it is happy and healthy, it will continually create bubbles on the top of the water. This should not be mistaken for dirty water. It is just the Betta's way of making a ‘nest’ when he is ready to spawn. It is where the male places the eggs of the female and continues to tend them until the they hatch.

If you noticed, I always referred to the Betta as ‘he’. Yes, those beautiful Betta fish with long fins and vibrant colors you see in most pet shops are males. The females are not as highly colored, and have much shorter fins. You can keep a female Betta too, if you wish. Both have the same requirements for keeping. But never keep a male and a female together in a bowl. The male tends to be aggressive towards the female after some time. You can keep several females in a large aquarium. But remember to keep only a single Betta in a fish bowl.