How to care for a betta fish

Betta Fish Care AboutBettas fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish are surface breeders that are most comfortable to live in small pockets of water. With their vibrant colors and long, flowing tails, Betta fish are thought by many to be some of the nicest looking
Max Size 2-3 Inches
Life Span 2-3 years, longer with special care.
Habitat Your Betta Fish will enjoy a quart to gallon sized fishbowl.Make sure your fishbowl is clean and fill with de-chlorinated, room temperature water. Depending on the type of water you have, you may need to add a water conditioner to remove chlorine or other chemicals.
  • TEMPERATURE: Room temperature, larger tanks or cold rooms may require you to have a water heater.
  • SUBSTRATE: Gravel or glass stones.
Diet Feed 2-3 pellets or flakes of Betta Food per day. They will also enjoy blood worms and brine shrimp as treats.
Water Make sure to replace the water in your Betta’s bowl regularly! Clean water means a happy fish!
Special Notes Never put two male Betta Fish together as they will undoubtedly battle each other until only one remains to prove that he is the alpha male. Male and female Betta fish can coexist for a short while for breeding but keeping them together long term isn’t recommended.

*As with any pet, it is important that you find a veterinarian that practices in the certified care for your animal. This guide is general in nature and should not be used to diagnose your pet.

About Betta Splendens (Siamese Fighting Fish)


A native of Thailand (once known as Siam) and neighboring Southeast Asian countries, the name Betta comes from the Siamese word Ikan Bettah, which is what the Siamese Fighting Fish used to be called. Currently, in Thailand, the fighting fish is known as pla-kad, which means “tearing or biting fish”, referring to the male Betta’s tactic of biting and tearing its opponent’s fins and tail.

Although there are over 60 species belonging to the betta genus – which in turn belongs to the Osphronemidae family – the Betta Splendens (Siamese Fighting Fish) is the most popular. They are usually about 2.5 inches long and originate from Thailand, Malaysia some parts of China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. They are found in shallow waters, such as ponds, rice paddies, and slow-moving streams.

From its humble beginnings as a drab, brownish-green little fish floating around In the rice paddies and canals, lakes and rivers of what was once Siam, the Betta Splendens has become guest in royal palaces and in far-flung lands at the same time that it has metamorphosed into one of the most spectacular and visually engaging fish ever collected. Its fierce aggressiveness is what first brought this minuscule fish to the attention of humans.

Today, since Bettas are mainly kept as pets in aquariums, they are prized mainly for the dazzling array of color combinations and fin shapes they possess, and breeders continue to come up with even more spectacular colors and shapes. They come in many colors such as red, orange, blue, green, purple and white. The males are much brighter and are more colorful than the females and have larger fins. Their lifespan is about 2 years and is an ideal fish pet for beginners to look after.

Suitable tankmates for Betta fish?

Bettas are highly territorial, and will often fight with other fish that have an appearance similar to them, so it’s advisable to keep them separate from each other and other fish. Two males in a tank will result in constant battles; nor do males tolerate females much either, except for short spurts when they’re breeding.

The fact that Betta fish can display aggression when, somewhat artificially, kept in very small containers does not mean that they have to be kept alone. In fact, there are a lot of fish species that will quite happily coexist with a Betta. If you don’t keep them with fish that have large, colorful fins, or that exhibit aggressive behavior such as fin nipping then a Betta fish would be fairly content to share its home with other species.

betta tank mates

Betta with Pepper Cory (Corydoras paleatus)

Corydoras, Mollies, Platies, Plecos, Harlequin Rasboras, Dwarf Rasboras, Swordtails, and Tetras are some of the best tank mates for Betta fish. Betta can also get along well with snails and shrimps.

Fish that are NOT good tank mates for Bettas are ones that are similar to them in color and shape. Gouramis, for one, are too similar to Bettas since they belong to the same family. They too are very territorial and aggressive and will most likely nip the fins of a Betta, perceiving the Betta to be a rival. The same goes for other aggressive fish such as Paradise fish, Tiger and Rosy barbs, Red-Eye and Serpae Tetras, Piranhas, Oscars, and Bluegills.

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More details:

How to feed a Betta fish?


Betta fish are carnivores, a vegetarian diet will not work since it will not give him the protein that he needs and will make him sick. Remember that they have small appetites, so they can be overfed easily. Take care not to feed them more than the amount they can consume in 2-3 minutes.

The best fish foods for Bettas are freeze dried blood worms and dried brine shrimps with their high levels of protein and fat content. Bettas don’t like flake food much but will eat it sometimes. Another food they don’t like is freeze-dried worm cubes. These Betta fish foods can be got from most pet stores, ask the owner which ones they recommend as they sell many foods that are ideal for Bettas.

Tetra Blood Worms Freeze Dried TreatTetra Blood Worms Freeze Dried Treat

Hikari Bio-Pure FD Brine ShrimpHikari Bio-Pure FD Brine Shrimp

Aqueon Betta Pellets Betta FoodAqueon Betta Pellets Betta Food

You might find that he will occasionally eat mosquitoes or flies that fall into his tank. You may find that your fish grabs his food and swims off to a safe cover to enjoy his find. When eating, fish can feel threatened even if there are no other fish in the tank.

Some Bettas can be finicky eaters. It is ok if your fish does not eat the food you give him that day. This commonly occurs when you first get your fish. It can sometimes take up to a week before they begin to eat. If he still has food left uneaten after 3 minutes, you should remove the leftovers and try again the next day. He won’t starve and will eventually start to eat.

Never over-feed your Bettas, once a day is quite enough, but if you do want to feed it more, make sure you don’t put in more than that it takes a couple of minutes to eat. If you do put too much in, make sure you don’t leave the uneaten food in the water.

Don’t be too worried if your fish is not eating every single day because it takes these fish 14 complete days to starve to death. And trying to feed your fish too often will only make the food sink to the bottom of your tank and create issues with nitrate levels.

You may like: How to grow live fish food for your fish?

More In Depth Info on Bettas

Although bettas breathe through their labyrinth organ,  water quality is still of utmost importance. Many people think they are like a goldfish and require little maintenance. This is not the case. Your bettas water should be changed at least twice a week if kept in a half gallon jar. When changing water, make sure it is the same temperature (bettas do best at a temperature of 77 to 80 degrees) and has been dechlorinated. We do recommend at least half gallon size jars for male bettas.

Side Note: With the right knowledge on how to take care of these fish properly, they can live for a very long time.

Maintaining water quality will help keep nasty things like fin rot from occurring. A little prevention goes a long way. Aquarium salt can be added as additional prevention in addition to other various medications and treatments. Just remember to use aquarium salt, not table salt! Water quality is a major factor in fish quality and overall health. If you are trying to rear fish to show, water quality is of the utmost  importance. If you are raising your betta as a pet, he still deserves top quality water. If you only have a fish or 2 for pets, you should be able to afford to give them extra special attention. In other words, all bettas need good water!

We like to use a turkey baster to remove uneaten food and fecal material. A small pump can also be used but too much suction can suck the fish right up. Sucking a fish into a pump would most definitely be the end of the fish. Use caution even when using a turkey baster not to cause enough suction to damage fins or even injure your fish.

Bettas prefer neutral to slightly acidic water. A pH from 6.7-7.0 is the norm of their natural environment, although they can adjust to and tolerate hard alkaline water . To test your water, use a pH test kit. You can adjust your water pH by using PH down which is usually the case. We would caution you that consistently  high pH levels may indicate hard water.  Test KH before trying to change pH.  If you add a pH decreasing product to hard water, the pH will decrease initially but then bounce back in 24 hours, causing pH shock to the fish resulting in death.

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Some places do have acidic water and people who live in these areas should use PH up or just use pure drinking water. You can also add drinking water or distilled water to your tap water as a pH adjuster. Remember the buffering ability of your water will play a role in whether or not your pH will remain constant. Distilled water is acidic and drinking water is usually neutral to alkaline depending on brand. Never ever use only distilled water for your bettas!  Distilled water does not contain any of the electrolytes and minerals bettas need, and it will kill them in short order.

Bettas prefer still water but can tolerate very slight movement. I stress the word slight here. A little movement when changing water or using a baster will be handled with ease. Constant movement can wear the fish out to the point he or even she succumbs and begins to swim with the current instead of against. At this point the fish is in serious danger. Slightly swirling the water a little once a day can be good exercise; just remember not too fast and dont over do it.

I’ve read the above, I understand the problems, but I still want to know how to care for a betta in a bowl.

If you are adamant about keeping a betta in a bowl without a filter or heater, we recommend that you at least stick to the guidelines below for the tank:

  • It should be a big bowl, 20 litres minimum.
  • It should be in a warm room (warmer than the average room temperature), that consistently stays above the minimum temperature suitable for a betta. This scenario is only likely to occur if you are in a country that has a warm climate all year round, or if you have something like a reptile room that is already heated. A bowl without a heater and sitting at room temperature will be too cold for your betta. For more information read our guide on betta heating.
  • Carry out regular water changes. We recommend doing a 40% water change every 3 days.

As for ongoing care like feeding, the same applies as with rectangular tanks, and you can refer to our betta care guides. You should also read our guide on betta tank cleaning, as the same principles apply to cleaning a betta bowl.

The Betta Fish

Betta FishBetta fish are native to the rice paddies and shallow waters of Thailand. Due to harsh droughts of the region, they’ve become a very adaptable species, and are known for being able to survive in small bodies of water. While most fish can only breathe by using their gills, Betta fish also have a labyrinth – an organ which allows them to breathe air.

They can grow up to 2.5 inches, and can live up to 3 years in home aquariums.

Most Bettas that you see online and in pet stores are males; females have visibly smaller fins, and are usually less colorful.

Male Bettas prefer living alone, and you should never keep two males in the same tank. They’re called Siamese fighting fish for a reason – male Bettas will even respond aggressively to their own reflection. Putting two males in the same tank will often result in a fight to the death.

When keeping females, a group of at least five fish should be maintained, ideally in an aquarium of 15 gallons or more. Males and females should not be kept together, unless when breeding.

Choosing the right Betta fish tank

Although Betta fish are much easier to maintain than most other species, they should never be kept in jars, glasses, or small vases. Choosing a good Betta fish tank, along with the right equipment, is necessary if you want your fish to be happy and healthy.

Fish tank size

Most pet stores keep Betta fish in jars, vases and other small spaces. While the fish can survive in these conditions – they aren’t enjoying it. A good Betta fish tank should allow space for it to swim, as well as provide a place to hide.

The absolute minimum size of a Betta tank should be 2.5 gallons – but you should aim for 3 to 4 gallons to leave enough room for a filter and a heater. Most Betta owners buy fish bowls, although nano cubes are usually better. Keep in mind that your aquarium should always have a lid. Bettas like to jump!

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Contrary to the popular belief, Bettas enjoy being in large aquariums, and will get along just fine with most community fish, provided that there’s enough space.

The Fluval Edge is our favourite Betta aquarium – comes with everything, and offers plenty of space for your Betta. Click here to check it’s price & availability.Fluval Edge Betta Fish Tank


The Siamese fighting fish are a tropical species, and require a temperature between 74 and 78 degrees to thrive. Usually, the water temperature is several degrees below room temperature, so depending on where you live, your Betta may require a heater. Always measure the temperature of your water with a thermometer – cold water will stress the fish, and can cause them to get sick.

The Fluval Marina “Mini” is our favourite Betta fish tank heater; durable, and can fit into most small aquariums. Click here to check the price & availability on Amazon.fluval-marina-mini-fish-tank-heater


Betta fish naturally live in stationary waters, and don’t like the strong flow that some filters may produce. If you’re using a power filter, keep the water output on a low setting to prevent your Betta from getting too stressed. Undergravel filters are an excellent choice for smaller fish tanks, as they won’t create a current – but will still house the bacteria that’s necessary for your Betta to thrive.

The Tetra “Whisper” is our favourite Betta fish tank filter; compact, and rated for aquariums up to 3 gallons. Click here to check the price & availability on Amazon.tetra-whisper


Betta fish like having a hiding spot, and will appreciate having some rocks or plants in their living space. When buying decor, keep in mind that sharp rocks or plastic plants may damage the fins of your Betta. Always buy live plants rather than plastic ones. They will look better, and your fish will appreciate it.


Lighting is important if you want your aquarium to look beautiful, and it’s necessary if you plan to keep live plants. However, keep in mind that the Siamese fighting fish don’t like strong lighting. Most Betta fish bowls and tanks on the market already come equipped with LED lights that won’t stress the fish, but will allow most non-demanding live plants to grow.

Betta fish care

betta-fishMaintenance and water changes

Just like all other fish, the Siamese fighting fish requires regular water changes to survive. Bettas can breathe air, and are able to survive longer in contaminated water than most species; but ammonia and other toxins can still damage their gills, fins, and will eventually kill them. In small, unfiltered fish tanks, 50% water changes should be done once every two days. In filtered tanks of 4 gallons and above, a 30% water change once a week is enough to keep your Betta happy and healthy.

Ensure that the water being added to the tank is always at the same temperature as the water inside the tank. All fish are sensitive to sudden temperature changes, and even a small difference can cause stress.

Never add water straight from the tap into your fish tank. Chlorine from tap water will hurt your fish. Treat tap water with conditioners like Seachem Prime before adding it to the aquarium. Alternatively, you can let the tap water “sit” for 48 hours, which is enough for the chlorine to evaporate.

Betta fish food

Betta fish aren’t picky eaters, and will try to eat almost any type of fish food available. Despite this, it’s best to stick to Betta-specific pellets for several reasons:

  • Betta fish are carnivores, and demand protein-rich nutrition in order to thrive. Some generic fish foods don’t have enough protein for a healthy Betta diet.
  • Bettas have small mouths, and will struggle with eating pellets meant for larger fish.

Be careful not to overfeed your Betta. Leftover food will dirty the water, and contribute to poor water conditions. Keep in mind that all fish are greedy eaters, and may appear hungry even when given enough to eat. Feed your Betta only 4 – 5 pellets a day, and be sure to remove all uneaten food from the tank.

For best results, pellets should be supplemented with frozen bloodworms once every few days. These are an excellent treat, and will help keep your Betta strong and healthy.

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