Betta Fish Care Guide: How To Care For A Betta Fish For Beginners

Betta fish, known as siamese fighting fish, is of vibrant color, iridescent scales, and log fins resembling an underwater ball gown are one of the most eye-captivating fish. It’s really tempting to buy and house them in a betta aquarium at home. 

However, before that, you should know about betta fish care requirements. In other words, making a betta tank without knowing its characteristics, food habits, tank mates, water parameters, etc., will not help much in betta keeping. 

Although Betta is commonly referred to as ‘easy’ beginner fish, it is somehow exaggerated. The misconceptions about their care and biology make them one of the mistreated fishes in the pet trade

I am presenting a betta fish care guide. I’ll discuss everything you need to know for creating a successful betta aquarium in this how to care for a betta fish for beginners guide.

How To Care For A Betta Fish For Beginners

Betta care guide for beginners

Different cross-breeding made to develop today’s aquarium betta fish subdued aggression and enhanced its coloration. The most important thing for betta fish is to set up their home—the tank— as lovely as possible. What you need to know more about betta fish care is below in brief.

  • They are carnivores, and you need to provide variation in diet and protein-rich food for their better growth. 
  • The ideal water pH for Betta is 6.5-7.
  • The ideal water temperature for Betta is 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • You need a filter with a gentle current and keep a consistent water parameter, reducing ammonia and nitrate level close to zero. 
  • Don’t overfeed them; what they can eat in 1-2 minutes is the ideal amount to feed.

Betta Fish Tank Setup

Betta fish is a tropical freshwater fish native to Thailand. In nature, they used to live in the shallow water of paddy fields, ponds, or in slow-moving streams. While setting up the betta tank, the goal should be to mimic the natural habitat condition as far as you can for your Betta.

The average lifespan of betta fish is 3-5 years; you can extend it to as long as 10 years with proper care. They will stay more healthy and happier if you keep them closer to their actual living conditions.

What Is The Ideal Tank Size For Betta Fish?

In order to live long and happy lives, the first thing that a betta fish absolutely need is a proper size tank. I know when you bought your Betta fish at a pet store, it most likely came in a little cup.

That cup is not an ideal home for them, and keeping your Betta fish in a cup or something tiny like that is not appropriate. 

Additionally, you should not be keeping your Betta fish in a jar, or a bowl, or anything like that for the long term. A bare minimum size tank for a betta fish is 2.5 gallons.

However, it is unanimously agreed that bigger is better, and then five gallons is actually a better minimum size than 2.5.

What Is The Ideal Tank Size For Betta Fish

If you just want to take really good care of them, I recommend getting a fish tank somewhere between 5 gallons and 20 gallons. A 10-gallon tank seems to be a trendy choice and it’s one of the best fish for a 10-gallon tank.

The aquarium size is a variable of the number of fish you want to keep. One gallon of water for every inch of fish is the thumb rule. Try to provide as much water as possible to move them more freely and grow to their maximum ability. 

I have a review article on the best betta fish tank; you can check if you want to buy a tank for your Betta.

Tips: After buying the tank for bettas, now you need to cycle your tank. Before adding bettas to the aquarium, an established nitrogen cycle in the tank is mandatory. Check my detailed article on how to cycle a fish tank

What Are The Tank Mates Of Betta?

Bettas are actually very intelligent fish, and if you offer them absolutely no mental stimulation at all, they can get very bored and lethargic

A way to offer enrichment to your betta fish is to provide it with some tank mates. I mean other fish by tank mates that your bettas can get along with, such as peaceful community fish, snails, or shrimps.

You have to be extremely cautious while selecting the betta tank mates because of their territorial nature. 

More than one male bettas never are kept together unless you have a separate compartment within the tank; otherwise, they will fight with each other till death. You can put female bettas together—called betta sorority tank—with utmost caution. 

Betta Fish Tank Mates

Betta sorority is a case of trial and error. Put a minimum of 5-6 young female bettas in a 10-15 gallon aquarium and closely observe their behavior.

Whenever you notice any aggressive behavior, separate them immediately. Check my detailed article on how to set up a betta sorority tank. However, I don’t recommend a betta sorority tank for beginners. 

You should avoid other fighting fish because they may combat betta fish. Since bettas have long tails; therefore, be careful about fin nippers, like platy, angelfish, tiger barbs, etc., and also try to avoid any bright color fish.

If you provide your Betta fish with tank mates, you need to make sure it’s in a large enough tank to support those tank mates. 

Recommended tank mates for Betta are neon tetras, zebra danios, blue gourami, African Dwarf Frogs, and any bottom feeder fish.

And Get More Idea From This Guy . . .

What Can You Add More To Your Betta Tank?

What you can do more is add some substrates to their tanks. Place 2-3 inches of substrate (sand, gravel, planted substrate, or any other) because substrates house the beneficial bacteria, which is vital to keep aquariums cycled.

If you want to include some plants, you can add live plants or artificial plants, whatever you want. Live plants have tremendous benefits to keep aquariums healthy.

They like to interact with, hide around and explore stuff like toys, decors, and driftwood. Plenty of hiding spots are a good idea to keep bettas cheerful.

It’s fun to decorate a fish tank, but don’t add too many of them. Adding a lot of decors can take significant space in the tank and push bettas to the periphery.

In addition, before putting anything in your betta tank, make sure that it doesn’t contain any sharp edges because the delicate fins of Betta can easily be damaged by sharp edges.

Ideal Water Parameters For Bettas?

A healthy pH level for Betta is 6.5 to 7, slightly acidic to near neutral. Check my detailed article on what causes high pH.

There are several methods to lower the pH, but the most common is using some tannins producing leaves—Catappa Indian almond—in the betta tank. Extract from the leaves keeps bettas stress-free, and they also have antibacterial properties. 

The type of water is a matter of concern for the betta tank. Tap water may contain harmful chemicals, chlorine, chloramine, phosphate, and even some heavy metals.

If you have no other option than tap water, I recommend treating it with a water conditioner.

A viable alternative for tap water is bottled water, which is free of chemicals. You can use distilled water or RO water; since those lack the necessary minerals, you need to remineralize beforehand to use in aquariums. 

A routine water change is helpful to keep in check water parameters within a healthy range. But remember changing a large portion of water can drastically change the water parameters and create a shock to your betta fish and even death. 

A weekly 25% water change is ideal for healthy water parameters and bettas’ wellbeing. Read my detailed article on how to change water without killing fish. 

Bettas can live in low oxygen saturation levels (not as low as it is unsafe). They prefer gentle water flow, so there is no need to use an air pump or powerhead to increase oxygen levels. Instead, monitor closely other water parameters like ammonia, and nitrates so that those can’t interfere with your tank oxygen levels. 

Keep everything consistent and maintain ammonia and nitrate level close to zero. Periodically test the water with a quality test kit

Related Read: Best Aquarium Water Test Kit to Monitor Tank Parameters

How To Add Bettas To The Aquarium?

As a beginner, you may not be familiar with quarantine tanks, but having them is handy to protect the main tank from a disease outbreak and reduce the stress on the fish.

You can read why it is crucial to keep a quarantine tank and how to set it up.

How To Add Bettas To The Aquarium (1)

Considering you haven’t such a tank, what you can do is place the bag (fish inside) into the aquarium and keep it for at least 15 minutes. This way, your betta fish will get used to the tank water temperature.

After that, use a net to transfer Betta one by one in the aquarium. Be careful, don’t add any water from the bag to your aquarium, only the fish.  

With the addition of each and every fish, the chemical balance of the aquarium may shift; therefore, it’s wise to keep a closer eye on water parameters. 

What Accessories (Heater, Filter, Lighting) Do You Need For Betta Fish?

Do I Need A Heater For Betta Fish?

Do I Need A Heater For Betta Fish

The ideal temperature range for bettas is between 78 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you are living in a tropical country, you may not need a heater. But, in a cold country, you should have one to keep a consistent water temperature. Read the review here for the best heater for betta fish.

They are tropical fish to come from a tropical climate where it’s always warm. They can survive in water as low as 70 degrees or as hot as 86 degrees. But those extreme temperatures should not be with the betta fish lives in for too long.  

If you get any higher than 86 degrees, you’re going to cook the fish, and it’s going to die. If it gets any lower than 72 degrees, it is just way too cold for the fish to survive.  

Even as low as seventy-two degrees is still not good, they can get infections, and may get sick and scared. If you notice that your Betta fish is lethargic or lazy, that may be a symptom of the water being too cold. 

Keeping your tank at the high end of the betta survival range above 80 or below eighty-six degrees is also bad because that can shorten your bettas’ lifespan. The warmer the temperature is, the more it speeds up their metabolism and the faster metabolism results in a shorter lifespan.

How Long Can Betta Fish Survive in Cold Water?

Betta fish can live in cold water, but they won’t be very happy, and won’t survive for long. If you have a cold aquarium and your Betta is sluggish – it might be because their entire body slows down when exposed to the cold water!

Generally, Betta fish can survive for up to six months if the water is just a few degrees below their ideal range (78-80°F). But freezing temperatures (below 72°F will probably kill them just in one month’s time!

Therefore, you should never consider putting betta fish into cold water because it may prove fatal, so provide these beautiful creatures with cozy homes that are warm enough.

What’s The Best Filter For A Betta Fish Tank?

What is The Best Filter For A Betta Fish Tank

Bettas aren’t messy fish like goldfish, the filtration demand of Betta aquarium is not so high, but they absolutely need a filter.

Now I know there are many people out there who swear that you don’t need a filter for them because they go to the surface of the water and breathe air, which is true.

They do go to the surface of the water, and thanks to their labyrinth organ, they can breathe oxygen from the surrounding air when they need it. However, they’re still living in the water, and they poop in that water.

After such a few days waste starts to build up, and that water is going to get nasty. And no fish will remain healthy if it’s just living in its own filth. 

There are a few things to keep in mind when getting a filter for your Betta. First of all, they are not actually very good swimmers, so you want something that has either a low current or an adjustable current. 

Personally, I like to use sponge filters because they produce a minimal amount of current. However, you can also use a HOB (hang on back Filter). You can get one with an adjustable current or lower it by putting sponges over the intake tube and the output.

Is There Any Lighting Requirement For Betta Fish?

Lighting Requirement For Betta Fish

Like humans, betta fish are also diurnal, meaning they stay active during the day and sleep at night. So, they need plenty of light in day time and darkness at night. 

Any sort of light can help, either natural or artificial. However, artificial lights are easily controllable, and you can get lights with adjustable intensity and photoperiod.

Moreover, it is recommended to avoid direct sunlight as a lighting source since it causes algae to outbreak in the tank and unwantedly raises the temperature. 

If you want to keep bettas in a planted tank, you need sufficient lights for plants to grow and thrive. A lighting duration of 8-12 hours is the ideal range for an aquarium. You should keep the lights off at night to keep the balance of the circadian cycle

What Do Betta Fish Eat?

Betta fish like variety in their diet; I mean, you should not be feeding your Betta fish the same thing every day. Providing the same thing is boring to your Betta fish and not nutritious for them; they can lose interest and may not want to eat anymore. So it’s a good idea to switch up their food as often as you can to keep them interested.

As I said earlier, they are carnivorous; they need protein-rich food for healthy growth. There are many different food options for your betta fish. These include processed food such as pellets, flakes, and frozen foods, including blood worms and brine shrimp.

You can even feed your Betta live food, which is daphnia, or live baby brine shrimp. Personally, I fed my betta fish frozen bloodworm, micropellets, and frozen brine shrimp, and I switch it up every day.

Occasionally, they do get flakes, but I don’t want to do that as often as the other ones I just mentioned because I feel like it’s not nutritious. 

My recommended brands for betta food are Tetra and Aqueon Pro, and over more than five years, I’ve been feeding my bettas with those brands, and my bettas are strong and healthy. 

Tips: Also, it’s entertaining to watch feeding live foods to betta fish; however, it can cause parasite breakout. So, I recommend sticking to frozen or pellet foods. 

How Much Shall I Feed Them?

One thing to keep in mind, when feeding your bettas, is not to overfeed them; they are voracious eaters. They will literally eat every single bite of food you put in their tank. If they overeat, they can become bloated and can become constipated, and they can actually get sick and die from this.

It’s best to feed your bettas only once per day and to skip a meal every single week to give them a chance to fully digest and process their food.

Feed your bettas as much as they can finish actively within 1-2 minutes. During feeding, keep close eyes, and it’s worth paying attention to prevent overfeeding and building up uneaten leftover foods in aquariums.

Betta Fish Common Diseases

Diseases can easily be prevented if you maintain good water quality. But I do know sometimes unexpected things happen. Knowing the most common diseases and symptoms will help you to save the life of your Betta if they get affected, and those are:

  • Fin rot and tail rot: Fins and tail color change due to rotting and may melt away. Those are mainly fungus or bacteria infections. It can be treated by medications. 
  • Ich: Ich is caused by parasites and, a white spot emerges on the body. Early identification and treatment can help to deal with it. Check the detailed article on how to treat ich. 
  • Hemorrhagic: Bleeding inside the mouth and eyes caused by bacteria is easily treatable with antibiotics. 
  • Dropsy: It’s a kidney disease of fish, and swollen belly or abdomen are the main symptoms. Additionally, sunken eyes and outward-sticking white scales may be seen. Most fish don’t survive when they suffer from Dropsy because there is no known cure. 

When your fish are full of appetite, fast, energetic, playful, healthy glowing fins, and vibrant colors indicate healthy betta fish. The absence of any of the above may be a reason to observe them more closely to identify if they are suffering from any diseases. 

Some Interesting Facts About Betta Fish

  • Betta can take the food from your hand, but you need to acquaint yourself with them and allow some time to build the habit. 
  • Bettas can jump, male bettas can jump up to 2 cm, and female bettas can jump as high as 3.2 cm with an extra effort. 
  • Male Betta creates bubble nests at the water’s surface to protect the fertilized eggs.
  • Wild bettas are dull in color, not so beautiful as aquarium bettas. They exhibit brighter colors when they get angry. 
  • Bettas are the second most popular fish in the aquarium trade, and first place goes to goldfish

Wrapping Up The Betta Fish Care Guide

I hope my article will benefit you in betta keeping. These colorful little creatures are known to live joyfully in captivity and are relatively easy to take care of. But you need the correct information before taking on this responsibility! Enjoy!

Sujit Modak

2 thoughts on “Betta Fish Care Guide: How To Care For A Betta Fish For Beginners”

  1. I’m glad you talked about the importance of setting up the right environment for your betta fish. Recently, my sister said her kids want to have a pet, and since she doesn’t want to take care of a dog or a cat, she thinks it’d be better to get a fish tank. My sister needs to learn more about fish care and how to set up a tank, so I’ll be sure to share your article with her. Thanks for the advice on betta fish and their natural settings.


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