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Betta splendens

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Juska
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Betta splendens

Postby Juska » Tue Jan 15, 2013 1:07 pm

So, I've been scouring the internet searching for an answer to a burning question...what is the true lifespan of Betta splendens (the typical Bettas you see for sale in pet stores)?

Most customers I deal with at work usually parrot the "Oh, they don't live long at all! I've heard they only live like 2 years at most", but I've found that these people have almost always experienced the Betta only in those horrible vases with the plants in them (and no open surface area), or in a miniscule bowl not fit to house ANY aquatic creature.

People think they can live in those little plastic cups they come in forever, or that they can survive terrible water conditions. So yes, in those circumstances, they only live a few months to a year or so :/ But that's not how it should be.

Many people don't realize that they use their labyrinth lung system to breathe off the surface of water, but it's a defense mechanism developed for their natural habitat (small ponds, rice paddies, etc.), when the water recedes and only leaves a few inches of water. It's only supposed to be used for a short period of time until the water comes back. Not for their entire lives. But anyway.

Most fish sites I come to in the search for an age range say they live about 2-4 years, but that 5-6 years isn't uncommon. Others say they only live up to 3 years, mostly. What they don't say is what conditions they're kept in to get those numbers. I have no idea if they come from fish kept in bowls with no filtration or in actual tanks.

On the other end of the spectrum, I've heard that, with proper care (never specified on what "proper" means), that the Betta can live up to 10 years! While this seems much more plausible given the lifespan of other tropical fish, I've never heard details on what is needed to make them live that long.

I've had my Simo for about 6 months now, and I'm guessing he was about a year old when I bought him, so that would make him over a year and a half old now, given a few months in between shipping and sitting on a shelf at the store I bought him at.

He's always been in a tank with a filter since I've had him. He's got 3.5 gallons to roam, which I believe for a Betta is fine. To scale, he has about as much space as I do in my apartment (if not a little more, given the fact that he can use all the space between the ceiling and the floor, and I can't). Most resources I've read recommend 5-10 gallons, but he seems comfortable in this tank. He's a typical "lazy" male Betta and has little energy bursts in between lounging on top/inside of his little pagoda, on the grass and the plants in his tank. He even wedges himself in between the thermometer and the tank wall and lays there XD

Simo is very friendly. When I clean his tank he comes up to my hand, and if I lift the lid he'll come to the surface and let me pet him.

I've noticed that in the few months I've had him, he's changed quite a bit physically. His once light blue color has become a very deep royal blue, fading to black near his face, and it's "bled" into the white parts of his fins. Whether that's normal I don't know. It's hard to find photos of the same fish over a period of time like that online. You can see him the first day I got him in the first photo, then the other three are more recent photos taken within the last 2 weeks.

He's also recently lost a portion of his tail fin. It must have happened while I was gone or over night, because one morning I suddenly noticed the chunk missing from his tail. His behavior hasn't changed so I've ruled out sickness or disease. But it's still weird as I have yet to find any missing pieces laying around the tank anywhere or in the filter (unless he ate it).

Image
The day I got him.Image
A few days ago, you can see his tail fin is shorter.Image
He loves his pagoda :)Image
It's bigger than it looks. Three and a half gallons is a lot of water!

So, I'm not sure if those changes are from him "getting old" or just a normal thing some Bettas go through. He's a pet store Betta so he doesn't have a breeding history that I can look at or judge from. I do have a friend who purchased a "gold" Betta (probably a Cellophane), which then turned black. Perhaps while I'm at work I'll ask around if anyone else has had this happen to their fish.

I think the next time I purchase one, I will buy from a breeder, and record color/body changes and track exactly how old he gets. Then I can make a conclusive decision on how old they really can get.
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Re: Betta splendens

Postby Ash » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:00 pm

Sorry, I can't answer your question since I don't know much about fish. But I wanted to say that he is beautiful! I love how deep blue he is.
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Re: Betta splendens

Postby Juska » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:35 pm

Thanks Ash :) When I saw him for the first time, I couldn't believe they could be white and blue like that. I had never seen one that color before. Now they're more common to see, but when I show him to people they can't believe he's really those colors. My one friend from my old PetSmart store bought one like him that we got in a shipment, because she liked the way Simo looked, and named him Tsuki.

I was just playing with Simo. If I open and close my hand near him, and he'll come over and flare at me and swim around, or if I wiggle just one finger at him he'll come to me and just swim in place and watch me. I'd really like to know what he thought of me as. Since he's generally friendly towards me and lets me pet him, I'm guessing I'm on his good list :lol:
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Re: Betta splendens

Postby Juska » Tue Jan 15, 2013 6:57 pm

Sorry for the double post. I found this just now.

Here's a link citing actual studies that Betta live to be about 2 years old. http://genomics.senescence.info/species ... _splendens

Though I've known them to live much longer...I'm still unsure as to what to believe.
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Re: Betta splendens

Postby Jen Jen » Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:04 pm

I had a red store bought one, regular, nothing fancy about him. He lived to be almost three, and was still going strong. My Raphael catfish killed him, as I was procrastinating moving the the catfish to the larger tank since he was big enough. He got big enough that my betta was too temping. -_-


He was in a 20 gallon tank, kept in exemplary conditions.
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Re: Betta splendens

Postby prk22 » Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:19 pm

From what I know of them, I think the average life span is around 5 years...but you are correct in the improper care leads to a lot of dead bettas shortly after leaving Petco.

They reach maturity at about 5-7 months. Wild life is 2-3 years...proper care in captivity is around 5.

A friend of mine 'rescued' a betta from Petco while we were in undergrad...then every time we would pass through Walmart or another place, we would 'rescue' the most 'in need' fish from poor care...That sucker lived with goldfish, platties, zebra danios, neons, corys, and pleccos...never an issue...out living most of them. She just got married this summer (7 years from the rescue) and he died on the wedding night. The (not so funny) joke was that he could not live another day if she had another man in her life.

Random end story...but they are hardy fish if you treat them right...and can live a decent length of time.
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Re: Betta splendens

Postby Lasergrl » Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:56 pm

the fin damage is one of two things.
fin rot, not likely, water is too clean
damage, very likely from the plastic plants. i learned the hard way that only natural plants or fabric plants keep the fins entire. i bred bettas about 15 years ago. before all the cool imported ones showed up. wish they had those types then.
the tank is beautiful, but, he is slowly tearing his fins apart on the anarchis type plants. at least thats my guess as its what i experienced as well.
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Re: Betta splendens

Postby Juska » Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:58 pm

I can take those two tall plastic plants out, they don't really do a whole lot for the tank. He does like to lay on the one on the left side, with the little pink flower on it. That one's been in there ever since I've had him and it has rounded edges. The anacharis plant is kinda rough.

Do you think the fake grass I have in there might have hurt him too? It's actually quite soft though, and is anchored on a plastic grid that goes down under the gravel. He likes to sit on it. I deemed it safe because there aren't any jagged edges, really. But the ones on the right and left can go, I suppose.

Jen Jen, I "rescued" Simo from a Petco as well. Normally I don't trust their fish, they're usually full of dead ones in the tanks and extremely dirty (at my local store anyway), but these ones had just come in and had crystal clear water. I figured he was "untouched" and decided to buy him then, hehe.
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Re: Betta splendens

Postby Talys » Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:44 am

I love the relationship with yours and the friendliness (the tank is a gorgeous set up and you have quite a handsome little man there!). If what you said is a basis to go by about yours and shipping and age at the shop, then my little prince is at least over 2 now.
~Oreo and Snickerdoodle (cats) & Smaug and Istari (Betta splendens)~
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Re: Betta splendens

Postby Juska » Sun Jan 20, 2013 12:04 pm

Thank you :)

I took that anacharis plant out a few days ago. I guess I'll have to wait and see if his fins repair themselves. When my goldfish lost a bit of his tail fin (the only time I ever had to net him, he struggled a little before I could pinch him in the net to stop him from moving, and it tore a bit of the fin off), it grew back in a few months, probably a little more than two. So here's hoping it's a quick process. I'll be adding Stress Coat conditioner to his tank during changes, it has aloe and supposedly helps heal wounds (after it has closed of course, aloe has sugar in it and an open wound would probably become infected with that).
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Re: Betta splendens

Postby Talys » Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:12 pm

How's he doing?
~Oreo and Snickerdoodle (cats) & Smaug and Istari (Betta splendens)~
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Re: Betta splendens

Postby Juska » Sun Jan 27, 2013 5:20 pm

I've removed his old plants, including the grass on the bottom, and I've been dosing him with Melafix (bacterial infection medication). It helps their fins/wounds heal quickly and also treats fin rot. A co-worker I've become friends with breeds Bettas and he recommended it to me.

I've also given him a heater, because the heaters (hot water) in our bedroom have stopped working for some reason. His tank is at a steady 76 degrees now. It's a Top Fin 15 watt heater, one of the flat ones that you just plug in and stick in the water. It works surprisingly well, and for $14 I'm pretty happy with it. I have it buried under the gravel.

I got him a plain, plastic hairgrass plant and a silk plant. Here's a photo I took today:

Image
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Re: Betta splendens

Postby Talys » Sun Jan 27, 2013 7:11 pm

How much was the Melafix? He looks like quite the spoiled little man!
~Oreo and Snickerdoodle (cats) & Smaug and Istari (Betta splendens)~
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Re: Betta splendens

Postby Juska » Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:10 pm

The Melafix is $7.99 a bottle, not counting my 15% discount at PetSmart. If it'll help him, money is not a hindrance to me when it comes to my pets. There's also a 30 day return policy, so I'll definitely know if it works or not by that time and I can return it if not. I keep all my receipts, because you just never know :lol:

Simo seems as lively as ever, so hopefully the medicine will work and I'll see his fins back in a week or so. If not by then, something else must be up other than his fins just being torn. It's already been almost two weeks since it first happened.
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Re: Betta splendens

Postby Juska » Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:07 am

Well, it's been another week, and I haven't noticed any improvement. I've even removed his pagoda and left in only his plants. I've been treating with Melafix every single day, until today.

I did a Google search just now, "melafix betta", and a lot of sites and forums came up that said Melafix is dangerous and downright deadly to Bettas and other fish with Labyrinth lung systems. Well, I've been treating mine with it, and a normal dose for non-Betta fish, for over a week and he's totally fine. My co-worker who breeds Bettas has never lost one to using it and obviously wouldn't recommend something like that if he knew it did. So I think I just debunked that myth.

However, it doesn't seem to be helping his fins grow back. So I'm going to discontinue using the medicine for now. I will keep it around though as it does have a pleasant smell (Tea Tree oil), and does have good qualities about it that might come in handy in the future.

I guess Simo is stuck with his fins the way they are. I don't know what else to do to help him other than keeping his tank clean.
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