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Old 06-07-2007, 01:12 AM   #1
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Thumbs up Betta Starter Kit Version 2007

Betta Starter Kit
Prepared by John Ho Aka Livingwall


The purpose of the Betta Starter Kit is to equip a beginner with the basic knowledge and information required in keeping Betta splendens, otherwise commonly known as the Siamese Fighting Fish. In no circumstances should this be used commercially unless approval is granted by or the author of this Betta Starter Kit (John Ho aka Livingwall).

Origin of Betta Splendens (Siamese Fighting Fish)
Betta Splendens is native to countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. The Siamese Fighting Fish belongs to a group of fishes called Anabantoids whose special feature is an organ in the head, called a labyrinth. This enables the Labyrinth fish to swallow air and use its oxygen, and this explains why native betta splendens can survive in swamp water in the wild with very little oxygen concentration.

The labyrinth enables anabantoids to survive the oxygen deficient water by swallowing air, while the other fishes die of anoxia. The labyrinth organ has a large surface area which enables oxygen to diffuse efficiently into the blood stream.

The followings are the various types of Siamese Fighting Fish:

1. Plakat
2. Halfmoon Plakat
3. Halfmoon
4. Doubletail Plakat
5. Crowntail
6. Giant Plakat

Anatomy of Betta Splendens

Lateral Line
It is a horizontal line which runs across the body towards the start of the caudal fin. The lateral line enables the fish to sense vibrations from currents or other fish and helps in navigation, finding food and avoiding danger.

Dorsal & Anal fins
The dorsal and anal fins help to keep the fish upright in much the same manner as the keel of a boat.

Caudal Fin
The caudal fin acts as the fish’s motor, when flicked from side to side it thrust propels the fish forwards and initiates a series of body movements which sustain movement through the water.

Ventral & Pectoral Fins
The ventral fins serve as main rudders to steer the fish while the pectoral fins are used for fine movements including reversing.

Understanding Betta as a Freshwater Fish

The concentration of salts inside the betta is stronger than that of the water surrounding it, water is absorbed into the fish’s body through the skills and via the gills. As betta does not need to drink any water, it’s kidneys will retain any essential salts while passing out low concentration of urine.

Although betas can breathe through air, it is important for you to know that fish require oxygen every bit as much as humans and extract it from the water in dissolved form.

Bettas do Sleep!

Like many other fishes, betta spend at least part of the day or night sleeping. They might appear that they are awake but if you take a closer look, you will see your betta is in a sort of suspended animation.

Each betta is different in his own way and has their unique way of sleeping, some floating near the surface with their mouth opened. Some like to stay on the bottom of the tank upright or sideways position.

Usually the sleeping hours for betta is around 12 midnight to 5am. Do not shock your betta while he or she is sleeping by tapping the tank as it will probably swim and make a dash around violently and might attempt to jump out of the water.

What should I do when I first purchase a betta?

The followings are the important aspects of keeping a betta:

1. Betta Fish Tank

Do not use small jars or cups which barely have space for your betta to swim around. Can you imagine yourself being locked in a small room which has barely space for you to walk. If you can afford to have a 1 gallon tank, by all means please go ahead. If you are running on a tight budget, those transparent plastic containers with red cover which we used to put pineapple tarts. Go for the largest size and you can get a brand new one for 85cents.

2. Preparation of your new Betta Fish Tank

It is always good to do a quick rinse to your new fish tank first before using it. Reason being is that if your new fish tank is a glass tank the silicon gel holding on to the glasses would pose a major problem for your fish as it might “pollute” your water.

If time permits I would encourage you to fill up your new fish tank with water to the brim and add a couple of teaspoons of sea salt into the fish tank. Leave it to condition for at least 1 day, after which you can rinse the new conditioned fish tank and ready to be used!

3. Water Management

How to age water?

You can purchase a large bucket and fill it with water and use a air pump with a tube attached with a air stone and leave this overnight (if you can aged for a few days is even better). After a few days you can use the aged water for your conditioned fish tank, kindly use an anti-chlorine and anti-chloramine water conditioner. Products such as Genesis, Seachem Prime, StressCoat would be great.

The ideal pH level for betta would be around the range of 6.5 – 7.5, they have a tendency to prefer a slightly acidic condition. The temperature should be around 28 degree celsius, I would strongly advice that you add a bit of Ketapang leaf juice into the fish tank, just enough to bring about a slight brownish colour (Halfmoon would need a thicker concentration. This will reduce the hardness of the water and blackish the water as well.

Water change must be performed after 3-4 days and due diligence must be made to siphoned the debris left in the fish tank everyday. Normally, I would try not to do 100% water-change unless the water is extremely dirty. A rough guide is to leave 20% of the old water so as not to change the water condition too drastically.

4. Acclimating your new betta

Now that you had just purchased your new betta, it is always very tempting to just immediately put your new betta into your new fish tank. The followings are your check list when doing so:

1. Ensure that your betta fish tank is conditioned
2. The fish tank water MUST be conditioned with anti-chlorine and anti-chloramine
3. If possible include a clean ketapang leaf

What should you do after you had done the above?

• Place your new prized betta together with the plastic package into your betta fish tank and let it float there for 20 mins. This is to ensure that the transition of the water temperature and environment smoothly.

• After 20 mins, slowly cut a small opening on the bag so as to allow the water in the betta fish tank to slowly enter the plastic bag.

• Wait for another 10mins or so, slowly release the betta to your fish tank by opening up the hole. Your betta will be happily swimming around and exploring the new environment

What will happen if you immediately release your new betta into the fish tank?

Fish are extremely sensitive to water temperature and any drastic change in the water quality will cause great stress for the fish.

Causing great stress will lower the immune system and this results in your prized betta in getting sick and possible dying!

5. Feeding your betta

It is very important that your betta get the best possible food diet and this will reflect on the form and appearance of the fish. Foods that contain a relatively high level of fat such as beef heart are not to be fed to betta.

Especially when you betta is fully grown as this will encourage fatty deposits to build up in the body and this will harm the organs such as the liver and will cause sterility. A balanced diet is the key to nurturing your betta.

The followings are my recommendation:

Pellet: Artison Betta Pro (feed twice daily, Monday-Friday)

The key is to feed in small quantities, a few pellets at a time until your betta stop eating.

Live Food: blood worms, brine shrimp or fairy shrimp (frozen/Live) – Saturday & Sunday

The fish will prefer live blood worms but I reckon the frozen Hikari blood worms are very safe. You can purchase Frozen Hikari blood worms in any of the aquarium shops and it is pre packed into row of cubes. In this way, you can cut the blood worm cube into small bits to ration your feeding.

The reason why I would not recommend Live blood worms is that fact that I have personal experience whereby my prized betta contracted fungal disease after eating it. This might due to the source of the live blood worms and some of this local fish aquariums do not take due care in the storage of the live blood worms.

Lastly, please do not over feed your betta! Overfeeding will cause swim bladder disease!

6. Common fish diseases

The common saying is that prevention is better than cure and this is so true in being a fish hobbyist. The worst thing is to see your previous fish dying in front of your eyes.

The 3 main key points to take note in prevention of diseases:

1. Keeping your water clean
2. Keeping the temperature right (27 degree Celsius)
3. Feeding your betta with good quality food

It is important that you monitor your betta closely so as to keep track of any unusual symptoms happening. Learn to recognize and as well as understand your betta in their normal appearance and actions. Therefore if you see any usual happenings such as white spots on the body, lethargic, refusal to eat, etc this will usually give you an indication that your fish is sick.

Swim Bladder Disease

Betta has problem swimming to the surface or has problem swimming downwards. This is due to injury or disease of the swim bladder.
Treatment: Immediate usage of Anti Swim Bladder Disease (Interpet) together with a pinch of Epsom Salt and salt. Delayed treatment would led to permanent damage of swim bladder

Velvet Symptons
Betta has clamped fins, stay at the water surface and has poor appetite. A dusting of yellow/orange/gold powder is observed on the body and fins of betta. Early identification of velvet can be done by using a torchlight to shine through the fins (especially fins that are not colored, such as pectoral fins)
Treament: Use Interpet Anti Velvet and Slime plus a pinch of salt to treat. You can use a salt bath as well.

Internal Bacteria Symptoms
Betta becomes lethargic, loss of appetite, stay at water surface, and some betta may even start to look skinny.
Treatment: Use Interpet/ Ocean Free Anti internal bacteria with salt and ketapang leaves.

Signs of Internal Bacteria Symptoms precede dropsy in some cases. A clear indication of dropsy is appearance of white stringy droppings and pine-cone appearance of scales. Chance of survival is extememly low.
Treatment: Use of special yellow powder from Lam Hong Fish Shop, together with Epsom Salt and Anti Internal Bacteria medication, plus ketapang and salt.

A common problem for hobbyist with long tailed betta. Poor water conditions or a sudden change in water conditions may led to finrot. Finrot may also appear together with other disease symptoms as fish are weaken by diseases.
Treatment: There is no fixed method of treatment as different fish react differently. Yellow powder, methylene blue, melafix may be used. Interpet Anti Finrot medication is to be used with caution as one of its ingredient is a anesthetic for fish.

Betta appears to be bloated and not passing faeces. Food intake is affected.
Treatment: Salt, anti internal bacteria, epsom salt (laxative). Letting the betta flare may help in passing motion.

Fungus on body
White, fluffy and stringy stuff on the body of the betta.
Treatment: Green medication (malachite green) or methylene blue

Cloudy eye/ Pop eye
Eyes of betta appears to enlarge or become cloudy. Treatment must be done as soon as possible in order to save the betta’s life. In opaque betta, the eyes may appear as ‘cloudy’ as the betta mature but this is normal pigmentation.
Treatment: Anti internal bacteria and salt

Hanging at Surface
Could be linked to Internal Bacteria, and can be treated as having internal bacteria. However fish suffering from severe velvet also shows this symptoms.
Treatment :Interpet, ocean free anti internal bacteria, herbal anti bacteria. If velvet, treat using Interpet Anti Velvet and Slime plus a pinch of salt to treat. You can use a salt bath as well.


The first picture is a Anatomy diagram of a betta

The second picture is Copper Masked Gas Halfmoon Plakat by Pikapig
The third picture is Black Copper Halfmoon Plakat by crackerbetta
The fourth picture is Orange Halfmoon by Morriselma
The fifth picture is Red Halfmoon by Crackerbetta
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Last edited by Livingwall; 06-07-2007 at 01:25 AM.
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Old 06-07-2007, 02:06 AM   #2
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Good job, bro John. Its really great of u to compile everything and all beginners can benefit from it.
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Old 06-07-2007, 07:51 AM   #3
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This is really great, perhaps we should ask admin/mod to put it as sticky.

excellent info my friend.
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Old 06-07-2007, 10:03 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by glxi69 View Post
Good job, bro John. Its really great of u to compile everything and all beginners can benefit from it.
Thanks, some of the books that I read the language that they used it very chim, I just based on my understanding, reading and write it using my own wordings to make it easier to read.

Originally Posted by robi2000 View Post
This is really great, perhaps we should ask admin/mod to put it as sticky.

excellent info my friend.
Thanks brother, I need to speak to you about doing a breeder article.
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Old 06-07-2007, 10:29 AM   #5
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yes....rilly a good one...can publish or print will be nice....then give it out during fairs or comp.......

however, must highlight..the fish pic was taken by bro penguin...nice shot too.....
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Old 06-07-2007, 10:53 AM   #6
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Really good reference. Is this possible to get a soft copy of this starter kit?
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Old 06-07-2007, 11:18 AM   #7
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Good Work John... Keep it up
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Old 07-07-2007, 12:24 AM   #8
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Great job... Keep up the good work!!!
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Old 07-07-2007, 01:07 AM   #9
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good job. up for u
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Old 07-07-2007, 02:11 AM   #10
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Thumbs up, good info. Can mod put as sticky?
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