Everything you need to know to raise Fighting Fish
Well, you can't blame a goldfish for not playing fetch or staying on a leash while you're taking your evening walk (they're pretty fussy that way!). After all, their job is just to look pretty in a fishbowl, and quickly dive behind seaweed to hide from the Tabby the ever-curious cat.
So, let's introduce you to a fish that's got more character and more style, and is oodles more fun than a goldfish: the Siamese Fighting Fish!
True to its name, this beautifully colored 'water warrior' has a short temper and goes red in the face and all over (or blue, or what have you, depending on the kind you have) when you pick on the little fella. He spreads his fins, flares his gills, and gets into attack mode when you tap against the aquarium glass, although to do that all the time would be cruel, and you'd be invading his privacy. Warriors tend to be pretty irritable, you see!
Some exciting names for your boy fighter:
Some exciting names for your girl fighter:
It's always a good idea to buy a book that tells you how to take care of a pet you're about to bring home - even if it's as small as a fish. Fish need less attention than, say, a dog or cat, but deserve to be cared for equally well. You can even look for information on the internet, especially on sites like Plakatthai.com if you want to read up on fighting fish. By the way, they're also called 'Betta Splendens', or simply 'bettas', but we'll stick to calling them fighters - that's more exciting, yeah?
Through a book or good website, you'll learn about a fighter's behaviour, what aquarium equipment you will need, its water requirements, common diseases and other useful stuff.
In preparation, rinse the fighter's tank thoroughly, and rub it down with a wet washcloth, being careful not to use soap. You should treat the water according to the instructions in the book, and let the tank run its equipment for three to four days before you introduce the fish into the water. Keep the food ready, and make sure the tank is in a safe area.
The pet store you buy from should have the most space for fighting fish, and they should be kept with other fish, and not in tiny jars and cups. Check the other fish for signs of illness or sluggishness, and make sure the water they're kept in is very clean. Murky or yellowish water is a red signal, because it could mean that it carries disease. Look for a fighter with a straight spine, regularly-shaped fins without missing pieces or tears, no cottony patches, no white spots, smooth-looking scales, and no golden dust.
Don't buy a fighter that is parked at the bottom of the tank, breathing heavily. A healthy fighting fish is always willing to fight, and will be flaring at his neighbors and prancing about in the water with his fins spread when you try to pick on him.
Float your fighter's holding bag in the tank for about 20 minutes, so that the temperature in the bag becomes equal to the temperature in the tank. Putting him straight into the tank will probably ruffle him up a bit, just as you would feel uneasy going from an air conditioned room into the hot sun. Notice I say 'him' because you're most likely to choose a male fighter, since they're way more colorful and larger than the females, much like other animal and fish species in the animal kingdom.
Before putting him into the tank, open the bag, pour it into a net suspended over a bucket and then gently release him from the net into his new home. He'll swim out on his own, no coaxing needed.
A clever trick, if you're introducing your fighter into an aquarium that is home to other fish, is to distract the others for a moment by giving them a pinch of food. That'll give him some time to adjust, without too much-unwanted attention the minute he sets foot (or fin!) in his new pad. Remember, fighters like to hang around all by their lonesome most of the time.
If he doesn't seem to have an appetite, don't worry. He'll come around in a day or two.