Ethics: bettas and mirrors

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jclee

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In another month or so, I will have a 10 gallon open to house something; (I've been researching amphibian, crustacean, and fish options, which are obviously quite limited by the small size of the tank).

Among the options I am considering is the ever simple but elegant Betta. I know that, to elicit photograph-able displays, people often put mirrors beside them when getting pics to post online. Is this stressful to male Bettas? Or just part of their regular behavior? I ask because, one decor option I've been toying with, if I get a betta, is to affix a small mirror to an exterior wall so that I can see the occasional display. Obviously, I will not do this if it will constantly freak the betta out.

What do you think?
 
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Lucy

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Hi jclee
Keeping a mirror on the tank isn't a good idea. It would be much too stressful for him.
Your betta will be constantly flaring at 'the other betta' and trying to protect his territory.
 

Charlemagne

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I use mirrors for pics of my bettas sometimes. I don't think it stresses them out much. My boys in a divided tank spend some of their time flaring at each other anyway.
 

Tigerfishy

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If it's a one-off, it shouldn't be too stressful, just not constantly .

I have 2 in a divided tank and was told that if they flare at each other for more than the first 2 weeks, it won't work. So they can have a companion beside them for a while before they decide to calm down, my boys stopped flaring after a week or so at each other. They do it now, but only when the lights are off, just before they go to bed...
 
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jclee

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I'm glad to hear all of these perspectives. Like I said, I have a while before I need to finalize any decisions. I probably won't try it, but if I do, I will definitely keep a close eye on the male's behavior and remove the mirror if he doesn't seem able to relax in his own home.
 

sirdarksol

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The constant presence of another betta would be excessively stressful. However, I am of the opinion that short periods of stress followed by a "victory" are beneficial to animals. When I had bettas, I would sometimes show them a mirror (never more often than once a week, and usually nowhere near even that often), and let them "chase the intruder away."
 

used2bN2horsesLOL

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sirdarksol said:
The constant presence of another betta would be excessively stressful. However, I am of the opinion that short periods of stress followed by a "victory" are beneficial to animals. When I had bettas, I would sometimes show them a mirror (never more often than once a week, and usually nowhere near even that often), and let them "chase the intruder away."
I think it's healthy not only from the psychological perspective, but physically as well, as occasional mirror play encourages the display and posturing, allowing the gill covers and beard to fully extend and "stretch out" every once and a while. I read that somewhere but can't find it now. I saw a small round mirror on a short chain and floating ping-pong ball for this purpose and thought... cool but I hope people don't leave it in there all the time!
 
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jclee

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That's part of why I was thinking about it. I have had a few bettas in my past, and, well, they often seemed kind of bored. (I'm also used to a fairly bustling community tank, so maybe my perceptions just aren't used to regular, solitary-betta-tank behavior.)

Maybe, if I try it (and I'm still researching other options for the tank), I will design something so I can flip it up/down conveniently. It could be like scheduled play time... but for fighting.

As I said, if I do try it, I would keep a close eye on it.
 

used2bN2horsesLOL

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The video is pretty great. The music is killer lol.
 

lea

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+1 to sidarksol & us2bN2horsesLOL. I also occasionally hold up a mirror to the tank, let Bett flare at it for about a minute and then slowly move it away so he has 'won' the battle. He seems pretty happy with himself afterwards. There are also sites i've seen on the web that this is good exercise for them and their fins, but i'm not sure if that is true. It is a natural behavior though, so in small doses i can't imagine it would be bad.

However, if i was to leave the mirror up, i doubt he would EVER leave it alone as it always would seem like the other fish is flaring at him. That almost certainly would be stressful.

At least in a divided tank there is one fish that obviously retreats and a winner - and i'm sure they may well leave each other alone after a while and relax as they can see the other fish behaving normally next to it afterwards. With a mirror, when the fish retreats from it he can't see where the 'aggressor' has gone, so in my experience, if Bett retreats, he just comes back again curiously to see where it went, then flares again, and then the whole cycle goes on.

I'd play it safe and only use the mirror occasionally for a few minutes at a time at the most. Better not to risk the (mental?) health of your fish.

FYI , Lots of plants and caves work just as well for a bored fish. Though if he still seems really bored, maybe try some snails/shrimp/maybe 2-3 small cory catfish in the tank for company? I'm not about to open the debate on tankmates, but some extra life in the tank seemed to help out my fish wonderfully (i have a great community tank and my betta is healthier than ever - but i seem to be one of only a few success stories).

But of course, most bettas probably prefer you for company .
 

yallyall1

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+1 to lea! The mirror is good in small doses...

I'm also one of the few that does well with tankmates too. I have had luck with cories, rasboras, neons and endlers. but it might not work out for you...

Just an idea, could you use a nain and place it inbetween the hood and the top of the tank. just sitting there? then you could have a small mirror on a keychain, one side a mirror, one not? That way you could simply flip it around...
 

TedsTank

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I've also noticed that an occasional use of a mirror will stimulate bigger nest building...sort of like "who has the biggest house". Helps good normal male betta developement.
 
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jclee

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Thanks, all. If I do go ahead and get a betta, I'll be sure to keep you posted.
 

sirdarksol

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A note for those of you who are doing breeding:
I just ran across an article in EbscoHost talking about bettas and breeding behavior. It seems that male bettas will actually step up their attempts to woo a female in the presence of another male.
Of course, having another male in there is a recipe for the death of a fish, but it presents an interesting possibility for mirrors in cases where the male isn't trying hard enough (I've heard of at least a couple such cases).
 

bolivianbaby

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jclee said:
That's part of why I was thinking about it. I have had a few bettas in my past, and, well, they often seemed kind of bored. (I'm also used to a fairly bustling community tank, so maybe my perceptions just aren't used to regular, solitary-betta-tank behavior.)

Maybe, if I try it (and I'm still researching other options for the tank), I will design something so I can flip it up/down conveniently. It could be like scheduled play time... but for fighting.

As I said, if I do try it, I would keep a close eye on it.
I've found hamster tubes to be almost like "betta toys". Also, moving things around every once in a while gives them new things to explore. New caves are always fun for bettas as long as they have no sharp edges.

In regards to the mirror, I think it would be fine in small doses, but IMHO-constantly would be highly stressful. He'd always feel like he had to defend his territory and never be able to relax.

I hope this helps.
 

Betta/Horse lover

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For mirrors its a 5 minute max.
 

Martinismommy

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I would absolutely NOT keep a mirror in a Betta tank....
 

lea

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Thanks yallyall. The nail is an interesting idea, if you don't mind a keychain hanging in the tank. The betta may even play with it, but i would worry he may flip it over when i'm not there. I usually just keep a tiny mirror in the fish food drawer and pull it out every so often and hold it up for a minute and then i put it away (you can also move it away from the tank slowly too, so the betta thinks the other fish is 'retreating'). No forgetting you've left it out in the tank that way either i guess .

sirdarksol - interesting note on betta breeding, makes a lot of sense. Maybe a bit more schedualed playtime would have my tank all foam at the top (mind you, i think mine builds epic bubble nests already ).
 

lea

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Hmmm, are you trolling/kidding around with us funkman??

Maybe i'm just taking the bait, but in case that IS true I think your betta is pretty freaked out actually IMHO :-\

I strongly doubt bettas are supposed to flare non-stop constantly chasing away intruders threatening their territory.

But if you're kidding, well played
 

pamd

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Hmmm, not funny, funkman.
 
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