Are you a first-time fish adopter? If this is so, you’re likely considering getting a Betta. This colorful species is one of the most popular fish in the pet market. They adapt well to most environments and are a super laid down species. However, when it comes to figuring out their immediate care needs, loads of popular advice seem to contradict itself. Stay tuned to discover our Ultimate Betta Fish Care Guide!
Your First Steps
Before even getting your betta, you need to buy and prepare an appropriate tank. Yes, Bettas need tanks and not tiny cups. For those who are new to fish keeping, a 2.5 gal tank will do the job nicely. Add a filter to keep the water clean and filled with the healthy bacteria your Betta needs to thrive. Moreover, if you live in a cold place or, for any other reason, the room temperature falls below the 23ºC (70 F) mark, you will also need a tank heater.
Bear in mind that the natural habitat of Bettas are the shallow streams and rice paddies of Thailand, which are huge wetlands. Thus, the secret for keeping your fish healthy and happy is recreating as much as possible their original environment. Although some pet stores display them in tiny cute jars, these are not ideal living conditions: Bettas might not be the most active fish species, but they still need their own space.
Do you already own a good-sized tank or even an aquarium with several well-behaved fishes? Are you considering expanding your current fish collection with a couple of bettas? Stop right there! Before going any further with your plans, you need to understand the betta way of living. Here are some essential dos and do-not of Betta care.
The Ultimate Guide to Betta Care
Bettas are an uncomplicated species. If you follow these suggested guidelines, we can almost guarantee that your fish will always be in good shape.
Do: Feed your Betta twice-a-day.
Bettas are not picky eaters: they will essentially munch on whatever you give them. However, this doesn’t mean that you should put in the tank whatever falls into your hands! When it comes to food, keeping in mind their natural habitat is the key to success.
In the wild, bettas prey on small insects, larvae, or insect eggs; thus pellets and live baby brine shrimp are good food options. Dry fish food might also be okay as long as you buy betta-specific products. Avoid at all costs generic and cheap brands.
Don’t: Avoid overfeeding.
Bettas have a teeny-weeny stomach, about the size of their eye. With such a limited stomach capacity, overfeeding can quickly become the source of all uncalled problems. For this reason, throwing a random amount of pellets in the tank is never a good idea. If you know that a hectic schedule will hijack your entire day, it’s better to delegate your feeding duties to someone else.
Remember that the only way to avoid overfeeding is by trial and error: get to know how much food your fish tolerates and stick to that amount. Don’t forget to watch out for typical signs of overfeeding, like belly swelling and constipation.
Do: Bettas need personal space.
When living in their natural habitat, Bettas spend much of their time swimming alone. Due to their narrowness, the still waters of rice paddies and shallow streams are not jam-packed with fish, which kind of explains why Bettas will never be social butterflies. If you insist on doubling or even tripling the numbers in your aquarium, it is better to choose a more sociable fish species, like Clown fishes of Puffers. To thrive, your Betta should be able to have a quiet corner to himself no matter the circumstances.
Don’t: Two (or more!) Betta males should never share the same tank.
When it comes to cohabitation, Betta males are just the worst. Their territoriality is so extreme that they cannot coexist in the same tank, no matter the size. They will constantly attack each other until a winner gets declared survivor.
“If, for any reason, you must temporarily put two males within the same tank, don’t forget to add a handy divider. In this way, you will prevent the Bettas from attacking and severely hurting each other (the stress, however, will remain as long as the other male remains in the tank).
Do: Be careful with the water level of your tank.
Again, because a Betta natural habit is somewhat labyrinthic, full of plants, roots, and other obstacles, they possess a particular swimming pattern. From time to time, Bettas tend to pop into the surface to catch some air. They can even survive for short periods of time in water deprived environments as long as their body remains moist. To adapt to these harsh conditions, nature provided them with a special bladder on the top of their bodies that allows them to filter air.
Whenever you’re setting your tank for the first time, be sure to leave some space at the top so your fish can come to the surface.
Don’t: Avoid lids on the top of the tank.
We know that lids are a good safety measure because of cats and people sticking their paws or hands into the tank. However, if you don’t have immediate safety concerns, you should disregard the lid. Bettas have a reputation for being skilled jumpers. If you put a lid on the tank, your fish may end up injured after a sudden spurt.
Regarding sudden jumps, some still believe that Bettas will try to jump out of their tank if the opportunity appears. Rest assured: this is a myth. If the tank is big enough, the water maintains its quality, and the filter does its job as it is supposed to, your Betta will not attempt any escape jump. This only happens when Bettas are kept in tiny jars without proper maintenance.
Do: Recreate their natural habitat with plants.
Do you want to make your Betta feel truly at home? Then try to recreate the little nooks and crannies of rice paddies and shallow streams with plants, rocks, castles, and other aquarium decorations. Remember that your Betta loves to hide in tiny holes and shady areas.
Don’t: Avoid jars, glass bowls, and cups at all costs.
Remember, Bettas are not meant to be kept in your regular glass fishbowl. If you put your fish in a jar without any attached filter, the water quality will quickly deteriorate creating a whole host of issues.
To give you an idea, remember that fish emit ammonia when breathing, which in turn generates nitrates that end up killing the healthy bacteria in the water. Bacteria that your Betta needs to survive. This lack of a quality living environment not only shortens his lifespan, but it’s also not the most humane way of treating your pet.
Do you want to know more about Bettas before adopting one?”
Check the following fact guide!
- Scientific name: Betta splendens.
- Natural Habitat: Rice paddies and shallow streams across Asia, particularly in Thailand.
- Measures and colors: The average length of both males and females is 4.88 cm. The average weight is 260g. Colors can vary from individual to individual. Males tend to have the most vibrant and curious color mixes, while female coloration is more discrete.
- Behavioral traits: Bettas are diurnal fish. They are active during the daylight hours; once night falls activity levels diminish considerably. Just like any other diurnal animal, bettas require regular sleep to maintain good health and low-stress levels. To ensure proper care of your Betta, you should turn off the light of the tank at night.
- Regular price: Up to $10 per fish.