Q: I just bought a betta a few days ago, and i have read on several differ sites about playing with them... i tried to play with him, i read to him etc, and he seems kinna depressed. shows no signs of illness, but doesn't eat very much either. what should i do?

Question submitted by Kitty,  Shepherdsville - Kentucky

A: Reading to your betta, he?

OK, I do know a good shrink, if you need a referral (yes bettas will drive anyone CRAZY) (and they sure did a number on me!) LOL. 

So Kitty, I am not sure what you read and where, but one has to be somewhat careful as to what info they absorb from the net. There is a lot of info out there, but not all of it is good (or true). I personally would exercise some caution when it comes to "playing" with the betta. What may seem like a 'game' to you may actually be scary and stressful to the betta. Stress reduces immune system and promotes the onset of diseases. In short, the less you fuss with your fish the better. Spoil Mr. Betta rotten? Absolutely. Play Frisbee with him? Maybe not. ;). Besides bettas tend to bite the Frisbee too hard and may chip their little toothies (LOL - just KIDDING!). 

Now some useful info:

When you first get a new betta you should understand the fish is going to go through an acclimatizing period. It will be likely to sulk, not eat or act strange. Always add Bettamax to the water of your new fish for a couple weeks, to prevent onset of diseases. Bettas that sulk will not eat,but it doesn't necessarily mean they are sick. Company usually helps (and I mean BETTA company). Another betta in a bowl adjacent to your new fish will help the morale some, or a mirror possibly. Other than that I would give the fish some peace and quiet so it can get used to the hnw water, new environment, you etc... If you want to read to it and it makes you happy, then do it (not sure what it accomplishes though). But avoid manipulating the fish (as in putting your hands or any other objects in his tank).

Sulking bettas should snap out of it in about 3 days to 10 days. Keep Bettamax going the whole time. If the fish is still not eating after 10 days then it is most certainly sick. To be on the safe side I recommend you do a careful examination of your fish when you first bring it home to see if you can see any outside signs of disease (white spots, velvet, rot, bacterial sores, fungus, etc..). See the betta disease page for more info.

Goodluck with your new betta, and in time he may ask you to play chess with you (careful they are real good at it!) ;).