How to Keep Betta Fish Healthy

Betta Fish 101

Decided to get a betta fish? Worried about how to keep it safe and healthy? Well, there is nothing to worry about, as this article will guide you through everything.

First of all, pat yourself on the back! You’ve decided to get one of the smartest, most beautiful fish out there. Its enchanting colors and large, fluttery fins are a sight to behold. It is also very intelligent, as it can recognize its owner. Moreover, it is easy maintenance as well.

Pets can be hard to take care of. However, you will have no such trouble when it comes to betta, especially with this guide.

Buying a Betta Fish

If you’ve already purchased a betta fish, move on to the next section. However, if you haven’t, we’re going to give you some valuable tips. These will help you choose a healthy and active betta fish.

Firstly, notice the appearance of the betta fish. Is it bright with a nice sheen? If it’s vibrant, the fish is healthy. If it has a dull, then it might be unhealthy. 

Secondly, pay attention to the activities of the fish. Is it aggressive and active? Is it swimming fine? Does it show an awareness of its surroundings? Is it sluggish and tired? Betta fish are active and well aware of their surroundings. If a fish seems unfazed then it might be sick.

Thirdly, observe its fins. Do they have tattered edges? Choose the one with the healthy fins, as damaged fins are a sign of a sick fish.

Now that you’ve read about the signs of healthy betta, let’s move on to its care and maintenance.

Housing for the Betta Fish

The best way to ensure a betta’s safety is to prepare a home for it, before buying one. This will prolong the life of the fish. We will have a look at the tank requirements first.

Tank Requirements

Bettas are very active and energetic fish. Their natural habitat involves large, shallow water bodies. So, they need a large tank to roam around freely. The recommended size of a tank for a betta fish is 5 gallons. The minimum size is 2.5 gallons.

The tank must have a lid. Bettas are jumpers and they might leap out of the tank. It is necessary to have a lid to reduce the risk.

Light Control

Betta fish have regular day and night cycles. This is why it is important to provide light during the day and darkness at night. This helps keep their internal biological clock in order.

Both natural and artificial light will work fine. But, natural light, like sunlight, can cause the tank to heat up. This can raise the temperature of the tank, beyond optimal levels.

Lower the temperature back to the optimum when this happens. We will discuss optimum water temperatures in detail below.

Water Quality

Bettas live in warm temperatures in their natural habitats. Thus, the temperature of the tank must be between 77 – 86F. Otherwise, the fish will fall sick.

Use a tank thermometer to track tank temperature. If you live in a cold region, make sure to add in a water heater to the tank. Heaters with thermostats are the best as they can regulate temperatures.

Add filters to the tank to filter out harmful organisms. They kill harmful elements and keep beneficial bacteria in, serving a dual purpose. However, make sure to be careful about the current. Sponge filters are highly recommended for betta fish.

Use regular tap water. Mix the tap water with a betta water conditioner first. This will remove chlorine, ammonia, and other heavy metals, as they are harmful to bettas.

Distilled water is not recommended. This is because it doesn’t contain essential minerals that bettas need. The water parameters of the tank should be as follows:

  • Ammonia – 0 ppm
  • Nitrite – 0 ppm
  • Nitrate – > 40 ppm
  • pH – 6.5-7.5

Now that we’re done with the basics of the tank, we’ll move on to the decoration and habitation of the tank.

Tank mates

Bettas are very aggressive in nature. They are also called Siamese fighting fish because of their hostile behavior.

Bettas cannot tolerate other bright fish. They are very territorial and will fight with most other fish. This is why refrain from placing them in a community tank. They’re very hostile towards their own kind as well.

Two male bettas must NEVER be placed together in one tank. They will fight each other to death, with one killing the other. 

Female bettas are less aggressive. Groups of five female bettas can live together. Double the tank size to 10 gallons, if you intend to keep a sorority of bettas.

A male and female betta can only be kept together for a very short time. The male will not hesitate in attacking the female fish. Place them together only for mating.

If you still want to add in other fish with the betta, then check this article for more on what fish can live with bettas.

Plants and Rocks

Betta’s fins are rather delicate and prone to damage. This is why only add betta-safe decorations to the tank.

Do not place jagged, hard rocks in the tank. Avoid rigid plants too, as they can tear the betta’s fins.

Live plants are best here. Not only are they safe, but they also oxygenate the water. This will improve water quality. Moreover, these plants serve as great hiding spots for bettas. Bettas use these hiding spots to sleep and rest in.

If you still want to use artificial plants, try the pantyhose test. Run the artificial plant or object along a panty-hose. If it snags, that means it’s unsafe for the fish.

Now that we’re done with the betta’s housing, we will move on to its feeding and cleaning schedules.

Betta’s Dietary Plan

Bettas are carnivorous and like to eat meat. Special pellets and flakes are available for bettas. These pellets contain fish, shrimp, and meat. It is important that the pellets and flakes be protein-rich.

Frozen bloodworms and brine shrimp are the best choices of food for bettas. Most owners feed bettas bloodworms and shrimp only. But, a varied diet is better.

Feed your betta regularly. An ideal schedule is feeding the betta 3 pellets in the morning and 3 at night. Soak the pellets in water before feeding. This will help the fish avoid bloating.

Be careful not to overfeed your fish. Overfeeding can cause bloating, constipation, and abnormal swimming. This can be fatal for the fish.

If your fish spits out food, try feeding it a different brand. You can also cut the pellets into smaller pieces to help the betta swallow.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Keeping the betta’s tank clean is vital for its health and well-being. As the fish eats and excretes wastes, the water quality declines. This is due to an increase in ammonia and nitrate levels. This causes the pH to shift from its optimal range.

Changes in pH are detrimental to the fish’s well-being. So, clean the tank regularly and effectively. A schedule must be set up and followed.

Larger tanks are easy to clean and maintain. But smaller tanks need more work. Filtered tanks also demand less work than unfiltered ones.

Improve water quality in the tank by water cycling or water changing. Water cycling is replacing some of the water in the tank. Water change is when all the tank water is completely replaced.

For large tanks of 5 gallons or more, a water change is only needed once a month. But, smaller tanks need water change once a week. 

Remove bettas during water changes, but not during water cycling. It is preferable to have fewer water changes. This will prevent unnecessary removal of the fish.

When adding new water, it is important to match its pH and temperature with the tank water. Water of a different temperature or pH can harm the betta, sending it into a shock.

Use a de-chlorinator when adding new water. Also, use a thermometer to ensure both the tank’s and the new water’s temperatures are the same.

Do not use soap to clean the tank and decorations. Instead, use white vinegar and hot water. Detergent-free bleach is an option, too. Clean and rinse the tank well with clean water, before filling it up again.

Clean the filters of the tank on a regular basis. Moreover, vacuum any extra food in the tank as well.

The whole cleaning process can take a few hours so make sure to take out time specifically for the job.

The Last Word

Caring for bettas might seem intimidating at first. However, once a pattern is set, the job will seem quite easy. 

If you stick to the basics, your fish can live for around ten years. Proper care and maintenance are vital to the betta’s health. We hope this how to keep betta fish healthy guide will help you.