One of the simplest and most beautiful classroom pets is a betta fish. These gorgeous, vibrantly colored fish live in shallow, warm water in the wild, in the rice paddies of Thailand and Cambodia. The males are more brightly colored than the females, with longer, flowing fins. Two males cannot be kept in the same tank, because they will fight.
Bettas can live in modest tanks- generally a five gallon tank or larger will do for a single betta fish. Bettas may not need a pump in their bowl or tank because they have the unique ability to take in oxygen from the air at the surface of the water. However, without a filter system you will need to provide your betta with clean, properly conditioned water frequently.
Bettas thrive in warm water – so you may need a small heater to keep your betta’s water temperature at 75 or higher. Bettas are carnivores in the wild, eating insects and larvae. They do like live food, but can also thrive on special betta food and freeze dried foods.
Some say that bettas are social and will anticipate feedings and react to things outside of their bowl, even seeing their own reflection in a mirror. There is a lot to learn about these intriguing and beautiful fish, so get your classroom research project started and decide if a betta fish is the right pet for your classroom.
For more information on Pets in the Classroom, visit www.petsintheclassroom.org.