Let’s cut to the chase because life is short. I’ve created this 10 step guide to betta fish care for people to read and properly care for their fish. I’m an aquarium geek and this is what I do.
At the end of the day all I want is for the fish to be happy and live good lives. Feel free to join our private facebook group and post about your fish. I love hearing about them. Blah blah, lets get this guide started already.
Tank Size – Small Tanks Are Not Good
Just because you buy your betta fish inside of a small cup doesn’t mean that it likes small environments. Betta fish love large tanks just like every other fish. The reason they are put in small containers for stores is to take up less space and because they will live in that small of an environment without dying. It’s a sad truth but because they have a labyrinth style of surface breathing, they can survive in terrible water conditions.
I understand that all we don’t have a bedroom devoted to fish aquariums like myself and space is limited in our households. A good size tank for your betta is the 5 gallon aquarium. They come in hexagonal shapes and lots of different designs. They have a lot to choose from in that range of sizes.
Some even include kits where aquariums come with little lights and filters all built into them. This is a great size for one betta fish and they will greatly appreciate the size expansion versus the little cup you bought it in. I would love it if everyone used bigger tanks than 5 gallons but I know it just isn’t feasible to wish upon. If it helps spark your interest at all, Walmart sells 10 gallon aquariums for around $12 dollars. You can also save a lot of money buying package deals with filters and all the needed components.
*Side Note: Due to the LARGE amount of questions I have received regarding if a “ONE GALLON tank is enough space for my betta?” I am going to stress the answer of NO, IT IS NOT ENOUGH space for your fish to live in. This is the equivalent of a human living inside of an automobile for their entire lifespan! I try not to get too angry but sometimes it wears on me.
Water Quality and Water Changes
Most people have this thought that their betta fish needs bottled water. That’s wrong. The betta is actually a pretty tough camper when it comes to water. The thing that needs to be watched is chlorine. Buy a basic water conditioner and apply it to your water from your faucet before putting it in your tank. It’s that simple.
Add the amount of water conditioner as per instructions on the bottle. I use a small bucket to fill the water with just because its easy to add the conditioner. I will repeat, the conditioner needs to be added before that new water goes into your fish tank. The conditioner works instantly to make the water safe of any chemicals for the fish. Don’t make this more complicated than it is.
The most common step that is “skipped” by beginners is the thought of “beneficial bacteria” I KNOW IT SOUNDS complicated but it really is not. Let’s explain this “dumb-ified” and maybe that will help. Your tank needs to be thought of as an ecosystem because that is what we are replicating (mother nature aka the outdoors where fish live). Beneficial bacteria make the water easier for the fish to live in. With a brand new tank, you need some of this “good bacteria”. This bacteria grows on plants, rocks and decor. When you are at the pet store buying your fish, ALSO BUY a fake plant or decoration or rock from an ‘established aquarium’. Tell the employee your tank needs beneficial bacteria. They will KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN. Transport this decor in a bag of water to your new tank. This will make your new tank an ecosystem.
Aggression Levels and Being Aware
The betta fish is also known as the “Japanese Fighting Fish.” It gets that name from its tendency to fight by nature. The male sex of these fish are extremely aggressive and will fight to the death. Male Bettas cannot be roommates with other fish and there are no exceptions. I don’t care about the 1% of people out there that have experimented with this and found a nice male. Experimenting like this is not right to the fish and morally wrong in my opinion. Fish get lots of stress when put in the wrong environment and stress causes fish to die. Long story short, male Bettas are not to be put with any other fish. Females can be happily put with other tropical fish and get along great with each other.
Carnivores: These Fish Eat Meat!
The betta is a meat eating carnivore. Feeding your fish those crappy flakes or pellets just isn’t cutting it. I would advise getting them some good food like bloodworms or dried shrimp.
Here is an Amazon.com Link
There are a huge variety of foods to choose from. Think of their natural living habitat and that’s what they can be eating. Mosquito larvae, live brine shrimp, and lots more. I have found some dried shrimp in the turtle section of my pet store that they absolutely love. You can get freeze dried shrimp, frozen mosquito larvae, real insects, brine shrimp and more. Diet is crucial to your Betta being happy. Throw away those pellets they gave you at the pet store.
Overfeeding is the Silent Killer
The most common issue I see people have is “my betta fish will not eat! He will starve to death!” Lets dissect this a little bit. A betta fish’s stomach is the size of their eyeball. That means after feeding them one of those pellets, there stomach is now full for the day. It takes a betta 2 full weeks to starve to death. That’s 14 days without eating and that means your fish is fine and won’t starve to death. It’s a very common issue for Bettas to over eat and have digestion issues. Feed them once a day at the same time of the day for a routine schedule if possible. Over feeding them causes bloating and other issues. Be strict when feeding your Betta fish and know they need less food than you think.
Temperatures Of Your Tank Water
When you buy your betta, they usually come in a small cup without heated water. It actually works out nice for us because our room temperature is around their tropical water temps. Water temperature for these fish should be between 75-82 degrees Fahrenheit. The safest route would be to have a heater on your tank if you think your room temp might lower from that range. Figure on 5 watts of heater power for every gallon of water your tank has. With a small tank, heaters are very cheap and will cost under $5 US dollars usually.
*Side Note: Some people are under the impression that a light on your tank is enough to heat the water but it really isn’t most lights that come on tank setups are LEDs and give off barely any heat what so ever. For more information on lighting and what schedule the lighting should be on for sleep time and such visit this link.
Clean Water Is a Necessity
Changing the water in your tank is just simple laws of science. With the fish waste and uneaten food that decays, water needs to be changed on a weekly basis at minimum.
Warning: the average person thinks to change 90% of the water in the tank at once. It just makes the most sense to us but the matter is, its very unsafe for your fish. Reason being, fish become use to the water parameters. That previous water is what they were used to and when you pour 90% new water in the tank, the fish goes into shock. It only knows the old water and its organs don’t know how to handle the new water. Change only 40-50% of the tank water to keep some of the old water that the fish has acclimated to.
Filtration and What to Know
Water clarity is an important factor for betta fish. They need their water clean and free of bacteria. Without beating around the bush, there are lots of sicknesses that run with the betta and poor water conditions. White dots on their skin that are parasites breeding and more gross stuff like that. The betta is a tropical fish and you can’t run away from needing clean water. Buy an aquarium filter and do regular tank water changes. Ill keep it as simple as that. Stick to a schedule of every couple of days.
Interaction With Other Fish
Your not crazy for wanting to play with your pet fish. There are days I wish I was swimming inside my aquarium. A happy fish is a healthier fish. Here is a fun trick that some of you can do. Obtain a small mirror and put it up to the aquarium glass. You will notice your male get all “boasted” and ready to puff out. This is his territorial fighting side coming out. It’s good for the betta to change things up and have their scans rips change a bit. Don’t leave the mirror there too long just for his health sake. I have seen videos of betta owners teaching their fish to jump out of the water to snatch their food. It blew me away and made me realize the sky is your limit. These fish are awesome.. it’s just that simple.
A Pea Once a Week Helps!
Betta fish have some weird digestion issues that sometimes arise. I’ve noticed most of them come from over feeding the fish and poor nutrition. There is a trick to solve these problems. Your common household “Pea” helps their digestion system. Most peas come precooked and those are what you use. Remove the skin and cut up into tiny pieces that the betta can eat. Drop these on the surface and watch them eat them. This does wonders for their nutrition and digestion.
Wrap Up: Keep it Simple with Routine Your Routines
These are the most crucial variables for taking care of Betta fish. Hopefully my grammar and spelling wasn’t to hard on you. Let me know what you think and how your journey is going with your fish. I would love to hear from you. I’m just an average Joe myself looking to see your tank setup. Best of luck to you.
Share What You have to Say:
Posted by Salama:
I bought a betta fish yesterday and bought a 2 gallon tank is this size good and thanks you have helped me alot! Ive had betta fish survive 3 and half years old!!:). Salama:)
Reply from Moderator Chris:
I would say that’s pretty long and it’s cool to see how long these fish can live. I have seen a lot of talk about the betta only being able to live for so long because of breeding issues and eggs building up in the females but I’m not sure I believe it. I haven’t had great success with having females live for longer than 3 years though… which is kinda sad. I would love to know any stories on female bettas living for as long as possible.
Posted by Muuka:
When we got our first betta when I was about 7yrs old (I’m 26 now so long time ago)
It lived in a smallish tank (maybe 1gl… We didn’t do internet or research stuff all that much. Besides what my mom was told by the petstores for info…) I learned they are carnivore eaters too.
of course my mom was used to taking care of fish alot from her childhood and working in a petshop herself. So she did water changes very often.
But he lived almost 7years with us. Until he was murdered by my ex-step dads lies… he claimed he got his friend to petsit for us while we were in cali and so alot of our pets suffered for it… (the betta’s water dried up sadly…)
He was a fierce betta too lol flared at everything, and would jump out of the water and bite your finger when you went to give him food, or put your fingers near his hair holes (had a lid with holes cuz he’d jump out at you) Hence his name was Psycho =P
I love betta fish (and other fish) I research alot now. An I’m always learning new things (like I didn’t know the thing about the pea until your vid…) I’m on bettafish dot com I only have 1 betta right now (he’s sick from when I was away no one changed his water… so he’s in his 1gl for treatment.) till he goes into his new 10gl planted tank.
Posted by Kathy:
Chris – I have a question about feeding frozen food, primarily brine shrimp and blood worms. I have a hard time judging the amount. It seems like after I melt the portion I have cut off from the block, I can’t compare it to the size of my beta’s eyeball since it is so watery. Do you have any suggestions? btw, loved your video. I am a betta owner for just 6 months so I’m learning all of the time and your video is just excellent for newbies like me. Thanks.
Reply from Moderator Chris:
What the fish can eat within 5 minutes once a day is going to be the proper amount. It’s awesome to see newbies getting involved into the fish community. You gotta love this darn hobby.. its so addicting.
Posted by Julia:
Hi . Ive had my betta fish for a little over a month now.. He seems to be doing great. Vibrant colors, swimming around, eating. I just went to turn off his tank light and noticed his head is turning white! Please help! I do a 40% water change once a week with chlorinated water.
Reply from Moderator Chris:
White dots are known as “ich” most of the time. You need to do a search on curing ich. Here is a quick guide I will throw together. maybe do some more extensive research regarding it.
Curing “Ich” Guide:
1. Clean the tank gently. Clean inside glass too.
2. Do a 30% water change EVERY DAY
3. Raise the temperature in the 80s
4. Add the dosage of “Quick Cure” product
5. Add 1 teaspoon of aquarium salt for ever 2 gallons of water
6. Rinse and Repeat daily until this illness is gone
Posted by Stacy:
I just got a new betta because my last one died, I believe he had the Popeye illness, but I was wandering for my new one will it hurt to reuse the tank after I’ve cleaned it thourghly? And I have also seen in different sites that some recommended not using plastic decor for the tank.
Reply from Moderator Chris:
I wouldn’t think so. What might not hurt is to use a saturated solution of aquarium salt in the tank prior to putting your fish in there. Salt really kills that stuff at a rapid pace. You could also use the “dry out” effect where you let the tank dry for some time and just know that most of those illnesses live only in water and die off. It’s good you take action on the fact of the illness though like you are.
Posted by Brian:
Siamese Fighting fish* they are native to Thailand.
Posted by Joel:
Can you please help me?my betta fish does not eat dried bloodworms it does not eat pellets too.what do i do?
Reply from Moderator Chris:
Go to your pet store or Walmart and buy “dried shrimp” Sometimes it can be found in the turtle food section. They love shrimp
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