how to take care of a betta fish

How To Care for a Betta Fish: A Comprehensive Guide

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Learning how to give your Betta fish proper care is easy and can be super fun, even for beginners!

Are you looking to bring home a new Betta Fishy family member? Or maybe you already have your feisty Betta fishy and are looking to go over the general care requirements for him/her?

Whatever the case, here you will find a simple, generalized guide explaining how to care for a Betta fish.

Beginning of Bettas

Betta fish (Betta splenden) are also known as Siamese fighting fish.

Bettas’ native habitat is the tropical climate zone around Thailand. Believe it; you can find them swimming in the huge rice paddies.

The average lifespan of a well-cared-for Betta fish is approximately 2-4 years.

Note: Their tropical origin means bettas need warm water and extra space. Above all else, please do not put your betta fish in a tiny fishbowl in your 70° F house.

Betta Behavior


They are known as “Fighting Fish” for a reason! First and foremost, never house more than one male Betta in the same aquarium. They will fight each other, and often only one male Betta will survive.

Please do not place male and female Bettas in the same aquarium unless you intentionally breed them. Even then, they should only cohabitate temporarily.

Breeding Bettas is not as simple as it sounds, and breeders must conduct some in-depth study on the subject to minimize the risk of the fish becoming injured.

You can house female Bettas together in Betta “sororities,” but there are a few things you must keep in mind. First, you must maintain a minimum of 5 female Bettas. This ensures efficient utilization of space and extra care for the fish.

Second, they must be kept in a 10-15 gallon aquarium. If you choose to group a sorority of female Bettas, observe them closely and separate them if you see aggressive behaviour.

Lastly, while Bettas are (in general) solitary fish, they will swim well with other varieties of tropical fish. If interested in keeping other types of fish in the same aquarium as your Betta, look for non-aggressive and small-finned species.

Small fins are preferable because Bettas are known to nip at other fishes’ long, colorful fins. Read more on tankmates here.

Bubble Nests

Betta fish have a unique organ called the “Labyrinth” that they use to take oxygen from the air. Yes, the air and not from the water alone.

Besides being a labyrinth fish, Bettas also have gills and use them as any other fish. However, this interesting Labyrinth organ is also what the Betta uses to make bubble nests.

Take care that the surface of the water in the aquarium is never blocked, or your Betta will not be able to breathe!

Talking Tanks

Big Takeaway: Ideally, you’re looking for a 5+ gallon betta fish tank equipped with a heating mechanism and a lid. Make sure your filter, plants, and hides are fin-friendly.


While we have all seen Bettas housed in jar-sized aquariums and typically sized, 1-gallon fish bowls, please don’t subject your Betta to these tiny “homes.”

Bettas are flighty fish and love to stretch their fins while exploring. A bare minimum tank size should be 5 gallons, but larger tanks, such as 10-gallon tanks or larger aquariums, are ideal.

The Temperature (and Heaters)

As mentioned before, Betta fish come from tropical climates. Therefore, you should maintain aquarium temperatures between 78-80 degrees.

Unless you live in a tropical climate, you should consider getting an aquarium heater to keep your Betta happy and healthy.

One thing to note is that room temperatures outside of the aquarium will be several degrees warmer than the temperature of the water inside.

Use a thermometer to ensure the proper temperature of the aquarium. You do not want to end up with frozen or cooked Betta fish sticks.


While a mechanical aquarium filter is not 100% necessary, it is useful in most aquarium setups. If you choose to use an aquarium filter, ensure the flow setting is gentle.

Also, ensure that you have taken precautions to ensure that your Bettas fins do not get caught in any part of the filtering mechanism.

Though most reputable filters are designed in a way to prevent injury, you should always double-check.

Plants and Hides

Consider using silk or live plants if you choose to include plants in your Betta aquarium design. Betta fins are quite delicate and damage easily.

You can use live plants effectively, and they can also help you maintain a healthy tank environment more easily.

Plastic plants are a no-go. A happy Betta will spend a lot of time “fluffing” himself up and zipping around the tank. The term “getting snagged” is bad to hear in reference to a fish you don’t plan to eat.

Bettas love to hide! Providing your Betta with a hiding spot is a great idea. Things like ceramic coffee cups and similar lidless containers work just fine.

If you choose to use something from around the house, be sure that the “hiding spot” material will not rust or otherwise contaminate the tank water in the aquarium.

And, of course, be sure that the “hiding spot” doesn’t have any sharp edges or joints to snag your fishy.


Please consider covering the top of the aquarium your Betta is housed in. Bettas love to jump. In the wild, they jump in an effort to find better living conditions.

So ensuring yours is well taken care of should reduce the risk of your fish hopping out. However, a lid is a good precaution to take both to save them from jumping out and keep outside contaminants from getting in your tank.

Betta Than Good Housekeeping

The aquarium water in the Bettas’ home needs to be changed regularly.

The waste produced from your fish will naturally produce ammonia in the water. Ammonia is deadly to Bettas in even the smallest amounts.

As a general rule and approach, unfiltered aquariums need 50% of their water changed twice weekly. That means that 100% of their water is changed completely every week.

Please do not change out 100% of the water all at once in an effort to save yourself a step. Changing the water all at once harms the sensitive betta and the natural aquarium environment in general.

It is very important that the temperature of the water you are filling the aquarium with is the same temperature as the water you previously removed.

If the water you are adding to the existing water in the tank is at a different temperature, you will risk “shocking” your Betta.

Fish, in general, are quite sensitive to water temperature change. The temperatures do not have to differ too greatly to cause them harm.

You can opt to remove your Betta from the tank before you add the new water. If you choose to do so, float your Betta in a cup with the “old” water in the tank with the new water.

This will gradually equalize temperature differences. This procedure is not hard to do at all, and being extra cautious can’t hurt.

A mechanically-cycled and filtered 5+ gallon aquarium will only need a 20% water change once per week. With these setups, you should also use a gravel vacuum to pick up the waste from the bottom of the tank.

Lastly, store-bought water conditioners are a must! Brands such as Seachem Prime and AquaSafe are inexpensive and will help your fish thrive. They dechlorinate and otherwise purify the previously toxic tap water.

Betta Fish Food

how to take care of a betta fish

Feeding your Betta fish a Betta-specific fish pellet will help ensure that your Betta is happy and healthy. Avoid types of food that can result in digestive health issues.

Betta fish are essentially carnivorous! Betta-specific fish foods are tailor-made for Bettas and are adequately high in protein and other necessary ingredients. Look at the labels for ingredients such as brine shrimp and fish meal.

Variety is the spice of life when dining, and your Betta thinks so too! Many Bettas love it when you add freeze-dried foods or frozen food, such as bloodworms and brine shrimp, to their menu.

Glass worms are a delicacy to your Betta fishy! These kinds of feedings should be considered “treats” and shouldn’t be offered more than once per week. This will help avoid bloating. Nobody likes bloating.

Overfeeding your Betta can be an issue if you are not careful. If feeding a pellet-based Betta food, 3 to 4 pellets once or twice per day is recommended for the average Betta fish.

If you drop the pellets in one at a time, your Betta will be less likely to miss them, falling to the bottom and getting lost. This also reduces extra waste in the aquarium.

If your Betta is done eating after only one pellet, remove any other pellets in the aquarium that were left.

Another rule of thumb when trying to figure out how much to feed your betta is to feed only what your betta will eat in 2 minutes. Whatever food is left after those 2 minutes is up, picked up, and out of the betta’s aquarium.

Health and Enrichment

Everybody gets sick once in a while, and Bettas are no exception. Careful observation of your Betta will ensure that you are able to catch any oncoming health problems before they become untreatable.

If you notice that your Betta fish is acting slow and lethargic, the temperature of the water is most likely the cause.

Remember that a minimum of 78-80 degrees is required for a healthy Betta. Investing in an aquarium heater and a thermometer is a smart move on your part.

If you notice that your Betta is missing small pieces of its tail or fins, or if they appear frayed at the ends, your Betta may have fin rot. As fin rot is most often caused by excessive ammonia in the aquarium, an ammonia test should be taken.

The only acceptable ammonia reading is zero; any ammonia is harmful to your Betta. You should also replace all of the water in the aquarium at this time.

You may also look into treating your aquarium with store-bought aquarium salt. Another cause of missing tail and fin bits is a condition called fin biting. Fin biting is often the result of boredom.

Often, Bettas become bored if there is not enough space to swim about and enough decent hiding places. Bettas are very active and playful fish that need their space to explore!

A Betta Care Video!

After digging through many (really, more than many) betta fish care videos online, this one stood out among the rest as the best!

The video appears at the bottom of this page rather than at the top because you should be encouraged to read through the whole page beforehand and then watch the video.

This creator has some great info on his channel about Bettas, so it’s definitely worth your time to click through some of those.

Betta Fish F.A.Q

How Long Do Betta Fish Live?

Typically, a Betta fish can live for around 2-4 years with the correct care.

However, some types, such as the albino Betta fish, are more susceptible to certain illnesses, shortening their expected lifespan.

Can Betta Fish Live With Other Fish?

There are a variety of tank mates which can suitably be housed with a betta, such as Kuhli Loach and Corydoras Catfish.

Be very careful when choosing tank mates and thoroughly research how well the two fish will get on before purchasing and introducing them to your tank.

You’ll also want to take care when choosing your aquarium, as you’ll want to opt for a larger tank to ensure enough space for everybody.

Bettas are very aggressive fish species, and therefore, there are many types of fish they cannot live with – including other Bettas!

How Often Should I Feed My Betta Fish?

You should feed your betta fish daily, or half portions twice a day – be careful not to over or underfeed your pet fish.

How Big Do Betta Fish Get?

This depends on the breed of Betta fish, but typically, you can expect your fish to grow to about 3 inches.

Why Do Betta Fish Fight?

Betta fish are a highly territorial and aggressive fish species; if a male encounters another male, he will defend his territory by attacking the other fish.

The Betta may try starting fights with other species of fish if they’re colourful or high-energy, as he may mistake this for another Betta. This is why it’s recommended to house Bettas with docile bottom-feeders that won’t bother him.

Can Male and Female Betta Fish Live Together?

Male and Female Bettas can be housed together temporarily to encourage breeding. However, the female must be removed immediately after the spawning of the eggs has taken place.

This is to prevent the male from attacking her.

Can I Have Two Female Bettas Together?

Unlike male Bettas, females are far less territorial and can be housed in groups of two or three, known as ‘sororities.’

Will My Betta Ever Need To Go to the Vet?

If your Betta fish gets ill, you may need to take him to an aquatics specialist veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.

Like any animal, a fish can get sick, and Betta can suffer from anything from Ich to a seizure. Be sure that if your fish is unwell, consult a professional.

How Often Should You Change Betta’s Water?

It’s recommended to change the tank’s water by 25% once a week.

How Do You Know if Your Tank Is Too Small for Your Betta Fish?

Betta should be housed in a minimum of 5 gallons. 10 If living with others (e.g., a group of females). Any tank smaller than this is not suitable for a Betta.

Final Word

Learning how to properly take care of a Betta fish is easy and fun for beginners! As you gain time and experience, you will find that there is always something new you can learn. But hopefully, this has helped you get a foot in the door.

You will see that there are many different opinions on how to take care of Bettas properly. As with anything involving the care of an animal, you are encouraged to branch out from here and seek guidance from various sources you find along the way!

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1 thought on “How To Care for a Betta Fish: A Comprehensive Guide”

  1. Betta injury : I came home to find my 5-6 month old betta “Blue” plastered to the filter intake tube of my Aqueon Quiet Flow LED power pro filter yesterday around 5:30 pm. His gorgeous fins were actually sucked inside the slots. Well I PANICKED!!! Finally becoming rational again I just turned off the pump & he got free, but I have no idea how long he had been there. His flowing fins had blood streaks inside them and he was literally panting to get air at the top of his tank where he spends most of his time. Since getting free he won’t eat, stays at the bottom of his tank or in his log & just is not himself. I’m afraid he’s going to get an opportunistic infection & die. I’ve already lost one beloved betta from overfeeding resulting in bloat/pine conning & eventually his demise. I just went out & got him some Indian Almond leaves to put in his tank, turned off the Aqueon pump/filter & replaced it with a gentler corner sponge filter is there anything else I can do? His fins are not clamped – YET there is no other signs of other illness — YET. I feed him once a day only!!! and his water temp is at 82 degrees presently. The API water parameters are: ph: 7.4-7.6/Ammonia 0/ Nitrite 0/ Nitrate 0.

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