Is A Betta Siamese Fighting Fish A Good Pet?
Bettas are popular fish, especially in countries where certain pet stores seek to prove their almost indestructible nature by shoving them into tiny jars that they can barely turn around in.
Bettas are great pets, they're quite intelligent, recognize their owners, have beautiful colors and are all round wonderful fish. There are some downsides though:
They need to be kept singly. Unless you are planning to breed, or are willing to fall prey to multiple tank syndrome very quickly, the rule is one betta per tank. Siamese fighters, are, as the name suggests, aggressive little beggars who will think nothing of ripping one another's fins to shreds. Shredded fins are more than a cosmetic problem, as I will elaborate on further in the article.
Bettas also need to be kept in clean, heated water. If you're not going to filter your tank (which you absolutely should,) but if you've decided not to, then a two gallon tank should have an 100% water change every three days. No exceptions. Filtered tanks will need smaller water changes once a week or so.
Siamese fighters are incredibly prone to diseases like fin rot (a bacterial infection that attacks the fins, causing them to fall off,) and dropsy, (a disease that causes a fish to balloon out of shape and then die.) The two causes of these conditions are poor water conditions. If you attempt to keep a betta in the same conditions you found it at a pet store, you will have a very short lived Siamese Fish indeed. Ideally, a single fighter should have a heated, filtered tank of 5 gallons.
Betta fish can be added to community tanks, but you have to be careful that the tank is not already inhabited by fish that like to fin nip. Many types of tetras will attack the betta's fins, leaving them ragged and torn.
As I mentioned before, torn fins are not just a cosmetic concern. A torn fin is a prime entry spot for bacterial infection and many diseases that take hold of bettas do so after their fins have been torn due to fighting or sharp tank ornaments.
Keeping Siamese Fighting fish is actually quite easy, but it is not a job for the lazy. Yes, you can keep them in relatively small tanks, yes, they don't necessarily need a filter, but having a small, unfiltered tank is a recipe for a dead fish unless you are very vigilant about keeping the water clean. I wasn't kidding about that every three days number either.