Question: >hates on people for keeping bettas in regular tapwater, insists they need soft acidic water or they die early >can't seem to keep a betta alive and healthy for more than a few months. Hmm
we’re still out here doin’ this, huh
if your regular tap water is the standard 8-9 pH that most of the USA has, then you’ve got the approximate pH of lake tanganyika on standby, which is the same alkalinity as baking soda
and your standard wild splendens inhabits waters that are documented to be 5.2 pH, which is….. black coffee? pH is logarithmic, so that’s a good 90-100x more acidic than a simple neutral pH of 7. meanwhile, a tap with a pH of 8 is 10x more alkaline than that neutral 7.
so, see what the issue with that is? putting a fish in conditions that are drastically different from the ones that their body has adapted to over thousands of years is gonna have a negative effect. the argument of “but they’ve been bred in captivity since 1XXX, so they’re more adapted to hard water!” also doesn’t work, because southeast asia is the betta hub of the world and they’ve got that sweet, sweet, soft and acidic water for their tap.
and no, in most cases, you don’t see any issues take place right away. you’ve gotta quickly change the pH a fish is currently in to actually see alkalosis take place—i made the mistake of doing a water change on my 6 pH blackwater community with 9.4 pH hard tap last year, and my beloved yoyo loaches had red sores and sloughing skin along with breathing issues in a matter of hours, which led to them being euthanized. instead, that elevated pH will slowly effect the body over time, and the different water chemistry also opens the doors to a variety of new illnesses that your fish are susceptible to.
peat bog fish have immune systems that have evolved to combat bacteria and blights that can inhabit that orange juicy acidic water. when you dunk a freshly wild-caught peat bog boy into a tank with hard, alkaline water, you know what often happens? it gets a bad fungal infection. because their bodies aren’t made to resist those. because the funguses that thrive in water as hard and alkaline as seawater can’t even survive in water with a low pH.
tl;dr fish from acidic environments and fish from alkaline environments won’t thrive in each other’s conditions. it’s detrimental to their health. and with domestic bettas…. man, they’re so inbred and fucked up as a lineage that they regularly experience spontaneous kidney failure in a matter of months. a betta’s betta-ness is likely to kill it off much faster than a high pH. some domestics amazingly make it to 3 years, and others get dropsy no matter how well you care for them.
now, in the case of my domestics specifically: except for embezzlement, the most recent ones were all user error. they got eaten by my 16-18" scavenger eels. i turned them loose in a 440 gallon blackwater pool full of previously very gentle eels, and those eels thought i gave them some fun snacks, despite never touching the previous betta that was in there for months. after assless chaps went missing and i assumed he drowned—because the flow is a bit high in that tank, and he did have substantially long fins—i released the wild females in there. and they were doing great, just bopping around with seymour the giant chocolate gourami. so i temporarily added janet, my new female domestic, while i made sure her 10 gallon was cycled. and guess what? after 3 days, there were suddenly no bettas to be found, and i went “oh shit oh fuck the eels just ate $70 in snacks didn’t they.”
so yeah, genie made it to 9 months before she became a lumpy mass of mutated cells, as domestic bettas do. embezzlement made it to… 3? before he could barely move and was hopelessly lethargic, as domestic bettas do. my wild splendens male got murdered by the females because there’s little enough info on them to know that they’re arguably more aggressive than domestics, and i didn’t learn that until it was too late. then the wild girls and my other two domestics got inundated with the circle of life. before them, i had a long list of childhood bettas that succumbed to various afflictions such as fungal infections, bacterial infections, and hey! dropsy. lots of dropsy. so much dropsy.
at this point, if someone tells me that their domestic is in rock hard 8.6 pH water and doing great, i don’t even bat an eyelash, because there’s a hefty chance of that fish internally self-destructing no matter what you do. it’s just the betta affliction, man. if you want a personable fish that’ll last for a few years, just do some research and get yourself a solitary cichlid that doesn’t require company. they’re fun dudes. my severum is an absolute delight, even if he does murder everything smaller than him.
(side note: i’m not looking to get into another mass argument with random people i don’t care about over the ethics of knowingly keeping an animal in conditions that it can’t thrive in. i don’t have the time to do that, i have a life. if you want to ignore basic science because it’s most convenient for you, then that’s fine; no need loudly bring it to my attention. good 4 u. so proud of your priorities)