This article teaches you everything you need to know about betta fish care. First, let’s start with a quick overview of how to care for a betta fish.
The Basics Of Betta Fish Care
Taking care of a betta fish means meeting some minimum requirements to make it comfy. The most important things to consider for betta care are:
Temperature – Betta fish are easy to care for freshwater fish that live in a tropical climate. So, water temperatures in the fish tank need to be between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Aim for a neutral water PH and low levels of ammonia and nitrates—the closer to 0, the better.
Diet – Betta fish need a diet rich in protein to survive. These fish are carnivores and thrive on live foods instead of flakes and pellets. However, it’s safer to use frozen or dried food to prevent bacteria and pathogens on live food from getting into your tank.
Lifespan – The general lifespan of a betta fish is 3 to 5 years. Some betta fish can live for up to 10 years, depending on how their owners care for them.
How To Set Up A Betta Fish Tank
All other things considered, once you set up their tank correctly using the below guidelines, your betta fish will be happy.
To set up a betta fish tank, you will need an aquarium, water, a filter, heater, substrate, and live plants. Follow these steps to set up a betta fish tank using the above items:
Betta Fish Tank Size
A tank that can hold 10 gallons or more water is best for bettas. Try not to go below a 10-gallon aquarium. Most people use this fish tank for their bettas. You can get some more ideas in our best betta fish tanks article.
Do not place betta fish in bowls or other shaped objects. The more space, the better. This is true for any fish that you plan to keep.
Clean out the aquarium with water. Do not use soap or any detergent. After, find a place to set the tank. Make sure that the tank is not in direct sunlight.
Add A Filter
There are different types of filters, and each has a different installation procedure. Once you buy a filter, you can use YouTube to find out how to set it up.
Try researching different filters for bettas on YouTube before you buy one. Always go for a filter that you can adjust. Here is an excellent filter available in various sizes for different tank sizes.
Once you settle on a filter, go ahead and install it in your betta tank. But don’t turn it on until you fill the aquarium with water.
If you’re using gravel, rinse it with water to get rid of dust and other debris. Again, do not use soap or any detergent. Water is all you need. Consider adding soil beneath the gravel if you’re using live plants in the fish tank.
Root live plants in the substrate. But, do some research on the type of live plant that you use because you do not need to root all plants.
For example, floating aquarium plants thrive when suspended in the water. You can read easy to care for freshwater plants for beginner aquariums.
Some plants are best suited for the back of the aquarium, for example, tall plants like Amazon Swords. To learn more, read about the different types of aquarium plants.
Place a piece of glass or a flat object on top of the gravel and pour in water. A plate also does the trick. Doing so helps stop the scattering of the gravel or other substrates. Fill the tank leaving about 2 inches of free space at the top. Do not fill the aquarium to the brim. Remove the object once done.
The betta can jump out of the tank in such cases. Also, bettas need to breathe air from time to time, so the added space at the top allows them to do so. After you fill the tank, turn on the filter. Check to ensure that the water circulates. If not, adjust the settings.
Most heaters have a suction cup that you use to attach them to the side of the aquarium (on the inside). Check the instruction manual or search for a YouTube video for a how-to to properly install a heater.
A temperature between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit is best for betta fish. Set the thermometer in a position where you can keep an eye on the temperature of the betta tank.
Perform A Fishless Cycle
Use a neutralizer to remove chlorine from the water if you fill the tank with tap water. It is an essential step before starting the fishless cycle.
A fishless cycle is the nitrogen cycle without any fish. So, beneficial bacteria can grow in your tank. These bacteria will help convert ammonia to nitrite and then to nitrate.
Both ammonia and nitrite are toxic. Nitrate is non-toxic. Please don’t skip the nitrogen cycle as your fish will your fish without it.
Add Betta Fish
Once your tank finishes the cycling process (usually 1-2 weeks), you can add the betta to the tank.
To acclimate the betta to its new environment, float the container that your betta came in in the tank. It is to ensure that the water in the bag reaches the same temperature as that of the tank.
It can take about an hour for the temperatures to match. Once they do, add small amounts of the tank water into the container.
Your betta will come in a bag of its water, which is going to be different from the water in your tank. Keep the bag closed and float it in your aquarium until the water in the container reaches the same temperature as your tank.
It can take around one hour, so be patient. Once the water in your Betta’s bag reaches the same temperature in your aquarium, add small amounts of your tank water into the betta’s container. Once the container fills with mostly water from the tank, release the betta into the tank.
How Big Does A Betta Fish Get?
Betta fish usually grow between 2.5 to 3 inches (excluding the tail). The tail, however, will vary from fish to fish. In general, healthier betta fish tend to have more vibrant, long tails.
What’s The Recommended Water Temperature For Betta Fish Tank?
Since betta fish live in tropical waters, they need warm water to thrive. So, a tropical temperature between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit is best.
If the water is too cold, betta fish become sluggish and exhibit timid-like behavior. Hence, it’s essential to keep the water temperature stable. A good aquarium thermometer can help you achieve optimal water temperatures for your betta fish.
Of course, if you live in a tropical climate and the temperature is consistently above 75 degrees, there is no need for a heater. But, if you do need a heater, here are a few guidelines:
- The size of your tank will determine the kind of heater you need. For example, a 100W heater works great in tanks up to 20 gallons. But, larger tanks need more powerful heaters (300-500W) depending on the tank size and dimensions.
- There are heaters with built-in thermometers. Choose one of these instead of buying the items separately.
- A fully submergible heater with an automatic shut-off feature is best. This way, the heater can auto-regulate the water temperature as needed.
Most people use this convenient heater for their betta fish tanks. Once you set it up, it auto regulates the water, and it even has an external remote so you can set the temperature yourself!
Fun Fact: Bettas are labyrinth fish, and they can breathe oxygen from the water surface area. To help this, leave some space at the top of the tank for your Betta fish to breathe.
Lighting and Filtration For Betta Fish Care
Any filter you choose for your betta fish should be able to filter the tank water several times an hour. However, it should not create too much water flow when doing so. Betta fish are not adept at swimming in high or rough currents.
In general, sponge or internal filters are best for betta fish tanks. This filter is small, quiet, yet powerful enough for a betta fish tank.
Reminder: Do not put your betta fish in glass jars or other small containers as above. Without enough space and proper filtration, your betta becomes sick and may die.
Betta fish need light during the day but prefer darkness during the night. Lighting can be natural or artificial. Artificial aquarium lights are easier to control and lessens the chance of algae growth.
How Often To Change The Water In Your Betta’s Aquarium
Do not change too much of the water in your betta fish aquarium at once. Doing so can interfere with the balance of the water and stress your fish. You only need to change 25% of the water per week. Your filter will handle the rest. You should also treat any water you use to refill the tank with a water condition. The water conditioner removes chlorine and harmful chemicals.
Diet: What Do Betta Fish Eat?
- Small insects
- Brine shrimp (Frozen or dried)
- Floating Pellets (rich in protein, like this one).
How Much To Feed Betta Fish?
Once per day is enough. This equates to 2 or 3 pellets. Feed betta no more than they are willing to eat. Uneaten food pollutes the tank water. It may take a few feedings to learn the optimal amount to feed your betta.
How Many Betta Fish Can Live Together?
Do not keep more than one male betta fish in the same tank. It is not uncommon for males to fight. Fights result in injury and even death. You can, however, keep several female betta fish in the same tank. Females usually live in sororities in the wild. So, it’s safe to keep 3-5 female betta fish together as long as there is enough space in the aquarium.
You can keep other types of fish in the same tank as your betta. But, take note of the following before doing so:
- No bright-colored fish or fish that resemble bettas.
- Other fish should not crowd the tank.
- Other fish should not nibble at betta fins and tails.
Recommended Betta Fish Tank Mates
- Neon Tetras
- Blue Gourami
- African Dwarf Frogs
- Pictus Catfish
Common Betta Fish Diseases
See the table below to learn about several common betta fish diseases. Luckily, all these diseases are curable once you take action quickly.
|Disease Name||Common Symptoms|
|Fin Rot||It has frayed, damaged fins—acts lethargic.|
|Ich||White spots emerge on the body—agitation and rubbing against objects.|
|Cotton Fin Fungus||White cotton-like growth develops on the body and fins.|
|Bacterial Infections||Red, inflamed scales. Cloudy eyes and sluggish behavior.|
Signs That Your Betta Fish Is Healthy
- Voracious appetite
- Vibrant colors
- Energetic movements
- Frequent visits to the surface
- Flowing fins
Signs That Your Betta Fish Is Sick
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of energy (sluggishness)
- Withering fins and tail
- Abnormal swimming
- Irregular marks, growths, or damage to the body
- Fading colors
The Bottom Line
Caring for betta fish is easy once you know. The information in this betta fish care guide helps you set up and keep a healthy betta fish tank. Thanks for reading on Fish Tank Basics! Check out our article on breeding betta fish for even more help on how to keep a betta fish.