Betta as a Community Fish

Betta splendens, also known as Siamese Fighting Fish, are often kept in solitary due to their aggressive nature against other males of their species, and they will fight only till one is dead.

However, not many might have known that Bettas can be kept as a community fish too, and I was one of those ignorant ones, until I came across two books that mentioned about keeping them in a community tank.

Their nature is surprisingly, quite timid and shy when alone, and tend to swim around slowly and gracefully. With this character and their fanciful fins, it makes them an easy target from other fin-nipping inhabitants. So in the end, it may not be the Bettas bullying the other community fishes, but the other way round.

There is not really any fin-nipping fish in our main planted tank, maybe with the exception of our Dwarf Chain Loaches and Siamese Algae Eaters, but even their fin-nipping behaviours are rare. Confident that a Betta will find a comfortable home here, I made up my mind to add one into our community.

Travelling down to a LFS in Yishun, one betta with blue body and red fins caught my eyes and I promptly bought it at S$7.00. I didn’t really know about the market price, but thought it didn’t really matter since we will only be getting one Betta afterall.

Bringing him home and putting him into our planted tank, he acted very timid and shy indeed at first, always hiding in the corners at the back. We thought this was his characteristic so didn’t expect anything more than that. Despite it hiding in the back, it was always a beautiful sight to spot him swimming gracefully with his beautiful fins. My wife Catherine named him ‘Moody’ after seeing him always lurking behind in the corners, seemingly sulking. ^^|

I had bought a small bottle of Betta food, and started to feed him by pouring a few bits of food on my palm before dropping a few pieces down in front of him with the other hand each time. Surprisingly, he did not feel threatened by my approaching fingers and remained at where he was.

When the food was dropped in front of him, he observed them a bit before swallowing them up, one piece at a time. He does not eat as quickly as the other fishes in the tank, as he will always leave a short time interval of about one second before he will eat the next food piece.

On the second and third days, he slowly gained confidence of the security of his new surroundings, and started swimming around more, exploring the tank. He will even mingle with the other fishes during meal times, as they swim around peacefully:

Since Moody has only been here for a few days, it’s still too early to tell if this peacefulness will last, but I’m quite confident it will.

In my opinion, Bettas shouldn’t be kept in small containers such as jars, since they should be given the rights like all other fishes to live in a comfortable, bearable place. They should at least be kept in a slightly bigger container such as a small tank, equipped with proper filtration or at least regular water change. It pains me to see them celled up in small plastic bags or jars in the LFSes.

Anyway, Moody is really interesting to watch, especially after our new layout, with a small hill formed at the rear left of the tank made up of two big pieces of driftwood, which he has made it his home by hanging out there most of the time.