Also known as Siamese Fighting Fish, the Betta is a freshwater aquarium fish prized for its brilliant colors. These bright, colorful fish can be a cheerful addition to your office but, like any other pet, must be properly cared for.
These fish grow to around 3 inches in length and may live two to three years in captivity. Male Bettas are most popular as they have the most intense color and longer fins than females. A Betta fish will “flare” its fins and gills when it feels threatened or to intimidate other fish. You can elicit this response with a mirror, but don’t do it for too long or your Betta can become exhausted and stressed. You should never keep male Bettas together as they will fight aggressively, although you may keep females together.
Bettas come from a tropical environment, and their native environment includes shallow water, rice paddies and swamps. Bettas are commonly kept in small bowls without a water filter or pump to oxygenate and clean the water. They are able to tolerate this environment because, unlike most fish, Bettas have a labyrinth organ that allows them to breathe air from the surface of the water in addition to using their gills to obtain the oxygen dissolved in water. You may have seen a “Betta in a Vase” which has become popular in recent years. However, these vases do not replicate the natural environment of the Betta, and the narrow opening of the vase does not allow these fish much surface area from which to breathe.
While Bettas are a fairly hardy fish, they do have some special requirements. Coming from a tropical environment, for optimal health, your Betta’s water temperature should remain between 75 and 85 degrees. If you’re going to keep a Betta in the office, make sure the temperature does not get too hot or cold during the weekends. Look for a food specifically formulated for Bettas, and remove uneaten excess food after a few minutes. Betta fish are carnivores and will also appreciate live food such as brine shrimp.
A tank of at least one gallon is recommended, and the water should be changed at least weekly; the smaller the tank, the more often you will need to change the water. A smaller tank is also more susceptible to fluctuations in temperature. You’ll need to use special water conditioner to remove the chlorine from the water. Keep in mind that Bettas kept in larger tanks are happier and healthier, and will generally live longer.
If your office allows pets, a Betta fish can be a beautiful addition to your office. While Betta fish do not require a lot of special pet supplies, they do require care and attention.