If you’re passionate about aquatic life, then you must have heard about the Betta fish (that’s ‘Beh-tah’, not ‘Bey-tah’); if not, then maybe you might have come across its alternate name, the Siamese fighting fish. Even if you don’t have specialized knowledge about fish species, chances are, you’ve probably seen this fish before: a vibrant, colorful fish about 2.5 to 3 inches long floating around in some restaurant aquarium.
If you find Betta fish mesmerizing, like most people do, and want to grace your own living space with this beautiful fish, then there’s a lot of research you have to do. People underplay the amount of care (and cash) that goes into keeping the Betta fish as a pet. Despite common belief, this species of fish is not very sturdy.
Whether you’re looking to get yourself a Betta fish or you want to learn about this luxurious creature, read on to understand all the essentials about caring for a Betta fish. Here’s a guide on how do you take care of a Betta fish.
Get to Know the Betta Fish
While the eye-pleasing combination of colors in a Betta fish is enough to capture your attention, learning about the origins of your slithered companions will blow you away. So let’s take a deep dive into the history of the Siamese fighting fish and get to know it…Betta (you must have seen this coming).
You might be surprised to learn that this fish, now so common in the west, actually originates from Asia. More specifically, the Betta fish are native to Southeast Asian countries, among which Thailand is the most popular breeding ground. In fact, it wasn’t until 1910 that the first Betta fish found its way to America, the land of the free.
While you may have seen this fish inhabiting well-maintained aquariums, the southeast Asian relatives of the Betta fish aren’t quite so fortunate. The popularity of this fish dates back to over 150 years in Thailand. Here, it became common practice for kids to find Betta fish in ponds and rice paddies and bottle them up. The kids would either keep the fish as pets or even make the fish fight and spar for entertainment.
But the global ‘finprint’ of this fish doesn’t end there. The Betta fish also made its way to Britain, Germany, France and then spread across Europe. Behind this popularity was the king of siam himself, who in 1840 gave Betta fish to a physician named Dr. Theodore Cantor, who studied and bred them.
So the next time you find a Betta fish, ponder over its color patterns and all that its species has seen.
How Long Can Betta Fish Live?
Whenever you’re looking to get a pet for yourself, the question of how long their companionship will last you does come to mind. The sad reality is that, as with most pets, you are likely to outlast your Siamese fighting fish.
A betta fish can survive the rise and tide of life for approximately three years. But this figure is bound to vary, and it all comes down to how well you take care of your fishy friend. We’ll dive deeper into the details of how do you take care of a Betta fish in a bit, but we’ll have you know that it’s no easy task.
If you don’t cater to the requirements of your Betta fish, then it’s unlikely that your pet lives out its average life of three years. But the converse is true as well; if you are mindful of your fish’s needs and take care of it well enough, your fish can live out over four years!
At the end of the day, how long your Betta fish lives really depends on how mindful you are of its health needs.
Betta Fish Tank Setup
Different fish need different types of environments to live in. While, in some cases, some common fish share their habitat needs, there is great variation across the board. One common misconception that stems from this thought is that people believe Betta fish can thrive in small containers and bowls.
This is not the case.
There are a number of things you have to consider when setting up the fish tank for your Siamese fighting fish. But one thing is for sure: the bowl you kept your goldfish in will not suffice. Containing your betta fish in a small tank is suffocating and frustrating for the fish. This isn’t just an issue with fish owners, but it’s also an issue with people who breed and sell Betta fish. You can often find Betta fish being sold in small, decorative bowls which have a couple of ounces of water.
The Myth of the Betta Fishbowl
The myth of the Betta fishbowl has plagued the Betta fish since their origins 150 years ago in Thailand. The poor treatment of the betta fish in small tanks and bowls hasn’t changed by a lot from what it was back then. The few ounces of water that most fish spend their lives in is nowhere near what they need. The Betta fish can barely turn around in that space, and swimming with ease is not an option. But where does this problem take root?
What startled me was how even the people selling Betta fish neglected this need. But there’s a reason behind why this myth is so widespread. Betta fish are part of a group of fish that have ‘Labyrinth organs.’ A characteristic feature of having this organ is that it allows the fish to breathe air and get Oxygen from there as an alternative to water. This, of course, has its limitations. Especially in the case of Betta fishes, the amount of air Betta Fishes can survive on is extremely limited, hence the myth!
Betta Fish Tank Size
A key element in figuring out how to take care of a Betta fish is tank size.
When it comes to determining a tank size for any fish, you don’t really need to research what the upper limit is. What the fishes do mind is how small the tank is. In the case of Betta fishes, we strongly advise getting a tank that can hold at least 5 gallons of water. Now, of course, you need not worry if your fish tank is 8 gallons -The bigger, the better.
However, the story doesn’t end there. While bigger is better in most cases, it is still recommended to keep the depth of your fish tank low. Betta fishes are really deep divers, and instead, they love to swim side-to-side. So shallow waters are the way to go!
Betta Fish Tank Temperature
If you were thinking about keeping your pet Betta fish in a fishbowl next to your bed, then you should reconsider. Not only does this fish need a large tank, but it also demands a specific temperature.
Betta Fish thrive in temperatures ranging from 76 to 83 Fahrenheit, which is about 24 to 28 degrees celsius. Therefore, it is crucial that you get an aquarium heater. If the temperatures fall even slightly below the mentioned threshold, your fishes will have a rough time.
How Big Do Betta Fish Get?
If our emphasis on getting a large tank gave you the impression that Betta fishes grow huge, then you are mistaken. The size of the tank is purely for swimming space and Oxygen. In reality, Betta fishes fall on the smaller end of the spectrum.
If you were expecting it to grow as big as an Angelfish, then you might be a little disappointed. On average, you can expect a Betta fish to grow up to 3 inches, excluding the tail. Males grow bigger and have the characteristic wild fins, while the females are beautiful in their own right.
Filtration & Lighting
Filtration and lighting is another thing many people don’t pay attention to. But it’s important to do your research about which type of filter is best and when and what type of lighting your Betta fish thrive in.
What’s The Best Filter For a Betta Fish Tank?
Getting a fish tank filter can be an exhausting process because of how many options you have. Before we get into what type is ideal for Betta fish, let’s see what we are looking for.
When it comes to filtration, you want to minimize disruption in the water flow. This ensures that your fish’s cycles and patterns remain undisturbed. With this in mind, we can narrow our filter options down to the following: Sponge filters and internal filters.
Sponge filters are objectively the least disruptive when it comes to water flow. The main reason why people stray away from sponge filters is simply that they are unflattering to look at.
How Often Should I Change Betta Fish Water?
The type of filter you use is not the only factor that determines how much your fish will be disrupted. Another thing you must be mindful of is changing the water.
Leaving your fish in the same water can be harmful as the water becomes toxic and cloudy over time. But this doesn’t mean you change the water ten times a week. In fact, the ideal amount is much less.
To achieve the perfect balance between keeping the water fresh and disruption to the minimum, we suggest the following: Change approximately 25% to 30%.
What Lighting Does Betta Fish Need?
Betta fish are diurnal species. That means they stay up during the day and sleep at night, similar to humans. This also means that Betta fish, like us, humans, like a brightly lit tank during the day and darkness in the night.
But you can’t just leave the pond out in the sun for the day. Excess sunlight facilitates algae growth, and dealing with that is a hurdle on its own. We suggest using controlled artificial light instead—additionally, Betta fish like hiding around plants. So if you place live plants in your tank, these too will need light to survive.
Betta Fish Food
You would think that a fish as graceful and magnificent as the Betta fish would have a humble, herbivorous diet. But that could not be further from the truth. Betta fish are actually known carnivores. After all, they are called the Siamese fighting fish for a reason! You need to keep that in mind in determining what food your Betta fish will need.
Any fish food that is high-protein will do well with your fish’s diet. It’s also vital to keep a range of products that are rich in protein. Some of the top picks among Betta fish owners are shrimp, bloodworms, and Krill.
How Much to Feed A Betta
If you got the “what to feed” part down, the next step is to figure out the “how much.” A lot of Betta owners, especially those who get a Betta for their first fish, end up overfeeding their Betta.
Betta fish have very small appetites, and that’s an important consideration when feeding them. The reason behind this is simple: their stomachs just can’t store a lot! For reference, a Betta’s stomach is roughly the size of its eyeball.
While you will have to observe the eating patterns for your specific fish, a good place to start is 2 to three fish pellets a day. If you find uneaten food at the bottom of your fish tank, it means you’re feeding too much.
Betta Fish Temperament
If you’re keeping a Betta fish on its own, then you shouldn’t be worried too much. But if you plan on welcoming a Betta into a family of other fishes, then there will be drama. However, drama is an understatement here because the Betta fish is aggressive by nature.
Should Betta Fish Have Tank Mates?
To understand the aggressive nature of Betta fish, we must take a trip down memory lane. This behavior stems from the brawling practices that were done in Thailand. Because these fish were made to fight for entertainment purposes, the fish that were more aggressive were naturally favored. As a result, aggressive traits sustained, and the Betta fish we know today aren’t big on friendships, much less kindness to roommates.
As a result, Betta fish don’t always make great tank mates. However, there are some key exceptions to this. First off, Betta fish feel intimidated by other brightly colored fish because of their similarities. You can expect aggressive behavior, and your Betta may even fight to the death. But if your fish is dull-colored, the two could gel well. Secondly, as we mentioned several times before, a Betta likes its space. So if the companion fish is small or the tank is large enough, Betta fish would mind their own business.
How many Betta fish can I keep together?
Betta fish are not just aggressive to foreign species of fish, but also their own kind. Sometimes even more so! But when it comes to inter-species violence, it’s mainly the Male Betta’s that have a squabble with each other. This sort of behavior follows the natural phenomenon of dominance, and it wouldn’t be surprising if two males in the same tank fought each other to death.
All that said, violence and aggression levels also vary among Bettas. Although generally a fighting fish, it may be possible that your Betta has a better temperament for other fish. You can gauge this by observing your Betta in isolation. If you feel confident that it is a docile Betta, then feel free to shift it to a populated tank.
How can I keep my bettas healthy?
Keeping you Betta healthy is a noble goal to set out for. But to maintain your aquatic friend’s health, you need to be able to tell if it’s ill. While you might think that you’ll easily be able to tell if your fish is sick, it might be too late to do anything about it. But there are a number of things you should be on the lookout for when determining if your Betta is doing fine.
First off, Betta’s are very cautious fish. They will investigate and examine their environment like detectives at a crime site. If you find your Betta slacking off, then it might be a sign of illness. Similarly, Betta’s are expected to show aggression. So if you’re Betta fish has become more peaceful all of a sudden, expect something….fishy.
Betta Fish Common Diseases
Betta might be able to beat other fish in a fin-fight, but even they fall weak in front of diseases. Lucky for you and your Betta, the most common diseases are easy to cure, but it’s crucial to spot the disease on time. Some of the common diseases and their symptoms are as follows:
Cotton Fin Fungus: Cotton-like masses start forming on the body of the Betta.
Infections by Bacteria: Laziness in behavior along with cloudy eyes and red, inflated scales.
Fin rot: Laziness and fin damage.
Set Your Betta Fish Up to Thrive
Betta’s are unmatched in their beauty and behavior. This wondrous fish has traveled the globe and has a rich history. But like a rose with thorns, its vibrance comes hand in hand with aggression.
If this fish fascinates you as much as it does us, then this guide on how do you take care of a Betta fish is what you need to set your Betta up to thrive!