A blue betta fish swims in black water.

Like a siren call, the undeniable beauty of the betta fish makes it hard to resist taking one home and calling it your own. Whether you have already purchased one or you are considering brightening your space with a betta, it is important to take the time to really understand how to care for these eye-catching fish. Many pet owners are surprised that it takes more than you think to properly care for a betta. Although they tend to excel when living in a tank on their own, they can truly thrive when provided with the proper environment.

Betta Fish Basics

  1. People tend to keep betta fish living in isolation, but they can do well when they have some companionship (as long as it is not another betta fish). Certain species like tetras, African dwarf frogs, and ghost shrimp make great tankmates for betta fish and will not cause any undue stress. Certain snails can also make excellent tank-mates who will also clean up bacterial growth and algae!
  1. Add some personality to your betta’s tank to help them feel really at home there, but be sure to space out any decor so they still have room to swim freely. Betta fish enjoy a nice lounge near the surface of the tank, so accessories like a suction-cupped betta leaf hammock attached 1-2 inches under the surface helps them lounge in true comfort. Check all decor for sharp edges to avoid fin-tearing and check decor for any secret hollow spots where a fish may become trapped. 
  1. One of the most common mistakes betta owners make is keeping them in a tiny tank. In actuality, betta fish need a minimum 5-10 gallon tank to live their best life. If they have any friends in the tank with them it needs to be even bigger than that.
  1. Hailing from tropical climates, betta fish must live in water between 76-81’ F. You should purchase an in-tank heater to keep the water at this temperature, especially if you have other species in the tank with the betta fish.
  1. The quality of the water is another essential element to consider when owning a betta fish. Bettas have to live in water with a pH of 7. If you fill the tank with tap water, it must be filtered (and often treated). Stay away from distilled and bottled water, as they can be harmful to the fish. Perform bi-weekly water changes, one third of the tank at a time, with treated water. Tank vacuums are cheap and make for easy debris removal from the substrate. 
  1. You also need to have a low-flow water filtration system to ensure the tank is healthy enough for your betta. Be aware of placing this filter too far into the tank, however, because it can damage the fish’s fin. 
  1. As carnivores, betta fish require a particular diet. Typical tropical fish flakes are not appropriate for a betta fish. In order to get the nutrition they need, they should eat food pellets made with fish or shrimp. You might want to give them the occasional treat of freeze-dried worms and frozen blocks of bloodworms for additional nutrition. 
  2. Remember, a Betta fish’s stomach is only as large as their eye, so be careful not to overfeed or the fish might become overweight. Be sure to ask us about the proper amount to feed them to keep them at a healthy weight. You might even want to consider one fasting day a week to give the fish’s digestive system a chance to catch up. 

Whether you have more questions about your betta fish or you want to schedule a wellness visit,the team at Naperville Animal Hospital have you covered. Please call with questions or to schedule a consultation with one of our veterinarians. 

Just keep swimming!