Betta Splendens (splendid warrior), is, as his name indicates, a warrior.
Basically, he is a fish with a bad attitude problem :))). The thing is
bettas are only pissed off at other bettas, while quite gentle with other
specie, which makes them good community tank prospects. They do get picked
on a lot by other fish, so avoid putting a betta in a tank with fish that
are aggressive, especially fin nippers such as tiger barbs, etc…
When a male betta (and sometimes a female) sees another male, his first
reaction is one of intimidation. The betta will immediately stretch out
his fins as much as he can and open his gills as wide as he can,
displaying his membrane, and suddenly looking twice a big as he really is
:). This is called FLARING or DISPLAYING. He’s doing the macho thing,
sorta like “I am bigger than you , watch out, I can kick your butt!”.
He will repeatedly do this and if the other betta has the same bad
attitude, they will soon start attacking each other. (so never put two
bettas together!! Duh!) Their color intensifies and they look just
bettas are not as intelligent than us (or are they? :)) ) you can get the
same result by putting a mirror in front of them. Well, it’s not really
that they are dumb, but they don’t know what they look like, so when
they see the betta in the mirror, they don’t know the betta is actually
THEM.:) This makes for hours of fun watching the whole commotion. And no,
bettas will not get exhausted, as a matter of fact, I have two brothers
jarred side by side who have been continually flaring at each other for a
year now. I believe that a little action and company is good for the
moral. So I let my bettas see each other. This is not a good idea though,
if you intend to show your bettas. Sometimes, a betta who looks lethargic
will be stimulated by replacing his neighbor. A new neighbor equals a new
pecking order to establish and a whole new desire for flaring.
babies, betta fries share the tank space peacefully. However, as soon as
the fast growing males start showing some fin growth, they also start
showing off and having a macho attitude with other males. As they grow
bigger, their bad attitude grows bigger, too. Soon, little males will
display for each other. And give it a few more days, they’ll start
taking chunks out of each other’s fins.
when the breeder steps in and jars the bullies. Soon, all males have to be
jarred and only females will be left together.
in aggressive behavior
Some strain are noticeably more aggressive than others, and even the
females are nasty to each other. Some strains are more peaceful and can
sometimes be kept in groups. A breeder friend of mine was marveling at my
large 60 gal community tank, housing about 40 adult bettas, mostly females
but also three large males. He couldn’t believe they weren’t killing
each other! These bettas were all from the same spawn and knew each other.
This strain was a more gentle strain and it was a treat for the eye to see
all these bright red and pink bettas swimming in harmony together. (Please
do NOT try this at home! :) ).
kept in a community tank, bettas will establish a pecking order. One
dominant fish will boss everyone else. This is usually a large male or
female, and that fish is known as the “ALPHA” fish. As long as that
fish is in the tank, there will be pretty much, peace. Remove that fish,
or add new bettas to the tank, and the pecking order has to be established
all over again. Fights arise, bettas fins are frayed, and for a week or
so, the whole fragile balance is threatened. Eventually, it settles down,
and peace returns.
I fooled you. Did you really think I had the answer to that one? Of course
not. When Animal Planet interviewed me, they too tried to make me spill
the beans, but I had made a solemn promise to my bettas that I
would never ever tell anyone (unless they knew the secret betta
handshake, that is LOL)... How bettas survive in the wild is also a puzzle, knowing how
unsociable they are. How do they share a small pond? I assume there is a
lot more places to hide in the wild and that bettas avoid each other like
the plague but I might be wrong. After all, I heard a researcher took two
male bettas and went to the middle of a large lake. There he released
them. Having all the space in the world, what did they do? They proceeded
to flare at each other and fight. Go figure. I concluded that fighting is
not linked to territoriality when it comes to betta. More like a nasty bad
habit. Or maybe an addiction? :)
What I like most about bettas, is that they have personalities. Each his
own. They are curious, friendly and will soon know their breeder and
recognize him/her. They are fast learner. They soon understand that my
hand = food. Soon, whenever I put my hand in the tank, they all come
swarming and they become so friendly sometimes they bug the heck out of
me. Here I am trying to fish out one specific betta, and all of them come
and soon it is a huge crowd and I cannot for the love of me fish just the
one out, I keep getting 3 or 5 in my net. Aghhhhhhh.
I can put
my hand in the tank and they will swim in between my fingers, resting on
my palm. I can lift my hand up and there is the betta, relaxed and now out
of his water, still on my palm… I pet them, and they seem to not mind
that at all. I often stroke their bellies, right under the ‘chin’.
They are very endearing and sometimes it is hard to part with them.
I was once
asked if bettas can learn tricks. I don’t really know, mainly because I
have never devoted the necessary time to try to teach a betta a trick. It
would be an interesting experience. I know however that bettas are very
good at teaching their breeders lots of neat tricks, like jumping through
hoops, bending backwards, pulling their hair out, jumping up and down
while making odd noises, and many more tricks that provide the bettas with
hours of fun. (and you think I am kidding? Wait and you will learn all
these tricks, too :) ).
as I said have their personalities and their moods. They even experience
depression. A betta that has always lived with other bettas and suddenly
gets jarred might go into depression if isolated. A male who just spawned
and was pulled out of the spawning tank will often “sulk”. He will let
himself starve to death. (please see my article “Betta sings the
blues” published in the may-june issue of FLARE! Magazine) Bettas
have their tastes. Some will eat one brand of pellet while the other will
spit it out. Some will only spawn to red female and ignore a yellow one.
Go figure. The little guys have character! That is also what makes them so
endearing and so fascinating to work with. Bettas are friendly and
curious. I gave a male to a senior citizen and she reported that the betta
watches TV with her. When she turns her TV on, he swims to the edge of his
bowl and stays there, gazing at the colors and images. People have often
told me that their betta will swim towards them when they come home, that
he knows who they are and likes the attention they give him. I have
observed the same reaction from many of my bettas.
So there you go. There is a
lot more to bettas than you thought. So learn to respect the little finned
creature, and learn to worship them :) Soon, very soon, they will take
control of your mind, finances, household, and all of your free time (free
time? What‘s that???)… hehehehe...