Betta Fish Care 101
A Beginner’s Guide to Caring for Betta Fish

Betta fish are often considered to be among the heartiest sort of fish one can purchase, but great betta fish care is essential to a long and happy life.

But are they really?

Well, yes and no.

Indeed, Betta fish are somewhat resilient in certain aspects, but it is a sort of misguided rumor. This species has that reputation due to the fact it can live in very cloudy, dirty water, since they are capable of getting oxygen directly through the air, due to the presence of an organ most other fish don’t have.

betta fish care

A male metallic double-tail Betta (Betta splendens) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In fact, they are similar to most other types of exotic fish in the sense that you will need to take good care of them if you expect your betta fish to have a long life.

For this reason, I have decided to put together a short guide which will help a dedicated Betta fish owner to take care of their Bettas. If you follow this advice, you’re likely to have a healthy and happy Betta fish in your home.

Betta Fish Tank

The first thing you should consider after selecting your fish is what their home is going to be like. Make sure you ditch that jar from the store — it is way too small for a fish to live comfortably. Look for a betta fish tank which is at least in the 1 gallon range, so your Betta is going to have a decent amount of swimming room. It doesn’t have to be a purpose built aquarium — some people like to get creative and use large vases, for instance. Search the internet for Betta fish tanks and you’ll be able to get more ideas, often which pictures available.

Another thing about Betta tank management — make sure to consider placement. It’s a great idea to place your bowl or tank in a location which allows for frequent viewing by yourself along with your family and possible quests, since this type of fish often puts on a show from time to time when there are people near the tank. It may decide to swim and jump around quickly, or perhaps just stare back at you, which can be fun as well. They may even follow you around in their tank.

betta fish care

A pale cambodian male Betta (Betta splendens) with red splotches on his fins (weird colour, I’ve never seen it in another Betta). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cover Your Betta Fish Tank

Remember to cover your tank, as well, since Betta fish often jump out of it. You can prevent that from happening by covering it up, or simply by not filling your bowl or tank all the way up to the top.

Keep Your Betta Fish Tank Clean

Make sure your tank is clean — cleanliness is highly important for a Betta fish, so if you notice leftover food a few minutes after feeding ( about 30-45 minutes), pull it out with your net in order to prevent fungal or bacteria growth.

Accessories For Betta Fish

If you can, you may want to stock your tank with items which will make life better for your Betta, making it feel at home. Make sure your accessories are fin friendly — since Bettas often have long, beautiful fins which may get caught or tear. For instance, you may want to add smooth pebbles are crock in its bottle, or a few soft plants. Perhaps you can add a small item which sits on the tank’s floor, as long as it can’t catch the fish’s fins. You might even color coordinate the tank and accessories with the room where your Betta is going to be.

Quality Water

It’s essential that you take proper care of the water if you want your Betta Fish to thrive. Fill it and replace it often — if you’re using the size of 1 gal, replace from a third to a half of the water every week. Once a month, clean out the tank completely in order to be able to remove the fecal matter on the bottom of your fish’s tanks. Removing fecal matter is very important for proper betta health care.

Remember these recommendations are for a 1 gallon tank – if you’ll be using a smaller one, you’ll need to clean it more often.

Feeding Your Fighting Fish

betta fish care

English: Male betta fish. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Proper feeding is another important step for great betta fish care. There are two different schools of thought in this aspect, so decide which one seems best for you:

Live Betta Food Is Best

You may feed it regular fish food, which comes from a container. Or give give your betta live food such as bloodworms and brine shrimps. These can all be picked up at a local pet store.

While the second option is a somewhat more realistic way to feed your Betta, either works. And you can even mix up both methods, keeping more variety in your fish’s life. In the end, it comes down to your particular preference and budget.

Betta Fish Don’t Share A Tank

Very Important: Don’t ever purchase more than one Betta and have them share a tank, even if for a short period of time. They are sure to end up fighting, and it will be unpleasant. You only have two Bettas together if you want them to mate, and even then, you do so for a very short period in a highly controlled environment. If you’re interested in purchasing multiple betas, make sure you keep in mind.

Bettas Are Highly Territorial

The thing is, Bettas are highly territorial. When they’re in the ocean, a Betta which accidentally enters another’s territory may simply swim away. This is not possible in a tank, so it basically becomes an arena for multiple fish.

When feeding your Betta, aim to divide the daily amount in small parts, and place it on the tank throughout the day. It’s best not to give it all to them at once.

Live Betta Food Is Best

If you aren’t sure what to feed a Betta, you may want to go for live food such as live worms and mosquito larvae, or perhaps freeze dried food or flake food. Plankton, glass worms, tubifex, daphnia and brine shrimp may be given as well, and they’re available freeze dried. Generally, a Betta will continue to eat live food even after they’re full. This is typically not the case with dried food. You may want to skip feeding them once a week, in order to give their digestive tract some time so that they can recover. Be very careful when feeding your Betta, since both contaminated food and overfeeding can be fatal to them.

A pair of bettas spawning under a bubble nest....

A pair of bettas spawning under a bubble nest. Taken in a breeding tank. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Feed Your Betta Small Amounts

It’s best to feed a Betta a few times a day in small amounts than giving them one meal a day. Pay attention to your Betta, and watch out if it appears to be sluggish. This could mean it may have a Betta fish disease.

Change The Water Often

Remember to change the water often, and don’t forget to remove debris and excess food from its tank. Are you aware of all the symptoms associated with a sick Betta fish? If it appears to have trouble swimming, seems underweight or bloated, or appear distracted, it has probably contracted an illness. You’ll need to be very caring of them if that’s the case. Since Betta fish need a lot of care when they’re sick, it’s best to focus your energy on preventing diseases, than trying to remedy them afterwards.

Preventing Betta Fish Diseases

Often, a disease in a Betta fish will be a direct result of improper care or neglect on the owner’s part. Dirty water, or water at an improper temperature, could be hospitable for parasites which can feed on your betta. A variety of medicines can be useful for certain Betta diseases. But the chemicals can have significant negative side effects on the fish. This is true even if you don’t notice any problems right away. Rather, they may appear over some time.

Keep Your Betta Free of Parasites

It’s best to make sure your Betta is free of parasites and healthy at all times. You can worry about what’s the right medication for it later on. Remember that parasites can be very contagious, so you may have an epidemic in a community tank. An epidemic could possibly kill all your fish. If you have the time, it’s recommended that you thoroughly monitor the water quality in the tanks. Make sure they aren’t too cold, so that your fish can live free of stress and remain healthy.

A Healthy Betta Can Fight Disease

If your Betta is healthy, it’ll be able to fight most diseases. Do your best to keep them in a stress-free environment for your betta fish. Make sure you have the right set up with adequate size, and maintain proper care and a proper diet. Your betta won’t be stressed out, and, thus, live a much healthier life, free of parasites or diseases.