Now that we have learned about the history of bettas and how to identify them, we can look a bit more into some of their unique characteristics.
These elegant little fish have very special personalities. They can be friendly and curious, or stubborn and hide at the sight of any movement outside of their aquarium. It’s all about getting to know your betta and observing their likes and dislikes. This graceful species is truly an awesome pet.
Flaring is a spectacular show a betta will put on when it wants to show dominance. Male bettas are typically the ones to display this behavior. They will make themselves appear as big as possible, by straightening out all of their fins and opening up their gill plates. It is meant to intimidate or impress, and it definitely gets the job done.
A bettas long fins usually have a droopy appearance to them and they are generally quite small fish. So when those long fins unfurl, their body inflates, gills flare, and their color looks to get brighter the message definitely come across.
So why might a betta do this?
There are a number of reasons but the most common one is intimidation.
They want to show other fish that they are the dominant ones and that this is their territory. If it has tank mates, your betta is demonstrating that it is guarding its territory and the tank may be too full. If the betta is in a tank by itself, it may have seen its own reflection in the aquarium’s glass. This can be enough to spark their primal temper, and so attempt to demonstrate dominance.
Another reason bettas can flare is if they are stressed. Conditions in their tank may not be suitable and this is how they voice the stress of that. It could be that water conditions are unsuitable, or they are feeling sick. When they are sick they can alternate between highly aggressive and passive.
Lastly, if bettas are excited or ready for breeding, they can flare. A male will flare at a female who will then display submissive posture. This behavior should not last long however, as they need to be in good condition to breed.
There are some rare cases of bettas flaring every time they are fed. It is not common for this to occur but it is a possibility. In general, flaring puts a lot of stress on a betta, and can cause illnesses. Although it is natural for them to display, it is not something that should be seen a lot, as it usually means something is wrong. A flare is great to see here and there, but shouldn’t be a constant state.
Now that you know all about the different betta species and all the magical colors and patterns that are available, it’s time to find one to purchase or adopt. Just as with all popular pets, there are some breeding methods that are not organized in a way that’s best for the animals themselves. This makes the process of picking a new betta a tad more difficult. You want to save the betta that are being bred and living in poor conditions and provide a more positive environment for them. However, by doing this you may actually help these unethical breeders as you are supporting their business. I find it best to do some research before purchasing. Visit some of your local stores and look at the living conditions of the fish. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to employees and see if the staff is knowledgeable. You will be able to identify quickly if the place you are considering purchasing from actually cares about the wellbeing of their fish and animals.
Let’s explore some great places to find a betta…
Local Stores & Big Box Stores
In your local area there can definitely be some great businesses that sell betta fish. It’s great to build a relationship with these places. You will be able to tell quickly that the fish are being raised in great conditions and that they are experts in the field. As you gain experience and knowledge in the hobby, it’s great to meet with other passionate people. They will give you tips should something go wrong and best of all, help you make additions to your “fish family” .
Thanks to the internet, even if you live in a secluded, remote area that doesn’t have any stores that sell fish, you can purchase a betta. Online you can connect with like-minded betta hobbyists and safely purchase one of these magical guys or gals. Many stores also have the option to purchase online and it is likely that they will ship to where you live. The betta will be labeled appropriately and packaged very carefully. This way they are handled with care as they make their way to your home.
As you are researching online, you may also come across some betta experts that blog about their experiences. They make videos and online content about how to best care for bettas and other tips and tricks. They provide excellent advice and sometimes they also breed their own bettas. You can then support them by purchasing from them and if you follow them online, you can be sure that the fish are raised in outstanding conditions.
I always recommend checking reviews when purchasing online. Websites
like eBay have a great system that allows you to see how a seller is rated.
Health Is Key
I recommend for people purchasing their first betta to find one that is as active and healthy as possible. Some more experienced hobbyists try to find sick bettas to help and heal them. This is definitely for the more seasoned “aquariumists” as it requires medications and almost constant care. I suggest those starting out to get a lively betta that “speaks to you” so to say.
You can tell that a betta is healthy by observing their body and behavior.
Their body should have healthy coloring and not appear to be fading. Also, their stomach should not appear to be bloated or abnormally large. This could mean that the shop is over feeding or that the betta is suffering from an illness.
After making sure that their body looks good and healthy, have a good look at all of his or her fins. They shouldn’t be damaged or clamped together, but rather flowing elegantly in the water. If the fins look clamped, the betta may be sick or highly stressed.
Behavior like flaring at you, building a bubble nest, and quick movements as you observe it, are all great signs of good health. I think it is best to follow your gut and simply purchase the fish you feel best about. Many times fish are not in optimal conditions before we purchase them. When they are moved into an appropriately sized tank in your house, they heal up and potentially show a whole new side of their bubbly personality.
You may have a very specific betta in mind that you want to purchase. Like a Cambodian-Butterfly for example. In this situation you may have to get in touch with a breeder online and work out a purchase with them. If you are more open to what kind of betta you would like, then simply trust your instincts and look for a healthy betta that speaks to you. It is pretty much impossible to make a wrong choice with these amazing little fish.
Once you have your betta, you can begin acclimating him or her to their new tank at home… this is not as simple as emptying their cup in a tank. Let’s explore the process in the next chapter, “Housing a Betta”.