Betta fish aren’t as complicated as they may seem, especially when you hear about them fighting all the time.
After all, they are called the ‘Siamese fighting fish’ for a reason.
They come from Thailand where they were placed in pit fights against each other for money. They are naturally territorial, so they will fight in certain conditions.
They are beautiful fish and were bred for color, especially males. Males have brighter colors and longer flowing fins than females.
So, because betta fish are so beautiful, you should get one because that’s why people buy aquariums anyways right? To watch beautiful fish swim around and betta fish may be the most attractive fish you can get for an aquarium. However, if you do get a betta fish, there are some rules you will have to follow to keep them happy and alive.
What Do I Need to Know Before Buying a Betta Fish?
Set Up The Tank First
You need to set up your betta fish tank before you even think about going shopping for a betta. This is because the tank will have to cycle for about 3 weeks to grow beneficial bacteria.
Bett fish average about 2.25 inches fully grown but some can grow as long as 3 inches.
It’s not written in stone but one of the ‘rules of thumb’ is 1-2 gallons of water per inch of fish. You need to account for your betta fish being 3 inches just in case so 6 gallons would be great but that is not a normal size so you could start with a 5-gallon tank for one betta fish and upgrade later if your betta grows longer.
You will need mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration which usually come together in one filter system. We find it easiest to purchase a canister filtration system that goes under the tank or a hang on the back filtration system.
You can use gravel or sand in the bottom of your tank, just make sure you rinse it well before putting it in your tank.
Make sure you have plenty of plants and decorations for your betta to explore, especially if you have one male betta by himself so he doesn’t get bored.
When you fill the tank, make sure you use a water conditioner to remove the chlorine.
Setup your filter system and prime the pump. The all-in-one filter systems usually have a built-in water pump. Just follow the instructions.
Cycle the Tank
Once your tank is all set up and the water is circulating, you need to leave it like this for about three weeks to build up beneficial bacteria that are necessary to keep ammonia levels from fish poop down, once you add your betta.
You can speed up the process by adding feeder fish that are very hardy(can live through the cycling) or purchase ammonia over the counter to add to the water.
Check the water every week. You should see high levels of ammonia at some point but they should go down after the beneficial bacteria grow, usually about three weeks.
You can purchase a water test kit or some cheap test strips to test the water every week. We recommend Tetra ammonia strips because they test specifically for ammonia.
After the ammonia levels are down to nothing you can add your betta fish!
Choosing a Betta Fish
When you go to the pet store, you will probably see all of the betta fish in little cups with barely enough room to swim around.
Betta fish come from rice paddies in Thailand that dry out a lot so the betta ends up living in a small puddle. Hence, bettas have a reputation for being able to survive in a very small amount of water. That doesn’t mean they like it but that is why you will find them in little cups.
Because of the way bettas are transported and kept in the little cups, you will need to make sure you choose a healthy betta fish.
Make sure the betta has clear eyes that are not sunken, bulging, or look glazed.
The betta’s body should be smooth with no lumps or tears.
If you place a finger near the betta, it should react. Try to pick one that seems vibrant.
Also, check to make sure the water is clean and free from poop.
Sometimes you can find a local pet store that is more reliable than one of the chain stores like Petco, which goes through a lot of sick betta fish.
Can Betta Fish Live With Each Other
When you choose how many betta fish to keep in your tank, it is better to keep either one male alone or five female betta fish together.
Male betta fish are too aggressive, so it can be very difficult to keep two males together. If you must though, you can put a divider between them.
It is better to keep at least five females together because they form what is called a ‘sorority’ in which they form a pecking order with a leader and each female will have her own hiding place, so if you do have five females, make sure there is a cave, decoration or some plants for each of them to call their own.
If you do want to keep other types of fish with your bettas, especially a male so he doesn’t get to lonely, here is a list:
Betta Fish Tankmates List
- Malaysian Trumpet Snails
- Neon Tetra
- Black Neon Tetra
- Rummy Nose Tetra
- Ember Tetra
- Cardinal Tetra
- Diamond Tetra
- Glowlight Tetra
- Silver Tip Tetra
- Harlequin Rasbora
- Fire Rasbora
- Female Guppy
- Celestial Pearl Danio
- Cory Catfish
- Otocinclus Catfish
- Kuhli Loach
- Glass Catfish
- White Cloud Mountain Minnow
- Short Fin Platy
Are Betta Fish Easy to Care For?
Betta fish are easy to care for as long as you follow the rules we have already talked about.
Don’t put too many or the wrong combination of betta fish together.
Get a tank that is big enough for filtration, a heater, and decorations.
Betta fish are hardy fish, so they will be fine as long as the water temperature is around 78°F, filtered, heated and has plenty fo hiding places.
The main problem with betta fish is their aggression, especially males, that is why it is important to follow the rules.
Is a Betta Fish a Good Pet?
Again, a betta fish is a good pet as long as you don’t have the wrong combination of tankmates, your water is heated, clean and you have plenty of hiding places or decorations.
Check out our article: What Do Betta Fish Like In Ther Tank?
As far as the most beautiful aquarium fish to watch in an aquarium, betta fish certainly are at the top of most peoples list.
Betta fish can also be taught tricks, like to swim in a circle for their food.
Betta fish can interact with their owners as well. Betta fish are famous for flaring their long fins like a lion, which can be quite amusing for house guests.
Do Betta Fish Get Lonely?
Betta fish are solitary fish in the wild so they are just fine alone in the tank as long as the water is heated, filtered and they have plenty of plants and decorations to amuse them.
You can even rotate the decorations to give them something different to explore.
What are the Cons of Having a Betta Fish?
The main con that pops up oline is their aggression but hopefully we have allready shown that you just need to keep them with the right tankmates.
They do like to sleep at night so it is better to keep the lights off so this can be a con if you have them in the same room of someone who is up at night.
Other than that, betta fish are very hardy so the only can can be their aggression if they are put in the wrong situation.