Quick Care Guide For Betta Fish
Quick Care Guide for Betta Fish
Betta Fish are arguably the most popular and controversial fresh water fish in the fishkeeping hobby. They are abundant, nearly every pet store and at one time even Walmarts and dollar stores would sell them. They are beautiful, with so many varieties of tail types, sizes, colors, and patterns. They are generally easy to care for, which makes them great starter pets. They are also able to survive a great deal of mistreatment which has spelled untold misery for many a Betta sent home with a well meaning owner fed bad information by misinformed pet store workers. Anyone that has been in the Betta hobby for a short while will be familiar with the many myths surrounding these little beauties and the dozens of terrible abusive contraptions intended as Betta tanks many still sold today in pet stores across the US.
To properly house a pet Betta you will need the following:
- A tank of 2.5+ gallons or more
- A tank heater that is an appropriate size for the tank you have and set at 78-82 degrees
- A sponge filter
- An airpump to run the sponge filter
- Water conditioner (which you will use everytime you put tap water in your tank)
Anything else you add is great (excluding other fish), the above items are the thing your fish 100% needs to thrive.
Tank Size Requirements
Betta Fish are one of the few fish that can be kept easily in smaller containers. Just because they can be, does not mean they should be. Most hobbyist are not looking for a pet they have to do daily water changes on. If you keep your Betta in anything under 2.5 gallons you are going to have to do alot of water changes to keep them healthy. Often small tanks will require daily water changes to combat the fish’s waste building up and making them sick or killing them. You will also be hard pressed to find equipment for tiny tanks. Needed things like a heater or filter will be hard to get for smaller tanks. If you are not a breeder and are keeping your fish as a pet then providing your pet with the best enclosure for their needs should be a priority. If you think about it like you would with any other pet keeping a Betta in a tiny tank is cruel. After all a German Shepherd might fit in a crate for a smaller dog but is it right to keep them in there 24/7 for the rest of their lives? The difference, of course, between a dog and a fish is that your dog can come out of the crate. But the only home your pet fish has IS the aquarium you provide. Keeping them in a tiny tank for their whole lives is just as cruel as keeping a cat in a crate for its whole life.
Many people justify abusively small tanks for their fish with the whole “it was marketed for Betta” retort. Or that Betta in the wild live in tiny mud puddles. Or our personal fave “its better than the cup they were in at the store”. Lets translate that line of thinking for a dog and see if you still think that its valid. Dogs should always be kept outside because wolves live outside. Ol Roy is a great dog food because its marketed for dogs. Its okay to keep my dog in a small kennel 24/7 because its bigger than the kennel at the shelter we got them. No sane person would ever think or say these things but yet when it comes to a fish somehow their lives and needs are considered less valuable or worthy. It often would cost less to buy and furnish a ten gallon with a heater and sponge filter than some of this tiny tank kits cost.
While 2.5 gallons is the absolute minimum we recommend new Betta keepers consider a ten gallon tank as their starter tank. These tanks are far easier to find equipment for, provide plenty of cushion for water parameters when used to keep a Betta, and often you can find kits that would cost less then most smaller tank kits. If a ten gallon is just too much tank for you there are plenty of 2.5-6.5 gallon kits that will work but it will be much harder to find heaters and you have to be careful what filters these tanks have as Betta are stressed by strong currents.
There is one tank we can recommend you NOT buy for your fish that IS marketed as Betta tanks. The “Betta Falls” kit from Aqueon that features three tanks in a water fall configuration. Its a pretty tank but the entire setup is absolutely horrendous for Betta. The waterfall setup produces a current that is too strong and the tank size for each betta is less then a gallon. It is a tiny torture chamber for Betta that allows you to torture 3 fish at once. There is also no way to add a heater to this tank. Tales of Betta in one tank being forced into another tank by the water fall flow are numerous.
A Heater IS A Requirement
Unless you are keeping your fish in a room thats around 80 degrees 24/7 you will NEED a tank heater for your tropical fish. Cold water causes all sorts of slow creeping health issues that will cut your fish’s life short if you neglect to provide them a water heater.
No, Your Betta Does NOT Want A Friend
If you are not going to be happy having a single fish in a tank please do not get a Betta. These fish are solitary, they do not want friends. The only thing I would ever pair a Betta with is a snail. Betta are stressed in community tanks even if they are not actively trying to kill your other fish or being picked on by the other fish. The BEST life for your Betta is by themselves. Betta are predators, they will often actively hunt and attack other fish and shrimp. Betta cannot be housed together. Each fish will need its own tank or you will need to divide a tank up for them. Males especially will fight to the death if put in the same tank. Females can sometimes be kept in group tanks with other female Betta but we do not recommend this. These “sorority” setups often eventually fail and require very well situated tanks for hiding places. Male and female Betta should NEVER be housed together in the same tank unless you are a breeder who has conditioned a pair and should only ever be allowed to share a tank for a maximum of 72 hours. They do not live together as breeding pairs and the male WILL kill the female (or rarely the other way around) if they are left together too long.
For Betta it is best to skip any plastic plants as decor and opt for silk or real plants. Betta fins are long and tear easily. Betta love to lay on decor and may tear a fin trying to interact with plastic plants or rough stone decor. Be careful about putting decor too close to walls or anything with very small openings or crevices. You’d be surprised with how adventurous your Betta might get with their decor items and the last thing you want is for them to get stuck. You Betta will appreciate leafy plants that he can sleep on. There is a decor item that is sold just for your betta to sleep on.