Alone in the bathroom, feeling helpless as my kids cried. I'd just had to flush Ruddy, our beloved betta fish, down the toilet.
On a cold, bleak winter day a few years ago, that was the final sad result of the first betta fish I'd bought.
It shouldn't have ended up that way. I remember the first time I went into a pet store and saw that majestic looking betta, bright red with flowing fins, crammed into a tiny little plastic cup.
There wasn't enough room for him to swim. Heck, he couldn't even move. Nor could he even spread out those amazing fins.
So I decided I had to buy that noble fish. I had to save his life and give him the happiness he deserved after being treated so cruelly by the pet store.
But only a few months after taking him home, I failed. It seemed like even though I did everything I thought I should, my betta still died.
I tried again with other bettas. They did okay (living average lifespans), but it seemed like there would always be something wrong with them. A betta would stop eating for days. The next week another betta's beautiful fins would split... and then never heal... no matter what I did.
I kept their water insanely clean. I treated them like pampered royalty, catering to all their wants. I followed all the instructions I could.
But still, there was always something. I got so tired of it. I'm a grown man -- which makes me ashamed to admit this -- but there were days I broke down and cried. I love bettas and want to do everything I can for them.
About the only thing I had going for me was my persistence -- my ability to do in-depth research and my drive to become a good "betta parent."
I figured it might be a waste of time, but I kept up my research... for 4 years, spending a total of $12,400 in the process. I interviewed betta fish experts (even traveling to Thailand on one occasion and Singapore another time, to pick the brains of the world's foremost betta experts).
I bought all the products I could find (exotic fish foods, every conceivable tank accessory, etc.), learning everything about them.
I intensely studied everything I could to discover the insider secrets. I spent literally thousands of hours toiling on the Internet, burying myself in stacks of books at the library, and buying up and devouring every book on fish I could find.
You see, I went from this frustrated, aggravated guy who was ready to give up on trying to keep bettas...
To suddenly finding myself with thriving bettas swimming happily in their tanks... where anyone who came over to our house would be enchanted by their bright colors and magnificent fins... and then would literally beg me to teach them my secrets.
My friends would tell me of their bad experiences with bettas. It was too much work to keep the water clean... or their bettas got sick... or they had to spend so much money it was no longer worth the hassle if their betta's health was just going to wither away no matter what they did.
Since becoming an expert when it comes to bettas... and getting into breeding them professionally (I now own 207 bettas!)... I have experienced not only my own problems in the beginning but also heard so many horror stories from people.
"I feel frustrated because I had to replace yet another water heater. It cost me $30. Not to mention the cost of gas to drive to the pet store. Plus the 2 hours of my life that I spent going on my pet store errand. And on top of that, I still wasn't even sure that I'd gotten the right water heater!" - Jason M., Sacramento, California
Jason went on to tell me how the hobby of betta keeping cost him a hundred times more than he thought it would.
That is how, he concluded, the pet stores suck you in. They cram bettas into cups so tiny they can't even stretch their fins. You feel sorry for the bettas and buy one of them for 5 or 10 dollars... take him home... and then find out you then have to buy hundreds of dollars of equipment -- which might not even work!
"My bettas get sick so much of the time and so many of them die. It makes me feel like an awful fish mommy. It takes so much anguish to nurse them back to health, or they die and I have to cry about the horrible loss of my pet." - Jill Stevens, of Atlanta, Georgia
"It's too much work. I hate having to change the water so much." - Jeff P., Barstow, California "Mopes around with no energy and I donno what to do." - William Tan, Singapore "I worry that my betta will be okay if I take a vacation and leave him home for a few days." - Julie Boyd, SeaTac, Washington "Will the water heater break and then cause a fire that burns down my house? Will the aquarium leak and flood, causing thousands of dollars in structural damage to my house?" - Jason M., Sacramento, California
In fact, bettas can be very low maintenance. They can be inexpensive to take care of. They can be happy and healthy. And it's easy to do with the information you'll discover in the coveted guide I created.
1. Their amazing good looks. Everyone's amazed by the rich colors of my bettas and their dramatic fins. They're stunning little creatures. In my large collection of bettas I've got everything you can imagine. There's Rusty, who's red with shiny green fins. Kermit, who's green. Marvin, my marble. Sunny, my solid yellow. Mermaid, my turquoise beauty.
2. Bettas have personality, unlike so many other types of fish. They wag their tails, have minds of their own, and enchant people with their cute antics. To display...