Betta fish are a very popular pet. Due to their low maintenance and gorgeous coloration. Just because they are a hardy Betta Care fish does not mean that they have no standards.
There are many misconceptions over their preferred conditions.
How much do you know about Bettas?
Minimum Tank Size
2.5 gallons (min. 5 preferable)
No bubbler needed
8-12 hours of natural light (artificial or sunlight)
3- 5 years
Carnivore (Betta-formulated pellets, or live/ freeze-dried brine shrimp, worms, mosquito larvae)
2-5-3in (not including the fins)
Betta fish have humble origins. They come from a wild breed that grew up in rice paddies in Asia.
The more interesting Betta fish facts involve their history with human collectors.
Betta fish have a rich history with aquarium keepers. These gorgeous fish originally captured human interest due to their aggressive behavior.
In the wild, the fish had a tendency for battle. People decided to keep these fish for entertainment and force them to fight, much like many people did with dogs and chickens.
Although the practice is no longer legal in most places, it doesn’t change the fact that many generations of the fish had been selectively bred for entertainment purposes.
In addition to being extra aggressive, they also began to get arguably prettier.
The once semi-docile and dull fish found in the rice paddies had now been transformed into a gorgeous and temperamental creature.
Nowadays, the fish comes in all sorts of shapes and colors.
What types of Betta fish are there?
Due to how much selective breeding this species has undergone, there is a myriad of designer Betta breeds.
The males of the more popular breeds among aquarium keepers have large, caudal tails that exaggerate their fin movements.
Their tails are more easily damaged with can be a problem for the aggressive fish.
These Bettas have reduced webbing, which almost makes them appear to have torn fins.
As their name suggests, their extended rays appear almost crown-like in design that resembles the fins of a sea monster.
Delta (and Super Delta) Betta
With full webbing, this Betta looks as though it’s wearing a flowing cape.
Their tails achieve almost a 180-degree spread, almost looking like the Greek letter delta, Δ.
Also known as the Rosetail Betta, their tails have excessive ray branching, which causes the appearance of ruffles on their tails.
The males look as though they’re draped in a luxurious gown.
As the most “generic” breed of pet Betta, these are likely the more healthy variation.
Their appearance may be lackluster when compared to other designer breeds, but they still sport swooping tails and bright colors you can’t find in the wild.
Half Moon Betta
These Bettas have a large tail which can span over 180 degrees, resembling a large ‘D.’
Their gorgeous, smooth fins are highly prized as people love how they seem to glide through the water.
The Combtail is a less extreme Crowntail Betta.
While it still has extended rays, the webbing is not as drastically reduced resulting in a less rugged look.
Double Tail Betta
A true Double Tail will indeed have two tails.
Although there is a lot of variation in the breed, hobbyists aim for their caudal fins to be mirrored.
Half Sun Betta
The Half Sun Betta is the elegant combination of the Half Moon and Crowntail.
With the dramatically extended rays mixed with the full-bodied tail, this Betta is a striking example of selective breeding at its finest.
Other varieties and nearly all females have a more conservative appearance. Although these are more colorful than their ancestors, they are closer, anatomically speaking, to their origins.
It can be difficult to discern between these guys and your average female.
Their very short tails may seem underwhelming, but recently, breeders have been toying with creating more variations of this humble breed.
While this isn’t something you’ll be able to find at your regular pet store, they are an option if you look hard enough.
You can have a short-finned, dull colored Betta if you are going for a natural look for your tank.
Although it is unlikely you can actually get your hands on a real wild one, a Plakat in the right color might work for you aesthetically.
Although some breeds may be more likely to fall ill than others due to the nature of selective breeding, their basic needs are generally the same in terms of nutrition and habitat.
How big should a Betta tank be?
Many misconceptions are surrounding the basic needs of a Betta. The controversy surrounding the maltreatment of Betta has specifically stirred up some drama with activists over the years.
Bettas can survive in very tight conditions. These fish hail from tiny, cloudy rice paddies in Asia.
For decades, many people kept them in tiny, intricate tanks. You may also have noticed the tiny containers which they are often kept in at pet stores.
Sure, the fish can live in these conditions. Many people falsely assumed this is what they liked.
Just because they survive doesn’t mean that they will thrive. Such environments are stressful for a number of reasons.
The tiny, cramped tanks make it difficult for a Betta to swim freely. It also means that water quality will decrease faster.
These unstable conditions are not suitable for most aquatic species.
Contrary to the information you may have received from your local pet chain, you really shouldn’t keep a Betta in a tank smaller than 2.5 gallons.
This allows them enough room to swim around and enough volume for the water chemistry to stay manageable.
Many people even opt to go up to 5 gallons just because it’s easier to maintain the tank.
If you plan on trying to build a community tank, you should go to at least 10 gallons.
The design of the tank doesn’t matter too much. Some people prefer bowls, while others like the rectangular look.
With Bettas, there are countless designer set-ups as well. Just make sure they are big enough for your pet.
Do Bettas need enrichment in their aquarium?
A tank alone is not enough to keep your Betta happy. How would you like to be confined to an empty bowl for hours on end?
While a Betta fish doesn’t need a switch or a stack of novels to keep them entertained, they do need something going on in the tank.
While they tend to be more solitary creatures, you can consider giving them some tank mates in larger tanks.
They don’t need to interact when any friends, but they can enjoy watching others swim around.
If you are looking for tank mates for your male betta, consider fish with the following traits;
Peaceful in a community
Look for fish that do not demonstrate natural aggressive behavior. They have delicate fins that are easy to damage.
Different in appearance
Bettas are very competitive and easily agitated. They feel threatened by fish similar in appearance, often mistaking them for other Bettas and attacking without provocation.
Similar in environment
It should go without saying that compatible tankmates should thrive in the same environment. Tank conditions should never be compromised.
Fast, just in case
Betta fish can be bullies at times and will nip at their serene neighbors. Being able to outrun the occasional bite can avoid bigger problems.
You can check here for a list of compatible tank mates. If you aren’t interested in starting a community tank, they can live happily alone.
They need some form of stimulation in their tanks.
Bettas are naturally curious. They like to swim around their home, exploring little nooks and crannies.
This could be something in the form of a little figurine in the center of your tank -especially one they can hide in.
Plants are another way to add some stimulation to the tank. They provide enrichment while simultaneously helping with the water quality.
Betta fish do like plants, and this can be a great solution to an empty tank. When plants are involved, conditions get a little more complicated.
Unless you plan on educating yourself on the necessary conditions for the different species of plants, you may want to opt for an artificial plant.
Do Bettas require special tank conditions?
Comparing Bettas to other species, they are rather easy. You will find that Betta fish tank maintenance requires minimal effort.
Even beginners can easily learn how to Betta Care for a Betta fish.
Consider the following guidelines as a standard for Betta water.
Bettas come from warmer regions. Their water should remain between 78° and 80°F (25.5° and 26.5°C).
This may mean that your tank is fine during the summer or spring months.
When it gets cold, it’s recommended for you to have a heater on your tank. Yes, they even make mini ones.
If you are not sure how warm the tank it, it is a good Betta care top to keep a thermometer in there.
Bettas prefer a neutral pH. Most tap water already falls around this range (between 6.5 and 7.5). Sometimes the tank soil or substrate can have an impact on water pH level.
Proper Betta care involves lighting the tank for between 8 and 12 hours.
This is so the Bettas can experience a typical day cycle.
Although this mimics their natural habitat, Betta fish do not need sunlight.
You can try if you want to, but honestly, there are several disadvantages to this.
Many people find it easier to use artificial lights meant for the tank. These can be set on a timer, so you don’t need to worry about shutting them off.
Try to use a natural tank light because Bettas do not like colored lights very much.
Messing up their lighting can lead them to be over- or under-stimulated. This stress can manifest in a number of negative ways.
Unlike many other aquarium fish, you will not have to put a bubbler in the tank.
This doesn’t mean that Bettas don’t breath, instead, they are specially adapted to areas with low flows of water.
Betta fish can use their specially evolved labyrinth organ to take oxygen from the surface.
Betta fish hail from rice paddies in Asia. As you can imagine, they are not used to strong currents.
They prefer still, stable water. Although, you don’t need to fret about movements caused by filter use.
That’s right, filter. Many people choose to leave their Bettas in small bowls that don’t allow for filtration.
While these are suitable environments (when the above conditions are met), most fish prefer tank water that has a filter.
Having a filter also means you need to perform fewer water changes.
Filters keep water clean and healthy bacteria levels. This can help keep the quality pristine and enhance the mood for mating.
Although the clean water lets your fish know their tank is clean, you should keep any filters shut off while the Betta builds his bubble nest and watches the eggs.
Clean water is important, but filters are not the way to achieve this when trying to learn how to Betta Care for baby fish.
The tiny fish can easily make it into the filter. As soon as they begin swimming around, they should be taken into a separate tank.
Neither the male or female Betta care for the fish. In fact, they might make their offspring into a tasty snack.
What do you feed a Betta fish?
Feeding Betta fish is rather easy. Store-bought, high protein pellets are enough to keep your Betta fish healthy and strong.
You can find specially formulated food for Bettas at any pet store.
If you are looking to spice things up, you could get them freeze-dried worms for a treat.
Live food such as brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, and blood worms are also a nice treat.
How long do Betta fish live?
The lifespan of a Betta fish can vary quite a bit. If you take good care of them, they can normally live to reach between 3 and 5 years of age.
It is important to keep in mind that they are often a full year of age when they are sold in pet stores.
This may seem like a lot of information to have memorized. Having a handy Betta care sheet can offer you a concise summary.
Bettas have been the target of many fishkeeping myths over the years.
Educating yourself even a little bit can help you enhance the overall life of your fish.
Did you learn anything new about how to take care of your Bettas today? If you have any helpful tips on how to enhance your Betta experience, please share them in the comments below!