A Comprehensive Guide – How To Choose And Set Up A Betta Fish Tank

Betta's Home


When you’re creating a home for your betta fish, a proper betta fish tank should be your number one priority.

I can’t stress the importance of a clean, safe and roomy betta fish tank for a happy, healthy and long-lived betta fish.

But, it’s a really bad idea to create a home for your Betta fish without some serious thought and planning. To help you and your Betta fish, we’ve put together a guide on how to choose and set up a betta fish tank – the right way.

As a aquatic pet enthusiast who has raised Betta fish for several years, I know for a fact that taking proper care of these wonderful pets can be daunting, especially if you are starting with little experience.

Taking proper care of this fish species should not be challenging but most people find it hard because they lack sufficient knowledge on how to properly handle the venture.

I should point out that many Betta fish owners fail to care for their pets properly due to lack of sufficient information or misinformation, especially when it comes to betta fish health topics. With our articles at bettafishcare.org, we aim to make it easier to raise healthy and happy Betta fish.

And making a great home for your Betta fish is where you start!


First Steps To Consider;

If you are wanting a happy, healthy betta fish as a pet, there are certain important things that you need to have. They include:

  • An appropriately sized tank (Ideally, the tank should have a capacity of 5 – 10 gallons)
  • Proper food for the fish (The most ideal food for Betta fish is pellets)
  • A heater with the capability of sufficiently heating the fish tank you have
  • A water filter that is proportionate to the fish tank size
  • De-chlorination drops (Alternatively, you can remove chlorine from the water to be put in the fish tank by setting it out for a few days)

Set Up Your Tank Before You Purchase Your Fish

One of the most important steps of all is this one — purchase your tank, set it up and make sure that you age and condition the water at least one week prior to placing your fish in its home. If you can take longer than that, even better.

One of the most common mistakes rookie aquarist make is trying to do it all at once.

Considering that it’s such a popular tank size for betta fish, the basic five gallon aquarium is often what is used to house betta fish, and a whole host of other fish pets. But, there is a formula that’s used to size an aquarium to your betta which I’ll discuss next.

What Is The Ideal Betta Fish Tank Size?

Regardless of whether you have already gotten a fish tank or you are planning to purchase one, I will address one of the biggest controversies surrounding the ideal size of tank so that you can start your betta fish home project on the right foot.

If you have talked to some people who own Betta fish, you may have heard a misconception that the bowls and small cubes sold in pet stores can make ideal home for your finned pet.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The reality is that is that each Betta fish needs around 5 gallons of clean, fresh water, or as close as you can get to this amount.

A Rule Of Thumb – One Gallon Of Water For Each Inch Of Betta

One rule of thumb to follow is quite simple, for each inch of adult betta fish, you need one gallon of water. Generally an adult betta is around two to three inches in length, so a minimum betta fish tank should be three gallons.

Most caring “betta parents” will add an extra gallon or two just to be safe so this is why we recommend at least a five gallon tank. That is a betta fish tank that is adequate in size.

Should you ask any Betta fish expert, most will confirm this.

A 10 Gallon Tank Would Be Great If You Can Do It

If you can get a tank that has a capacity of 10 gallons, even better. If you have limited space that can only accommodate a half liter gallon of water, you should find a bigger space before venturing into Betta fish rearing.

Betta fish which lived in the wild used to thrive in irrigation fields and rice paddies. Some people wrongly interpret this to mean that these fish resided in puddles. What they forget is that though these ponds were shallow, they could sometimes stretch for hundreds of feet. Believe me, Betta fish are more active and happier when they have ample room to swim around.

If your fish resides in a tank with a lots of water, you will have more fun with your pet as they will be happier and healthier. This is something that you definitely notice.


This is why a tank of at least five gallons is the ideal betta fish tank size. This should be a minimum. There are however still a few things that must be done to prepare for the arrival of your betta fish.

Buy a Fish Tank, Clean It And Add Accessories

Before acquiring your finned pet, you should ensure that you already have their new home set up as we discussed above.

You should therefore acquire a fish tank that should ideally have a capacity of between 5 – 10 gallons and you’ll need substrate such as pebbles or rocks which you will use to line 1 – 3 inches at the bottom of the tank.

Additionally, you should also get a water filter and heater. To acquire the right size of heater and filter, you should be guided by the size of your tank. At this stage, I should mention that a filter that hangs at the side of the tank is the easiest to use.

Clean the Tank

After bringing your tank home, the next step should be cleaning the tank thoroughly.

Be sure that you first wash the tank thoroughly as follows. However, remember that you should not use dish detergent to wash the tank as the residue soap leaves can harm your Betta fish.

Ideally, you should wet a clean sponge and thoroughly wipe the entire tank interior. If you notice any residue in the tank after wiping it, use a little bit of vinegar to clean whatever’s left.

You should then rinse the tank thoroughly using plain tap water. After completing the cleaning, you can then place the tank on the stand.

Add the Substrate (Gravel, etc.) and Other Accessories

After cleaning your aquarium and setting it up at its permanent location, you should then load your substrate of choice at the bottom of the tank, 1 – 2 inches from the bottom.

When done, you should attach the filter to the tank, stick a thermometer to the side of the tank and then attach the heater where the instructions tell you. .

Add Water to the Tank

When you are done with the steps above, the next thing that you should do is to fill your fish tank with water.

Be sure that you leave at least 2 inches of space at the top so that your Betta fish cannot jump out.

Over the years, I have had great success in using tap water in my fish tanks. However, remember that if you reside in area with chlorine in the water (some homes have wells which don’t add chlorine), you will need to add a few de-chlorination drops to the tank water so as to get rid of the chlorine which can harm your pets.

Or, you can leave the water in the tank with any covers off so that the chlorine dissipates over a week or so.

Set the Right Water Temperature

Before adding Betta fish to the tank, it is imperative that you ensure the water temperature is just right. Keep in mind that when rearing Betta fish, you need to maintain the water in the fish tank between 76 – 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the water temperature drops to below 72 degrees, your Betta fish will become sluggish and exposed to the risk of serious health complications. It is also important to note that you should be consistent in the temperature that you provide to your fish.

If you are constantly changing the water temperature, you can end up stressing your fish.

Before adding your Betta fish to the tank, check and ascertain that you have achieved a temperature of between 76 -84 degrees Fahrenheit.

Provide Sufficient Light

Betta fish require at least 8 hours of light each day.

Ideally, you should position your tank in such a way that your fish have access to direct sunlight.

However, if this is impossible, you can add a light above the fish tank. If you add a light, do not forget to turn it off at night so that your Betta can establish a regular sleeping pattern.

Change the Water in the Tank at Regular Intervals

Once you have introduced your Betta fish in their new home and everything is going smoothly, do not forget to change the water in the tank on a weekly basis.

The changing of the water should not stress you out as it is an easy task. For starters, you do not have to clean the fish tank as you are changing the water. When changing the water you don’t have to get rid of all the water in the tank. It is good that you leave some water in the tank since the water usually has bacteria cultures that help in keeping nitrate and ammonia levels down.

Replace 20% – 30% Of The Water Each Week

Based on my experience, I would recommend that you only remove 20% – 30% of the existing tank water and replace it with fresh de-chlorinated water once every week. If you provide quality water to your fish and change the supply at regular intervals, you can avoid stressing your pets.

It is important to keep in mind that irregular water changes can have a negative impact on your Betta fish.

Ideally, you should de-chlorinate the water you are going to use during the change about 48 hours before you use it. To ensure that you are using clean and quality water, it is best that use a commercial chlorine remover before adding the water to the fish tank.

Additionally, do not forget to take all necessary measures to ensure that the water is the right temperature before you add it to your fish tank.

Some More Thoughts On Aquariums

Glass vs. Acrylic

Should you purchase a tank that is glass or acrylic? Both options come with their pros and cons.

A glass tank is heavier and if struck with a heavy object, which of course is not recommended, they can break. Of both those materials, glass however is more hygienic. The fact that it is non-porous is one of the reasons why traditionally many aquarists have chosen it throughout the years.

Glass is also less expensive when compared to acrylic, being as it is scratch resistant you are provided with a clear and beautiful view of the inside of the aquarium for a long, long time.

There are however also advantages to acrylic, other than the fact that it weighs half as much as glass does making it very lightweight, the insulation it provides is around twenty percent better than glass, this means savings on your electric bill. This is why popular models are offered in acrylic.

We vote for a glass aquarium as the hygienic advantages outweigh all the other considerations.

The Perfect Tank Location

I am assuming that once you set it up, you will not be moving your betta fish tank around. Water weighs quite a bit, a gallon weighs around eight pounds so put some thought into where you will want to set it up.

You want an area where there is sufficient space for you to fit comfortably on, nowhere where it can easily be ran into or pushed off. It should not be placed in direct reach of an air conditioner or heating unit or in direct sunlight.

Keep in mind that one of the most important factors in betta care is consistency of the betta’s water temperature. Place it where during the day it will receive enough light yet during the night, it will be dark and quiet. Bettas do sleep and they need their rest.

You should also keep the aquarium away from constant vibrations, for example stereos or washing machines.

Sand and Gravel

If you are considering incorporating live plants, in order for the plants to grow their roots, you need a layer of sand in the bottom of the aquarium.

Also look into future tank mates for you betta, some that enjoy burrowing in the floor of the aquarium, if this is the case, you will require sand for them. The best option is usually a good mixture of gravel and sand.

Your sand and gravel can be purchased at a pet shop near you or online. Purchase the stuff that’s “approved for use in an aquarium” or the betta will most likely be poisoned. The majority of these products contain chemicals and additives that you betta would not be able to tolerate.

Safe Tank Decorations

Never place any metal objects in the betta fish tank. Most metals tend to excrete chemicals that are poisonous into the water.

Fabric plants are another thing that should not be placed in your betta fish tank. In order to protect your betta’s fins, all tank decorations must be smooth.

Bettas could get stuck in small holes in tank decorations so watch out for that, they must be encouraged to explore in a risk free area.

Bettas love privacy so make sure that there are decorations in the tank that they can hide behind.

In Conclusion…

I really hoped you enjoyed this comprehensive discussion on Betta Fish Tanks. There’s a lot of information here and you might want to read it through several times to digest it all.

If you have any questions, you can go over to our Facebook Page – Click HERE – and I’ll do my best to get an answer to you if I can.

I have many more articles you can read that will definitely help you keep your Betta happy and healthy!

Photo courtesy of Kate Brady