Fish are Betta Pets

Now that J and Little E are both in preschool, we figured that it was a good time to let them help to take care of a small animal. They are still a little bit young to be responsible for caring for a small furry creature, so we decided to choose a relatively low maintenance, hardy pet – a fish.

The Husband and I used to keep tropical fish in a small tank when we were still living in the UK, and they are actually quite finicky creatures to look after in a cold country – we were forever measuring the temperature, pH levels and nitrate levels in the water, and making sure that our little underwater community got along well. This is why we did not think that fish would be a suitable pet for a young child.

However, in Little E’s classroom this year, there is a tiny little plastic tank containing a single fish and a marimo ball. Little E’s teacher told me that the fish has already survived one year of living in a nursery-level classroom, constantly surrounded by little children…and it seems to be happy and healthy.

This fish isΒ Betta splendens – better known as the Siamese Fighting Fish. Little E’s teacher explained to me that the Betta is one that thrives in small amount of stagnant water in a warm environment, which makes it the perfect little aquariam fish for small children living in small apartments, who will only need to feed it once daily and change the water weekly (grownups can help clean the tank).

Inspired by this revelation, we took J and Little E on a surprise trip to the local aquarium store and allowed them to each choose a Betta fish to keep! Here they are:



This is J’s Betta. GingerBomb is a Steel blue Piebald Deltatail. Ginger is a quiet fish who likes to hang out behind his marimo ball, but he comes out to play whenever J comes near the tank (which is why J liked him to begin with).



E’s betta is a Red Dragon Deltatail and is called TataBob. He is very flashy and is a little bit of a show off. You can see him posing for the camera in the picture – he held that pose very still for nearly a minute and only wandered off once I’d put the camera away!

I’ll keep you all updated as to their progress!


13 thoughts on “Fish are Betta Pets

  1. That teacher actually gave you information that is widely spread, but also unfortunately very incorrect. In their natural habitats, bettas have enormous stretches of slow-moving water. Kept in a small container (or cube, as it seems your bettas are in), bettas will quickly produce enough ammonia to reach toxic levels in the water within a day. Bettas that are kept in heated, filtered, cycled aquariums of at least 2.5 gallons are much healthier, more vibrant, and live longer than bettas kept in tiny containers. πŸ™‚ Just because they are surviving, does not mean they are thriving.

    • Thanks for your advice and concern for the fish, Kelilia! Yes, I’ve heard that in the wild, Betta fish live in the large rice paddy fields. Little E’s teacher is correct, though, as in Singapore we do actually have local strains of Betta that live in shallow puddles near our remote waterways, but yes, as you have rightly observed, perhaps they are surviving, not thriving. At the moment, both the Bettas are happy enough to blow bubble nests in their tanks, which I gather is behaviour that only happy and healthy male Betta exhibit. I change the water in small, frequent amounts to keep it fresh, and as our ambient temperature in Singapore is between 25-30C, it usually isn’t necessary to heat the tank.

      • Actually some stressed and sick betta blow bubble nests as well, some have done so in tiny cups or on the verge of death- there’s a photo floating around of one that was suffering from severe swim bladder problems who still bubble nested even though he was floating on the surface, that fish died the next day from tuberculosis.

        That said, you are doing right by frequently changing the water and such. One thing about those waterways, is that rain and seepage into the ground keeps the water clean enough for the fish to survive and breed in the wild.

      • Ah! That is surprising! I guess these Betta fish are real fighters in that sense that they’ll attempt to breed even if they are dying.

        The aquarium where I got our fish also breeds their own Betta and those were the tanks they offered me although I was actually prepared to get a larger tank (I was told only to get the larger tanks if I intended to breed the fish) – in fact, in all the shops that I have visited in Singapore, the male Betta fish are sold individually and are kept in little clear plastic cups.

        This is probably because it’s traditional here to keep the Betta fish in small jam jars and cups, and I have heard of some barbaric practices for ‘exercising’ the fish which are currently slowly being phased out. What I’m doing now is timing my water changes for whenever it rains in Singapore, which is pretty often, since it’s considered a rainforest environment here.

    • Yes! The children picked out the marimo ball themselves, actually. I haven’t really done my research on aquatic plants yet for small tanks but this one seems to work well.

  2. Love how pretty both little fishes are, and they’ve got such interesting names! I like that you can already tell what their characters are like after such a short time, and I’m sure your kids will have a great time observing their pets. πŸ™‚

    • I think they are really pretty too! I was actually surprised when J chose the white and blue fish because it was the least showy of the lot – there was a beautiful blue and purple fish right next to it which he totally ignored! These are actually the ‘low end’ ones that are about SGD$1-2 each. There are some SUPER gorgeous Betta that cost upwards of SGD$50 and you can really tell the difference!

      • Wow, J must have really had a connection with the fish. How wonderful! I didn’t know there were such expensive Betta fish around, especially when these look so pretty already. I actually feel bad for the ‘low end’ pets on sale sometimes, and I’m glad you gave these two a nice home. They’re very lucky! πŸ™‚

  3. Beautiful! I love the color of your children’s pets! πŸ™‚ They look excellent! The kids must have been very happy taking care of GingerBomb and TataBob (cool and unique names).

  4. Pingback: Grief, Loss and Small Children (Part 1): Breaking Bad News | Owls Well

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s