I love having my little betta fish as a pet in the office; he really makes my day.
having a betta fish in the office is great!
The betta, or Siamese fighting fish, is an incredibly beautiful fish that is just as hardy. A beautiful, well-cared-for betta on your desk 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 desktop? I think it is.
Reading: Betta fish feng shui
A few years ago, there was a big fad of keeping bettas in glass vases with a plant growing on top. I’ll be the first to say that this is a terrible way to keep a betta. in fact, my first betta was one that I rescued from just such a situation. “fred” belonged to a co-worker who believed that this arrangement created a perfect microcosm. therefore, he never changed the water, so poor fred was forced to swim in a murky, boiling soup until i took him and changed the environment of him. but fred was a fighter, so even after many months of neglect, fred came through as a soldier and thrived for many years as my desktop pet.
the basics of keeping a betta healthy
I kept bettas in the office happily and successfully for several years after that, and this is how I did it.
- Tank: First, make sure the container you choose for your betta is at least one gallon. there are many nice and interesting containers you can get in this size. one of my favorites is a glass apothecary jar with a glass top. just make sure it’s not an airtight glass lid. if you have a rubber seal, remove it!
- gravel: In addition to the jar, you will need aquarium gravel, marbles, and/or glass disks. spread 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.
- decoration: for ornamentation, get a nice plastic plant. a small sturdy one is good as bettas like to lay on them to rest! Also, provide your betta with a hiding place. you can buy a little castle or a cave, but I’ve found that a dark glass vitamin bottle is even better. in dark green, blue, or brown, it looks pretty, and all my bettas seem to really like to hide in these.
- aeration: you can provide aeration with a small pump and aerator, but this is not absolutely necessary. Bettas breathe through a system known as a labyrinth lung. they go to the surface, inhale an air bubble and consume it until it’s gone, then come back to the surface and get another one. Many people who keep bettas feel an air stone is essential, but I haven’t found this to be true.
- Food and Equipment: Other things you’ll need include a small net, a bottle of dechlorinator and a container of betta food. additionally, you may need a small vacuum hose, depending on how you choose to clean your setup. (Note: Dechlorinator is very important. Without it, your betta will die quickly and painfully.)
how to prepare before getting the fish
Before you get your betta, prepare your setup.
- rinse the container, gravel and plant very well with clean water. never use soap or detergent on anything your betta comes in contact with.
- Spread a thin layer of gravel over the bottom of your enclosure. you can also use glass marbles or discs or just add some glass marbles or discs to the gravel as decoration.
- fix the plant and add the hiding place.
- select a good place to your betta, in indirect light, where you can see it and enjoy it.
- add water and dechlorinator.
- then just let the setup sit for a few days. this will give the water a chance to settle and reach room temperature.
how to choose a healthy fish
Now it’s time to choose your betta. Whenever I choose a betta, I look for the ones that are the most lively and active and seem to want to interact with me. these are the ones that widen and open their gills wide and seem to look you right in the eye.
Select four to six of these and place your little jars next to each other. watch how they interact with each other and with you. Examine them for injuries or sores. weed out the ones that aren’t as feisty or have any blemishes. When you’ve made your choice, it’s ready to take you to your office and introduce you to your new home.
taking care of your betta at the office
once you’re in the office, place your mug next to your new setup for at least 15 minutes to allow the water in the mug to come to room temperature. Once this time has passed, simply open the cup and place it in the water so your betta can swim to its new home. now you have an office pet that will bring you moments of joy during your workday and the opportunity for moments of relaxation and connection, all for very little attention.
You’ll want to feed your pet once a day. just give it a very small pinch of betta food. you don’t need much, and if you overfeed, you’ll have to clean your setup more often. you should only need to do a water change once every four days or so.
You may find it very helpful, as I did, to have two complete setups for your betta. that way, when it’s time to clean up, you can simply transfer the betta from one setup to the other.
the system of two configurations
- Thoroughly clean the setup you just removed the betta from to rinse away any droppings and leftover food.
- rinse the gravel very lightly with warm water to preserve the beneficial bacteria that grow into the gravel.
- add water, add dechlorinator and set the container aside.
- three or four days later, when it’s time to change again, simply transfer the betta from new.
using a hose or pouring
Alternatively, you can change half the water on a setting every four days or so. to do this I would use the vacuum hose. if you use the vacuum hose, you will need a bucket to run the water. In an office, storing a vacuum hose and bucket can be a problem.
Of course, you could just take your setup into the kitchen or bathroom and pour out half the water. the only problem with this is that you risk spilling your betta with the water, and you can’t get the gravel that clean.
For me, it’s just easier in the office to keep two setups one after the other. They do not take up much space and simplify cleaning time. simply place your betta in the one that is already set up, and clean and groom the other one. this has the advantage of letting the water sit for several days so it is the right temperature when you put the betta in.
what to do before the weekend
On the weekends, if your office doesn’t get extremely hot or cold, your betta will be fine without you. just feed it last thing before you leave and first thing on Monday. if your office gets really hot or cold, you may need to take it home with you on the weekends.
In this case, keep a ready-to-use quart jar for transportation. a peanut butter jar is ideal for this. It is large, transparent, unbreakable and airtight with a screw-on lid. fill it approximately 2/3 of its capacity with water from the installation. this will leave room for air. you can put it in a tote bag and take your betta home. make sure you go straight home and remove the lid so your betta can breathe. he’ll be fine in this temporary home over the weekend.
a desktop betta is worth it
Although setting up a betta properly as an office pet is a lot of work at first, I’ve found that it’s really worth the effort. Having this cute and cute little friend around brightens up any office. co-workers love to stop by and talk to him, and just seeing him there in his quiet world in the midst of our human chaos does the heart good. A well cared for betta can live for many years and bring a lot of joy. I hope you decide to add a betta to your desktop.
© 2008 justmesuzanne
indian chef from new delhi india on 19th may 2013:
very nice fish
justmesuzanne (author) from texas on May 13, 2013:
thank you very much! 🙂
peggy woods of houston, texas on May 13, 2013:
I can see where a bright and beautiful betta fish would brighten up an office environment. you have given excellent advice on how to achieve a pleasant environment for oneself. interesting votes.
justmesuzanne (author) from texas on January 14, 2012:
thank you “bj driver”! ;d
xin ping beijing, china on january 14, 2012:
I like fish. how beautiful!
justmesuzanne (author) from texas on March 25, 2011:
Glad I could help! 🙂 betas make great pets! 🙂
pop8888 on March 25, 2011:
my betta fish bungii is the best ever! I love her! your information is excellent! Thank you! bungii is so happy now.””’!
justmesuzanne (author) from texas on March 24, 2011:
thanks punch! You can contact me through the central pages. just click on the contact link and send your email. I have removed your comment that had your email address to protect your privacy 🙂
ponch thailand on March 24, 2011:
dear justmesuzanne, if you don’t mind, I’d like to be your friend to talk about Siamese fighting fish. thailand punch
justmesuzanne (author) from texas on March 16, 2011:
thank you! 🙂
toknowinfo on March 16, 2011:
bettas are beautiful fish. you did a great job explaining the proper care of them. very valuable shaft. qualified and helpful.
justmesuzanne (author) from texas on February 15, 2011:
Beta versions are by far the most robust and maintainable! 🙂
paper notes of February 15, 2011:
I really want to have a pet fish, but my husband doesn’t agree. maybe I need to persuade him more!
justmesuzanne (author) from texas on January 04, 2010:
thanks, gold! 🙂
gold400 from australia on January 3, 2010:
hi, what a great center! I’m so glad you rescued that poor beta from living in those terrible conditions. your center is very informative and well organized. my center on siamese fighting fish is currently under construction.
justmesuzanne (author) from texas on June 30, 2009:
so good! Yes! please do it! that’s a lousy way to live for a beta version!
bkcreative of brooklyn, new york city on June 29, 2009:
oh justmesuzanne: this is exactly what my friend is doing with one of her fish: it’s under the plant and it’s dying. I’m going to forward this hub to her now. Thanks a million!!!!!!
betta splendens: the ultimate tropical fish on May 5, 2009:
bettas are my favourites, they are hardy and tolerant fish.
justmesuzanne (author) from texas on March 17, 2009:
thanks for the comment! yes, I add a little non-iodized salt, but not too much. the betas seem to be quite sensitive to this! in my three gallon tank, I only add a pinch. I use rock salt or pickling salt because sea salt for aquariums is very expensive. these salts are not as complete and do not contain the added minerals of sea salt, but they are fine for me because my city still uses well water which is rich in minerals.
k d martel of quebec, canada on march 17, 2009:
That’s right, they are wonderful pets, I’ve had them for years! I keep one in my bedroom near the patio door so it gets the sun most of the afternoon. He is friendly and loves attention! Over the years, I’ve found that when I change the water each week, I always put in a few granules of aquarium sea salt, which I think helps keep them in good health!
justmesuzanne (author) from texas on February 21, 2009:
thank you! I am down to a beta version now. I have had as many as 30 at one time! They are lovely! 🙂
bkcreative of brooklyn, new york on February 21, 2009:
My feng shui friend loves these fish and when I go to visit her I can enjoy them; now she has two, in separate bowls.
I’ll send this information to her, I know she’ll love looking at those tanks, just like I did.
we both appreciate it! thanks!
pupsforme on November 4, 2008:
I love them. My little cousin’s favorite pet!
lake of the moon of america on November 2, 2008:
Our daughter had betas in fish tanks with twinkly lights wrapped in tulle around the tank. they were so cute that the children at the wedding took one home as a pet. our youngest took one too, he took that fish with him when she drove to arizona to live and then brought it with him when she returned home. they are beautiful fish and we have always had them.
I enjoyed your center.
rebecca graf from wisconsin on November 02, 2008:
I haven’t had one of these creatures for several years. You have made me miss them. you may have to find another.