Making Would-Be Beginner Hobbyists ‘Betta Buyers’
As popular as bettas are, we still hold the same misconceptions about them. Probably because they are so often displayed in stores in those little round globes, many would-be fishkeepers think bettas don't have any care requirements.
Bettas, otherwise known as Siamese fighting fish, remain a popular part of the hobby/industry, and justifiably so. All of the qualities that have made bettas so popular are still the case: these hardy fish come in a wide variety of colors and finnage, and make better starter fish than goldfish. When I owned and operated my fish stores, there only two kinds of bettas were sold—red or blue (occasionally some with greenish casts came in).
Today there is a bewildering variety of sizes, body shapes and colors. Bettas are a truly international fish, and breeders and competitions are found all over the world. In addition to their hardiness and variety, bettas are without a doubt the easiest fish to ship. They can live in small bags in a slightly larger box (not much larger than a cigarette pack), so breeders and hobbyists from anywhere in the world can get their fish anywhere in the world easily.
As popular as bettas are, we still hold the same misconceptions about them. Probably because bettas are so often displayed in stores in those little round globes, many would-be fishkeepers think bettas do not have any requirements for their care. Until they have been properly educated (that’s our responsibility in the store), many first-time hobbyists think bettas have no special needs. Somehow folks think that bettas can be kept in tiny bowls, are fine at cold temperatures, don‘t need to be fed and, because they can “breathe air,” their water quality doesn’t matter.
Of course, bettas do best with swimming room, in a heated tank (they much prefer 80 degrees Fahrenheit), being fed a couple times a day and with either a filter or frequent water changes. The industry must ensure that potential betta buyers (nice phrase—sounds good to be a “betta buyer”) understand that their fish need space, warm water, frequent feedings and good water quality.
While some stores still display bettas in the little glass bowls (and I use the word “display” rather loosely here) there are many excellent bettas display systems available for store use. Most of these provide water heating and filtration, good lighting and presentation so the bettas all look their best. Given the wide variety of bettas on the market today, investment in a display system makes a lot of sense for any store. The typical betta sale today is not just the bowl and the betta. Many options are available for today’s betta keeper, and special foods and water conditioners for bettas also make it a very nice sale. I know this sounds a little “preachy”—I often have been accused of being that way, and most of the time I don’t mind. But bettas can be a substantial sale, and given all the varieties and colors available, it is important to display them well.