So many new people are picking up bettas and there are some things to think about when getting things for a betta
tank to prevent later problems. One or two of them I may have covered in prior posts but thought I would consolidate them here for quick and easy reference. Not all of these came from personal experience but all have come from experienced and knowledgable betta
owners experiences or problems.
When picking a substrate please do not use sand or very fine substrate the consistency of sand (i.e. EcoComplete) as the bettas will eat it. This is something that happened to me personally and I lost a beautiful white doubletail halfmoon female over it.
When picking decorations or caves, the "rule of thumb" is important. All bettas are inherently curious and very sure that they need to go through EVERY hole in everything they see. If your thumb will go in and out of the hole Mr. or Ms. Betta can also go in the hole easily and NOT get stuck but if the hole is too small for your thumb, you are asking for a disaster with your fish. They will wedge themselves into the hole tightly rather than miss the opportunity to try to see if it can be done. This is something that a few of my friends have lost bettas over.
Placement of things in the tank also needs to be done so that the bettas can swim around them without getting caught for the same reason as that given above. They cannot resist tight and binding places. The stinkers! :p
It really is a good idea to get things that are large enough for the bettas to swim through (more than one entrance) or big enough to turn about in once they get inside. I have seen bettas get so frustrated trying to turn about and get back out of some decor that they injure themselves or tear their fins trying.
Check everything including the stems of any silk or plastic plants with a nylon stocking to see if they have barbs that can tear a bettas fins. Bettas will drag or rub their fins on the surfaces of things and if there are any snags the fins will suffer and finrot will follow.
Plastic plants are really not recommended but some can be used if you check them but silk plants still need to be soft and no wires or hard tips exposed. Real plants are a big hit with the bettas and a large flat leaf is a good nap spot.
One of the nicest things I think you can do for a sleepy little buddy is to give them a nice tall plant to sleep in. The bettas do have to go to the surface to breathe through their Labyrinth organ and they have many less interuptions during the night sleeping in a nice tall plant that lets them stay close to the surface. My boys like the idea anyway.
Always keep the surface of the water clean and clear as possible. Floating plants may be nice for other fish but these fish need to be able to reach the surface and it should be clean and clear.
Under no circumstances should you use any medication using the tree oils for any Labyrinth organ fish. (Bettafix, Melafix, Pimafix) They are wonderful medications for other fish and have saved many fish but for the Labyrinth organ fish they can kill them by destroying the ability to breathe through the organ by coating the surface of the water with a thin film of oil and effectively smothering the fish's ability to get to the air. While some of these solutions say they are specifically made for bettas, please do not trust it as it is just a watered down solution of the same type and will eventually harm that organ needed for your fish to breathe. The fish die horrible deaths. I have unfortunately learned this through personal experience before I was aware of the problem. I was informed of this by a betta expert who also lost fish due to this problem and several others that I know of have had this happen. Please do not think this is a call to abandon this type of medication totally as for the right fish they are wonder drugs. But not for Labyrinth organ fish.
Bettas are Tropical Fish in every sense of the word. That means that they need some of the same types of things. The temperature of their environment is going to determine the metabolic rate that their body works at. Digestion is affected by cooler temperatures and with a high protein type diet they are much more likely to experience constipation problems if their digestion slows down. This is one reason why temperature control and prevention of overfeeding is so important in bettas. The ideal temperature of the water for them is between 78 to 80 F and while pellet foods like Atison's Betta Pro are good for them that formula is meant mainly for the first 6 months and after that the food recommended is Atison's Betta Formula. Bloodworms and other types of freeze-dried and frozen foods are good but shrimp should be held to a minimum and not given often. Peas, carrot, spinach, lettuce, and many other vegetables can be given as a supplement if your betta becomes distended and acts sluggish but unless they are severely hampered or their color is washed out or they are visibly distressed it should not be used in place of a normal meal. But while you believe your betta may be constipated, it is unwise to give large or high protein meals frequently. Cut back and feed larger vegetable matter supplements or hold a couple of meals all together. Raising the temperature of your tank slowly to about 82 degrees F will sometimes also help to get a bettas metabolism going again but do it slowly.
Thanks for listening and it is my hope that if any of you have further tips you will add them.