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Betta Fish Care: The Definitive Guide

 

Betta fish, known for their bright colours and unique fins, are a popular choice for aquariums. They add character to any aquarium, but setting up and maintaining their tank requires careful attention and can be costly. This is our definitive guide to assist you in your Betta keeping journey.

Tank & Environment

The first step is choosing an appropriately sized aquarium for your fish. A common misconception is that Betta fish can live comfortably in small bowls or vases. This is a myth! A minimum size of 10 litres (or 3 gallons) is highly recommended.

 

For Betta fish, a package like the Aquael Shrimp Set, available in sizes 10, 20, or 30 litres, is ideal. These tanks come with a light for plants, a heater, a filter, and a lid that fits well. It’s important to set up the tank with a good design, using elements like soil, rocks, and wood to create a natural environment. A well-designed tank not only makes the Betta happy but also enhances your experience.

Keep your tank near a power source for your equipment, in a lower-traffic area to minimise unnecessary disturbance, and away from direct sunlight and drafts, which can alter your water temperature drastically.

Remember, water is heavy! So, pick a location that is sturdy enough to support the weight of your fish tank.

Substrate & Hardscape

Every good aquarium starts from the bottom up. The substrate is the material infused with minerals at the bottom of your tank and plays a critical role in the health and happiness of your fish by providing necessary minerals.

For the substrate in a Betta fish tank, using a product like Oliver Knott Aquaearth Soil is recommended. Aim for a layer that is at least 2.5 to 5 cm deep. This type of substrate supports plant growth and maintains water quality.

The hardscape is the larger and more solid elements in the tank, such as rocks, wood, or ceramic structures. We recommend elements such as Seiryu Stones, Dragonstone, Black Lava, Smooth Lava, Quan Wood, or Mopani Wood. They provide hideouts and exploration opportunities for your fish.

 

Seiryu Stones

Dragonstone

Black Lava

Smooth Lava

Quan Wood

Mopani Wood

Remember to rinse both substrate and hardscape with non-distilled water before adding them to the tank. When arranging these elements, aim for a natural look, considering design principles like the Golden Ratio for a pleasing aesthetic.

Plant Choices

Choosing the right plants for your Betta tank is simple. Start with sturdy plants like Anubias and Java Fern, as they are easy to care for.

Large Anubias

Assorted Small Anubias - Nano Tanks Australia Aquarium Shop

Small Anubias

Java Fern

It’s important that you balance out the plants and ensure there’s enough room left for your fish to swim freely. The key is to mimic their natural environment, which helps to maintain a happy and healthy Betta.

You can check out the Aquatic Plant Explosion to shop our full plant range.

Betta Varieties

 

Betta fish come in many varieties, each with its own unique colours and fin shapes. The most common types are the Halfmoon, with its large, full fins, and the Elephant Ear, known for its large pectoral fins that look like elephant ears. Another popular type is the Crown tail, which has spiky, crown-like fin edges.

Male Bettas are usually more colourful and have larger fins than females, and they are often the ones you’ll find in stores.

Bettas can be red, blue, purple, white, and many other colours, often with beautiful patterns. Some Bettas even change colour over time!

No matter which type of Betta you choose, each one brings its own special beauty to your aquarium. Remember, Bettas are known for their personality as much as their looks, so you’ll enjoy getting to know your fish’s unique character.

Shop our range of Betta fish now.

Tankmates

When choosing tankmates for your Betta fish, it's important to select peaceful and non-aggressive fish to avoid stress and conflict.

Neon Tetras, Cardinal Tetras, and even Rummy Nose Tetras are great choices as they are small, non-aggressive, and add a splash of colour to the tank.

 

Green Neon Tetra

 

Cardinal Tetra

Rummy Nose Tetra

Corydoras, a type of bottom-dwelling fish, Bristlenose, and Otocinclus can also coexist peacefully with Bettas.

 

Corydoras Panda

Common Bristlenose

Otocinclus Arnoldi

When it comes to invertebrates, Red, Black, or Blue Ramshorn Snails and Gold, Blue or Purple Mystery Snails are also a great addition to your tank.

 

Red Ramshorn Snail

Blue Mystery Snail

Gold Mystery Snails Small - Nano Tanks Australia Aquarium Shop

Gold Mystery Snail

Avoid putting shrimps in the same tank as Bettas might see them as food.

It's crucial to ensure that the tank is spacious enough to accommodate all the fish without overcrowding. Remember, each fish species has its own needs, so ensure their environmental requirements, like water temperature and pH, are compatible with those of your Betta.

Food & Chemicals

 

Bettas are carnivores, so their diet should include high-quality, protein-rich foods like Hikari Betta Bio Gold, Fluval Bug Bites For Betta, or Live Black Worms. A feeding session once a day with an amount they can gobble up within 1-2 minutes should be enough.

Overfeeding can dirty the water, particularly in smaller aquariums. Any uneaten food should be cleared from the tank to avoid water pollution.

 

Bettas are tropical fish, which means they require a warm water temperature between 24-27 degrees Celsius. They also thrive in slightly acidic water, with an optimal pH range from 6.5 to 7.5.

 

It’s also crucial to maintain constant ammonia and nitrite levels of zero parts per million (ppm), whereas nitrate levels should be less than 40 ppm.

Tap water contains chlorine, chloramines, ammonia, and other harmful elements. Always use a water conditioner such as Seachem Prime to neutralise heavy metals and ammonia.

 

 

Conduct regular water changes every week, replacing 25-50% of the water. When refilling, always ensure that the new water’s temperature matches the existing tank water to avoid thermal shock.

Other products you may want to keep on hand include Seachem Stability and API Betta Fix. Seachem Stability is a bottle of beneficial bacteria. It can help reduce the time it takes to cycle your tank to 2 weeks. On the other hand, API Betta Fix is similar to API Melafix but watered down for Bettas. It provides a thin antibacterial lining for your Betta to assist in its recovery from Ich, Columnaris, and Oodinium.

 

 

Other Equipment

In addition to the basic setup for your Betta, there are other useful equipment pieces to consider.

For example, a resting leaf is a small platform that attaches to the side of the tank. Bettas like to rest near the surface, and this leaf provides a perfect spot for them to lounge on.

Also, consider adding Indian Almond Leaves to the water. These leaves release tannins that mimic the Betta’s natural habitat and have beneficial properties for their health. They also slightly tint the water, creating a more natural-looking environment.

 

 

Common Diseases & How To Avoid Them

Better fish can get sick, and it’s important to spot these illnesses early. Common diseases include:

  1. Fin Rot: Frayed or damaged fins and lethargy. It can be treated with improved water conditions and treatment with antibiotics.
  2. Ichthyophthirius (Ich): A parasite that affects fish and appears as small white spots on the body. If your fish is rubbing itself against objects, it might be a sign of Ich. Raise the water temperature and administer an Ich medication.
  3. Cotton Fin Fungus (Fish Cotton Wool Disease): White cotton-like growths on your Betta’s body and fins. Maintain a clean tank and use fungus medication.
  4. Bacterial Infections: Appears as red and inflamed scales, cloudy eyes, and a lack of energy. It’s treated with antibiotics.
  5. Swim Bladder Issues: Overfeeding often leads to bloating, swim bladder issues, and a buildup of uneaten food in the tank. Consider a balanced diet and avoid overfeeding.

Keeping Your Betta Fish Happy

How Often Should I clean My Betta Tank?

Keeping your Betta’s tank clean is really important. How often you clean depends on the tank size and if you have a filter.

Small Tanks (10 litres): Clean once a week and change 30-50% of the water.

Medium Tanks (20-30 litres): Clean every 2 weeks with a 10-15% water change.

Large Tanks (50 litres or more): Clean monthly, changing about 10% of the water.

Always wipe the tank sides, vacuum the gravel, and clean decorations and filter media.

How Do I Know If My Betta Fish Is Happy?

To know if your betta fish is healthy and happy, look for these signs:

  • Colour & Appearance: They should have bright colours and smooth fins without any damage.
  • Activity Levels: Healthy Bettas are active, eat regularly, react to you and their environment, and males might build bubble nests.
  • Body Condition: Their bodies should be well-shaped, not bloated or with odd growths.
  • Breathing: They breathe by moving water through their gills. If they’re gasping at the surface, they might be stressed or sick.
  • Behaviour: Healthy Bettas explore their tanks, interact with other fish and sometimes flare their fins.

 

 

David Lo image

Author: David Lo

Managing Director of Nano Tanks Australia

Hi, I’m a Freshwater Aquarium expert and owner of Nano Tanks Australia. I enjoy providing and helping hobbyists keep healthy and happy pet tropical fish.

Frequently Asked Questions About Betta Fish

On average, betta fish grow to around 2.5 to 3 inches, or 5.5 to 6.5cm, long (not including the tail) when they are fully mature. Male betta fish often have larger fins than females which can give them the appearance of being larger overall. Keep in mind that each betta fish is unique, and the tail length may vary from fish to fish.

The betta splendens (Siamese Fighting Fish) is the most common betta fish variety kept as pets and the one most referenced when discussing betta size. Remember that giving your betta fish a well-maintained tank and a balanced diet can help ensure they grow to their full potential.

While they may not be the biggest fish in the aquarium world, their vibrant colours, dynamic personalities, and beautiful flowing fins certainly make up for their small size. They are truly a delightful addition to any home aquarium.

While it's common to see betta fish kept in bowls or vases, this practice is not recommended by aquarists and animal welfare advocates. Especially with the recent trend of selling baby betta fish at pet stores like Petco, it's crucial to know that these fragile creatures require a well-maintained environment, without which, they risk premature death. Remember, a small bowl does not provide the stability, cleanliness, or swimming space that a betta fish requires.

A betta might survive in a small bowl, much like how a person could survive in a tiny room, but neither the person nor the betta would thrive and be happy in such conditions.

Instead, opt for a heated, filtered tank that holds at least 10 to 15 litres of water – a product you can readily find at our store. A 20 litre tank or larger is even better. This will give your betta bought from Petco, our store Nanotanks Australia, or any other store, enough room to explore, provide stable water parameters, easily allow the establishment of a nitrogen cycle, and result in better health and longevity for your fish.

Moreover, unlike bowls, a larger tank allows you to add a heater to maintain the stable warm temperature that bettas need. They help prevent sharp temperature fluctuations that can easily occur in small bowls—another factor that can be detrimental to bettas.

So, in short, keeping a betta in a bowl is not the best option. Larger tanks will ensure your betta fish is healthier, happier, and lives a longer and more vibrant life.

Yes, it is possible to have more than one betta fish in an aquarium; however, there are some important considerations to keep in mind. 

Male Betta Fish on a Betta Fish Care Sheet: Male betta fish, notably aggressive, especially when with other males, pose a unique challenge. Owning more than one male betta in the same tank could instigate fights, stimulate stress, and even burial ceremonies. Suggested betta fish care sheets thus typically advise against housing multiple male bettas together. To delve deeper into this issue, click here to view some pertinent articles on our website.

Female Betta Fish According to a Care Sheet: Less antagonistic than males, female bettas can coexist in a "betta sorority." Guidelines from a comprehensive betta fish care sheet recommend that their tank is at least 50 litres with plenty of hiding places for their safety. Female betta sororities, while possible, demand a high level of understanding and experience from fishkeepers.

Mixed Genders on a Betta Fish Care Sheet: Keeping male and female bettas together is normally only for breeding. After breeding, ensure separation to avoid aggression, as suggested by standard betta fish care sheets.

Summing it up, it is indeed feasible to house multiple bettas in one aquarium, but it comes with its own hurdles and requires strategic planning, unflagging surveillance, and considerable experience with these intricate creatures. An invaluable pointer to remember from this care sheet - betta fish, enjoy their individual space - the tank size decision should accommodate this preference wherever possible.

When buying a Betta fish, look for healthy signs such as:

Vibrant Colors: Bettas are known for their beautiful, vibrant colors. A dull or pale Betta may indicate that it is unwell.

Active Behaviour: Healthy Bettas are active and curious. Beware of Bettas that are not moving, lethargic, or lying at the bottom of the tank.

Smooth Scales: Scales should lie flat against the body. Puffed out scales could be a sign of disease.

Clear Eyes and Gills: Both should be clear without any signs of inflammation or abnormal discoloration.

Undamaged Fins: Ripped or shredded fins can suggest a health problem or poor care conditions.

Remember, always choose a reputable seller who offers high-quality fish and cares about their well-being.

Given their tropical origin, bettas indeed require a heated tank to stay active and healthy. Betta fish, being labyrinth fish, have a unique capability to extract oxygen not just from the water using their gills, but also from the surface with their Labyrinth bladder. This necessary function, coupled with their preference for temperatures around 24-27 degrees Celsius, makes maintaining a warm tank requisite, as it enables a healthier and more effective use of their labyrinth organ.

Small fluctuations in temperature can cause stress to a betta fish, and the temperature in a room is often not stable enough to maintain the necessary warmth for these tropical creatures. This can make a dedicated aquarium heater an essential piece of equipment.

However, certain considerations should be kept in mind while choosing a heater. Size matters – a general rule is 1 watt per 1 litre of water. For example, a 20-litre tank would need at least a 20-watt heater to maintain the required temperature.

The heater should come with a thermostat to automatically maintain your tank at the chosen temperature, and ideally, have a built-in safety feature to switch off if the water level gets too low—considering bettas are labyrinth fish and their frequent need to surface, this aspect becomes even more crucial.

On a final note, always remember to turn off your heater during water changes to prevent overheating and damage to your heater.

Ensuring your betta fish has a consistently warm environment is a critical aspect of their care, leading to a healthier, happier, and more active betta made possible due to the ideal functioning of their labyrinth organ.

A filter is a necessary component of a betta fish's tank environment to ensure good water quality. Engaging a proper filtration system is pivotal in maintaining pure and clear water, necessary for shielding the betta fish from constipation and related digestive disorders—ailments often triggered by poor water conditions. Betta fish thrive in such protected, uncontaminated habitats, with owning a reliable filtration system key to providing this.

Betta fish prefer calm water and have difficulty with swift currents. Hence, the optimal filter must be designed to purify the tank's complete volume multiple times per hour without generating a potent flow. To cater to these prerequisites, specific filtration accessories such as sponge filters and internal filters are essential to betta tanks.

Sponge Filters: With betta fish being sensitive to constipation, sponge filters are an excellent asset for betta tanks. They facilitate water filtration, while ensuring the water flow remains modest, thus minimizing potential digestive issues. Furthermore, these sponges are quiet and typically necessitate lesser maintenance than alternatives, making them a great choice for small betta fish tanks. However, they offer limited mechanical filtration capacity, which could be a concern in larger setups.

Internal Filters: Known for providing ample room for varied types of filtration media—mechanical, biological, and chemical—internal filters are more robust and versatile than sponges. They prove beneficial for a larger aquatic environment due to their faster water cleansing abilities. However, they could produce a flow that might be too turbulent for betta fish, possibly causing constipation. The frequency of adjustment and maintenance of these filters varies depending on their model.

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