Betta basics: How to care for your betta fish

Betta basics: How to care for your betta fish

Welcome to the world of betta fish care! Here you’ll find everything you need to know about keeping your betta fish healthy and happy. From tips on tank setup, to feeding and exercise, we’ve got you covered. So dive in and learn all there is to know about betta fish care!

Betta Fish Basics

The betta, otherwise known as Siamese fighting fish, is one of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish. Bettas are known for their long, flowing fins and vibrant colors. Bettas are great beginner fish because they are relatively easy to care for and don’t need a lot of special equipment or large tanks. However, there is a lot of misinformation around bettas that often lead to them being treated poorly and not living their best lives. If you’re thinking of adding a betta to your aquarium, there are a few things you need to know about betta fish care.

What do betta fish need?

Betta fish are relatively easy to care for, but there are some things you need to know before you get started. Betta fish are hardy and can tolerate a wide range of living conditions, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have specific needs. In order to maintain their vibrant colors and active lifestyles, bettas need: Adequate space: Bettas need at least 5 gallons aquariums to have room to hide and explore. Clean water: Because bettas breathe air directly from the surface of their tank, they are particularly susceptible to water quality issues. Be sure to use a water conditioner to remove chlorine and other harmful chemicals from your tap water before adding it to your betta’s tank. Water temperature: Bettas are tropical fish and prefer water that is between 76 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. You should get an appropriately sized adjustable heater for your betta’s aquarium to maintain consitent temperature. Proper filtration: Bettas produce a lot of waste, so it’s important to have a good filtration system in their tank. Sponge filters are a great option as they don’t take up much space and don’t create a lot of flow in the water. Hiding places: Bettas are shy fish and like to have places to hide when they feel threatened or stressed. Be sure to include plenty of plants or other decorations in their tank so they can escape the bright lights and active movement of their environment when they need some peace and quiet. Cycled aquariums: It is important to cycle your aquarium before adding your betta, otherwise it may not survive very long. Quality food: Bettas should be fed quality betta pellets twice a day.

Betta Fish Tanks

Betta fish are tropical fish native to Southeast Asia and can be found in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. The ideal water temperature for betta fish is between 76 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. In the wild, betta fish live in shallow slow-moving waters such as ponds, swamps, and rice paddies. These places are typically filled with plants or other places, leaf litter, or other hiding spots. These waters are also clean and well-oxgenated. When setting up your betta aquarium it is best to try to replicate this natural environement as close as possible to ensure your betta stays happy and healthy.

What size tank does my betta fish need?

There is a common misconception that because bettas live in small “puddles” in the wild they are happy in very small tanks such as fish bowls, vases, or even decorative lamps and wall ornaments. However, these puddles are actually rice paddies that while shallow, can stretch hundreds of yards and contain thousands of gallons of water. Keeping your betta in an aquarium that is too small will quickly lead to illness or death in your betta fish. While bettas do not need a ton of space, a minimum of 5 gallons is required for betta fish to live comfortably. This is because bettas are active swimmers and need room to exercise. Betta fish are also messy and any smaller of a tank would lead to buildup of ammonia and nitrites. Finally, your tank will need a filter and a heater, and any smaller than a 5 gallon would be difficult to fit everything you will need.

What tank shape is best for betta fish?

There are many different shapes and sizes of aquariums from small desktop bowls, to long shallow tanks, to tall display tanks. But not all tanks are equally well-suited to betta fish care. When choosing an aquarium for your betta, it’s important to consider both the size of the tank and the shape of setup. But which one is the right choice for your betta?

As mentioned previously, most fish bowls are too small to house your betta fish as they require at least 5 gallons of water. Even if you find a bowl of that size, it is likely not the best choice for a tank. Fish bowls cause a refraction is the light that cause distrotions in the glass and can possibly confuse and disorient your betta. The shape of the bowl also makes it really tricky to find any filters and heaters that fit correctly. Bettas are also known for their ability to jump out of tanks so it is important to choose a tank with a tight-fitting lid, and it is difficult to find lids that fit the shape of fish bowl rims.

Betta fish are known as “labyrinth fish”, meaning they breath air from the surface of the water. Some species of bettas also have large heavy tails that can make it difficult to swim. For those reasons it is best to choose a long shallow tank over a tall tank. For example, a 20 gallon long tank is 30” x 12” x 12”, while a 20 gallon tall 24” x 12” x 16”, so both tanks gives your betta the same amount of space, however the tall tank requires your betta to swim an extra 4” to the surface in order to breath.

In the wild, bettas exist in relatively small spaces with plenty of places to hide and plenty of plants to help them blend in with their surroundings. They are also used to living in water that is clean and well-oxygenated. In captivity, bettas can thrive in a wide variety of environments. But because they are tropical fish, they do best in warm water (between 75 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit). When choosing a tank for your betta, it’s important to choose one that is big enough to give your fish plenty of space to swim around. A good rule of thumb is that a single betta should have at least 2.5 gallons of water. In addition to size, the type of setup you choose for your betta tank is also important. Bettas do best in planted tanks with plenty of hiding places. Aquariums with lots of open space can be stressful for bettas, as they feel vulnerable without places to hide. Tanks with bright lighting can also stress out bettas, so it’s best to choose a setup with moderate lighting.

What kind of filter do I need for my betta fish tank?

Betta fish require water that is clean and well-oxygenated. A filter is a good way to keep the water in your betta tank clean, establish a beneficial bacteria colony, and it can also break the surface tension and help oxygenate the water. However, you have to be careful when choosing the right filter for your tank. Because betta fish have such long flowing fins it can be difficult for them to swim. Combine that with the fact that bettas are often housed in small aquarium means that an overpowered filter will cause a lot of water movement and strong currents quickly stressing and exhuasting your fish. Because of this we recommend choosing a sponge filter for your bettas aquarium. Sponge filters are small, cylinerical filters powered by air pumps that sucks water in though a sponge and out a central tube. This suction forces waste and debris to get pulled into the sponge providing mechanical and biological filtration for your tank. The benefits of a sponge filter over other options like hang on back filters is a sponge filter doesn’t take up much space, does not cause a lot of water movement, provides a lot of oxygen to the water, and are relatively cheap. Adding a filter to your aquarium will drastically increase your aquarium’s water quality but you will still need to do regular water changes to remove waste and debris and give your betta fresh clean water.

Do betta fish need heaters?

Betta fish are tropical fish, they do best in temperatures between 75 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. For most people this means you will need to add a heater to your betta tank in order to maintain the correct temperate. In some locations it is possible to keep your aquarium at this temperature without a heater, however, it could still be a good idea to use one to prevent swings in temperature such as at nightfall, winter months, or incliment weather.

When it comes to choosing a heater you will want to make sure it is the correct wattage. A general rule of thumb is 5 watts per gallon, so a 10 gallon tank would require a 50 watt heater. However, if your environment is colder than usual it may require a more powerful heater to bring the temperature up. It is best to get an adjustable heater instead of the preset ones so that you can fine tune the temperature to exactly what you need.

What lighting is best for betta aquariums?

Bettas are used to dark tannin-rich waters from marshes and streams, so too much light can be stressful for them. At the same time, you dont want your betta to be subjected to darkness 24/7. We recommend getting an adjustable light so you can turn down the brightness to make your betta comfortable. You can also grow floating plants such as frogbit or duckweed to block some of the light from penetrating the surface. Driftwood, plants, and other decorations can also provide dark hiding places for your betta to hide out in. Finally, you can use alder cones, catappa leaves, and other botanicals to introduce dark tannins in the water to replicate their natual environment.

Best plants and decorations for betta tanks?

Bettas are naturally curious fish that love having places to explore and hide in their tanks. This is particularly important for bettas kept with other fish, providing cover and breaking lines of sight to reduce aggresion.

Rocks and driftwood make great centerpieces for betta aquariuns, creating large landscapes to swim around and explore. Artificial decorations such as caves and castles are fine for a betta, but be sure they are aquarium safe and that your fish can not get stuck in any of the openings. Plants make a great addition to betta tanks, improving aesthetics, breaking up lines of sight, and providing hiding and resting places. Live plants are best as they can actually improve the water quality and replicate natural environments. However, live plants can be tricky to grow especially in the low light conditions bettas prefer. If you can not go the live plant route then artificial silk routes are the best choice. Plastic plants can have sharp edges that can harm a bettas delicate fins, while silk and live plants do not have this issue. Bettas also enjoy a soft place to sleep near the surface at night. You can buy artificial betta leaves or betta hammocks that float or stick near the surface that your betta can rest on, or you can grow a live plant with large soft leaves that you betta can nest in.

Cycling your betta fish tank

After you have bought your fish tank and all of the other things you need there is one last step, you need to cycle your tank. Cycling your tank refers to the nitrogen cycle, and is the process of establsihing beneficial bacteria in your aquarium. When fish excrete waste, and food and plant matter breaks down, it creates ammonia in the water. Ammonia is toxic to fish and can cause stres, ammonia burns, and eventually death. During that nitrogen cycle, your tank will establish a colony of nitrifying bacteria that converts ammomnia to nitrite, and then nitrite to nitrate, which is much more safe for fish. The good news is the nitrogen cycle is a natural process and will happen with little effort on your part, the bad news is it takes weeks if not month to finish and you can not introduce your betta fish until its complete.

To cycle your tank you’ll first want to set it up, fill your tank with water, and run your filter. Next, you’ll need to add a source of ammonia. The best route is using pure ammonia such as Dr. Tims ammonia or from a local shop such as Ace Hardware, just make sure it has no additives. You will want to add ammonia a drop at a time until the water reaches 2PPM ammonia. You’ll want to use a liquid water test to check your ammonia level as it is more accurate than test strips. That’s it! Over the next few weeks nitrifying bacteria will naturally be introduced to the tank and begin to consume the ammonia. Keep testing the water and adding ammonia to maintain the 2PPM level. Eventually you will see the aquariums nitrite and then nitrate level begin to rise and ammonia levels quickly drop. After 4-6 weeks you should be able to add 2PPM of ammonia to your tank and within 24 hours all ammonia and nitrites will be converted to nitrates, at that point your cycle is complete and you can add your betta!

Betta Fish Food

When it comes to feeding your betta fish, there are a few things you need to consider. First, you need to know what kind of food your fish can eat. Second, you need to know how often to feed them. And last, you need to know how much food to give them.

What kind of food do betta fish eat?

Betta fish are native to the rice paddies and still waters of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. In the wild, betta fish typically eat mosquito larvae, zooplankton, and small crustaceans. In captivity, betta fish should be fed a diet that includes pellets or flakes specifically made for bettas. Some of the best food in the industry is Hikari Betta Bio Gold and Bug Bites granules. Pellets and flakes are the easiest way to ensure that your betta is getting all the nutrients it needs, but some bettas prefer live or frozen foods because they are more natural and often more enticing. You can culture your own daphnia, brine shrimp, and bloodworms, or just buy them frozen for an easier to maintain supply. It is important to variety in your betta’s diet to ensure they receive all the nutrients they need. As with all pets, it is important to consult with a veterinarian if you have any concerns about your betta’s health or diet.

How often do I need to feed my betta fish?

A betta fishes stomach is roughly the same size as its eyeball, which is quite small, so it is important not to overfeed them. Overfeeding can lead to poor water quality and illness. It is generally recommended to feed betta fish two times a day, administering only a few pelettes at time. It can also be a good idea to skip feeding for a day every week or two, otherwise known as fasting, to give them time to clear out their system and avoid issues like bloat. It best to remove uneaten food so it doesn’t start to decay and pollute the water.


That it! You now know how to find the perfect tank, equipment, decorations, and food you’ll need for your betta fish. After you’ve got your tank set up and cycled you’re ready to go! You can confidently purchase your betta fish and introduce them to your tank and enjoy your happy and healthy fishy friend.

Sign up for our newsletter

Stay up to date with the roadmap progress, announcements and exclusive discounts feel free to sign up with your email.