Abigail Dunagan, Campus Carrier asst. arts and living editor
When I was growing up, I wanted a pet fish. I was told by family and friends that the betta fish were the easiest fish to keep. It was common knowledge that they could live in a tank as small as half of a gallon, and that they needed no filter or heater and were relatively cheap and easy to care for.
At the pet store, betta fish are usually kept in small cups of water. When I adopted my first betta, the employee at the pet store recommended that I get a betta tank kit for my fish. The tank only held about half of a gallon of water, and the kit came with a small plant and some gravel. There was no heater, filter, light, or any equipment that is typically needed for a fish tank.
Unfortunately, my first betta only survived in this tank for a few months. After that, I got another betta and kept it in a small flower vase. I was a young kid at the time, and I did not know any better. This fish lived for around three years despite having a cramped vase as its home.
For a betta fish to thrive, they need to be kept in tanks that are at least 3-5 gallons that has a filter and heater. Small bowls do not allow any space for equipment. Betta fish need to be kept in a water temperature of 75-80 degrees, so it is important that their tank have a heater and a thermometer.
Looking back on my past betta fish keeping experiences, I wish I had a better understanding of how to care for them. At the time when I had my fish, it was very common for betta owners to keep them in tiny tanks. Looking on pet store websites, I notice that the half gallon betta tank kits are no longer sold. Tanks marketed for betta fish are now around 3-5 gallons in size. I believe that this shows a cultural shift in the way that betta fish are being marketed and housed. Overall, pet owners are becoming more aware of better ways to care for their fish.
Fish are very popular pets, and many college students keep them in their dorms. As long as they are provided with a tank of adequate size, betta fish are easy to care for. betta fish can be kept in smaller tank sizes, they are a perfect fish for a college student. A 5 gallon tank is big enough that the fish can live a comfortable life, but it is not difficult to set up or take down at the end of the year. Overall, while betta fish do require more equipment and a bigger tank they many people believe they need, they are still relatively easy to care for. They are excellent fish for busy college students as long as they receive proper care.