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With the proper tank setup your Betta will live a happy, healthy and long life. But with the wrong setup your Betta may become depressed, lethargic, and short-lived.
There are a lot of misconceptions out there about caring for Betta fish.
Poorly-educated pet store employees may tell you to keep them in a small fishbowl or vase. Or, that they originally lived in shallow puddles so they prefer small tanks. Or, that they’re very hardy and you don’t need to pay much attention to temperature or water quality.
Further Reading: If you’re setting up a new tank for your Betta make sure you know what the ideal Betta Fish tank size is and give your little buddy some room to swim.
But even though Bettas can survive in smaller tanks, it’s not ideal for the fish. If you want a happy, healthy and long-living Betta fish, you really shouldn’t have a tank smaller than 2.5 gallons, and 10 gallons or more is better.
If the temperature is too low, your Betta’s immune system will suffer and he’ll be more prone to disease. Too high a temperature and your Betta’s metabolism could accelerate, causing him to age too quickly.
The next thing to consider is the pH level in your tank. Bettas prefer a neutral pH with an ideal range between 6.5 and 7.5.
It’s important to make any changes to your Betta’s water gradually. Even if your tank is outside of the ideal range, it’s better to adjust it over time than to make an immediate change.
Sudden fluctuations in temperature or pH will stress out your fish and could potentially cause harm.
4) Include a Lid and Space at the Top
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Bettas are a type of fish known as labyrinth fish, which means they can breathe oxygen directly from the air as well as from water.
Your Betta will enjoy coming up to the surface for a quick breath every so often, so you’ll want to leave 1-2 inches of space between the top of the water and the edge of your tank.
Your Betta will thank you for this breathing space, especially if the oxygen level in the water is getting low.
But Bettas are also jumpers and they can make it surprisingly far out of the water if you let them. You’ll want to make sure you have a good lid or hood on the top of your tank to prevent your fish from making a run for it.
Otherwise, you may find your beautiful Betta flopping around on the floor, and that’s definitely not good for it.
5) Use An Aquarium Filter
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While Betta fish can survive in smaller tanks without a filter, they’ll be much happier in a larger, filtered tank and you’ll have less maintenance as a bonus.
Unfiltered tanks require frequent water changes to keep the water quality up and remove toxic debris.
Adding a filter will reduce the frequency and volume or water changes and will help keep the tank clean and cycle in beneficial bacteria.
The Betta’s natural environment are the marshes, rice paddies and streams and Southeast Asia, which are filled with vegetation and places to hide.
Including plenty of “soft cover” like Aquarium Plants will make your Betta much more comfortable in his tank.
Live plants are best, but if you go with artificial plants avoid plastic ones, which have been known to slice Betta’s fins. Plants with large leaves will also give your Betta a place to lay on and rest.
Betta fish aren’t difficult to care for, but there’s definitely more involved than the average pet store employee will tell you.
Sure, you can keep your Betta in a vase and not pay too much attention to water quality. But don’t be surprised if your fish becomes depressed and lethargic, or even dies after just a few months.
Below is a helpful video with step-by-step instructions on how to set up your ideal Betta tank. It goes over putting in sand and gravel, filters, heaters and lights, and acclimating your fish to his new home.
How to set up a Betta fish tank
If you follow the fundamentals in this article, it’s easy to create a healthy environment for your Betta fish. Your fish will be happier, he’ll live longer and you’ll get joy out of seeing him swim around his tank.
Jack Dempsey has over 20 years of experience with freshwater aquariums, his goal is to help beginners avoid the biggest mistakes when getting started. If you find something helpful please share it on your favourite social network. If you need help with anything send Jack a question.