Knowing how to care for a Betta fish requires some knowledge that you ought to have prior to purchasing one. We explain the best tips and tricks, and some important information you need to know as a Betta fish owner.
If you see a betta fish with a long flowing fin then it is a sign that it’s a male fish, as female bettas are often smaller with shorter fins. Something else that really sets apart male and female betta fish is how aggressive they are. One of the most important first steps in learning how to care for a betta fish is understanding that male bettas can’t be kept together. They are much more aggressive than their female counterparts and will fight if kept in close quarters. In fact male betta fish instinctively fight to the death, which is how they earned the name “Siamese Fighting Fish”.
Some people like to consider this fighting nature of the male betta fish a form of entertainment but we would hope you respect and care about your fish and will respect their aggressive nature enough to separate your male betta fish.
How to Care for a Betta Fish; Essentials
The following is a list of what you need for how to care for your betta fish:
- An aquarium at least 1.5 gallons large
- Water Conditioner which is used to keep water clean by removing chlorine and heavy metals
- A heater to keep the water at the proper temperature
- Betta fish food; betta fish food is specialised for bettas and comes in pellet and freeze-dried varieties
- A lid or hood for your aquarium to prevent the bettas from escaping
- A soft and flexible fish net so you can move your bettas without hurting them
- An aquarium filter; any kind will do as long as the flow isn’t too high
- Aquarium salt; aquarium salt can be added to tank water to keep your betta fish healthy and help them breathe
- Biological conditioner; this contains friendly bacteria that can be used to neutralise harmful substances such as ammonia and keep your bettas healthy
- A commitment to being a good owner and taking care of your betta fish
How to Care for a Betta Fish; Optional Items
As well as the above essentials there are some optional items you can consider purchasing:
- Easy live aquatic plants; these plants help to maintain the quality of the water in your tank and don’t require much maintenance
- A pH buffer to maintain the pH balance of the water and keep your fish healthy
How to Take Care of a Betta Fish; Basic Betta Info
About the Tank
Betta fish are “labyrinth fish”. This means that they have the ability to breath from the surface of water. This means that, unlike other fish, betta fish don’t need to have an oxygen pump to provide them with oxygen.
When you take a trip to your local pet store to purchase a betta fish you’ll likely find them in a small bowl that doesn’t have any filtration at all. Because bettas typically come from small rice paddies they prefer calm water that doesn’t have any currents. Most pet store owners will also advise you that you should consider keeping your betta in a small space because bettas just “seem happier” when kept in a small tank.
Think about it though; how happy would you be if you spent your whole life in a cramped 2x3ft room? Betta’s shouldn’t be kept in confined spaces either and they belong in a tank that’s at least 1.5 gallons large. While you can keep a betta fish in a tank of about two gallons you should always go for bigger if you can. We recommended before you purchase a tank you learn how to care for a betta fish, and tank size is important. Your betta fish would also likely enjoy the extra space to swim around in.
Another good thing about having a larger aquarium is that the water will need to be changed less. It’s additionally important that your aquarium, whether big or small, has a hood. Betta fish are incredible jumpers and if you don’t have that lid they can easily jump up and right out of the aquarium. While Betta fish might be able to breathe from the surface of water that certainly doesn’t mean they can breathe out of it. If you want to get a great Betta aquarium then we recommend the Tetra 20G Starter Kit which has just about everything you need knowinf how to care for a betta fish.
You should feed your betta fish around once or twice a day. There’s no need to feed them every day however. In fact one day a week you need to let their digestive system rest by not feeding them at all. It’s also important that you never overfeed your fish. Overfeeding is one of the main causes of fish death and it can also pollute their water. Only give your fish as much food as they can eat in two minutes.
Betta fish love betta pellets like Tetramin Granules Tropical Fish Food. You should avoid feeding your betta fish food like fatty betta flakes or fish flakes because they aren’t that interested in them and will likely leave them. If you want to feed them a treat every so often then we recommend freeze dried brine shrimp or tubiflex worms.
Each betta fish is different and has their own personality. Some betta fish can live in peace with their tankmates and others will be aggressive. If you want to give your betta fish a tankmate then it should be a fish that doesn’t look like a beta, isn’t aggressive (as it could stress out or even attack your betta fish) and it should be something that your betta fish couldn’t eat. There are some fish that make ideal tankmates for your betta fish. They are:
1) Corydora fish
2) Pleco Fish
3) Apple Snail
4) Medium to Large Sized Tetras
5) Otocinclus Catfish
While these fish make good tankmates for male bettas remember that each fish is different and you won’t know for sure how your fish will interact until you introduce them to each other. Read more about Betta Tank Mates.
Decorating Your Aquarium; Fake or Live Plants
Before you add some décor to your aquarium it’s important that you don’t wash it with soap or detergent before adding it to the tank. It doesn’t matter how well you think you have washed the soap off there will still be some residue left behind and it will slowly poison your betta fish and can even kill it. You should was the décor with warm water and ensure that the material it is made from is safe for your aquarium. It should also not have any sharp edges as these sharp edges can damage and hurt your betta fish.
– No need for light
– No need for CO2
– No need for substrate or fertiliser
– No need for trimming
– Doesn’t release oxygen into the water
– Doesn’t neutralise ammonia to purify the water
– Often plastic plants don’t look very natural
– Plastic plants can damage your bettas fins and rip them so if you go fake we recommend silk plants
– Need to be well-lit
– Need to have CO2 supplements
– Need to be treated with substrate or fertiliser
– Need to be trimmed every so often
– Does release oxygen into the water
– Does neutralise ammonia to purify the water
– Real plants look more natural
Choosing Your Betta
There are some important things you should look for when purchasing a Betta.
Look at the Betta’s color. Is the fishes color very vivide and rich? Is it bright or does it look dull? Regardless of the lighting the fishes natural color it should still have a nice shine to it.
Check how alert the betta is. Does it react when you move your hand close to it outside of the tank? Is it energetic or does it seem more interested in moping at the bottom of the tank?
Docile Betta’s are not always bad though; you’re possibly viewing them when they are having a rest. A very healthy looking Betta that is rather docile, is not always a bad thing. They can make introductions to a community tank much easier, espcially if theres another Betta in the tank.
Check for parsistes and other strange looking growths or spots on the fish. In addition, if you see one sick fish in a tank with others or at least sharing the same tank water, I would advise against purchasing any of those fish. Parasites and other problems can take weeks to show signs that are not obvious to the naked eye. You don’t want to be taking home infected fish and introducing them to your tank! You may also consider a quarantine stage after purchase.
Acclimating your New Betta
When you buy a betta fish it is often packed in a plastic bag or cup. That’s why you need to acclimate your betta fish to its new home. You can do that by following these steps;
1) Turn off the lights in your tank to minimise stress
2) Let the bag or cup float in the aquarium for about 15 minutes
3) Open up the bag or the cup and use a different clean cup to scoop up some of the aquarium water. Slowly pour the water into the bag or the cup so that the betta fish can acclimate to the temperature and the water in the aquarium.
4) After about 15 more minutes you can use a fish net to remove your betta fish from its cup or bag and put it safely in the aquarium
5) Watch your new betta fish swim around for a while
6) You can turn the lights in the aquarium back on after around 15 minutes