If you’re reading this, it is very likely that you already own a Betta splendens or simply, a Betta fighting fish at home. If not, pat yourself on the back for researching it before purchasing one. Knowing how to take care of a Betta fish before you buy one is a must but it isn’t that hard once you establish a routine and separates the myths from the facts regarding Betta fish. Although popular as an aquarium fish, the IUCN has recently classified Betta fish within the vulnerable category of endangerment. Because Betta fish are native to Thailand, the primary threat to this species’ safety is habitat destruction and pollution, to the shallow farmlands and marshes in which they inhabit. That being said, an owner or prospective owner of Betta fighting fish should always be monitoring its health considering how precious they’ve become due to gradual endangerment.
With most issues of care or lack thereof traced to poor feeding patterns, acclimation, and tank maintenance by Betta fish owners, being able to properly take care of Betta fish, means knowing what makes them happy and healthy. It also means knowing what causes stress and disease. Luckily, our pet care experts at Allan’s Pet Center have provided a comprehensive Betta fish care guide so you can learn everything there is to know to promote a healthy life for your beautifully colored friend. By approaching your Betta fish with best care practices, these fish can live up to five years, which is nearly three times more than their average lifespan of 1-2 years. This discrepancy is mainly due to misinformation from chain pet stores, but knowing your swimming friend’s true potential can bring you years of companionship and joy.
Arguably the most important determinant of a healthy (or unhealthy) Betta Fighting fish is regular and healthy eating habits. In the wild, Bettas feed on insects and larvae, so it is important to replicate their carnivorous diet with Betta-specific food, which we carry in different varieties, including pellets, flakes, live, and freeze-dried options. The most common ingredients in Betta fish food are meat, fish, and shrimp. Try not to feed your Betta other tropical fish food because their diet is so specifically protein-rich. Because their diet is so particular, Betta fish can be very picky eaters too. The persistent refusal of food— even if the food is geared toward this species—may mean you need to try a different brand or blend of feed.
Like any pet, it is important to treat Betta fish once in a while. This species specifically loves dried bloodworms and brine shrimp. Some owners prefer to use freeze-dried bloodworms or shrimp as their sole food source, but it is important to maintain this diet if you go this route with your fish.
Many Betta owners get stressed overfeeding their fish because, in reality, it’s difficult to gauge how hungry they are and much you should feed a Betta Fighting fish. But it does not help that food labels are often unclear and inconsistent, but for good measure, it is important to keep in mind that their stomach is roughly the size of their eye. That being said, overfeeding with pellets, which expand, can cause severe bloating, constipation and swim bladder issues.
If you decide to feed your Betta twice a day, make sure to feed them about 2 to 3 pellets max during each feeding. If you decide to feed your fish once daily, give 3 to five pellets. Do not overly worry if your fish is not eating—they sometimes refuse to eat when stressed, especially when first bringing them home. Also, it’s not the end of the world, if you forget to feed your new friend one day. Bettas can go 14 days without food before they starve to death, just like a human. Just don’t make a habit out of forgetting.
Betta Fish Habitat
Because Betta fish are frantic, feisty and simply high-energy species of fish, they must have enough room to live freely and hide without special restrictions. Unfortunately, many Betta Fighting Fish owners are unaware of this necessary accommodation. The absolute minimum tank size for a healthy Betta is 1 gallon with the recommended size being 5 gallons or more. Ironically, larger tanks are easier to maintain cleanliness and nitrogen cycles/temperature than smaller tanks, which is all the more reason to give your Betta fish ample room to thrive.
Though they require roomy tanks, you should never fill your fish’s tank to the maximum volume because they need access to the water’s surface to gulp air using their unique labyrinth-shaped organ that extracts oxygen from the air. This is why equipping a Betta’s tank with an air pump is completely unnecessary.
Betta Fish Tank Cleaning
When cleaning your Betta fish’s comfy abode, a regular maintenance schedule should be adhered to. Nevertheless, tanks that hold less than 3 gallons of water will need more frequent and complete water changes to avoid dangerous levels of ammonia. As mentioned shortly prior, smaller, non-filtered tanks require a full water change every week, but 5-gallon or larger filtered tanks only need around 25%-50% of total water volume change once per month depending on water quality, which is another reason why housing your Betta fish in large tanks is much more preferable than room-saving small tanks. Like any water-breathing or amphibious creature kept as a pet, it is very important to have a pH kit in your supplies to maintain healthy pH levels in your fish’s water.
Another issue that can arise with housing your Betta fighting fish in a smaller tank is the level of stress that can surface due to frequent water changing and tank cleaning. The smaller the tank, the more you have to extract your Betta fish from its safe space. Frequent removal can lead to potential stress and shock to your pet. So be mindful that you are only removing your Betta fish during complete water changes using a fish net, not during partial water changes.
When you do change your new friend’s water, please make sure that temperature remains consistent when re-introducing them to their tank after a complete water change. For the safest route when cleaning a Betta fish tank, we suggest simply removing 25-50% of the tanks water and refilling with similar temperature and pH dechlorinated water is the safest route. Whenever adding new tap water, make sure to use dechlorination drops or water that has chlorine already removed.
Not only should your fish’s tank be regularly cleaned to help fish remain healthy, but your little guy’s (or gal’s) toys and decorative items should remain free of algae as well. We suggest using a magnetic or algae cleaning pad for regular algae removal, bit only when the tank is filled with water. However, if you are changing your Betta fish’s water completely, remove algae and other contaminants with hot water and a small amount of white vinegar for stubborn stains and smells. NEVER clean fish tank decorations with soap as it is tough to completely remove. Any residual soap left behind can poison your Betta fish when placed back into its tank.
While water filters aren’t required for your Betta fish, they are highly recommended for aquariums larger than 3 gallons. Filters increase oxygen levels for your Betta Fish, remove ammonia and reduce harmful bacteria while supporting healthy bacteria. A filter is inexpensive and is included with most setups. However, filters do have their downsides. Betta fish are not strong swimmers and get tired quickly, and a filter can stress them out if the current is too strong. Also, strong water movement can lead to ripped fins and even death. So make sure to choose a water filter that is adjustable or recommended specifically for Betta fish.
Lighting and Temperature
To regulate their internal biological clocks, Betta fish need natural or artificial light while they are awake during the day and darkness at night so they can sleep. Logically, plants and other decorations can provide these fish a healthy amount of shade if they do want to be exposed by direct lighting. Speaking of which, try to avoid direct sunlight entering your fish’s tank because it can quickly raise the water’s temperature to dangerous levels and promote unwanted algae growth. Artificial lighting is recommended because it can be controlled with the flick of a switch or the push of a button.
You’ve probably noticed by now, but we cannot stress enough the fact that Betta fish are incredibly susceptible to changes in temperature and water conditions. So when doing things like changing the temperature and water of its tank, do it slowly because abrupt environmental changes can stress your Betta and even cause death. A helpful way of avoiding this way this is to simply purchase an aquarium-safe thermometer for regulating purposes.
If your fish’s tank tends to lean colder, purchase a small aquarium heater (e.g., 5-20 watts).These Heaters—which can be purchased at Allan’s Pet Center— are adjustable and contain a built-in thermostat. Never let the water in your tank drop below 65 degrees or go above 82 degrees. If your habitat’s water is consistently too cold or too hot, your Betta will become withdrawn and eventually sick. This is the quickest way to reduce its potential lifespan.
Betta Fish Filter
While water filters aren’t required, they are highly recommended for aquariums larger than 3 gallons. Filters increase oxygen levels, remove ammonia and reduce harmful bacteria while supporting healthy bacteria. A filter is inexpensive and included with most setups.
Betta fish are not strong swimmers and get tired quickly, a filter can stress them out if the current is too strong. And strong water movement can lead to ripped fins, stress, and death. Choose a water filter that is adjustable or recommended for a Betta fish. You can also baffle intake tubes and exits with pre-filters or plastic plants if necessary to reduce strong currents.
Betta Fish Tank Mates
This species of fish do not warrant their nickname “Siamese fighting fish” for no reason. Many Betta fish are too aggressive to live with other inhabitants—especially other Betta fish. But there are ways to enjoy the beauty of a Betta fish alongside other critters. DO NOT put two male Bettas in the same tank because they will fight and nip at each other, likely until one is dead or severely stressed. This is cruel and should never be done. It is also not advisable to house a male Betta fish with a female unless they are breeding for short periods (then separated).
Needless to say, Female Betta fish can live together in groups of five or more, but the tank size should double to 10 gallons or more. A general stocking rule is 1 gallon per 1 inch of each fish. If you have 5 females, each being 2 inches that would translate to a 10-gallon tank.
The increased space in larger tanks will decrease the territorial instincts of the Betta and may reduce the aggression against certain types of fish. If in doubt, always ask a store employee before you buy a potential tank mate some of which include:
– MYSTERY SNAILS
– CHERRY SHRIMP
– FEEDER GUPPIES
– CORY CATFISH
– HARLEQUIN RASBORA
– AFRICAN DWARF FROG
– NEON TETRAS
– CLOWN PLECOS