Step 1: Picking Your Fish
1. A betta fish should be brightly colored. Some fish are naturally pale, but it is usually easy to tell those from sick fish. If the fish looks grey and speckled, and the tips of it's fins are colored, that indicates that the fish was once a different color and is probably not very healthy.
2. A fish should not have holes in it's fins. Bettas sometimes have "stringy" fins, but if the strings seem irregular or if there are holes in the fins, this may mean the fish is sick.
3. Eyes. The fish's eyes should be healthy and shiny, which is sometimes hard to see underwater. However, if the eyes are really bad, you will be able to tell.
4. The fish should respond to you waving your hand in front of it. Fish do not like it if you tap on the side of the tank, so waving your hand a few times is a better alternative. If the fish moves, it's probably healthy.
Remember, it's okay to get a fish that doesn't look 100% healthy. Pick the fish you like. Besides, it will probably perk up once you get it into warmer water, in it's new bowl.
Step 2: The Tank
1. Plants- bettas like to rest in plants. You can use fake plants, or buy real ones. Make sure they come from the pet store, and are meant to be underwater. Other plants, fake or real, can poison your fish. I also do not recommend using "betta bulbs," because they can grow fungus and poison your fish.
2. Size- Bettas can live in small spaces, but they will be uncomfortable in anything less than a half gallon. 1 gallon is probably ideal. If you have more than 5 gallons, you need a filter.
3. Cleaning- You should clean your betta's tank once every week. Make sure you rinse the gravel and any decoration, and these things can get dirty and make your fish sick.
4. Water temperature- Bettas are considered tropical fish, so they are most comfortable in warmer water. The water should be between 70 and 80 degrees.
5. Do not put your tank in direct sun. This is bad for the fish, and will aggravate it.
I don't know much about this, but bettas are sensitive to the pH levels, so it might be good to invest in a pH test kit for the first few weeks that you have your fish. If the levels remain normal, you will not need to test anymore, but of the levels fluctuate often, you may need to change something on your tank.
Also, keep male bettas separate. There are tanks that come with dividers to keep your fish separated. You can however, have as many as 5 female bettas living together, and 1 male with them, as long as they don't fight.
Last of all, wall mounted tanks are hard to clean, so if you want one, make sure you have a way to maintain it.
Step 3: Feeding and Cleaning
When you clean the tank, do not take out all the water. Take out about half, then replace it with clean. If you do take out all the water, let it sit for a little while before putting your betta in.
1. The Labyrinth Organ
The most unique thing about the betta fish is it's evolution of a labyrinth organ. Located at the top of the betta's head, the labyrinth organ allows the betta to breath air from the surface. There are over 72 types of fish who have this special organ; most of which originate in the shallow waters of Africa or Southeast Asia, where low water depth and high temperatures result in low oxygen saturation in the water.
2. The Appearance
The betta fish as grown in popularity in large part due to it's appearance. Siamese fighting fish is found in more than 25 different colors and patterns. The most common colors are red, blue, turquoise, and white. When a betta fish is happy and healthy, it's colors become more vibrant.
The elaborate fins are also a trait of the betta fish. Male betta fish have long and flowy fins, while females often have shorter fins. There are seven different varieties of fin types in betta, the most common being veiltail, followed closely by crowntail. These two varieties are usually found in most pet stores.
3. The History
Betta fish are native to the rice paddy fields of Thailand (previously known as Siam, hence the name Siamese Fighting Fish), Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and parts of China. In the early 1800s, the King of Siam began to notice that his subjects were fighting these fish and began to regulate and tax the sport. Unlike western cock and dog fights, the betta fish fights were based on bravery, not injury. Spectators would bet on how long a fish would fight and which one would retreat first.
The betta fish of these fighting competitions were not the colorful, flowing fish that we know today. The bettas of the time were typically short-finned and mud-colored, valued for their fighting skills, not their beauty. It wasn't until 1927 that the first bi-colored betta's arrived in San Francisco. After that, people began breeding betta fish for their wide array of colors and fins, giving us the many varieties we see today.
Step 5: End
Have fun with your fish!!!
(you may want to look at other instructables on this topic, as I am not an expert, and others may have more information.)