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Betta Fish Care in 10 Steps – Facts to Know!

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 is a Big Deal! Listen Up Here People

betta fish bowlJust 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.

button5Add 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.

A piece of Lava rock works great!

A piece of Lava rock works great! Good bacteria grow in the canals.

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.

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.

Carnivores: These Fish Eat Meat

betta foodThe 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.

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.

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.

button5Wrap 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…)
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

image source: http://thelittlejournal.blogspot.com

36 thoughts on “Betta Fish Care in 10 Steps – Facts to Know!

  1. Emma

    Hi! I am so excited to get my beta fish, but before I do that I have some questions for you. I went to a website and it said if you want to have more than one beta you have to get five female fish. I just want one or two. Is the five thing true? I also heard t hat with a female beta you can havd a nother fish like a guppy. I was consitering that but I don’t what to harm or hurt the guppy or stess out the beta. Last but not least. Do I have to have a filter in my tank? Thanks for all your help. I hope to be a beta nerd too someday.

    Reply
  2. Julia

    Ok i got up this morn and my bettas color is now grey, his head is turning white, and his eyes are cloudy. I dont see anything on this body that looks like a disease. Everything is normal but the cloudy eyes and color. He ate 1 freeze dried blood worm this morn but will not eat tonight.

    **I just looked at my betta again. He has hole in the head!! Omg! Whats the beat med for him???

    Reply
  3. Sall

    Chris,

    I have had my Betta for about a year now. He is in a 1 gallon tank for the moment (BAD I KNOW), but I do very frequent water changes to compensate it for the moment. I will be getting a 5 gallon tank for Christmas, and I have always fed him Betta Pellets. He has always liked them. But recently after watching your videos, I felt like I was hurting my fish! So, I went out and bought some bloodworms, he didn’t fancy them. I also bought some Brine and Freeze Dried Shrimp, and that didn’t work either! Should I just keep feeding him Pellets? It seems like that’s the only thing he likes! Do you have any other ideas? I hope the fish is not being hurt!

    Reply
  4. Lola

    Hello. Just to be clear , can a Ramshorn snail live in a one gallon? Im hoping my parents will buy me a five gallon. Please, answer! I want it for a companion and cleaner!

    Reply
  5. Billy

    hi mate,
    for Christmas this year i wanted to get a betta fish, only thing is i cant afford a big tank, there is a 9 liter tank which i can afford that also comes with all the essentials (conditioner, food, heater etc.) My question is, should i spend that extra amount of money and buy a larger tank, or would it be okay to keep a betta fish un that 9 liter tank.
    thanks mate

    Reply
  6. kenn

    -hey chris, been watching your videos last two days… i need your help someone left a betta with me 3 days ago, in a 1.5 gal tank. today (12/20/13) i went and bought a 13 gal tank right now i have it set up about half full, when can i add the betta

    -its gotta heater hooked up already and gravel and some fake plants…. ive read and heard you talk about beneficial bacteria, and a cycle it needs to go thru … sorry left these comments on your last youtube post just pasted them from there

    Reply
    1. BettaGeek Post author

      Fill that tank completely up and go to your pet store and ask for a “hunk of their filter or tank decoration” Tell the employee you are trying to get “beneficial bacteria” into your tank quickly and when you add that piece to your tank it should be ON THE DECORATION OR FILTER PAD.

      You could probably add the betta without doing that.. but that route is the safest.

      Reply
  7. Kim

    Hi Chris,
    I have a Betta that I have had for four months. He is in a 5 gallon tank and until this week has been doing great. The problem now is he has Swim Bladder Disorder (yes, I think I overfed him, but he eats so quickly and so much at one time I thought he needed more than I have learned he should have — lesson learned!). He is swimming a little sideways and has a great deal of trouble getting to the bottom of the tank. I read somewhere on the net that I should fast him three days and then feed a pea on the fourth. I bought frozen peas and thawed/cooked it in the microwave in a little dechlorinated water. My problem is Pete only eats floating food. The pea will not float no matter how tiny the pieces. How in the world do you get the betta to eat the pea????? I removed some of the water from his tank and put him in a small container for a couple of hours with the pea and never did see him attempt a nibble. I even stirred the water gently to get the pea bits floating for second and he still didn’t eat. I am very concerned that I am going to loose him. What else can I do?

    Reply
    1. BettaGeek Post author

      Moving around your fish is the last thing you want to do, trust me.

      What I do is take out the insides of the pea and somewhat trick them with dried shrimp (turtle food). I give the betta a tiny piece of dried shrimp and then put a small hunk of the pea NEXT.. they are thinking its dried tasty shrimp but its nasty pea haha. IT WORKS

      Reply
    1. BettaGeek Post author

      Yes of course. People tend to get a bit dramatic with betta fish needing “special plants”

      I don’t abide by any of that stuff. Because… when does it stop?.. could a betta damage it’s tail on a decoration? Maybe..

      Reply
  8. Judy H.

    Ok, so I have a 0.5 gallon tank with a divider. I have two female Bettas on one side and one male Betta on the other. My local pet store clerk for the fish department has told me that Bettas love pellets. I was wondering what the best type/brand of pellets would be. Please help!

    Reply
    1. BettaGeek Post author

      I don’t recommend pellets like I said in the post :D
      “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. 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.”

      Reply
  9. amie

    hello– me and my sister find you very helpfull but we have a question can we have 1 male and 5 females living together. and would a 35-40 gallon fishtank work? thank you

    Reply
    1. BettaGeek Post author

      I have done this before in a 20 gallon very easily. Some of the females you buy though will be super aggressive towards the male. Even though the male is trying to live a “calm” life with that many females.

      Reply
  10. Paige

    Hi. I just got a new betta fish and I saw in one of ur videos that they are conivores. Should I get dried brine shrimp or tropical medley flakes?

    Reply
  11. Brooklyn

    I’ve got a betta fish and I’ve been feeding him pellets but after watching your videos I’m starting to feed him flakes

    Reply
  12. Bridget

    I am soon going to get a betta. I have a 2.5 gallon tank and a filter. I will get everything else. I am new to this but the tank held coral. Any tips you can give me? Thanks

    Reply
  13. Kam

    I have had 3 bettas. Two I bought from Petco in California then moved them to Chicago Il. They stayed in hotels in Vegas, Colorado and Deadwood South Dakota (in their own tanks of course) They both lived for about 3yrs. My housemate may have feed them, they got chubby and died. I am guessing they were about 1 when I got them. I got my third one March of 2011, guessing he was about 1 yr old. I got him from Meijer. It is now 2014 so, I am guessing now he is about 4. He is in one of my original tanks 1.5 gallons, under-gravel filter, bubble stone and cave and no heater. He has lived in three different homes one with cats that loved to play and watch him. He has gone on vacation (in his own take of course) two times. He eats pellets and dried bloodworms. Weekly h20 changes and lots of green algae grow in his tank. He get feed mostly once a day. Usually every third day I fast him. Hopefully he will live lots more years. :–)

    Reply
  14. Martha

    I have seen that distilled water should be avoided. I change the water 100% every week with distilled water only. My betta is in a little over a gallon tank with a live plant and fed pellets (which I now know is bad… will get him better food) and he seems happy. Very active and nests big nests in the plant. What is bad about distilled water and why should it be avoided?

    Reply
  15. renee

    Hi Betta Geek. I’m not sure where to watch your videos I hear you make. I’ve gone to youtube and type in bettageek and nothing comes up. Please help. I love your betta quesstions and answers.

    Reply
  16. Karen

    Hi! Thanks for all the useful information about Bettas!
    I have a question about the PH of my tap water which is well water. The PH is quite high at 8.4. Is this too high for bettas to survive in? As of now, I do not have a betta in my 10 gallon tank which has been cycling for about 2 months. I was hoping you could give me some direction on the PH issue.
    Thanks,

    Reply
  17. Becky

    hello..its been 2 days that ive owned a betta fish apart from my ciclids and guppies…bought it with a new small sized bowl and keep it floating along with my guppiez ie.22dgre celcius heater and a low water pump with LED lights..my question is,would that be harmful for my betta? And often should i change the water? Please help xoxo

    Reply
  18. Juan

    Can you tell me how to take care of baby betta fish.And what can I feed them , also when are they able to eat I know we are to feed the them brine shrimp and blood worms but do they have to be alive,frozen,or in a contanier.And when can I start to feed them different foods.Also when can I keep all the fry in a huge tank with out them attacking each other or should I just sell them and give them to the stores…………please help me I need info about this or my fry are going to die please come to answer this

    AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
    PLEASE ANSWER ME PLEASE AND THANK YOU

    Reply
  19. Dave

    I just bought a male Beta, his name is Bob. I know, go figure. Anyway, I have been checking around here and you are giving some good info. Im going to try the peas and bloodworms, (I go fishing alot) So far so good with “Bob”. He’s starting to come up to the front of the aquarium whenever I am in the room. And follows my finger if I slide it across the glass. Im hoping Bob feels at home here. I think he does.. Thanks for the great info!

    Reply
  20. pancho riatas

    Hi Chris , you say the watts for gallons of water is 5 watt x gallon right , i think in a 10 gallons tank , a 50 watts heater could hot the water too much , cause i have a 100 watts heater in a 40 gallons tank … and this can keep temp aroungd 75 degres farenheit , thats why i think maybe 2.5 watts x gallon would be better … what you thing

    Reply
  21. Keeda Alicia.

    Hey I recently bought a betta from the pet shop and a couple of weeks later he contracted ich. I treated the water with aquarium salts and white spot remedy, I also increased the temperature of the tank. However my poor fish still died. I don’t know where I went wrong. The tank had a filter, a heater and it was a ten gallon tank. I bought live plants but I rinsed them before I put them in the tank. Anyway I was thinking about getting a new betta I have washed the tank and all its contents with boiling water and its currently empty, but I’m worried the tank might still be infested I don’t want to infect another fish. Is there anyway to make sure the tank is clean enough for a new fish? Should I use vinegar to clean the tank?

    Reply

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