The Betta is one of the most beautiful tropical fish you can keep in an aquarium. The complete name of The Betta is Betta Splendens or the Siamese Fighting Fish.
Though these delightful little things might not look the part, they are highly territorial, and male Bettas are especially aggressive. This aggressive nature is why most Bettas are kept alone in a bowl or a small fish tank. They are very curious and playful by nature, and they love to swim.
The Betta is not a very delicate or hard fish to keep. But it still requires proper care and supplies to stay happy and healthy in its tank.
New To Betta Fish? Check out our guide How To Care For a Betta Fish For Beginners for some great step by step tips.
Here’s what you need!
Betta Tank Setup
To set up a tank for your colorful little solitary friend, you will need to make sure that all the supplies are in order.
Tank size: Betta fish are native to Asia. They usually live in shallow waters, like rice paddies, slow-streams, and ponds. This has perpetuated the wrong concept of confining Bettas to tiny vases and small bowls. One Betta male fish will need at least a 2.5-gallon fish tank, but it will have to be frequently cleaned and might not provide adequate space for your pet fish to swim around. The best starting tank size for a Betta is 5-gallon, considering that you are not planning a community fish tank.
When it comes to tanks, though, the bigger, the better, but a 5-gallon tank will give you a good start with your pet fish. It won’t be tough to establish a nitrogen cycle in a tank that size, and the fish will have adequate space to swim around.
Filter: The Betta is not a very messy fish, but a filter is still compulsory for a Betta tank. Some people think that with Bettas, they don’t need to add a filter because they come out to the surface to breath. But diffusing oxygen in the water is only part of a filter’s job. A good filter for your tank will establish a healthy nitrogen cycle. Keep your water clean and clear, and remove any toxin buildup that can sicken your fish.
Light: Whatever fish you have in your aquarium, will be happiest when the conditions in the aquarium are very close to their natural habitat. The Betta is no different. Since they are shallow-water fish, they are used to natural daylight for about 8 to 12 hours a day (average day-time in their natural habitat). Choose a daylight aquarium light, and make sure that Bettas get at least 12 hours in the dark. Too much light can irritate and overstimulate these little fighters.
Heater: Like all tropical fish, Bettas need a heater in the aquarium. You have to understand that no matter how tough a fish is, a significant change in temperature or water conditions can cause severe stress to the fish. It’s better to have the right heater that can easily maintain the temperature of your little tank.
Thermometer: You have to keep an eye on the temperature. Ideally, it shouldn’t vary more than a 78-80°F range.
substrate: The most common substrate used in most aquariums is gravel, but is it the best substrate for your Betta? If you want to give your Betta what it had in the wild, you will have to go with soil with a bit of mud and silt. But it’s a problematic substrate to accommodate, especially in a small tank.
The next option is the aquarium sand. Though sand is the ideal substrate for marine fish, it can work well in a Betta tank, especially since it doesn’t pose any problem to Betta’s delicate fins when it’s swimming in the bottom.
Gravel is the easiest of the substrates to handle for most fish keepers. If you are planning on using gravel for your Betta tank, make sure it’s made up of smooth stones with no sharp edges so that your active Betta doesn’t hurt its fin swimming close to the substrate.
Decorations: The Betta lives in a plant-heavy environment, so it loves to hide. The best decoration a Betta tank could have is live plants– lots of them. Especially those that Bettas can hide in, like Java Fern, Java Moss, Hornwort, or Anubias. Other decorations Betta might like would be rocks. Small rocks, not large marine rocks, and they should be smooth too.
Driftwood can give your aquarium a really beautiful natural look. And your fish will have fun hiding in it, and it can help anchor the plants as well. Plastic decor should be chosen carefully with a planted tank, so that they don’t stand out too much, and spoil the natural look of the aquarium. As with all other decorations, choose something that your pet can hide and play with. Plastic decorations with large holes to swim through, or small crevices to hide in, will surely amuse your little friend.
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Betta Fish Aquarium Kits
Setting up your first Betta aquarium is exciting. But it might get a bit overwhelming to piece together your tank from scratch. If that’s the case, you might want to go with an aquarium kit. These are fish tanks that are ready to be used just after cycling.
But not every aquarium kit is the same. There are a lot of kits that are explicitly marketed for Bettas, but you still need to know what a Betta aquarium kit should have.
- The right sized tank — ideally, a five gallon tank or bigger. But you will find many three gallon tanks in Betta aquarium kits as well.
- Filter with gentle water flow. Betta doesn’t like swimming through fast currents.
- The heater is necessary for every tropical fish, like Bettas. A thermometer should also be present and installed as far from the heater as possible.
- Some decorations for Bettas to hide in are also a good idea.
- A lighting unit that mimics natural daylight is vital in such a kit.
These are usually a part of almost all Betta tanks. You should browse through different options to choose the one with the best quality equipment.
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Betta Water Conditions
The aquarium is your little Betta’s whole world, and water is the environment of your fish. If the water is just right, the fish is more likely to thrive. Though freshwater fish are hardier and more robust than marine water fish, they still prefer stable water conditions. A significant change in your aquarium’s water parameters and temperature can seriously stress out the fish. Maybe even cause them to fall sick.
Preparing tap water: Since water is such a crucial part of your aquarium, you may want the best for your Betta and go with specially packaged water for Betta fish, which can cost easily as much as $15 a gallon. While it’s a considerate approach, it’s unnecessary. Tap water proves excellent for Betta, once it’s adequately conditioned with a water conditioner. It has a lot of trace minerals that Betta needs, unlike distilled water. Water conditioners are available to decontaminate tap water and neutralize chlorine and heavy metal traces.
Another parameter to check, just-in-case, is pH. Bettas are safe within the pH range of 6.8 – 8.0. The pH of tap water should ideally be 7, but it varies within the range of 6.0 and 8.0. If the pH of your tap water is in the acidic range (below 7) more than your Betta’s liking – 6.8, you will need a pH water conditioner as well.
Setting the right water temperature: Proper temperature is critical for Bettas to thrive. While Betta’s can stay healthy in the temperature range of 76°F to 82°F, it should ideally be maintained within 78°F to 80°F. This is the temperature your Betta will stay most active and healthy in. And make sure the heater is powerful enough per your Betta fish tank size.
Tips When Using A Betta Fish Bowl
Keeping a Betta fish in a tank is better than keeping it in the bowl. But if you are just using a bowl temporarily and will soon be accommodating your pet in a well-sized tank, there are some tips to help your it settle in a fishbowl.
- Choose a bowl with at least 3-gallon capacity. It’s a common enough size and will have some room for your pet to swim around.
- Add an under-gravel filter for establishing a proper nitrogen cycle in the bowl and keep the water clean for your fish.
- Never put more than one Betta in a bowl. You may choose a female since they don’t grow as much as a male.
- Do a full water change at least once a week — ideally, every four or five days. A small bowl will get polluted much faster than a large tank, even with the help of a filter.
- Add small decorations, or live plants in your bowl for your pet to hide.
- Make sure you place your bowl in a lighted area, but also provide an adequate period of darkness (12 hours at least).
Betta Fish Tank maintenance & Cleaning
They may not be as messy as the Gold Fish, but the Betta produces enough waste to warrant regular cleaning of their tank. “The bigger, the better” rule sits well for tank cleaning as well, because larger water tanks with less fish need much less frequent water changes and cleanups.
For a small tank, you would have to do partial water changes (25%-35%) every four to five days. For a larger container, like a five gallon tank with one male Betta, or a ten gallon tank with two or more female ones, you can go with a partial change of 10% to 20%, once a week. But there is no fixed schedule. Cleaning frequency depends a lot on the fish, whether the tank is planted or not, and how efficient your filter is.
You will need a few simple supplies for a complete and thorough cleaning of the tank.
Fish Net: To safely remove your pet and put it in a container filled with tank water.
Algae Pad: To scrub clean the walls of the aquarium. It proves much better at cleaning algae from the tight corners of your aquarium, compared to a dish sponge.
Siphon: It’s essential to clean any gunk or waste that accumulates over and under the gravel. A siphon can quickly help clean your substrate(mainly gravel), without disturbing any beneficial bacteria.
Bucket: A bucket is necessary with a siphon cleaning, instead of scooping out the water for partial changes. You can use a siphon to vacuum your gravel and collect the amount of water you need to change.
It’s imperative that you clean your hands before and after every cleaning, and wear latex gloves to prevent yourself from adding any harmful bacteria to your pet’s little world. Don’t use any soap or detergents to scrub the walls of your aquarium. They are very toxic and possibly fatal for fish.
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Betta Fish Water Conditioners
Making your aquarium water ready is imperative before introducing the fish. You will need a few simple supplies from your pet store to prepare the aquarium water for your fishy friends.
Water Conditioner: Tap water usually contains chlorine, which is added to purify the water for our use. While it’s safe for humans, chlorine is death to your little swimming pet. There might also be some heavy metals that, even in their small quantities, might be poisonous for your fish. A water conditioner is imperative to decontaminate the water from these harmful substances and make it fit for the Betta.
Test kits: A lot of harmful substances are invisible in your tank water. If you don’t keep testing the water quality, you might not know if something’s wrong with your water, until your fish is sick or dead. Even basic test kits help you keep track of the most important parameters: pH, Nitrates, and Ammonia. These are substances that can have the most drastic effect on your fish’s health if they are present in the water in the wrong quantities.
Ammonia: It’s the natural byproduct of decaying food and fish waste. Ammonia is toxic for your fish. Thankfully, nature takes care of this problem with beneficial bacteria that can help sort the problem of ammonia buildup, by first converting it into Nitrite (still harmful), then nitrate (not toxic unless present in substantial quantities). It is called the nitrogen cycle, and a healthy nitrogen cycle is essential for a healthy and functional tank.
Partial water changes are essential to cart out the excess buildup of nitrates and keep the water condition pristine for your fish.
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Betta Fish Food
Bettas are carnivores, which means that they prefer a high-protein diet. In their natural habitat, they eat small insects and insect larvae. It’s also essential that they get some fiber in their diet since they tend to get constipated if they don’t eat enough fiber.
Pellets: The most common fish food contender is naturally, pellets. They are relatively higher quality than flakes, and you can prepare them at home or get them from a pet store. Pellets for Betta should be rich in animal-derived protein. Most prefer floating pellets, but some might go for sinking ones as well.
Live food: It’s best to give your Bettas life food since it replicates their food in the natural habitat. Brine shrimp, blood worms, daphnia, and mosquito larvae are some popular live food options. You can go for store-bought versions or raise live-feed yourself. But their fat-rich composition means that you should not use them as a primary food source.
Frozen food: Frozen is the next best thing to live food. Frozen brine shrimp and krill might be an excellent supplementary feed for your pets. Frozen food should be completely thawed and, ideally, match the temperature of the tank water before adding it to water.
Treats: It’s best to divide your Betta’s feed into a primary feed and treats. Live food is good for your fish, but most of them have relatively less nutritional value compared to pellets. The treats can be food like blood worms, peas, shrimps, and larvae. Make sure that most of what your little friend eats is from its primary food source. Add treats only as temporary replacements, or as additions to the staple food.
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Fun Betta Fish Supplies
Fish are not the same as other pets. You can’t play an active part in their plays and activities, but you can make sure that they have everything they need to make them happy.
Betta Fish Toys & Treats
Some treats and toys that your little friends might enjoy in their fish tanks are:
Leaves: Indian Almond Leaves are a natural part of the Betta’s habitat. Breeders use these leaves in Southeast Asia, and they are supposed to have healing properties as well. They might make your water a bit murky and tinted, but Bettas have been seen to love the presence of these leaves and the effect they produce in the tank.
Mirror: While the best way to invoke a Betta’s natural instincts, especially the fighting one, is to introduce another male. But that might make for too aggressive a stimulant. A less dangerous way to keep your fish active is to introduce a mirror. It’s important to note that you shouldn’t place a mirror in your tank, just put it in for about five minutes to stimulate your fish. It will keep your Bettas from getting depressed, inactive, bored, and constipated.
Log: A log for Bettas is either sinking or a floating piece that resembles a wood log. It’s hollowed so that your fish can sleep, hide or breed in it.
Hammock: Bettas are not very picky sleepers. You may find them hidden in the leaves, in their log, or even floating when they are asleep. But Betta hammocks are their favorite beds. They are flat surfaces that can be attached to the aquarium’s wall through a suction cup, and most commonly, they resemble a large leaf. These hammocks should be placed just below the surface (3/4th of an inch), so sleeping Bettas may gulp fresh air from the surface whenever they want.
Books About Betta Fish Care
Bettas are sometimes touted as easy fish to keep. While they are certainly not very high maintenance, they do need proper care and conditions to thrive. Before getting a Betta is a pet fish, you must do your research.
If you are a complete novice to fish keeping, many detailed books will help you start from the very beginning. They will help you prepare a proper tank for your Bettas, decorate it according to your moods and habits, maintain it the right way to keep them fit and feed them the right stuff. These fish care books might be the difference between stressed-out Bettas in an ill-prepared tank, or happy fish a great environment.
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Betta Aquaponics Kits
Aquaponics is a system with a symbiotic relationship between plant and fish, where they both grow and thrive because of each other. Aquaponic kits are usually closed-loop systems, where plants grow thanks to fish waste, and fish thrive on the growth in plant roots. Plants are usually planted on top or sides of the tank with their roots inside the water.
Bettas love that setup, mainly because of the roots that mimic their natural habitat. With these roots floating in, they have a lot of plant matter to play around and hide in.
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Where To Buy Betta Fish Supplies
Bettas are very common, so you won’t have trouble finding all the necessary supplies for them.
Local Fish Store: Your local fish store might have all the necessary supplies you might need for your Bettas. Local stores are preferable for any item you might need in a hurry for your aquarium.
Online: You have a whole world of supplies available at your fingertips. Online vendors like Amazon give you a lot of options to choose from. But make sure you go through the reviews and details of the products you are buying to make sure they are the best fit for your fish.
What do you need for a Betta fish?
A: For Bettas, you need an adequately sized aquarium, filter, heater, water conditioners, gravel (or another substrate), some decorations, test kits, and proper feed. And of course, a fit and happy Betta.
What fish can I put with a Betta?
Male Bettas are territorial and fight with other male Bettas and bright-colored fish, while female Bettas are more docile. Tail-nipping fish are also not a very bright tank-mate choice for Bettas. Fish like Cardinal Tetra, Rasboras, Cory Catfish, and muted colored guppies (preferably black) are a good idea to put in with Bettas. Make sure the aquarium is an adequate size for all fish, and they all have the same water temperature range.
Do Betta fish recognize their owners?
Yes. At least as a person who feeds them, if not as a loving companion. Bettas are curious by nature and relatively intelligent. Even if they don’t have the cranial capacity and emotional range to love you, they will get comfortable with you over time and might also show signs of playfulness around you.
Do Betta fish need filters?
Yes. Just like with Gold Fish, Bettas in bowls make many people think that they don’t need filters. A proper aquarium for your Bettas needs a filter. Aquaponic kits make a good alternative, but even these kits, when specially designed for Bettas, are usually equipped with filters.
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