I love having my little Betta fish as an office pet; he really brightens up my day.
Having a Betta Fish in the Office Is Great!
The Betta, or Siamese Fighting Fish, is a remarkably beautiful fish that is just as remarkably hardy. A beautiful, well-kept Betta on your desktop can bring a sense of serenity to your day and give you a break when things get stressful. But is it possible to keep a living creature happy in a small setup on your desk? I believe it is.
A few years ago, there was a big fad of keeping Bettas in glass vases with a plant growing out of the top. I will be the first to say that this is a terrible way to keep a Betta. In fact, my first Betta was one I rescued from just such a situation. "Fred" belonged to a coworker who believed that this arrangement set up a perfect microcosm. Therefore, he never changed the water, so poor Fred was forced to swim around in a seething, cloudy soup until I took him over and changed his surroundings. But Fred was a fighter, so even after many months of neglect, Fred came through like a trooper and thrived for many years as my desktop pet.
The Basics of Keeping a Healthy Betta
I kept Bettas around the office happily and successfully for several years after that, and here is how I did it.
- Tank: First, be sure that the container you pick for your Betta is at least a gallon. There are a lot of pretty and interesting containers you can get in this size. One of my favorites is a glass apothecary jar with a glass lid. Just be sure it is not an air-tight glass lid. If it has a rubber seal, remove it!
- Gravel: In addition to the jar, you will need aquarium gravel, marbles, and/or glass discs. Put a thin layer of one of these (or a combination) over the bottom of the jar. Don't use too much. You don't want to consume valuable swimming space with gravel.
- Décor: For ornamentation, get one nice plastic plant. A small, sturdy one is good as Bettas actually like to lie on them to rest! Also, provide your Betta with a hiding place. You can buy a little castle or cave, but I have found that a dark glass vitamin bottle is even better. In dark green, blue, or brown, it looks pretty, and all of my Bettas have really seemed to enjoy hiding in these.
- Aeration: You can provide aeration with a small pump and airstone, but this is not absolutely necessary. Bettas breathe through a system known as a labyrinth lung. They go to the surface, inhale a bubble of air, and consume that until it is gone, then they go back to the surface and get another one. Many people who keep Bettas feel that an airstone is essential, but I have not found this to be true.
- Food and Equipment: Other things you will need include a small net, a bottle of de-chlorinator, and a container of Betta food. Also, you may need a small vacuum hose, depending on how you choose to clean your setup. (Note: De-chlorinator is very important. Without it, your Betta will die rapidly and painfully.)
How to Prepare Before You Get the Fish
Before you get your Betta, prepare your setup.
- Rinse the container, the gravel, and the plant very thoroughly with clean water. Never use any soap or detergent on anything your Betta will come in contact with.
- Spread a thin layer of gravel over the bottom of your setup. You could also use marbles or glass discs or just add a few marbles or glass discs to the gravel as decoration.
- Anchor the plant and add the hide-out.
- Select a good spot for your Betta, in indirect light, where you can see and enjoy him.
- Add water and de-chlorinator.
- Then, just let the setup sit for a few days. This will give the water a chance to settle and get to room temperature.
How to Choose a Healthy Fish
Now it is time to go choose your Betta. Whenever I choose a Betta, I watch for the ones that are the most lively and active and seem to want to interact with me. These are the ones that flare and spread their gills a lot and seem to look you right in the eye.
Select four to six of these and set their little jars side by side. Watch how they interact with each other and with you. Examine them for any injuries or sores. Eliminate the ones that are not quite as feisty or that have any imperfections. When you have made your choice, you are ready to take him to your office and introduce him to his new home.
Caring for Your Betta at the Office
Once you're at the office, set his cup beside his new setup for at least 15 minutes to allow the water in the cup to become room temperature. Once this time has passed, just open the cup and ease it into the water so that your Betta can swim out into his new home. You now have an office pet that will bring you moments of joy during your workday and a chance for snippets of relaxation and connection—all in exchange for very little care.
You will want to feed your pet once a day. Just give him a very small pinch of Betta food. He doesn't need a lot, and if you overfeed, you will find yourself having to clean his setup more often. You should only have to do a water change once every four days or so.
You may find it very handy, as I do, to have two complete setups for your Betta. That way, when it is time for cleaning, you can just transfer the Betta from one setup to the other.
The Two-Setup System
- Completely clean the setup you have just removed the Betta from to rinse out droppings and neglected bits of food.
- Rinse the gravel very lightly with lukewarm water so as to preserve the beneficial bacteria that grow on the gravel.
- Add water, add de-chlorinator, and set the container aside.
- Three or four days later, when it is time to change again, just transfer the Betta again.
Using a Hose or Pouring
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Alternately, you can just change half of the water in the one setup every four days or so. To do this, you would use the vacuum hose. If you use the vacuum hose, you will need to have a bucket to run the water into. In an office setting, storing a vacuum hose and a bucket can be a problem.
Of course, you could just carry your setup into the kitchen or bathroom and pour off half the water. The only problem with this is you run the risk of pouring your Betta out with the water, and you can't get your gravel as clean.
So for me, I just find it easier at the office to keep two setups, one behind the other. They don't take up much room, and they simplify cleaning time. Just put your Betta in the one that is already set up, and clean and prepare the other one. This has the advantage of letting the water sit for several days so that it is the right temperature when you put the Betta in.
What to Do Before the Weekend
On weekends, if your office does not become extremely hot or cold, your Betta will be fine without you. Just feed him last thing before you leave and first thing on Monday. If your office does get really hot or cold, you may need to take him home with you on weekends.
In this case, keep a quart jar ready to use for transport. A peanut butter jar is ideal for this. It is large, clear, unbreakable, and watertight with the lid screwed on. Fill it about 2/3rds full of water from the setup. This will leave room for air. You can pop it into a tote bag and carry your Betta home. Be sure to go straight home and take the lid off so your Betta can breathe. He will be fine in this temporary home for the weekend.
A Desktop Betta Is Worth the Effort
Although setting up a Betta properly as an office pet is a lot of work initially, I have really found it to be well worth the effort. Having this beautiful, friendly little fellow around brightens up any office. Coworkers love to stop by and talk with him, and just seeing him there in his tranquil world amidst our human chaos does the heart good. A well-cared-for Betta can live many years and bring a lot of joy. I hope you will decide to add a Betta to your desktop.
© 2008 justmesuzanne
Indian Chef from New Delhi India on May 19, 2013:
Very beautiful fish
justmesuzanne (author) from Texas on May 13, 2013:
Many thanks! :)
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 13, 2013:
I can see where a bright and beautiful beta fish would brighten up an office environment. You have given excellent tips on how to achieve a nice environment for one. Up and interesting votes.
justmesuzanne (author) from Texas on January 14, 2012:
Thanks "BJ Driver"! ;D
Xin Ping from Beijing, China on January 14, 2012:
I like the fish.so beautiful!
justmesuzanne (author) from Texas on March 25, 2011:
I'm glad I could help! :) Betas are great pets! :)
pop8888 on March 25, 2011:
my betta fish bungii is the best ever !I loveher your info is great!THANKS! Bungii is so happy now.'''''!
justmesuzanne (author) from Texas on March 24, 2011:
Thanks ponch! You can contact me through Hub Pages. Just click on the contact link and sen your e mail. I have deleted your comment that had your e mail address in it to protect your privacy :)
ponch Thailand on March 24, 2011:
Dear justmesuzanne, if you don't mind i would like to be your friend to talk about siamese fighting fish. ponch Thailand
justmesuzanne (author) from Texas on March 16, 2011:
toknowinfo on March 16, 2011:
Betas are beautiful fish. You did a great job of explaining proper care of them. Very valuable hub. Rated up and useful.
justmesuzanne (author) from Texas on February 15, 2011:
Betas are certainly the hardiest and easiest to keep! :)
PaperNotes on February 15, 2011:
I really want to have a fish pet but my husband doesn't agree. Perhaps I need to persuade him more!
justmesuzanne (author) from Texas on January 04, 2010:
Thanks, Gold! :)
gold400 from Australia on January 03, 2010:
Hi - what a great Hub! I'm so glad you rescued that poor Beta from living in those terrible conditions. Your Hub is very informative and well put together. My Hub on Siamese Fighting fish is currently under construction.
justmesuzanne (author) from Texas on June 30, 2009:
Oh good! Yes! Please do! That's a miserable way for a beta to live!
BkCreative from Brooklyn, New York City on June 29, 2009:
Yikes justmesuzanne - this is exactly what my friend is doing with one of her fish - she has it underneath the plant and it is dying. I will forward this hub to her now. Thanks a million!!!!!!
Betta splendens- The ultimate tropical fish on May 05, 2009:
bettas are my favorites, hardy and tolerate fish.
justmesuzanne (author) from Texas on March 17, 2009:
Thanks for the comment! Yes, I do add a bit of non iodized salt, but not much. Betas seem to be quite sensitive to it! In my three gallon tank, I just add a pinch. I use rock salt or pickling salt because aquarium sea salt is so expensive. These salts are not as complete and don't contain the added minerals of sea salt, but are OK for me because my town still uses well-water that is mineral rich.
K D Martel from Quebec, CANADA on March 17, 2009:
True, they are wonderful pets, I've had them for years! I keep one in my room, near the patio door so that the sun is on him for most of the afternoon. He is friendly and loves attention! Over the years, I have found that when I change their water every week or so, I always put a few granules of aquarium sea salt which I find helps with keeping them in good health!
justmesuzanne (author) from Texas on February 21, 2009:
Thank you! I am down to one Beta now. I have had as many as 30 at a time! They are charmers! :)
BkCreative from Brooklyn, New York City on February 21, 2009:
My feng shui buddy loves these fish and when I go visit her I get to enjoy them - she now has two, in separate bowls.
I will forward this info to her - I know she will love looking at those fish tanks - as I did.
We both appreciate it! Thanks!
pupsforme on November 04, 2008:
I love them. My little cousin's favourite pet!
moonlake from America on November 02, 2008:
Our daughter had Betas in fish bowls with twinkle lights nestled in tulle around the bowl. They were so pretty and the children at the wedding got to take one home as a pet. Our youngest son also took one he hauled that fish with him when he drove to Arizona to live then brought it back with him when he returned home. They are pretty fish and we have always had them.
Enjoyed your hub.
Rebecca Graf from Wisconsin on November 02, 2008:
I haven't had one of these creatures in several years. You've made me miss them. Might have to look into getting another one.