How to Care for a Betta Fish? Do’s & Dont’s With Facts

Last Updated on November 12, 2018

The Siamese fighting fish, or betta, is a vibrantly-colored fish often seen swimming solo in brandy sniffers and ornamental vases in both the office and home. They are unique and enjoyable fish to add to your collection. The beautiful fins on the male betta fish along with the wide variety of colors makes this a very attractive species to keep. This fish is hardy, inexpensive to keep and provide a beautiful conversation piece to add to your aquarium.

In this post, you’ll know what do betta fish need to live.

First, check this beautiful video of betta fish flaring!


Country of OriginThailand, Cambodia, Vietnam
Scientific NameBetta splendens
Common NameBetta Fish, Siamese Fighting Fish, Beta Fish, Beta Fighting Fish
EnvironmentFreshwater fish: Asian Swamps
Temperature73° - 80°F
FoodPellets, flakes, live food, veggies and fruit
Adult Size2.5 - 3 inches (7.6 cm)
Average Lifespan4 years
Care LevelBeginner
TemperamentPeaceful but Aggressive toward each other

History & Background

The betta was first discovered in Southeast Asia. Making its home in rice paddies, drainage ditches and the warm floodplains of the region, the betta became accustomed to frequent storm flooding and devastating droughts. The cyclic, drastic changes in its environment helped the fish to adapt – becoming a true labyrinth fish.

The betta is known as “plakad” in its native Thailand and has often been referred to as “The Jewel of the Orient.” The betta got its name from an ancient clan of warriors, called the “Bettah.” The fish were given a combatant name after the fighting fish became popular in the mid-1800s. In fact, the sport became so renowned in Thailand that the former King of Siam had it regulated and taxed! Spectators of the sport based their bets on the bravery of the fish, rather than the damage inflicted by the victor.

Bettas have several different tail shapes – the most common being the “veil tail.” Other tail shapes include the “half-moon,” “double tail,” “short-finned fighting-style tail” and “crown tail.”

Betta fish Environment

In a natural habitat, the betta fish lives in the shallow streams and rice paddies of Thailand. Though shallow these are huge areas of wetland.

However, ‘Shallow stream’ does not mean ‘can live in a jar’. A shallow stream still has plenty of space for a betta to swim! Give your betta a lot of personal space in captivity. Best tank for a betta fish is no less than a 5-gallon tank (but the bigger the better). Can betta fish live in a bowl? Don’t keep your betta fish in a small vase or bowl.

Betta fish are labyrinth fish. Using a special bladder to breathe from the water’s surface. Leave some space at the top of your tank for the fish to come to the surface for air.

Leaving no space is very bad for the betta’s health if they do not use their labyrinth bladder from time to time. Don’t fill water to the top with no lid. Betta fish can be good jumpers!

Since wild betta fish are from still waters. Use a gentle filter. This will keep up the water conditions longer and the tank cleaner. Resulting in fewer and smaller water changes (which can stress your fish).

Don’t keep your betta in a tank without a filter if you are not prepared to do regular and large water changes. Dirty water is the cause of so many diseases.

Give your betta fish a tank that is planted having shady areas and places to hide. Driftwood is often a favorite betta decoration. Swimming and hiding under the uneven stumps.

Don’t Place ornaments that are rough or have sharp edges. Betta’s fins are very delicate. Using a standard terracotta pot can result in some horrible injuries to fish on its sharp edges.

You should provide a light period to your betta throughout the day. As in the wild, betta fish would get regular periods of light and dark from the sun. They live in shaded water.

An aquarium light on your tank is recommended. Turn this light off during the night, giving your betta fish time to rest (as it would in the wild). Include shaded areas in your tank for your betta to relax.

Don’t keep a light on all night. This can stress the fish. Don’t put your tank in direct sunlight. This promotes algae growth which will then lead to more regular tank cleaning.

Betta fish can be used as aquaponics fish species. Check this post about incorporating aquaponics with Betta fish

Water Quality

Bettas prefer slightly acidic water (pH 6.5 to 7) and warm water. Cold water can suppress the immune system and cause illness. The best temperature for a betta fish in the high 70s deg F (78 – 80F)

Don’t keep your betta fish in cold water. Don’t put a heater in a tank <1 gallon. Heaters on small tanks will heat too quickly which is bad for the fish’s health.

Check this post about the best Aquarium Water Heaters

How to clean your betta fish tank?

When cleaning a betta’s tank or bowl, make sure you only take out a third of the water each time and replace it with fresh water. This will gently allow the fish to adjust to the temperature and pH of clean water – while not upsetting the biological balance of the fish’s environment. This should be done about every three or four days for small bowls or tanks.

Can a betta fish live in tap water?

If your water has a high level of chlorine in it, you may need to add a drop of declorinator to the tap water before adding it to the tank or bowl. And never use soap or disinfectants to clean off fish ornaments or decorations. This will harm the fish. Plain warm water will work just fine for cleaning these items. You can also use a small turkey baster to siphon debris from the bottom of the tank. This will prevent excessive ammonia and bacteria from building up.

Breeding a betta fish

You need 2 betta fish, a male and a female at least 8 months to a year old (no older), they need to be conditioned for 2-3 weeks, then the spawn, the fry hatch in about 42 hours or so.

Since they are very slow growing fish, it will take at least 5-6 months until they can even be considered for sale. That’s a very long time to look after a potentially very large spawn.

Here is a step by step guide to breeding the fish in your home and an easy way, You’ll learn from choosing the betta fish and setting up tanks TO taking care of eggs and feeding the betta fry.


Betta fish lifespan is 2 – 4 years, but there have been a few cases of bettas living well into their teens.

How long can a betta fish live without water? As a labyrinth fish, betta has the unique ability to breathe oxygen directly from the air and also take in oxygen from its gills.

As a result, bettas and other labyrinth fish can survive for short periods of time out of the water and if needed, can inhale the air around them (provided they stay moist.)

This also explains why a betta can sustain itself in stagnant, oxygen-deficient water.

Betta fish food & Diet

In the wild, betta fish will eat small organisms especially insect larvae and insect eggs. Feed your betta fish once per day ensuring you do not overfeed.

Bettas have upturned mouths and primarily feed on the water’s surface. A good diet consists of dried bloodworms, brine shrimp or daphnia. Commercial betta food or pellets are best because it combines all three foods, in addition to vitamins and minerals. This improves the betta’s brilliant coloring and longevity.

It is a common misconception that peace lilies or plant roots grown out of “betta vases” can sustain the fish. Nothing could be farther than the truth! Bettas cannot survive on plant roots and need a diet high in protein and fiber to survive.

Don’t overfeed your betta. A betta’s stomach is about the size of its eye. Overfeeding can lead to many problems. It is best to stay away from the generic flakes and to use the food specifically created for betta fish.

Tank Mates & Temperament

Bettas, unlike other species, are not schooling fish and betta fish behavior is aggressive towards each other, regardless of gender. Bettas prefer to swim alone and also need a comfortable place to hide. Aquatic caves or dense, planted corners work great in making a betta feel safe.

Why Betta Fight?

They are generally peaceful but males are highly aggressive with one another. Usually, they fight to ensure they have enough food, for control of their territory and to get the female for reproduction.

If you hold a mirror up to your beta fish you will see a cool show that can actually last a very long time. This act is very similar to that of a turkey or a peacock displaying their colors when they are about to fight or during breeding to attract mates.

So, how do betta fish live together in the wild? Betta fish live quite a solitary life in the wild. Male bettas particularly are territorial of other colorful males that could pose a threat.

Let’s look at common betta fish mating questions.

Can two male betta fish live together?

First, you cannot keep more than one male betta fish in the same tank. They will spread their fins, flare their gills and attack each other. These fish will fight until one eventually dies.

To have two or more males in the same tank, you must keep the peace by ensuring they are separate. You can do this by providing them each their own space using a wire mesh to keep them separate or putting them in plastic containers with holes in it to allow circulation of water.

Whichever method you chose, ensure that the males cannot see each other by placing rock, plants or ornaments between the males.

When getting ready to fight the males will flare off at each other, almost doubling or tripling in size to intimidate his rival. Their gills and fins will flare out and their colors may become more intense.

Can female betta fish live together?

Betta females are not as intimidating as their male counterparts. You can keep multiple female betta fish in the same tank as long as they are kept in a group of more than two. They will fight some, but not to the extent it harms or kills another. They will develop a pecking order if you keep two or more in the same tank. The top female Betta will peck at the other female Betta fish that are below here in the pecking order.

Can male and female betta fish live together?

Betta males can live with females in the same tank. However, make sure female has enough place s to hide. Usually, Male fish are not kept with female fighters unless breeding is intended as the male will kill the female.

Can male betta fish live with other fish?

Male Fighters should not be kept with species that have large or flowing fins like fancy guppies or angelfish because they are sometimes confused with other male bettas.

What fish can live with betta?

Betta Fish has been kept successfully with the smaller, more peaceful fish such as black skirt tetras, neon or cardinal tetras, swordtails, mollies, hatchet fish, Corydoras catfish, white clouds, and you can try guppies. On occasions, bettas may nip at the guppy’s tail, but it will all depend on you individual betta.

Can Goldfish and betta fish live together?

No! A betta fish is a tropical fish and needs waters of 78 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Goldfish, however, prefer cooler waters of around 74-degree Fahrenheit.

Goldfish produce a lot of fish waste, leading to toxic high levels of ammonia in the water. It dirties the water in the tank quickly, meaning that you need to make larger more frequent water changes. Large and frequent water changes stress betta fish (although they are better than leaving your fish in dirty water!).

Also, their diet is different. Betta fish specific food is not recommended for goldfish. Betta fish are carnivores while goldfish are omnivores.

Can a betta fish live with an algae eater?

Yes, there are a lot of algae eater which can live with betta fish. It includes Plecostomus, Banjo Catfish, Corydoras Catfish.

Can snails live with betta fish?

Obviously, they can! These encased critters mind their own business in the tank. They go about their scavenger activities, making them efficient eaters of algae. Their hard shells protect them from any attacks a betta may make on them. The apple snail is a popular choice to hang out with a betta in larger tank settings. This is because the apple snail can get as large as a softball, thus taking up too much space in a smaller setting. The nerile snail is a handy choice for a tank mate in less spacious confines, as its maximum length is approximately an inch.

Betta Fish Accessories

Some of the common betta accessories are

Betta Fish Diseases & Symptoms

You must avoid your betta fish dying by knowing about the symptoms of any disease. Groups of white spots usually indicate Ich; symptoms like dropsy are likely to show up as swellings on the body due to fluid retention, and fins melting away from your betta are a sure sign of fin rot.

Fin Rot occurs when the Betta is distressed due to poor water conditions, overfeeding, uneaten food, overcrowding or rough handling. If the water is not changed regularly, the leftover food particles and feces will decompose and contaminate the water. Read more here

Do you have betta fish? or thinking to own one? Share your insights, thoughts & experience with us in comments. We love your comments.!

Related Post

There are 4 comments

    1. 2-3 medium sized pellets in the morning and 2-3 pellets at night should be sufficient.
      Making these feeds around 12 hours apart and at the same time each day will help
      you and your betta get in a routine.
      Be careful of overfeeding! This is a very common mistake which can lead to bloating
      which can then lead to serious health problems for your betta fish.

  1. My betta lost his tail more than 80% due to some accident. He recovered from the issue almost 4 months back and now doing good. But his tail has not re-grown back and still only have some 20% tail. I feed him live foods like mosqito larva, small worms and pellet food. can anybody advice me how to re-grow his tail back.

    1. It will heal on its own. If your betta lives in heated filtered water, the fish will likely heal quickly. Some sources indicate that feeding foods with B vitamins like Daphnia may improve fin regeneration. Also, using Melafix is the best way to get any regrowth, and it does it quickly.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *