Betta Fish – Care Guide


Betta fish are known for their bright colors and spectacular fins. Also known as a Siamese fighting, they are a popular species of freshwater aquarium fish that originated in the rice paddies of Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Bettas are a hearty fish species that are fascinating to watch as they breathe from the water’s surface using their special respiratory organ, the labyrinth, in addition to their gills.

Betta Facts

average adult size: 2 1/2 inches long, not including tail
average life span: up to 3 years
diet: carnivore
minimum aquarium size: 5+ gallons
water temperature: 72-82°F

Bettas fish have upturned mouths and are primarily surface feeders. Feed your betta fish flakes or pelleted food twice daily. Feed sparingly and no more than fish can eat in 1 to 2 minutes. Baby bettas require a smaller pellet or finely crushed flake food when feeding. Supplement your fish’s diet with frozen or freeze-dried brine shrimp or tubifex worms. Despite myths that they will feed on any plant matter in the tank, they are naturally insectivores and do not typically or naturally consume vegetation.

Aquarium Living
It is popular to keep betta fish in very small containers for display around the home. But this can cause health issues and lead to an early death for the fish. Bettas prefer to be kept in larger tanks. A commonly recommended tank size is 20 litres, or 5 gallons for one fish, and bigger is advisable.

Bettas prefer water with a low current or no current at all, as this allows them to easily reach the water’s surface to breathe. They are tropical fish and need to swim in warm water between 74 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. In the wild, the betta splenden lives in shallow oxygen-deficient streams, rice paddies, and puddles, but many of these areas are still expansive in water volume. Your betta needs room to swim around and places to hide. Bettas are also affected by the pH levels of the water. Most ideal levels for Bettas would be at a neutral pH (7.0) However, Bettas are slightly tolerant towards the pH levels.

In order to feel comfortable, Bettas need to have lots of hiding places. As Bettas are from marshes and rice paddies, they feel more comfortable with ‘soft cover,’ generally provided in the aquarium environment from live or artificial (non plastic) plants. Providing sufficient cover will reduce stress and therefore improve your Betta’s immune system, reducing chance of disease.

Bettas can be kept in a large community aquarium with community fish (only one male Betta per aquarium), or alone in a desktop aquarium. Bettas can be territorial fish and are prone to high levels of aggression towards each other. Two males in close proximity will almost always attack each other, if they do not have the ability to escape this will usually result in the death of one or both of the fish. Female bettas can also become territorial towards each other if they are housed in too small an aquarium. It is typically not recommended to keep male and female bettas together, except temporarily for breeding purposes which should always be undertaken with caution. When housing a single male Betta, a good rule of thumb is one gallon (4 L) of water for every 1″ (3 cm) of full-grown fish.

Light: Natural and Artificial
Betta fish need natural or artificial light while they are awake during the day, and darkness at night so they can sleep. This establishes a regular day and night pattern, regulating their internal biological clock. Avoid direct sunlight entering your tank. Place your betta fish’s habitat away from windows.

Aquarium Maintenance
Daily: check filter and water temperature.
Weekly: Check water quality at least once a week. Do a 50% water change for small habitats (less than 2 gallons) once a week. In larger aquariums, change 10 to 25% of the total volume of water every 2 to 4 weeks, or more often as needed.

Signs of a Healthy Fish
Active, alert and eats regularly
Vibrant colors (males only)
Reacts aggressively to outside stimulus
Undamaged fins

Signs of a sick fish
loss of color or appetite
spots or fungus on body or mouth
cloudy eyes
elevated scales
Unnaturally frayed fins
Labored respirations
Erratic swimming
Weight loss

Did you know?
Male Bettas build bubble nests at the surface of the water. The nests are constructed as a place for fertilized eggs to be deposited while incubating and guarded by the male until the fry hatch.

Bettas have several different tail shapes – the most common being the “veil tail.” Other tail shapes include the “half-moon,” “double tail,” “short-finned fighting-style tail” and “crown tail.”

Bettas are beautiful living creatures. It is the responsibility of the pet owner to care for their pet and provide a healthy environment. So, give your Betta space, clean, warm water, plenty of hiding places, and high-quality, high-protein foods and he should be a good companion for a long time.

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