Bettas are hardy fish, and this often gives people the impression they don’t require much care. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth if you want your betta to live a long and, most importantly, happy life.
Then you can’t just stick them in a 2-gallon tank without a heater and filter, as some people would have you believe.
In fact, proper betta care requires more diligence than most people think! Fortunately, in this article, you’re going to find out absolutely EVERYTHING there is to know about keeping your betta alive!
Including the following:
- How to cycle your bettas tank
- How to setup the tank
- How to clean the tank
- What tank mates you can keep with them
- What the most common diseases are.
- How to tell if your betta is happy or not.
- What you should feed your betta.
- How to breed betta fish.
- Whether you can keep bettas together or not
And much more!
So here is the most comprehensive guide there is to look after your betta fish!
Betta Care Basics
|Name||Betta (Betta splendens)|
|Tank Size||5 Gallons Or Bigger|
|Community Tank||Semi Aggressive|
Before we get started, here are some of the most basic facts you’ll need to know about bettas!
Bettas need a tank that’s 5 gallons or bigger, a temperature between 76-80°F and a pH as close to 7.0 as possible. They grow to 2.5-3″ and being carnivores, need a protein rich diet. Use a filter with a slow flowing current to keep their tank clean.
When kept in captivity, bettas tend to live for around 2-5 years. However, it’s also important to remember that if a pet shop has had a betta for a while, you may not get to keep yours for a full 5 years!
Female and male bettas differ slightly in their size. Males tend to grow up to 3″ in length, whereas females come in a bit shorter at about 2.25″ in length.
Contrary to popular belief, bettas are solely carnivorous fish. So they’ll need to live off a variety of different meats, and any plant matter should be avoided.
The ideal temperature for a betta fish is 78°F. However, any temperature between 76-80°F is more than adequate for your betta. Just make sure the temperature doesn’t fluctuate too quickly.
And lastly, when it comes to pH, you want the pH of your tank to remain as close to neutral (7) as possible. Bettas don’t like water that is too acidic or alkaline. However, if you’re having trouble controlling the pH of your tank, it’s better for the pH to be slightly more acidic than alkaline.
Next Up, Tank Requirements!
Now that you know the very basics about betta care it’s important to understand the tank requirements your betta needs as well! In fact, if you pick the wrong tank and equipment, then it can drastically affect the lifespan of your betta!
A lot of people will say that a betta needs a tank that is 2.5 gallons in size; however, this isn’t the case. While a betta can SURVIVE in these conditions, they definitely won’t be happy. Not only will they not have enough room to swim around, but the water parameters can fluctuate wildly in a tank that small.
A sudden drop or rise in temperature outside the tank could result in the water temperature going too high or low. Likewise, ammonia levels can also spike a lot faster in tanks this size, especially if the tank is still new.
The real minimum tank size a betta can live comfortably and happily in is 5 gallons. But if you have the room, you should definitely consider paying that little bit more for a 10-gallon tank as the water will be a lot more stable!
Plus, you also get the added benefit of being able to choose from a range of tank mates for your betta as well!
The next biggest choice you’ll need to make is which kind of filter you’re going to want in your tank. And it’s important to remember that a filter will need at least 3 of the following:
- Mechanical Media – Mechanical media is the first part of your filter that water will pass through. Mechanical media is perfect for removing all the large pieces of debris from the water siphoning through, preventing a build up of them further down the line.
- Chemical Media – Next is chemical media. This is the second part of your filter and it helps remove any impurities from the water as well as any chemicals that may have entered your water. Chemical media is also great for reducing any bad smells coming from the tank.
- Biological Media – And lastly, you’ll also need to make sure that whatever filter you choose also comes with biological media as well. Biological media houses the bacteria vital for the removal of ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. Because if either of the three become too high, it can kill your betta.
Aside from knowing about the filter media, you should also be aware there are a few different types of filters you can use for your aquarium. They all have their pros and cons, so it’s up to you to decide which one you want to use.
Here are the different types you can choose from:
Power Filters – Power filters tend to be the most commonly used filters, and this is because they provide all three types of filtration necessary. Not only this, but they also help move a lot of water, which keeps your aquarium well oxygenated.
However, the downside of power filters is that they’ll need to be cleaned regularly, and sometimes they aren’t as big or powerful as other filters.
Internal Filters – Internal filters are another choice available to you, and unlike power filters that tend to hang on the back of your aquarium, internal filters are placed inside. Internal filters have similar benefits to power filters in a sense they have all three types of filtration.
However, their biggest downside is that they have to be placed INSIDE the tank, so they’ll take up room.
Canister Filters – Canister filters are one of the best choices, especially if you’re housing your betta in a larger tank (more than 30 gallons normally). While they are great for any sized tank below 30 gallons, you can generally use an internal or power filter. The benefit of a canister filter is the fact they can house a lot more media filters, they’re easier to clean, and they sit outside of your tank.
However, the downsides are that they generally cost more to run and are also more expensive upfront. On top of this, they’re also going to have to be housed outside of your tank, so they’ll take up more space as well.
Undergravel Filters – Undergravel filters are the last type of filter you can use; however, I wouldn’t recommend them personally. Undergravel filters work by sitting under the gravel, where they pull water through it.
While undergravel filters are great because they’re not seen, and they don’t take up space inside or outside your tank, they do have downsides.
The biggest downside is that they may only provide mechanical and biological filtration. While the gravel is going to collect larger debris and be a colony for bacteria, there’s nowhere in a lot of undergravel filters for chemical filtration.
Another problem is that water will flow differently through different parts of the filter. This can result in areas where debris can build up too much, which can cause a hydrogen sulfide build-up, which can poison your betta.
And lastly, if you plan on having a planted aquarium, constantly cleaning your substrate can result in your plants becoming disturbed and damaged.
Heater & Thermometer
You’ll also need to make sure you’re adding a heater to your betta tank as well, not only to keep the tank warm enough but also to make sure that the temperature never fluctuates. And while all heaters have a built-in thermometer to regulate the temperature of the tank, you should also add a stick-on thermometer inside the tank just in case your heater breaks, and you don’t realize it.
And remember, even if you live in a climate where the temperature stays consistently around 78°F, it only takes a strong draft or a sudden drop in temperature once to cause serious harm to your betta and even kill him!
The temperature of the tank isn’t the only water condition you need to be aware of when you’re caring for your betta. You also need to make sure the water conditions in your tank are absolutely perfect for your betta as well. The main ones to be aware of are the pH, ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels; however, knowing the hardiness of your water can be helpful too. Here are the requirements for each!
First of all, the pH. As previously mentioned, you should try to keep the pH in your tank at 7 or slightly acidic.
If you notice that the pH is too acidic, you can try aerating the water more to raise it, performing a water change, adding a small amount of baking soda, and even changing the substrate.
When you notice that the pH is too alkaline, you can use natural driftwood, peat moss, and peat pellets to lower the pH to something more acidic. Just make sure whatever you’re using has been made specifically for aquariums.
You’ll also need to make sure that the PPM (parts per million) of ammonia in your tank is at 0. This is vital, as any spikes or rises in ammonia are going to be harmful and potentially fatal to your betta. In fact, it doesn’t take much at all to kill them.
Fortunately, when you have a biological filter in your tank, and you’ve let the tank cycle (which you’ll find out how to do later), the ammonia levels become a lot more stable, and they’ll tend to stay at 0.
However, to be sure that the ammonia levels remain low, you should perform weekly checks using an API Master Test Kit!
And if you notice that the ammonia is becoming too high, there are a few things you can do!
- Perform A Water Change – The simplest thing you can do is perform a water change! By removing 25-50% of the water, not only are you going to remove half the ammonia in the tank, but you’re also going to be diluting the remaining amount with fresh water! Reducing the PPM significantly.
- Use An Ammonia Neutralizer – Unfortunately, sometimes a water change alone isn’t enough to get rid of the ammonia in the tank. When this is the case, you should use an ammonia neutralizer. They’re great because they don’t remove the ammonia, they just render it inert, so the good bacteria colony in your tank can still feed on it and grow. If you’re not sure what ammonia neutralizer to use, then I’d highly recommend Ammo-Lock!
- Clean The Tank – And lastly, if the ammonia in your tank is rising, it’s because there’s too much decaying waste in the tank. So make sure you give the gravel a good vacuum, and clean the filter thoroughly as well. And if there’s algae in the tank you may even want to think twice about removing it. Because algae as well as other plants in the tank are great at uptaking ammonia.
The nitrite level is the next level that you should be aware of when you’re looking after your betta, and this should also be at 0. In fact, nitrites can be even more harmful than ammonia because they stop your bettas’ ability to carry oxygen
Fortunately, removing nitrites from your tank is similar to removing ammonia. You’ll need to perform water changes again; however, instead of using an ammonia neutralizer, you should add a Fast Filter Start to increase the amount of good bacteria in the tank which eats nitrites.
Nitrates are the last part of the ammonia cycle, and unlike the other two that require 0ppm, you can actually have nitrates up to 20ppm in your tank. When you notice that the nitrates become too high, however, you’ll need to make sure you lower them again.
And like with the other two, the best way you can lower the ppm of nitrates in your tank’s water is by performing a water change. As well as this, there are also a few preventative measures you can take, such as controlling the amount you’re feeding your betta, cleaning the tank regularly, and adding live plants to your tank as well!
While KH is often overlooked, being aware of the KH can help you be aware of what changes may happen to the pH of the tank in the future. When you’re measuring KH, you’re measuring the hardness of the water.
KH is essentially a protective barrier around pH. Because of waste from your fish etc., your aquarium should naturally become more acidic over time. However, instead of the pH lowering, KH will lower first. So when the KH is too low, you’ll begin to notice the pH in your aquarium will start to drop too.
When you’re keeping betta fish, you want to be in the 4-8dKH range (degrees of carbonate hardness).
Fortunately, if your KH is too low, there are a few things you can do to raise it:
- Perform water changes with dechlorinated water, especially if the tap water you’re using is hard.
- If you don’t have hard water in your area you can also add small doses of potassium bicarbonate.
- Adding crushed coral can also increase the KH levels, and the best part is, it does it gradually, so you won’t need to worry about it spiking too fast!
GH and KH tend to go hand in hand, and if you notice that your aquarium has high GH, then it will also have high KH as well. However, where KH measures carbonates and bicarbonates in the water, GH measures dissolved salts in the water (such as calcium and magnesium).
The minerals and salts GH measure actually have a more common name. And that’s electrolytes. They’re important for your betta as they’re going to aid in all areas of your betta’s life, including bone growth, digestion, resistance to disease, and even the development of gills!
And without electrolytes in the water, your betta is going to have a hard time regulating salt and water in their own bodies! So making sure the GH is right is going to work wonders for your betta.
If you are measuring the GH of your betta’s tank, you want it to be between 3-4 dGH (degrees of general hardness); however, even a dGH of 5 will be okay for bettas.
Fortunately, if you need to raise the GH in the tank, you’ll just need to do the same as if you were trying to raise the KH in your tank!
You also need to make sure that your betta has enough light during the day. Just like us, bettas have their own circadian rhythm, so they need times of night and times of the day. When you’re purchasing your aquarium, make sure you’re adding a light to it, or you’re placing it somewhere that it gets enough light during the day.
Fluorescent lights are generally the best choice, as while they provide a good amount of light, they’re not going to be too hot, so the water won’t evaporate as fast.
And while you may think that it’s a good idea to just let your betta’s tank get sunlight, this isn’t the case. When too much sunlight goes into the tank, not only can it heat the tank up, but it can also cause algae blooms to occur in the tank as well!
You will also need to consider the type of substrate you plan on using for your betta fish. Different substrates are going to have different effects on the tank, and not all substrates are created equal!
Aquarium gravel is the go-to for most people, and it’s the most common substrate you’re likely to see. It’s great because it’s difficult to stir up and very easy to clean. On top of this, as long as it’s not too compact, it’s also a great choice for rooting plants.
However, it does have a few downsides. First of all, if you pick gravel that’s too small, then your betta may end up trying to eat it. You’ll also need to make sure you’re not using gravel that’s too rough either, as this can scratch your betta.
Aquarium sand is another common choice, and while it’s mostly used for bottom-dwelling fish, it still has a great aesthetic, and it can go great in your betta’s tank.
One of the great benefits of aquarium sand is the fact there’s no way it can hurt your betta or any other fish in the tank. And because it’s so compact, it becomes a lot easier to clean than aquarium gravel, as all the waste will just sit on top of it. You just need to make sure you don’t siphon up the sand by accident!
However, sand isn’t completely perfect. Because it’s so compact, it can often be hard for any plants in your tank to dig their roots down through it. And while the majority of it will be compact, areas can occur where air pockets can form, which increases the amount of bacteria and hydrogen sulfide being released into the tank (which isn’t good).
If you plan on keeping live plants with your betta, then aquarium soil is going to be a great choice for you. Aquarium Soil is full of nutrients that will help plants grow, especially rooted plants.
On top of this, due to the large surface area of aquarium soil, it’s also going to be a great place for beneficial bacteria to grow in your tank.
The only downside of aquarium soil is that it tends to be slightly acidic, so it could alter the pH of your aquarium over time. But if you’re performing frequent water changes, this shouldn’t be a problem in most cases.
The last thing you’re going to need to think about is the location of your tank. Certain places in your house are going to be better than others, especially if you have a smaller tank. So when you’re choosing where to place your tank, try to keep the following in mind.
- Keep them away from windows. When your fish tank is in front of a window the sun will constantly shine on it, which will likely cause an algae bloom to occur. As well as this, in smaller tanks, the sun is also a lot more likely to heat the water up, which can quickly become dangerous. And lastly, if you open the window on a cold day, it could drastically cool the temperature of the tank as well.
- As well as keeping them away from open windows, you should also keep your tank away from any areas that are going to have a constant draft, as this can also affect the temperature of the tank.
- On the flip side, placing your tank to close to a radiator can also be a problem, if it starts to heat the water up too much.
- And lastly, if you have small children or pets (Esepcially cats) you should try to place the tank out of reach from them.
How To Set Up Your Betta Tank
Now that you know everything your betta tank is going to need, it’s time to set the tank up! In fact, proper setup is one of the most important aspects of caring for your betta!
While most of it can be done in a day, one of the most important parts (cycling the fish tank) can take up to 8 weeks! So you should bear in mind that even after setting up, it will still be weeks before you should get your betta.
Before you find out how to setup your betta’s tank, here’s what they like in the wild, so you can recreate this as best you can!
Bettas Natural Habitat
Bettas live in rice paddies, swamps, and slow flowing rivers throughout Thailand and other areas of South East Asia. Here they eat insects, swim through the murky water, and spend days on their own without seeing another fish.
They are used to water that’s full of plants which allows them to hide, rest and feel safe. While they are used to black water, clear water will be fine for them too!
With all that being said, here is how to setup a tank for your betta!
Checking Your Tank
The first thing you should do when you’re setting up your bettas tank is check for leaks and make sure that you’ve cleaned the glass as well. To do this is simple. Just place your tank in the bath or in your garden and fill it up with water.
Then inspect it to make sure it isn’t leaking from anywhere. Once you’re certain it hasn’t leaked from anywhere, just give the insides a wipe with a cloth that hasn’t been used before. You should avoid using any cleaning products as they can linger in the tank.
Once you’re certain your betta’s tank is clean and leak-free, you can empty it again. Don’t try to tip it, as it’s going to be too heavy can could end up causing the tank to break. Instead, use a vacuum or cup to empty the majority of water out; when you can’t get any more water out with this method, your tank should be light enough to pick up.
Next up, it’s time to consider where you’re going to place your tank. Remember all the areas you should avoid before placing your tank. Also, it’s important to remember that filters can be quite loud, so you may want to think twice before you place your tank in your bedroom or an area of your home you go to relax.
Add Your Substrate
You should, by now, know what substrate you’re planning on using, so you can begin adding this to your betta’s tank! The amount of substrate you use is entirely dependent on you, but as a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea for it to be about two inches deep and spread evenly throughout your tank. This is especially true if you’re going to keep live plants in your tank.
Add Your Decorations
Decorations (especially plants) are much easier to add when there’s no water in your tank yet. This is because your can place them perfectly, without worrying about them floating away or moving too much. So before you add water, make sure you’re adding all your decorations.
And most importantly, make sure you’re adding decorations and plants made specifically for aquariums. Picking up driftwood or rocks from nature can often cause bacteria and parasites to be introduced to your tank, which you definitely don’t want.
Add Your Water
Now that everything’s been added, it’s finally time to fill your tank with water. To make sure you don’t disturb the gravel or decorations in your tank, you should place a tray or plate into the tank first and then slowly pour the water in.
And remember, whenever you add water to your tank, you should make sure you’re using a water conditioner. Water conditioners remove chemicals such as fluoride and chlorine from your tank’s water which can be fatal to bettas, as well as a lot of heavy metals which are also found in tap water.
If you don’t have any water conditioner in your home, you can also allow the water to sit for 24 hours before adding it to the tank as well!
Add Your Filter & Heater
And the final thing you’ll need to do is add the filter and heater to your tank as well! When adding your filter, you should opt for a slow flow, as bettas prefer this to strong current, which can often overpower them.
And when you’re adding your heater, try to set the temperature to 78°F and stick a thermometer somewhere in the tank as well so you can keep an eye on the temperature at all times.
Cycling Your Tank
Now that you’ve set your tank up completely, it’s time for one of the most important parts. Cycling your tank is necessary as it allows beneficial bacterial colonies to grow. And once they’re in the tank, they’re going to be responsible for removing ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates from the water.
If you’re going to cycle your tank, there are two different ways to do it: a fishless cycle or a fish-in cycle. Fishless cycles are better, as you won’t have to worry about harming your betta, and in fact, the stress placed on fish in a traditional cycle can actually be cruel.
The best way to cycle your tank is with a fishless cycle. A fishless cycle, as you can guess by the name, is when you cycle the tank while fish aren’t in it. And to do so is incredibly simple; however, it is going to take a bit longer.
To perform a fishless cycle, all you need to do is add a few flakes of fish food to the tank as well as a biological enhancer like API Quick Start. Once you do this, wait a few days and test the water for ammonia.
When the ammonia in the water is below 3ppm, then you should add more fish flakes into the tank and try testing the ammonia again. You should then do this repeatedly for about a week. After a week, you can also repeat the process and test for nitrites.
If you notice nitrites in the tank as well as ammonia, it means the cycle has started. So lastly, after a couple of weeks of continuing this process, you should also test for nitrates. If you notice the nitrate levels starting to rise as well, then it’s the final stage of the cycle.
Now all you have to do is wait for the ammonia and nitrites to drop to 0ppm and the nitrate to drop below 20ppm, and you’re ready to add your betta!
Remember, fish-in cycles aren’t recommended, so you should only do this if it’s an emergency. Otherwise, you should try to be patient and wait for the tank to cycle on its own for the sake of your fish.
The first thing you’re going to need for a fish-in cycle is an ammonia neutralizer so that when the ammonia does spike, you can stop it from harming your betta.
Once you have this, all you have to do is test the water in your tank every 24 hours. When you notice that the ammonia in the water has begun to spike past 0.2ppm, you should add the ammonia neutralizer to make it harmless to your fish.
However, to avoid overusing it, you can also perform 50% water changes every time the ammonia begins to rise. Keep doing this until you notice that the ammonia isn’t rising as quickly anymore. Once you notice this, you can begin testing for nitrites as well; once you start to notice them, after a couple of weeks of testing, you may also begin to notice nitrates too!
And finally, when the ammonia and nitrites are at 0ppm, and the nitrates are below 20ppm, it means your tank has fully cycled, and you’ll only need to test the water every week!
(Check out this article if you want more in-depth details on how to set up your bettas tank!)
One of the biggest considerations most people have when caring for their betta fish is whether they’re going to keep them on their own or in a community tank! While it’s all going to depend on the temperament of your betta, it is entirely possible to keep them in a community tank in most cases!
Just remember that if you plan on keeping your betta with tank mates, then there are certain criteria they’ll need to meet.
- First of all, you should make sure that any tank mates don’t have long flowing tails, and that they aren’t brighly colored. Either of which normally induce aggression in bettas, and these fish may likely end up getting killed or hurt.
- You should also make sure that you don’t add fin nippers to your tank either. Bettas aren’t the fastest swimmers, and sometimes fin nippers can end up constantly harassing your betta and ruining their beautiful fins!
- It’s also best to avoid fish that inhabit the same areas as your betta fish will. Your betta fish will normally linger around the top or middle of the tank, so bottom dwellers are often a great choice!
What Tank Mates Are Good For Your Betta?
If you plan on adding tank mates to your betta’s tank, then, believe it or not, there are a few options to choose from! However, it’s often best to start small and work your way up! Here’s what I’d recommend!
One of the easiest tank mates to add to your betta’s tank is snails! Because of their shells, even if your betta doesn’t like them, it’s unlikely that he will be able to hurt them. And obviously, they will have no interest in him either!
If you’re going to add snails to your tank, though, just remember that it is possible that they’ll breed quickly, and also, they may end up eating plants too! However, as a starting point, they’re definitely a great choice!
If you’re not sure about snails, then another great starting point is shrimp! And there are so many to choose from. I like Amano shrimp as they’re great for eating algae, but they aren’t the only option. Other enthusiasts love Cherry shrimp and strive to breed as high a grade as possible!
Whatever shrimp you choose, they’ll end up being a great addition to any tank!
Now we’re really getting into bigger and better tank mates. If you’re not interested in shrimp or snails, then bottom dwellers are the next best choice! Corydoras catfish, Plecos, and Otocinclus catfish are all great choices! I personally prefer corydoras catfish because you can keep them in smaller tanks (15 gallons), and they have such great temperaments.
If you’re not interested in shrimps, snails, or bottom dwellers, then there are still plenty more tank mates you can add to the tank! However, remember, with these tank mates, there’s definitely a little bit more risk that your betta won’t take to them. And if that’s the case, then you’ll need to have another tank ready to move them.
If you’re interested in other tank mates, then here are some great choices:
- Cardinal Tetras
(If you’re interested in knowing about over 65 different tank mates that can live with your betta, then check out the Ultimate Betta Tank Mate Guide E-book, or you can read the article about the 30 best tank mates!)
When caring for your betta, you may also be wondering what plants are best for them. But it’s not just about your betta. Some plants also require more maintenance than others, so you’ll also have to decide how much time you’re willing to put into caring for the plants in your tank!
If you’re not sure which plants to add, here are some of my favorite choices!
If you’re not interested in a plant that requires a lot of maintenance, then Anubias nana has to be the best bet by far. It’s extremely slow-growing, so all you’ll have to do is place it in your tank and forget about it!
When placing Anubias nana in your tank, you’ll need to attach it to something, and also make sure that wherever you place it, you don’t bury the rhizome as this can end up killing the plant.
Marimo Moss Balls
These are by far my favorite choice of plant, and when caring for your betta, they’re great for him too! Not only do they provide all the benefits of other plants, but they’re pretty much effortless to keep, and sometimes bettas even like to play with them!
If you’re going to put marimo moss balls in your tank, all you’ll need to do is turn them every so often to make sure they’re getting enough sun all over.
Apart from that, whatever conditions you’re keeping your betta in are going to be fine for your moss balls!
While java moss can grow out of control, it’s also incredibly easy to look after, and bettas absolutely love it! In fact, if you put some in your betta’s tank, you can often find them sleeping amongst it!
However, just remember, if you do plan on putting java moss in your tank, it will spread quickly, so you will need to keep trimming it unless you want the tank to turn into a jungle!
Betta bulbs are another great choice, and they’ll also provide your betta with the perfect resting and hiding places! Betta bulbs are also a great choice because they don’t need massive tanks to grow! In fact, if you’re keeping your betta in a 5-gallon tank, they can grow just fine in there!
And finally, if you have a tank that’s over 10 gallons in size, then java fern can be a great choice for it. At their full size, they can grow up to 13″ in height and 6-8″ wide. So you should definitely take this into consideration before adding a couple to your tank.
As well as your betta-loving java fern, if you add shrimp to your tank, they’re going to love it as well, and you’ll often find them hiding amongst it!
Proper betta care also means choosing the right decorations for their tank in general. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make sure any decoration you put into your tank isn’t going to be harmful to your betta.
- The first thing you need to be sure of is that there aren’t any sharp edges on any decoration you put in the tank. Sharp corners and edges can often damage your bettas fins and even rip them, potentially opening them up to fin rot and other illnesses. As well as this, they can also pull off some of your bettas scales.
- You should also make sure you’re only ading decorations to your tank that are made for the tank. For example, driftwood is a great choice for any tank, but you need to make sure you’re not just picking it off the beach. Driftwood made for a tank should be treated first, to ensure that there’s no bacteria or harmful chemicals on it that can kill your betta.
- And lastly, try to avoid anything made of metal or glass. It wouldn’t take much for the glass to end up smashing in your tank, and once that happens it would be almost impossible for you to remove all the bits. Secondly, metal can often rust in the tank which can affect the water quality. And if your betta cuts themselves on the rusted part it could be extremely damaging for him.
How To Clean Your Betta’s Tank
Proper betta care wouldn’t be complete without knowing how to properly clean their tank! In fact, a clean tank is fundamental in making sure that your betta doesn’t suffer from disease later on down the line.
As well as this, cleaning the tank also ensures that the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels in the tank don’t spike either.
Without further ado, here’s how to clean the tank properly!
Before you clean your betta’s tank, you should first prepare. You’ll need to wash your hands put gloves on if you plan on putting your hand in the tank to avoid contaminating the water. Once you’ve done this, turn off anything electrical, so you don’t accidentally get them wet.
Step 1 – Removing Algae
The first step is to remove as many algae from the glass as possible. To remove algae, you’re going to need an algae scrubber for the easy-to-remove parts and an algae scraper for the harder parts.
And remember, most algae aren’t actually harmful to your tank, but removing it is for aesthetic purposes. So if you can’t remove it all, you shouldn’t worry too much.
Step 2 – Cleaning The Gravel/Water Removal
This is going to be the biggest step in cleaning your betta’s tank. Using a gravel vacuum, you’ll need to siphon old water out of your tank and into a bucket. Keep the vacuum close to the gravel, and it will also suck up all the decaying waste on the gravel. You can even stir the gravel up a bit to get waste that may have gotten trapped further down.
How often you’ll need to do this will depend on a few factors.
- How stocked the tank is (how many fish are in it).
- The size of the tank.
- How much water you’re removing.
- How effective your filter is.
However, as a good starting point, you should remove about 20% of the water every week/2 weeks. And another great indicator of when you should be changing the water is the ammonia levels. If you notice that the levels are starting to rise, then it’s a good time to remove some water.
Step 3 – Cleaning The Filter
Now that your tank has been cleaned, the next step is to clean the filter and remove any of the gunk that may be building up in there. To clean your filter, you just need to remove the mechanical media and chemical media and swish them around in the water.
Doing this is often enough to remove any dirt on them; however, sometimes, you may also need to use your fingers to get rid of the rest of it. If you notice that the biological media is also dirty, you can give it a swish in the bucket, too, before putting it back.
As well as this, you should also remember you’re going to need to change the filter media every so often as well. I found that chemical media will need to be changed the most (every one to two months).
The mechanical filter media, however, can often last quite a bit longer, and you should only change it once you notice it’s starting to fall apart. And as for biological media, there’s never any real reason this will need changing, as removing it from your tank will remove a large chunk of the good bacteria in your tank as well.
How Often Should You Clean Your Bettas Tank?
You should clean your betta’s tank every one or two weeks, depending on the tank. If your housing your betta alone in a large tank, then it won’t need to be cleaned as often. However, if your betta is in a community tank, the bioload is going to be higher (the amount of waste that is produced), so you’ll need to clean the tank more often.
(Check out the complete guide to cleaning your betta’s tank!)
Common Betta Diseases & Illnesses
When you’re caring for your betta, it’s important to be aware of all the different diseases and illnesses they may end up suffering from because the best chance of curing them is by spotting them early! Here are the most common diseases and illnesses your bettas get!
Fin rot is one of the most common illnesses in bettas often caused by a bacterial infection or parasites, however, with proper care, it can be cured, and your betta will return back to good health over time!
The tell-tale signs of fin rot are fins that are beginning to fray in mild fin rot to fins that have noticeable chunks rotting away in cases of more major fin rot. If left untreated, fin rot can rot the tail down to the body, and at this point, it’s going to be a lot harder to treat.
Treating fin rot depends on the severity of the fin rot your betta is suffering from. If it’s only mild, then you can move them to a quarantine tank and add something like API Stress Coat to the water to speed up the recovery.
Swim Bladder Disease
Another extremely common illness in bettas is swim bladder disease, and it’s normally caused by how gutty they are! Fortunately, swim bladder disease is extremely easy to treat, so if your betta does suffer from it, there’s a good chance he’ll make a full recovery!
If your betta is suffering from swim bladder disease, they may be suffering from the following symptoms:
- Trouble swimming and staying bouyant.
- Distended belly/curved back
- No appetite
- Clamped Fins
The biggest tell-tale sign is buoyancy problems and trouble swimming. You may notice your betta constantly floating to the top of the water or bottom of the tank. Or perhaps they’ll be swimming lopsidedly. Whatever it is, their swimming definitely won’t look normal.
If you’re going to treat your betta for swim bladder disease, the first thing you’ll need to do is move them to a quarantine tank. Once you’ve quarantined them, combine a tablespoon of Epsom salt with half a gallon of the tank’s water in a separate container and let it dissolve.
Once you’ve done this, place your betta in the Epsom salt bath for 10-15 minutes. Make sure to monitor them the whole time. If you notice any signs of struggling or a complete lack of movement, remove him from the bath and add him back to his tank. (Also, make sure you’re keeping the Epsom salt bath at the right temperature).
After the time is up, add your betta to his tank again, and monitor him over the next few days for symptoms.
On top of this, it’s also recommended to fast your betta for 3 days to allow any undigested food that could be causing problems to pass through.
This is another extremely common illness that your betta is likely to suffer from. And once again, it’s because of how greedy they are when it comes to eating! (Which is why you should be aware of how much you’re feeding them & what you’re feeding them.)
If your betta is suffering from constipation, you may notice the following symptoms in them:
- Stringy feces.
- No longer passing stool.
- Not eating.
- Spitting out food.
- Bloated belly
When you notice a combination of the above, especially a bloated belly, stringy feces, or not passing stool, then you can say with some level of confidence that your betta is suffering from constipation. Fortunately, if they are, once again, it’s relatively easy to fix.
Fortunately, constipation is incredibly easy to treat in bettas, and a lot of times, it’ll even pass on its own. But the best care you can give your betta when they’re suffering from constipation is to simply fast them for 2-3 days. Often this will be enough to help anything inside pass through, and their constipation should clear.
However, if you notice that even after this that your betta is still constipated, you can also try feeding them Daphnia as well; Daphnia is great because it’s full of fiber that your betta can digest, and it will work wonders for their constipation!
Unfortunately, this is one illness you definitely don’t want your betta to end up with. Because when the symptoms of dropsy present themselves, the chances of your betta making a recovery are quite slim.
However, the good news is that dropsy doesn’t happen for no reason. It normally occurs due to a lack of care over time. Or when this isn’t the case, simply old age can be a cause of dropsy.
Dropsy will often present itself in bettas with the following symptoms:
- The scales will pinecone (the scales stick out)
- Their stomach and be distended or swollen.
- They often have a curved spine.
- They will appear lethargic, and won’t want to move around the tank.
If your betta is suffering from dropsy, then the best thing you can do is move them to a quarantine tank, where they may be able to rest more without other fish swimming around them. You can also add aquarium salt to the tank to try and soothe them, or if you think the dropsy is being caused by a bacterial disease, then you’ll need to use a strong antibiotic like amoxicillin.
Ich or ick is a parasite that latches onto your betta’s scales and looks like white spots. That’s why it is commonly called white spot disease.
You can notice ich by the following symptoms:
- White spots will be growing all over your bettas body, and ocassionally their fins and tail.
- You’ll notice them rubbing against things in an attempt to remove the parasite.
- In later stages of ich your betta may have trouble breathing as well.
When caring for a betta with ich, there are a few different types of treatment you can try. The first is adding them to a quarantine tank, slowly raising the temperature to 86°F, and adding 1 dissolved teaspoon of aquarium salt per gallon of aquarium water. Just make sure when you’re using aquarium salt, you’re also performing 25% water changes every other day. (And don’t use aquarium salt for more than 10 days)
Another common illness that bettas can suffer from is velvet, also known as gold dust disease and rust. And when your betta is suffering from velvet, there are a number of symptoms you can expect to spot on them.
- A gold dust like coatingover their bodies.
- Rubbing up against things in the tank in an attempt toremove the parasite.
- As it becomes more severe, your bettas eyse may also begin to cloud over or protrude.
To treat velvet in your betta, you should move them to a quarantine tank. Once they’re in the tank, turn the lights off and slowly raise the temperature a couple of degrees! When the temperature has also been raised, you can begin adding aquarium salt to help kill the parasite!
(Find out about the 17 most common betta diseases.)
Feeding Your Betta
Of course, it goes without saying knowing what and when to feed your betta is also extremely important in giving them the right care. And a lot of people get it wrong! People tend to believe that bettas are hardy fish that can eat anything. When in fact, they’re hardy fish that WILL eat anything, but there are a lot of things they definitely shouldn’t eat.
What Should You Feed Your Betta?
Bettas are carnivores, so anything you feed them should be meat-based. The easiest way to make sure that your betta is getting all the nutrition they need is by feeding them food specifically for them. I find Aqueon Pro Betta Pellets are the best choice. Not only are they full of goodness for your betta, but they also float, so you won’t have to worry about them sinking to the bottom of the tank too fast.
However, it’s never recommended to JUST feed your betta pellets. When it comes to proper betta fish care, you should be mixing up their food, so they don’t get bored.
So on top of feeding them pellets, you can also try different types of food such as Daphnia, brine shrimp, and mosquito larvae. Live food is best because it’s going to fulfill the urge to hunt bettas have, and entertain them. But freeze-dried and frozen food are also a good substitute if you can’t get your hands on the live kind.
Some people also say that you can feed bettas bloodworms too. And while you can, they shouldn’t be a staple of your betta’s diet, as they’re extremely high in fat, and too many are actually bad for bettas.
How Often Should You Feed Your Betta?
You should feed your betta once or twice a day. And at each feeding, try to give them 1 or 2 pellets to make sure they’re getting enough food. (However, for the best results, you should always check the instructions you’ll find on your betta’s food).
And when it comes to substituting food for your betta, you can normally do 1 or 2 live feedings a week (or the equivalent).
Lastly, every 2-3 weeks, it can also be a good idea to fast your betta for a day or two to keep their digestive system moving properly and reduce the chance of constipation or swim bladder disease.
What Are Betta Bubble Nests?
If you’re caring for a male betta, then there’s a strong possibility you’re going to see a bubble nest in the tank at some point. A bubble nest will look like a small mass of bubbles floating at the top of your tank. Sometimes the bubbles will be small, and sometimes they may be larger in size.
Bubble nests tend to be built during the breeding season in the wild, but if you’re keeping your betta in a temperature-controlled tank, then it means that breeding season is going to be all year for them.
So if you notice your betta building a bubble nest, it probably means that they are at the age where they’re most inclined to do so. Or, more importantly, they’re healthy enough to build one and believe they’ll be able to defend it.
Just remember, though, even if your betta doesn’t build a bubble nest, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t healthy.
Also, you may be worried about disturbing your betta’s bubble nest when you’re cleaning the tank; however, don’t worry that much. Your betta won’t really mind if the tank is destroyed or not, and it’s much more important that you make sure the tank is clean for them.
How To Tell If Your Betta Is Healthy Or Unhealthy
One of the most important aspects of caring for your betta has to be being able to spot when they’re healthy or unhealthy. In fact, if you can spot when your betta isn’t healthy early on, then you can make the necessary changes a lot faster that could save your betta’s life! Here are the common things to look out for in a healthy betta and what to look for in an unhealthy betta!
What To Look For In A Healthy Betta
Fortunately, there are a number of different signs that show your betta is healthy, and if you notice multiple signs, then you definitely have nothing to worry about! Here are the best signs that your betta is healthy!
First of all, your bettas color should appear strong and vibrant. This can be harder to spot on bettas that are black or white, but if your betta is a normal color, then they shouldn’t look pale but rather full of life from base to tip.
(The only reason that a betta’s color may be fading even if they’re healthy is due to old age.)
They’re Moving Around The Tank
There’s no denying that bettas are lazy fish. But even if you have a lazy betta, you should notice him moving around the tank throughout the day. You’ll often notice healthy bettas tend to swim, stop, swim, stop.
Probably the best way to spot if your betta is healthy or not is based on the appetite they have. Bettas are gutty little fish, so if you notice that your betta is constantly ready to eat, then you have a clear indicator that they’re still happy and healthy!
You should notice that your betta’s fins and tails are also expanded when they’re healthy! They use their fins to attract mates, but this will also attract predators and competition. If your betta isn’t feeling healthy then they’ll often clamp their fins in an attempt to be percieved as less of a threat by competition.
How To Spot Your Betta Is Unhealthy
If you think your betta is unhealthy, here are some of the common signs you can look for!
One of the most common signs that your betta isn’t healthy and may even be sick is if they’re inactive. When your betta is sick or unhealthy, they likely won’t have the energy to move around the tank.
While hiding may be a sign that they think there’s a threat in the tank, another reason that your betta may be hiding is due to being unhealthy or sick. If you notice that your betta is constantly hiding in caves or plants in their tank, then you should check the water parameters and make sure you’re feeding them properly.
And remember, your betta may be hiding because they want to sleep, so occasional hiding isn’t bad. But if they’re always hiding, it’s a problem.
They’re Not Hungry
One of the BIGGEST signs that your betta isn’t healthy is if they no longer have an appetite. If you’ve tried a few different types of food for your betta, and they’re still not eating, then that’s a clear sign that something is wrong with them.
Fading Color & Stress Stripes
If you notice that your bettas color is beginning to fade, ESPECIALLY in combination with stress stripes, then it’s a clear sign that your betta isn’t happy, and in fact, they’re incredibly stressed because of their environment.
So if you notice that their color has faded, they’re starting to change color, or they have stress stripes, then it’s time to test the water parameters, check what you’re feeding them, and make sure the environment around them is perfect!
Breathing From The Surface
If your betta is breathing at the surface, it means they’re not able to get enough oxygen from the water. And if there isn’t enough oxygen in the water, then it’s going to stress your betta out and cause them to become unhealthy.
Adding an air stone into your tank or increasing the amount of water your filter is disturbing is a great way to improve the amount of oxygen in the tank.
Scratching & Lost Scales
If you notice that your betta is scratching and rubbing against things, or even that they’ve lost a scale or two, then it’s a clear sign something is wrong.
The main reason that your betta is going to scratch or rub against things is that there’s something wrong with their body, like a parasite or infection they’re trying to rub off.
Or if you just notice scales are missing, it may not be because they’re purposely rubbing, but rather because there are sharp or dangerous decorations in your tank.
Lastly, torn fins like scratching and scale loss could be a sign that your betta is suffering from fin rot or that they’re catching their fins and tail on something in the tank. Either way, you’ll need to find out what the cause is and treat it accordingly because torn fins definitely aren’t a good sign!
Keeping A Betta Sorority
If you’re interested in looking after bettas, then you may also be interested in having your own betta sorority! Betta sororities are groups of 3 or more female bettas that live together, and they’ll look great in any show tank!
How To Make Betta Sororities Work
If you plan on caring for your own betta sorority, then here are the most important things you’re going to need to remember!
Make Sure The Tank Is Big Enough
One of the deciding factors on whether your betta sorority will work or not is going to be the size of the tank. If the tank is big enough, then it’s going to allow each betta to have her own space, so it’s less likely they’ll end up attacking or bullying each other.
So if you plan on keeping a betta sorority, you want to make sure the tank is at least 20 gallons in size.
Make Sure There Are Plenty Of Hiding Spaces
While betta sororities can often be seen swimming together, it’s still important to make sure you’re adding lots of hiding places and shelters in the tank for all your fish! Without these hiding spaces, two things are going to happen.
First of all, none of your bettas are going to feel safe in the tank, which will stress them out. Second of all, they’ll only ever be able to see each other, which will increase the chances of them attacking each other. And lastly, with no set ornaments and hiding places, none of the girls are going to be able to create territories, so bullying may occur again.
How you plan on introducing your bettas to each other can also determine whether the sorority will work or not. If you add bettas individually, then the first bettas may make their own territories and decide to attack any newer additions.
It’s much better to add all the females at the same time to reduce the chance of this happening. But if you already have some females in the tank, then don’t worry! Just move the tank around so it all feels new for the older bettas, which will have the same effect!
Try To Gauge The Personality Of Each Fish
Before you purchase your females, try to see what kind of personality each of them has. If you notice off the bat one is aggressive, then they’re probably not going to make a great choice for the tank. Likewise, if you notice one is getting picked on, then there’s nothing stopping them from getting picked on in your tank either.
What Should The Tank Size Be For Your Sorority?
As you know, a tank housing a sorority of 3 bettas should be 20 gallons in size. However, for each additional betta, you should add an extra 3 gallons to the size of the tank. For example, if you plan on having 5 bettas in your sorority, then the new tank size should be at least 26 gallons.
(Find out everything there is to know about keeping a betta sorority.)
How To Entertain Your Betta!
And last but not least, here are some things you can do to entertain your betta! And on a boring day, you can entertain yourself too! Here are all the different ways you can keep your betta occupied, so they don’t get bored!
Use A Mirror To Get Them To Flare
Your bettas flaring isn’t always a bad thing. And in fact, getting them to flare for a few seconds is actually good for them! To do this, you just need to put a mirror up to the tank. When your betta notices himself in the reflection, he’ll instantly start flaring.
After a few seconds, just pull the mirror away, and he’ll stop flaring and return to normal!
Add A Ping Pong Ball
Placing a ping pong ball into the tank can also be a source of entertainment for your betta. Every time he hits it, it will bounce around the water, and like a dog, he’ll want to do it more and more. Once again, just make sure you’re not keeping the ping pong ball out all the time, as it may end up stressing your betta out.
Adding live food to the tank is one of the best ways you can keep your betta entertained! Live food is going to fulfill your betta’s need to hunt, which is going to keep their mind occupied until all the food is gone!
The best choice has to be Daphnia, but any live food mentioned above will do! Just make sure when you’re giving your betta live food, you don’t end up overfeeding them.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions people wonder about betta care!
Can You Keep Bettas In A Bowl?
Yes, it’s entirely possible to keep a betta in a bowl, provided that the bowl is at least 5 gallons in size, heated, and filtered. Due to the fact, this is incredibly difficult to do; it’s generally a lot easier to just keep your betta in a fish tank.
Do Betta Fish Get Depressed Or Bored?
If you’re keeping your betta in a tank that doesn’t have enough stimulation or isn’t big enough for them to move around properly, then they can become both! You’ll notice when this is the case, as they’ll start to become more and more unhealthy, and if left unchecked, they may even die prematurely.
Do Betta Fish Get Lonely?
Betta fish don’t get lonely; in fact, they can spend their whole life alone in the tank as they’re solitary fish. However, you do need to make sure that you’re giving enough stimulation to your betta, so they don’t get bored.
Putting a betta in a community tank won’t make any difference to them feeling lonely, but it can be a lot more stimulating for them, therefore making them happier.
Why Do Betta Fish Fight?
The main reason that bettas end up fighting is that they’ve been put into conditioned which are too confined for them. In fact, in the wild, fighting between bettas is a lot less common, as they are able to steer clear of each other’s territories. This just isn’t the case in a fish tank (unless the tank is HUGE.)
Can Male And Female Bettas Live Together?
While it’s possible to keep male and female betta fish together, it’s not recommended. To make it work successfully, you’d need a tank that is AT LEAST 75 gallons in size but ideally bigger with plenty of hiding places.
Can You Keep More Than One Betta In An Aquarium?
It’s possible to keep groups of 3 female bettas together in the same aquarium. Some people have also had success keeping males together in EXTREMELY large aquariums; however, the results are always going to be down to the temperament of the males, so keeping males together definitely isn’t recommended.
Can You Keep Two Females Together?
You should avoid keeping two females together as this can often result in one bullying the other. It’s a lot better to keep females in groups of 3 or more as they’ll become a lot more tolerant of each other in larger groups. And it’s often better to stick to odd numbers when keeping them.
As you can see, caring for a betta isn’t as simple as a lot of people would have you believe! But once you get the hang of it, it’ll become effortless for you! So make sure you read this article a couple of times and let everything sink in!
If you do, you’ll have a very happy and healthy betta! And if you liked this article, make sure you check out the rest of the website! Otherwise, have a great day!