Proper Care of Betta Fish
I keep my betta fish in a large vase with a plant and I feed him fish flakes. Lately, he just sits there, doesn’t eat, and isn’t very active. What can I do for him?
The best thing you can do for your fish is to get him into a new habitat. A common misconception is that bettas, also known as Siamese Fighting Fish, can survive in a fish bowl or a vase. It is believed that adding a plant to the vase or bowl will keep the water clean and will give the fish something to feed on.
However, betta fish are carnivores and eat a diet consisting mainly of brine shrimp, bloodworms, mosquito larvae, daphnia, and tubifex worms, among other things. A betta will only feed on the roots of a plant if it is starving and has no other alternative. Having a plant in the water will not effectively keep it clean either. A filter is required to keep the fish’s water clean, and it is very difficult to get a power filter to fit a bowl or vase. Without a filter, even if a plant is present and even with regular water changes, harmful ammonia and nitrate levels build up in the water and cause serious, irreversible damage, illness, and even death.
Vases and bowls are also very difficult to heat. Bettas are tropical fish and need water that is kept at a constant 76-78 degree temperature. Finally, vases and bowls just aren’t big enough and an added plant just takes up a lot of room. A common rule of thumb for most tropical fish is that each fish needs at least one gallon per inch of its adult size. A betta’s adult size is about 3 inches, therefore, needs a three-gallon tank at the very minimum.
Bettas who are housed in vases and bowls most often fall victim to ammonia poisoning and aren’t capable of living a healthy, happy life. A good scenario for any betta would be to have a three to five gallon tank (or larger), a small power filer, a heater providing 76-78 degree water, a steady diet of a high-quality betta pellet, freeze dried (or frozen) bloodworms and brine shrimp, and accessories including gravel and silk plants only, as plastic will tear the fins. Once the tank is established, 20% water changes are in order once a week using a gravel vacuum.
If your fish has not suffered too long and too severely, I am sure you will see an improvement by moving him to a more suitable tank and feeding him a diet that suits him well.