A little science behind betta fish before I get overly emotional.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Subphylum: Vertebrata
- Class: Actinoptergii
- Order: Perciformes
- Suborder: Anabantoidei
- Family: Belontiidae
- Genus: Betta
- Species: Betta splendens
Bettas, also commonly known as Siamese Fighting Fish, come from tropical areas in Asia. They are known to be very hardy fish. It is said that bettas are able to survive in shallow waters, even puddles. As the puddle dries out, the betta jumps out and finds a new home (this is why its important to have a vented cover on your betta tanks).
Because bettas house something known as a “labyrinth” organ, they can actually obtain oxygen directly from the air by swimming to the top of a tank to the surface of the water. Bettas, however, like normal fish, push water past their gills, where a high surface area and amount of capillaries are found for gas exchange. The technique is called countercurrent exchange, where water flows in the opposite direction of blood flow in capillaries to maximize the amount of respiration that takes place.
In the wild, males typically fight until one declares dominance over a territory (but in a small tank, there is no escape and leads to death). In captivity for breeding purposes, usually males cannot be placed in a tank until the female has changed color, indicating she has released a hormone that signals the male she is ready to mate. Males then create a bubble nest to house and protect eggs until they hatch.
Shadow my love! On the evening of July 4th, 2011 you took your final air bubbles of breathe and we parted ways as you went to fishy heaven.
Biography of Shadow Alonzo, the ever Spunky Betta Fish:
I had originally gotten Shadow just a little bit over a year ago for my 20th birthday in April 2010. I was lonely in my dorm, and my parents brought him all the way up from New York. He was young and vibrant with many iridescent colors of purple, blue, silver, and maroon. Happily making bubble nests left and right as he sat upon the indirect sunlit windowsill at my Millennium Hall dorm.
Then, mommy got sick, my heart got broken, and I had to leave Shadow for a month in the care of my dear friends Naomi & Megan. When I returned and brought Shadow to our new home in North Hall, he was grumpy and lovable as ever in our sweltering hot, AC-less room.
In Caneris, he spent his days gazing out from Megan’s Ikea mesh bookshelf where I made a sign telling us if he was fed or not. He even survived the big move to our very first apartment in West Philly, and this is where his fishy tale ends.
Shadow, we had a lot of fights as I tried to coax you into a cup to change your tank water. Especially when I took away your belovedly guarded tree, Eywa (like in Avatar the James Cameron movie), to scrub all the poop off.
And you flared at me more than you ever did when I showed you other bettas and your own reflection. Others would say that you hated me or that you were simply stressed out. But I loved you so much, and I know you loved me, too. You were my first co-host when I did video blog posts back in the day.
You kept me company at night as I studied my life away. I talked to you whenever I had a new sewing project or was troubled about something. You protected my room while I was away, and I will miss your vitality and shiny scales and beautiful tail.
I’m so sad to see you go, and I know I promised you things like a new tank and pretty gravel. I wish I could have given you more before you went, like a better food variety or a heater. But I suppose you were too big of a fish in a small tank, you deserved a bigger place to roam.
(Shadow loves sarcasm :’) )
I’m glad you waited for me before you passed on. Thank you for waiting for me to come home first. When I saw you had lost appetite, I knew something was up as you are always eager for food. Then began the week of you floating vertically, I knew that your fish bladder had given way and your scales had lost heir luster. Today, I sat with you, talking to you as you crazily flitted side to side, hoping to calm you down. Finally, I said a prayer hoping to ease your pain, and you relaxed and sank besides your favorite tree. I knew you were at peace.
I know many of you may think this is a bit dramatic for a pet fish, but Shadow was and still is a very important part of my college life. It was especially devastating because we had just lost our last koi fish in our fish pond at home, which I will talk about next time. As for Shadow, he watched me as I grew the most rapidly, and he grew chubby and long and beautiful as the months passed by.
My most favorite photo of you my dear, taken by Megan.
Thank you for being in my life Shadow, I’ll miss you muchly ❤ Rest in peace ❤