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Betta fish
Original photo by Isabelle L\'Huillier

Yes, a Fish is a Pet: My Experience With My New Betta Fish

If you’re someone who has adopted a pet since quarantine started last March, you’re not alone. Rather than adopt the typical cat or dog, my experience starts with my betta fish named Bader (half homage to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, half because it sounds cool since he’s a betta fish). My journey with Bader starts at the PetSmart store near my house. I initially went to PetSmart with my list of potential fish that are good for beginners, while also taking into consideration which fish would be comfortable in the small-to-medium sized tank that would fit on my desk. I walked over to the pet section, knowing close to nothing about taking care of a fish (barring any bad experiences when I was little). I looked at the guppies, the minnows, and even the snails before walking over the the betta section. There I saw the female betta fish, which don’t have as expansive fins as the males do. I saw the fish that looked like they had been stuck in PetSmart for years, but my soon-to-be fish, Bader, was swimming around in his small 8oz cup rapidly, as if he was looking for something, or was in a rush to do something. I picked up his cup and knew I had to take the active red crown tail male betta home.

Betta fish
Original photo by Isabelle L\'Huillier

I also bought a 3.5 gallon tank with a filter and LED lights, a small heater, food, fake plants, rocks, a cube hiding place, water conditioner, and some carnivorous treats. I let the water treatment sit in the new tank overnight before slowly acclimating Bader. When the temperature equalized between his tank and his small cup, I set him into the new tank. At first, he seemed like he was in shock, which I read is normal. Bader spent less than a day hiding behind the filter and before I knew it, he was off excitedly exploring the fake plants, rocks, and cube hiding spot. 

blue water in Saint-Tropez, France
Photo by Julie Aagaard from Pexels

One of my happiest moments came when I discovered a group of bubbles at one corner of his tank about two weeks after adopting him. I furiously typed on my computer to find out what the betta experts had to say about this foamy bubble structure in the corner of his tank, and read that Bader was building a “bubble nest,” something happy and healthy male betta fish do when they feel safe and prepared to mate! Granted, I don’t think I could handle taking care of 100-300 fry fish (fish babies) if I introduced Bader to a female fish, but I was immensely happy to see Bader was acclimating and felt safe enough to continue his life cycle with me! The bubble nest made by the adult male betta fish acts as a safe haven for the babies by filling the bubbles with oxygen rich air. The female fish would then lay her eggs in the bubbles, the male fertilize them, and the fish would be born in oxygen-rich environments which all they need to survive. 

Betta fish bubble nest
Original photo by Isabelle L\'Huillier

Overall, I’ve had so much fun feeding Bader and learning about the intricacy of such a small animal, realizing that they are incredibly smart! Bader has spent nights with me swimming back and fourth, making bubble nests, eating dried food and daphnia worms, helping me study, and watching TV shows with me. If you’re considering buying a pet but the committment for a cat or dog is too high, consider a betta fish that is easy maintenance and just as fun!


Bubble Nest Information and Source!


Isabelle L'Huillier

U Mass Amherst '24

Isabelle is a writer for the University of Massachusetts, Amherst chapter! Some of her hobbies include playing soccer, learning about International Relations, and cooking. She is a freshman a Public Health and Pre-Med major hoping to complete an MPH in Epidemiology and then go to medical school to become a pediatrician :) At UMass, Isabelle is involved in the Student Alumni Association, Her Campus, Alpha Chi Omega sorority, and much more!
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