There’s a common misconception that bettas are a cheap and suitable fish for beginners. However, the reality of the situation is that bettas are deeply complex fish that require a long-term financial commitment from a dedicated owner.
If you’re contemplating betta fish ownership, you’re probably asking yourself: How much does an actual fish cost? Before heading down to the pet store, you should be aware of both the initial and ongoing expenses involved in keeping a betta fish happy and healthy.
Buying a Betta Fish
The cost of a particular betta fish will depend on several factors, including their breed, color, age, and health. Bettas, challenging to keep or breed, tend to be more expensive than hardier breeds.
Sex can also play a role in the cost of a betta. Males tend to be larger and flashier, so they often cost just a little more than females. Females can also be cheaper to maintain in the long term, as they’re less aggressive and need less space than males. What’s more, you can safely keep multiple female bettas together in a sorority.
No matter what type of fish you initially choose, you should go into the purchase knowing that your fish will have a lifespan of about two years. You need to put a budget together to ensure that you can provide proper care for at least two years, possibly more.
Although prices vary between bettas, you can generally gauge how much you’re going to spend based on the breed you choose. You can find different varieties of betta, ranging from around $2 per fish to as much as $30 for a betta.
Veiltail Betta: $2-5
This type of betta is one of the most popular breeds sold in pet stores, as it’s both attractive and relatively hardy. Veiltails are famous for their long, flowing, pointed fins, including an asymmetrical caudal fin.
Females are longer and rounder than males and have shorter fins. While you can keep several female veil tails together in a sorority, males should be housed alone or with appropriate companion fish.
Crowntail betta: $3-5.50
Male crowntail bettas have a distinctive fringe along their fins that creates a striking look when swimming. Females also have fringed fins, though they’re smaller and less flowing.
People have bred crowntail bettas over the centuries for fighting, and they can behave more aggressively than other betta breeds. Males should be solitary, and you should watch female sororities for any signs of conflict.
Halfmoon Bettas: $6.50-13
Also known as the double tail betta, halfmoon betta fish have large, rounded fins that radiate out from the entire back half of the body. They’re prized for their graceful, elegant movements as they swim. While the fins might appear larger than those of other bettas, they’re actually more compact by comparison.
This breed requires plenty of space to move if you want them to thrive. While you can keep females in a sorority, you may need a larger tank than with other types of bettas.
Deltatail Betta: $6-8
While deltatail bettas look similar to half-moon betta varieties, they tend to have a smaller tail spread with a triangular shape. Super deltatail bettas tend to boast larger, rounded tail fins with more flow to them.
Females have shorter fins than males, though the fins tend to be longer than those of other female betta varieties. While males should live alone, females usually do well in a sorority.
Plakat Betta: $5-7
The plakat betta, or short-tailed betta, has a shorter and less dramatic tail than more famous types of betta fish. Less breeding has gone into their appearance, so plakats look more closely related to their wild betta counterparts.
Plakats tend to be even more aggressive than long-finned fish. Some males may even reject companion fish that are too large or flashy. Females in a sorority need close monitoring to prevent behavior such as fin nipping.
Elephant Ear Betta: $10-30
Also known as the Dumbo betta, this breed has oversized, ruffled fins similar in appearance to an elephant’s ear. Even the females have relatively large, graceful fins. Because of its beautiful appearance and the difficulty of breeding this betta, it’s one of the most expensive varieties commonly found in home tanks.
Because of the size of their fins, this breed of betta needs a tank with plenty of space. If you have females living in a sorority, each needs enough space to swim without infringing on a sister’s territory.
Dragonscale Betta: $10.50-13
As the name suggests, this type of betta is renowned for its thick, dragon-like scales. Most boast a vibrant, metallic color that catches the light as they move. Their fins tend to be more stunted than other betta breeds, though this can vary between individual fish.
Male dragonscale bettas must be kept in separate tanks and may have issues with other bright or metallic types of fish. Females will tolerate each other, though sorority relationships tend to be more strained than breeds such as the veil tail.
Butterfly Betta: $12-15
This type of betta has a multicolored body that can include two to three colors depending on the individual fish. Most butterfly bettas have fins tipped with white or translucent cellophane coloring.
Males come with a variety of different tail types, though rounded half-moon fins are the most common. Female butterfly bettas have shorter fins than males, though they typically share the same vibrant color pattern.
Koi Betta: $12-20
Koi bettas have color patterns much like their namesake, the koi fish. Unlike most betta colorations, which are solid or ombre, this gorgeous fish boasts an unusual marbled pattern that can include colors ranging from reds and oranges to blues and greens.
While some koi bettas have long, flowing tails, the majority have shorter fins with a wide spread. As with most breeds, females have even smaller fins than males. Koi coloration is challenging to breed, making them more expensive than other varieties.
Double Tail Betta: $6-16
Double tail bettas are unique in that they have two distinct tail fins on their backside. Males have long, flowing fins, while females boast a more stunted look. However, both sexes share a split tail.
Double tail bettas can sometimes be less aggressive than other breeds. Males often do well with appropriate companion fish, while most females can be kept in a sorority.
Feathertail Betta: $14-20
Also known as the rosetail betta, this breed has branching fins with large, pointed tips reminiscent of flower petals. Males have long fins that flow outwards, while females have smaller fins containing distinctive radial tips.
Feathertail bettas can be aggressive, and tail biting is a common issue in home tanks. Males should be kept alone or with appropriate tank mates, while females can be kept in a well-regulated sorority.
Even knowing the cost of betta fish, you still may be asking: How much does a betta fish cost?
Purchasing a fish is only a small part of the equation. Setting up an aquarium is often the most expensive part of owning a betta fish. There are several factors of betta fish ownership that you’ll need to know to make a happy home for your betta.
Despite being displayed in a fish bowl in the store, bettas need plenty of space to roam, eat, sleep, and hide. For a single betta, you need a minimum tank size of at least a five to ten gallons. You may need an even larger setup if your betta has tank mates or if you’re housing a sorority of females.
The cost of your aquarium tank will primarily depend on its size. Material quality can also affect the price. Tanks with insulated or tempered glass, for example, may come at a premium. You can also find more expensive tanks with features such as built-in filters and aquarium lighting.
You can generally expect to pay somewhere between $15 and $150 for a quality tank. Models with built-in components may run even higher.
In their natural habitat, bettas live in clean, freshwater streams. They don’t tolerate waste buildup or pollutants well, so it’s essential to invest in a good filter for your tank setup. Doing so will remove ammonia, nitrates, and solid waste while aerating the water for your fish.
Filters typically come rated for different tank sizes. The cost of your filter will depend mainly on how much water volume it needs to handle, with models for larger tanks costing a premium. You can expect to pay anywhere between $30 and $80 for a quality canister filter.
The optimal betta fish temperature is between 78° and 80°F. If you live somewhere that gets cold at night or during the winter, you may need to add an effective heater to your tank set up to keep your betta warm enough.
An aquarium heater generally costs between $10 and $40, depending on the size and quality of the unit. It’s also a good idea to purchase a thermometer to keep track of water temperature, especially if your heater doesn’t do it for you. You can find tank thermometers at a bargain price of around $5 to $10 at just about any pet store.
Bettas are diurnal, which means that they’re awake and active during the day but sleep at night time. They rely primarily on sunlight and temperature to regulate their daily living cycle, which can be problematic in a tank setting.
You need to give your bettas plenty of lighting during the day to keep them healthy and active. Gentle white or blue LEDs are often a good choice, as they don’t heat the tank water. The majority of aquariums now come with built-in lighting, but you can also add your own if needed. Tank lighting typically costs between $10 and $30, depending on the size of your setup.
In a fish tank, the substrate at the bottom does more than just hold down fake plants and decor pieces. It functions as a part of the ecosystem, housing algae, microbes, and more things crucial to your betta’s biological cycle.
Popular substrate options include man-made gravel or larger stones and sand. Some people even line their aquarium with glass marbles. Depending on the substrate you choose, you should expect to pay anywhere between $5 and $50.
Fish Toys and Plants
Bettas like to have plenty of hiding spots, so you must add some decor to your aquarium kit setup. Many pet and aquarium stores offer a wide range of tank decor with plenty of nooks and crannies for hiding. While a small, simple piece might only cost $5, a larger or more complex decoration can run upwards of $100.
Real plants make a beautiful addition to any tank while also helping to improve water quality. What’s more, they’re less likely to damage delicate betta fins than plastic plants. Live foliage generally costs around $10 to $30 per plant.
In addition to the initial cost of the setup, you also have to consider ongoing care costs. Bettas require plenty of food, conditioned water, and enough electricity to run a pump or heater apparatus.
A healthy betta fish diet consists of more than just dried flakes or pellets. They thrive best when also given live or freeze-dried food such as bloodworms. With too much dry food, your fish risk becoming constipated.
Betta fish food is relatively cheap and should, at most, cost you $5 or less each week. If you opt for higher quality live foods, you may end up spending a little bit more than if you stick to dried and freeze-dried options.
Your betta will need a filter running 24/7 to keep the tank water clean and your fish healthy. You’ll also need energy to power any lighting cycles that you run throughout the day. For betta fish owners in cold climates, you’ll have to power a heater when temperatures drop too low inside your home.
You should know that your electricity bill is almost certain to rise after introducing a betta into your home. How much you pay each month will depend on factors such as how many electronic components you use, how often you use them, and for how long.
You may be able to save some money on your utility bills each month by opting for energy-efficient filters, heaters, and lighting. Though these will often cost more upfront, energy-efficient aquarium appliances will end up helping you to save in the long run.
Tap water often contains harmful compounds that can be a death sentence to aquarium fish and plant life. You must condition your water before introducing fish into your tank. You need to remove toxic elements such as chlorine or chloramine to keep your fish safe.
Conditioning your tank water isn’t just a one-time affair. Each time you clean your tank, you should replace around 20 to 25% of the contents with fresh water. This new water needs to get conditioned each time you add it to ensure that it won’t disrupt your tank’s pH or chemical levels.
Tank conditioner is widely available and is generally affordably priced. You can get a bottle of concentrated conditioner for between $5 and $10, which is likely to last you a year or more.
Betta fish are pretty sensitive to external conditions, and they fall sick easily. You may end up needing to medicate your betta if it contracts a bacterial, viral, parasitic, or fungal infection. The cost of betta medication varies, ranging from $5 for common, one-step treatments to over $100 for diseases that are rare or difficult to treat.
If you’re thinking about bringing a fish friend into your home, you’re probably wondering: How much does a betta fish cost?
While these amazing fish might not cost much, owners also have to consider tank setup, feeding, and maintenance expenses. When everything is said and done, a betta fish can cost anywhere between around $100 to more than $400 initially. There are also annual expenses to consider, which can run you hundreds of dollars.
Before buying a betta, set up a budget to ensure that you can afford the responsibilities of a betta owner. With the proper support, your betta can live a long, happy, and healthy life.