Myth: There is nothing wrong with fighting bettas because they can not feel pain.
Reality: As of 2003, scientific studies on the anatomy and behavior of fish offered conclusive proof that fish react to painful stimuli and possess the nocireceptors required to feel pain sensations. This means that fighting bettas does result in undue pain and distress, even if carried out in a professional and controlled manner. UltimateBettas.com has an official stance opposing the fighting of bettas for sport and profit. Betta fighting is an exploitation of a natural instinct for human gain, at the expense of the animal's health and safety. While we respect that fighting was an integral part of the betta's domestication, it is not a responsible or humane husbandry.
Myth: Male bettas only fight with other males; this aside, they are peaceful community fish.
Reality: Most male bettas will fight with anything that even remotely resembles another male in finnage or coloration. Some will attack any fish indiscriminately, regardless of its appearance. It is inherently risky to house bettas with other fish. Some bettas are too aggressive to be kept with any species, and many community species will damage the finnage of a betta. This species does best when kept solitarily due to its special environmental and social needs. However, community keeping is possible with careful monitoring and appropriate tankmates if the betta's personality permits. Communal housing should always be approached on a case by case, individual basis!
Myth: Female bettas are peaceful and can always be housed together or in tropical community tanks.
Reality: Many female bettas are equally as aggressive as males - with added speed and mobility due to their short finnage! Sorority tanks are only possible in a well-planted environment under highly specific population and gallonage conditions, and even then injuries and deaths are commonplace. Likewise, female bettas will often attack and injure community fish, especially ones who resemble bettas. Male and female bettas are almost equally solitary; the safest way to keep females, like males, is alone. If you do wish to keep a sorority or community tank with females, you must monitor closely, and read up on setting up such a tank safely.
Myth: Bettas are completely unsuitable community fish and can only be housed solitarily.
Reality: While the safest way to keep bettas is solitarily for both the betta's sake and that of its would-be tank mates, it would be inaccurate to suggest that bettas can never be housed with other fish. Placid males and females can often be housed in a well-planted community tank with mellow, dully-colored fish, as well as some aquatic invertebrates or amphibians. Careful monitoring is demanded, and the positives and negatives of the housing situation should be thoroughly evaluated prior to mixing species, but the community betta is not an impossibility.
Myth: Bettas can be kept with goldfish since both live happily in bowls.
Reality: This myth is multi-dimensional. Bettas are arguably unsuitable for keeping in bowls due to the difficulties in maintaining appropriate temperature. Goldfish should never be kept in bowls due to their waste output, oxygenation needs, and growth potential. Improper housing aside, the two species are incompatible. Bettas are small, solitary, aggressive tropical fish which require soft, acidic, still water and pristine conditions. Goldfish are large, social, fin-nipping coldwater fish which demand harder, slightly base, well-oxygenated and filtered water. They are also massive waste producers and hosts to many parasites. In short, the two species are utterly incompatible, and should not be housed together under any circumstances - especially in bowls!
Myth: Guppies and bettas make great tank mates.
Reality: Some betta keepers do successfully keep female bettas or passive males with guppies. However, it is not suggested or encouraged to mix these two species. Male guppies in particular have bright colors and flowing finnage that can illicit aggression from male and even female bettas. Countless guppies have been wounded and killed by bettas due to inaccurate compatibility suggestions; it simply is not worth the risk.