Wet Puppies| Siamese Fighting Fish | Betta Splendens
At one stage, PETA started a campaign calling fish 'Sea Kittens', presumably to point out how terrible it is that we eat fish. They were close with the term 'sea kittens', but a much better way to describe fish, especially Siamese Fighting Fish, is 'Wet Puppies.'
Why do I say this? Well, as I speak there are no less than three Siamese fighting fish in different tanks pressed up against the glass observing my movements keenly. Much like puppies, Bettas love to know where you are and what you're doing.
Bettas have an excellent sense of sight and will quite happily engage the world outside the tank if given a chance.
Male bettas should always be kept alone, and males and females should only be paired up and put together for breeding. Interaction between a male betta and a female betta can be very violent indeed, it is quite common for one of the pair to eat the fins off the other. This is as painful and unpleasant as it sounds, so please, unless you have two prime specimens (not fish you bought at the store who have suspect genes at best,) avoid breeding your fish altogether.
Female bettas can sometimes live together in what is called a sorority. This works best if the fish are sisters, though non related fish can be kept together as long as care is taken to provide all the girls with lots of places to hide. A sorority needs to have at least 4 fish in it in order for a couple not to gang up and kill a weaker fish, and you should have at least a 10 gallon tank to keep your girls in.
Bettas also need heat and filtration, so keep that in mind before you buy a whole bunch of pretty males. Can you afford to provide a heater and filter for every fish? Bettas prefer to be kept at around 27 degrees Celsius, or 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
Before I go, let me dispel a couple of myths.
Bettas can live in muddy puddles, so keeping them in little cups is alright.
Bettas live in rice paddies, and their territories can be several meters wide. They are excellent jumpers, and should they find themselves in a little puddle they are quite capable of jumping out of it and into another one. A single betta will be happiest and healthiest in a 5 gallon tank. If you must absolutely push it, (though I see no reason why you should,) you can keep them in a 2 gallon tank.
Now yes, a Betta will survive for some time in a small amount of water that another fish would simply die in because Bettas are anabantoids, or air breathers. They have an organ inside their bodies that allows them to breathe air from the surface of the water. This does not mean that they particularly enjoy having no room to swim.
It's like this, a person could quite easily survive in a closet as long as they were given food and their wastes cleaned occasionally, but they would be absolutely miserable nut jobs.
Bettas don't need feeding.
Bettas need feeding like any other fish. I have no idea where this myth got started, but it has lead to the starvation deaths of too many fish.