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Old 04-03-2023, 03:17 AM   #1
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Betta Behavior

I recently got a new Betta I am still trying to name.

What is common behavior in a betta? I am always so anxious when owning fish because I am more experienced with crustaceans and nano fish.

Basically my betta, who I just added to a new tank, will chill at the top and not move for a little bit but heís breathing fine. I looked it up and it said he is probably just sleeping, which I think is true but I want to be sure.

I have trust issues ever since I had problems with my other tank due to the fish plague.

So what is common healthy betta behavior? Please educate me more about bettas if you can. I have done a lot of research but more knowledge is great!

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Old 04-03-2023, 08:02 AM   #2
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Betta splendens (Siamese fighting fish) are territorial and hang out in their territory. They normally live just under the surface and hang out among plants waiting for insects to land nearby so they can eat them. Sometimes they swim down towards the bottom but only if it's not too deep. Generally anything deeper than 12 inches is wasted with Betta splendens.

If another fish swims into his territory, he will flare at out (fins and gill covers get spread out) and he will chase the intruder out of his territory, then head back to his favorite spot under a plant leaf near the surface.

If he is hungry he might swim to the front of the tank when he sees you. That's about it. They aren't an active fish and spend 99% of their time sitting just under the surface watching the world go by. He might build a bubblenest when he feels amorous.
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Old 04-03-2023, 03:08 PM   #3
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Betta splendens (Siamese fighting fish) are territorial and hang out in their territory. They normally live just under the surface and hang out among plants waiting for insects to land nearby so they can eat them. Sometimes they swim down towards the bottom but only if it's not too deep. Generally anything deeper than 12 inches is wasted with Betta splendens.

If another fish swims into his territory, he will flare at out (fins and gill covers get spread out) and he will chase the intruder out of his territory, then head back to his favorite spot under a plant leaf near the surface.

If he is hungry he might swim to the front of the tank when he sees you. That's about it. They aren't an active fish and spend 99% of their time sitting just under the surface watching the world go by. He might build a bubblenest when he feels amorous.
Is it normal for them to head butt your finger? I went to put a new snail in the tank and he head butted me. They are so cute though! He is doing well today and eating. I think heís happy. Whenever he sees me and I come closer to look at him he backs up a little and moves forward again and opens his mouth. Thank you for the info as well!
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Old 04-03-2023, 03:31 PM   #4
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My experience with bettas is that they find a spot they like and will tend to hang about there. If you give them an engaging environment for them to explore they will periodically patrol their territory and check everything out.

Ive heard of bettas eating from peoples hands. Never tried it myself but my betta certainly isn't scared of my presence.
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Old 04-03-2023, 06:49 PM   #5
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There's a little trick you can do with Males and that's placing a mirror alongside the tank from time to time so that when the fish sees his reflection, he flares trying to warn the " intruder" that this is HIS territory. The trick part is that this actually makes the males to be more colorful trying to beat out the other male for a female that may pass by. ( It's the same thing that works for colorizing male Guppies. )
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Old 04-03-2023, 10:07 PM   #6
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If you are going to put a mirror by his tank, only have it there for a couple of minutes and never longer than 5 minutes. And don't do it more than 2 times a week.

When male Betta splendens see another male, their fight or flight hormones kick in and this causes stress and premature aging in all animals, especially if it happens regularly or for prolonged periods of time. When Bettas fight over territory in the wild, they might flare for a minute or two and if one fish is noticeably smaller/ weaker, it will swim away and that is it. If two fish are equally matched and both want the territory, they might fight to the death. These fights can go on for more than half an hour and the end result is one dead fish and one fish with incredibly high cortisol levels, and that fish can also die days after the fight just from the stress levels. So minimising stress by reducing the duration of display will reduce the cortisol in the fish and potential health issues associated with this hormone in his system.
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Old 04-04-2023, 10:24 AM   #7
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Bettas are so much fun! The more things you give them to do, the more active they are. This includes places to hide, like plants (silk or live, not plastic - plastic can tear their long fins), and decor. I give mine arches to swim through, flat surfaces to rest on, little hidey-holes to explore. They also need open space, so a nice mix of both will allow him to remain interested in his environment.

He'll get to know you - and his own name - and may swim up to give you a fin-flap hello when you come near. He'll have definite preferences: what he likes to eat or will not touch, favorite spots, etc. The snail is a good idea: he's master of his kingdom and will make daily rounds checking on his "subjects" and territory. I have one who naps with his mystery snail, draping a fin over her and laying still for up to 15 minutes at a time.

They benefit from the Betta Log and the Fighting Ball. Both can be purchased at fish stores or online. I've attached a picture of them here. The log is their bedroom, safe space, etc. and the place they retreat to for some alone time.

The ball is to give them their 5 minutes of exercise each day. It actually says "Five Minutes Only" on it. Any longer and they'll wear themselves out by too much fighting. You don't want to give him a little fishy heart attack! I've found that I have to sit there and watch and time it, otherwise I get distracted and go off to do something else...very bad. You'll see a long white wire attached to mine in the picture: I added that because it would drift to the side of the tank and he couldn't get around it. You want it to float in open space so he can circle it and go in for the attack periodically.

They don't need a bubbler. They need calm, slow-moving water, so if your filter output is adjustable turn it to its lowest setting. Having said that, there is someone here who does have a bubbler for his betta and he reports that the betta likes to run through it like a kid in the sprinklers. So, different fish personalities: some very laid back, some need excitement, some are quite aggressive while others are easy going.

They love mosquitos, so if you end up with some breeding at the top of your tank you have good live food for him. As your tank gets established you may eventually see him diving down into the substrate. Look closely and you may find he's diving for live bloodworms, another great protein. As these live food sources have developed in my betta tanks, I found that they became less interested in the Betta Pellets I feed. This makes sense: they're getting the best diet, live.

They live approx 3 years, give or take a lot of factors. I had one who lived five years. All of mine are over 3-1/2 years old now. Some people report a lifespan of 2-1/2 years.
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Old 04-04-2023, 12:49 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Colin_T View Post
If you are going to put a mirror by his tank, only have it there for a couple of minutes and never longer than 5 minutes. And don't do it more than 2 times a week.

When male Betta splendens see another male, their fight or flight hormones kick in and this causes stress and premature aging in all animals, especially if it happens regularly or for prolonged periods of time. When Bettas fight over territory in the wild, they might flare for a minute or two and if one fish is noticeably smaller/ weaker, it will swim away and that is it. If two fish are equally matched and both want the territory, they might fight to the death. These fights can go on for more than half an hour and the end result is one dead fish and one fish with incredibly high cortisol levels, and that fish can also die days after the fight just from the stress levels. So minimising stress by reducing the duration of display will reduce the cortisol in the fish and potential health issues associated with this hormone in his system.
Controlled stress is just as helpful as exercise. What you are talking about is wild fish and what the majority of people have are very far from wild.
Lab studies of Betta splendens were done where the fish was literally chased around the tank daily for a prescribed amount of time and some of the fish in the study lived to 9 years old plus while others not exercised died young and when autopsied, had " fatty degeneration of the tissues and organs." This study was mentioned in the book All about Bettas by Walter Maurus who has written a few books on Bettas.
The reason to not keep the mirror present all the time is so the fish does not get used to the " intruder" being there which will reduce the response and lower the benefits. Sadly, the " fight" has been bred out of many of today's Bettas so the likelihood of a fish dying from too much cortisol from fighting is most likely remote.
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Old 04-04-2023, 01:59 PM   #9
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Controlled stress is just as helpful as exercise. What you are talking about is wild fish and what the majority of people have are very far from wild.

Lab studies of Betta splendens were done where the fish was literally chased around the tank daily for a prescribed amount of time and some of the fish in the study lived to 9 years old plus while others not exercised died young and when autopsied, had " fatty degeneration of the tissues and organs." This study was mentioned in the book All about Bettas by Walter Maurus who has written a few books on Bettas.

The reason to not keep the mirror present all the time is so the fish does not get used to the " intruder" being there which will reduce the response and lower the benefits. Sadly, the " fight" has been bred out of many of today's Bettas so the likelihood of a fish dying from too much cortisol from fighting is most likely remote.

Exercise produces growth hormone in humans so could explain why bettas lived that long. Stress is essential for human survival and cortisol is necessary. Prolonged stress however is the enemy.

Chronic stress where the sympathetic nervous system is engaged for prolonged periods is detrimental to due to cortisol production amongst other things. Cortisol damages the gills in fish and impairs normal gill cell function.

That said just because something is proven in humans and intuitively makes sense does not make it true Itís a useful study to know about. Thanks for sharing. If you could find the study please do post
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Old 04-04-2023, 05:26 PM   #10
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Exercise produces growth hormone in humans so could explain why bettas lived that long. Stress is essential for human survival and cortisol is necessary. Prolonged stress however is the enemy.

Chronic stress where the sympathetic nervous system is engaged for prolonged periods is detrimental to due to cortisol production amongst other things. Cortisol damages the gills in fish and impairs normal gill cell function.

That said just because something is proven in humans and intuitively makes sense does not make it true Itís a useful study to know about. Thanks for sharing. If you could find the study please do post
With fish, some use competition that encourages coloration for finding mates. This is true with Guppies. ( Possibly other fish as well but I've only seen it in Guppies as well as Bettas. ) What we don't know ( and probably never will unless fish learn to speak ) is does seeing a rival cause the fish to think A) I need to up my game to attract a mate. or B) I need to protect my area and the extra coloring is a side effect of the added hormone production. Either or both could be the reason. Coloration is also important in some bird species. It's known that peacocks with more and more intense eye spots on their tails get more mates than those with less or none. Wild Budgerigars ( a.k.a. Parakeets) use 2 blue patches on the sides of their heads to attract a mate because under UV light, they shine so the more intense the shine, the better the chances of getting a mate. Colors also play a part in some lizards. They change color during breeding season to attract mates. So this concept is not unique to fish.

As for the study, I remembered it from way, way back and tried to find it online but couldn't. Frustrated, I grabbed my Betta book ( mentioned in my post) and sure enough, page 11 under the section on longevity. ( My problem is that I have a tremendous memory bank but I don' t always remember where I got the info. ) There are other books on Bettas ( I do not have any) by this author ( Walter Maurus) offered for sale online. It may be discussed more in those books? Bottom line tho is good water and healthy diet are very important to the fish's ability to live a long life as well as exercise. In the book, he states that even at the advanced age, the fish were still breeding. ( Maybe I'm an 8 year old Betta. )
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Old 04-04-2023, 06:21 PM   #11
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"...some of the fish in the study lived to 9 years old plus while others not exercised died young and when autopsied, had " fatty degeneration of the tissues and organs." "

Thanks for that info, Andy. Now I don't feel like such a negligent fish parent for walking away a few times and leaving that betta to fight for 20-30 minutes. He's the one who lived 5 + years, so I'll take that as direct proof of exercise keeping fatty degeneration at bay ( I should take a page from his book myself). I still wouldn't make a habit of letting Fight Club last more than 5 min per day because, as you mentioned, we don't want them to get used to the intruder and have a lowered response. Plus he got really tuckered out from being on high alert for so long.
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Old 04-04-2023, 07:52 PM   #12
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"...some of the fish in the study lived to 9 years old plus while others not exercised died young and when autopsied, had " fatty degeneration of the tissues and organs." "

Thanks for that info, Andy. Now I don't feel like such a negligent fish parent for walking away a few times and leaving that betta to fight for 20-30 minutes. He's the one who lived 5 + years, so I'll take that as direct proof of exercise keeping fatty degeneration at bay ( I should take a page from his book myself). I still wouldn't make a habit of letting Fight Club last more than 5 min per day because, as you mentioned, we don't want them to get used to the intruder and have a lowered response. Plus he got really tuckered out from being on high alert for so long.
I don't know that I would call it "Fight Club" like in the old days but I'd call it "And you think you can move in here???? I don't think so!!! club" LOL

A while back on a PBS station was a documentary on Bettas ( narrated by Sir David Attenborough) and I recall they were using 20 gal long tanks to experiment with them but only about 3" or 4" of water so that the fish didn't need to struggle to get to the surface. Plenty of room to chase them around without overtaxing them. Overall, the general public really doesn't know a lot about these fish and from what I've been finding on the internet, neither do the people writing the posts that make it online.
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Old 04-05-2023, 01:06 PM   #13
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Syhko, have you named your fish yet? I'm about to get a new betta and am also looking for a name (all suggestions welcome)
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Old 04-05-2023, 01:20 PM   #14
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Syhko, have you named your fish yet? I'm about to get a new betta and am also looking for a name (all suggestions welcome)
Yes! I named him Domino. I thought long and hard about it but since he is black and white he is like a domino. He replies to his name after me repeating it for a day or so, I think he likes it!

Send a picture of your betta once you get it! Maybe we can give you some suggestions. (and I wanna see how cute they are)
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Old 04-05-2023, 01:40 PM   #15
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Domino is a great name! That is fantastic - he already responds to it. I'm waiting on a specific type, a lavender dumbo-ear betta. So far, the winning name is a Cajun one, Placide (pronounced plah-SEED), which means calm-gentle. But I'm open to more ideas.

BTW, did you know there's a company that makes games for bettas to play? Basketball, golf...IDK, all sorts of ways to train their super minds. Maybe they include a little trophy for when he makes a basket
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Old 04-05-2023, 03:04 PM   #16
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Domino is a great name! That is fantastic - he already responds to it. I'm waiting on a specific type, a lavender dumbo-ear betta. So far, the winning name is a Cajun one, Placide (pronounced plah-SEED), which means calm-gentle. But I'm open to more ideas.

BTW, did you know there's a company that makes games for bettas to play? Basketball, golf...IDK, all sorts of ways to train their super minds. Maybe they include a little trophy for when he makes a basket
Do you know the company name? Thatís so crazy! A cool name that might fit them that I can think of is Cujo. Placide sounds so cool though, and well thought of. Is it a male or female do you know?
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Old 04-06-2023, 10:55 AM   #17
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It's called the R2 Fish School Complete Fish Training Kit. I used to see it for sale on several sites, now it seems to be unavailable everywhere. However, there are a number of videos online of people using it. The kit looks almost DIY, so I guess if it doesn't come back on the market I can see how it would be possible to make some of it at home.

Here's an interview with the guy who in invented it. It includes pictures of the sports included: soccer, basketball, football, etc. He started with training goldfish but has also trained oscars, cichlids, comets, and bettas.

https://www.aquaticcommunity.com/int...ean-pomerleau/

This subject has made me decide to buy Circus Rings, which are still available online. A responsive betta, like one I have that rearranges things in his tank to suit his moods, would probably enjoy something extra like this.

The one I'm getting is a male.
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