Betta Fish

by Lilla E. Green

This lesson was created as a part of the SMART website and is hosted by the Illinois Institute of Technology

 Betta Fish are beautiful and they make a rather enjoyable pet.  Not only are they rather maintenance-free - they're also a good study in fish behavior.  

Take a look at my little pet fish

"Betta Baby"  

He was formerly enrolled at the Hartigan Community Arts Specialty School, as a member of the Science Lab, from August 2000 until June 14, 2001.  He's graduated and has relocated at my home, presently.  Both the cockatiel and my pet iguana welcome Betta Baby whole-heartedly, even though they have no choice in the matter.

How would you like to have a Betta Baby?   Another name for this tropical fish is the Siamese Fighting Fish.  Scientists have named him Betta splendens.  You may have seen it at the pet store in those tiny little cups. He hails from the Far East, Malaysia and Thailand. Like any other fish, it has a backbone and is designed to live in water.  Water is more dense than the air in which we live, so in order to move easily, it has to have a streamlined body.  Notice the Betta's body that it is shaped like a torpedo with its mouth turned up toward the surface.  It can live in a wide variety of water conditions, with temperatures varying from 68 degrees F - 80 degrees F.  It has a peculiar organ which allows it to breathe without an air stone.  This organ allows the Betta to absorb air, and is shaped like a labyrinth.  It is a sac-like organ located just above its gills and is shaped into bracket-like layers which is supported by lamellae.

If your computer has the capability to download a movie, you may view the Betta as it swims by clicking on Betta Fish.  The Center for Innovative Computer Applications shows Biology Project Movies of various Betta fish, at this site.

If I were going to present a science lesson using this curious creature, I'd choose the male specimen since it has the most brilliant colors, the longest fins and is most easily found.  You may even be a parent of a primary-aged child who wants a pet.  The Betta would make a fine choice for it provides plenty of opportunity for children to observe its behavior.

The purpose of this introduction was to present this fish to you in hopes of persuading you to go out and purchase one of your own, and to either conduct your own studies, or to research its unusual behavior.




The Betta Baby Lesson Plan

(for the teacher)

 Kindergarten - Grade Three




Compare and describe life cycles, basic needs, characteristics, and component parts of organisms.

    CFS #2, #4



Ask the child to draw a fish.  You may want to go to "Fish Anatomy," and print it out for your youngster to label. Then click here, and grade yourself.

The lessons are in the scientific method format.  There is also an experiment called "The Effect of Salt On the Boiling Temperature of Water" that you may want to see.


Problem:  How does the body structure of the Betta Fish help it survive?

Hypothesis: (Have the pupil/child reason an answer, using the fish diagram.)

Materials:  fish anatomy handout, overhead transparency of Enchanted Learning's "Fish Anatomy," a Betta Fish in a container, stopwatch,  fish food flakes, freeze dried tubifex worms, a mirror, an overhead projector, a flashlight, a man's white handkerchief, and vocabulary words.

Vocabulary Words:  scales, fins, mouth, gills, gill covers, accessory breathing organ


Results/Conclusion:  What did you learn about the Betta Fish's behavior?  Go to the Betta Fish Fact Page and use those facts to complete the test. You may begin by clicking here.

Homework:  Why do male Betta fish have bubbles on the surface of their containers?  Visit "Birth to Maturity" and write your answer in your own words.   Now, make your own Betta Fish diagram and label it without looking.  Write a letter to a female Betta Fish, and describe your surroundings, the water temperature, the shape, texture and color of the pebbles in your home, the lighting, and the plants that beautify your environment.  Let your letter reflect your understanding of the narrative style of writing.  In a closing paragraph, convince your parent that a Betta fish would be a good pet for you to own.  



Check out these links:


Books to Read:

Taking Care of Your Fish - Pope, Joyce

My Pet Fish - Coleman, Lori

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© Lilla E. Green