Dear Heloise:My first pet was a Siamese fighting fish (also known as a betta). I got a turquoise one and named it "Blue." I took good care of him, always washing and changing the rocks and feeding him. I just wanted to tell you that anyone who gets a betta might think it can just live in a small bowl without oxygen or a bubble machine. If you want your BETTA TO LIVE LONGER, you should treat it like a regular fish in an aquarium.
— Amy M., via e-mail
Amy, how right you are! Taking care of Siamese fighting fish does require some effort. The fish need:
— Special betta food (not just plant roots, or the fish will slowly starve to death).
— Fresh water every few days or a "bubbler" in the tank. (It is true that bettas will swim to the surface to gulp air, but a bubbler puts much more oxygen in the water.)
— Gravel or colored rocks to hide in. Make sure to clean the rocks in running tap water before you put them in the tank. (Don't use soap.)
— Dechlorination drops (or tablets) for the tank water, which take out the chlorine.
— A light is not necessary, but if you get one, use it only a few hours per day so algae don't grow like crazy.
Betta fish don't need a large habitat, but they do like to swim around and hide in their plants and rocks — something the size of a large goldfish bowl is best. Remember, don't ever put two betta males together, since they will fight to the death!
Dear Readers:Irene Balogh of Willimantic, Conn., sent a photo of her sheltie, Gypsy Rose Lee, and her granddaughter, Kate, enjoying a tea party. Irene says: "Whenever my granddaughter comes over for the day, she takes the tea set that she played with as a little girl and has a tea party with Gypsy Rose Lee.
"Gypsy drinks water from a teacup and eats dog nuggets from the plates. It's quite a picture."
To see this great picture, visit www.Heloise.com.
Dear Heloise:We have a hamster that is a master of escape! So, we use metal twist-ties to keep the opening of his cage shut. We used to use a clothespin, but he chewed it and was able to get out! Then everyone was on the search to find him.
— Aaron Ridge, Schertz, Texas
Hamsters, gerbils and other rodents need only a quarter-size hole to escape! They like to chew, so if you have plastic tunnels for them to exercise in, keep in mind that they can chew them and escape.
Dear Heloise: When it's hot, we exercise our dog either in the morning or in the evening. It is easier on both of us.
— Irene A., Naples, Fla.
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