What You Need for a Betta Fish

What You Need for a Betta Fish

Whenever you get a new pet, you should first prepare a list of things you need for your new pet and how much they will cost you. For most pets, like dogs and cats, the initial cost of the pet, a cage, bed, toys, food, etc will be outweighed by the monthly costs of food and vet bills over time. On the flip side, the initial cost of a betta fish is often quite more expensive than the food bills over the next few years.

Betta fish need a good deal of equipment to keep them healthy. They require a quality filter, heater, tank, food, thermometer, test kit, decor, plants, substrate, net, gravel siphon, plants and medications. Buckets are also a plus, but other things can be used in their place. The initial set up for a betta fish will run you anywhere from $50-200, depending on the type of tank you want.

In this article, we will discuss heaters, filters, tanks, lids, food, thermometers, test kits, decor, plants, substrate, gravel siphons, buckets, water conditioner, nets, plants, fish and medications. Also, if you want to take a look at those types of equipment. Click here.


Heaters are essential for betta fish since they are a tropical fish species. Fish are cold blooded, so their metabolism is dependent on the water temperature around them. Therefore, if it is too cold, their bodies will be unable to function properly, and it could lead to life threatening conditions.

There are many different types of available heaters, but the brand does not matter. Most heaters sold for betta fish are “pre-set”, which means that they are already set at a specific temperature and you cannot change it.

The best heater option is an adjustable heater. Some heaters do not heat to the exact temperature they are supposed to, but you can adjust your heater to get it right. In addition, you can use them for other species with different requirements once your fish passes on.

They often only cost $7-20, and you should start with a 50- or 100-watt heater, depending on the tank size you pick.


A filter houses the beneficial bacteria that keep your cycle. The nitrogen cycle is an essential part of fish keeping, and if you are unfamiliar with it, you need to study it thoroughly or your fish will die.

Fish waste breaks down into ammonia, which burns off the scales and fins of a fish and can cause irreversible damage to the gills and eyes. Next, ammonia turns into nitrite, which binds to hemoglobin in the blood, prevents it from carrying oxygen, and suffocates the fish.

Finally, nitrite turns into nitrates, which cause long term negative health effects if they persist over 20ppm. The filter keeps the water free of ammonia and nitrite and keeps your fish healthy.

Sponge filters are the best pick for bettas. You will need airline tubing, an air pump, a check valve, and the sponge filter, all of which will cost around $15-20. You can also use a Hang On Back filter with an intake sponge, which will cost about the same amount.


Long finned betta fish can live in a 2.5-gallon tank, but a 5 gallon is the minimum for female and short finned bettas. Long finned bettas also thrive in a 5-gallon tank. There is a common myth that bettas cannot survive in small tanks, but if you really want to go all out for your betta, they still do fine in a 300-gallon tank, not that they need that much space.

In the wild, betta fish have a territory of about 3 square feet, so a tank that is three feet long, one foot wide, and one foot tall would perfectly replicate the space they get in the wild. Again, this is not a necessity by any means, but it gives some perspective on just how small a 2.5-gallon tank is. A 5 gallon often costs $15-18, but a 10 gallon is normally only $10.

The absolute cheapest way to get a betta’s tank and other required items is to check your local Facebook marketplace, craigslist, gumtree, or Kijiji. Many people keep bettas, and they often cannot take them if they must move suddenly. Some may even be free, with all their equipment.


Betta fish are strong jumpers that are capable of jumping out of very small openings. Most stores will sell glass lids for various tank sizes, and these are the easiest to use. However, they do not provide much room for cords or external filters, like Hang on Back filters and canister filters.

It is also possible to make a D.I.Y. lid for your tank out of acrylic or glass. Most hardware stores have these items and will cut them to your specifications. Make sure there are not any gaps or holes, as bettas can wiggle out extremely small openings. These lids cost $10-25.


Betta fish need a mix of quality foods, and some of these should either be live or frozen. You should have at least two staple pellets or flakes to switch between as a basis. One of these could be bug bites, which are high in protein and great for bettas.

The pellets provide essential nutrients and vitamins that other foods lack and having two provides your fish a good variety. In addition, you should have some frozen food to feed once or twice a week, like a daphnia, Mysis shrimp, and bloodworms.

Try to avoid freeze dried food. The process of freeze drying takes out most of the nutrients that your fish needs. In addition, they swell significantly inside of your fish’s stomach, which can lead to bloat and other complications. Pellets/flakes range from $2-10, while frozen foods are normally $6-12.


Since heaters can heat the water improperly, you should invest in a thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature. The type doesn’t matter much, but I personally keep two different types in every tank. They range from $1-10.

Test Kit

For bettas, you need a test kit that will test ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Any levels of ammonia and nitrite are toxic, while nitrates are only toxic over 20ppm. If you register even 0.25ppm nitrite or ammonia, you need to do a water change.

Most test kits also test pH and water hardness, but betta fish are very adaptable to varying levels of pH and hardness, so these tests do not matter. In addition, test strips tend to be inaccurate, as even the slightest amount of moisture will cause the test to fail. The API Freshwater Master Test Kit is the most accurate kit on the market. A test kit will cost $10-35


You should provide your fish with several types of decor and hiding areas. They can be faux plants and plastic, but you need to make sure there are no sharp edges. If you run a tissue over the decoration and it tears, it can tear your fish.

In addition, you must ensure that there are no narrow holes or passages in the decoration that your betta could get stuck in. Bettas are notorious for getting stuck in small passages or pieces of wood in their tanks, such as cholla wood. Since decor is up to you, the cost varies.


Betta fish absolutely love plants in their tanks, and if you have enough, you don’t need decorations. This is the area that can run you up into the $200’s. If you are a beginner, you don’t need to worry about that.

If you are not a beginner and looking to make a high tech, CO2 injected planted tank, the plants and equipment for them will probably cost over $200. For beginners, low light plants like Anacharis, pennywort, ludwigia, banana plants, rotala, and amazon swords will cost $5-10 each.


Betta fish do not technically require a substrate, but it helps make your tank appear more finished. Gravel is easier to clean than sand, but either way, it won’t matter much to your betta. You could also pick a substrate meant for plants if you are making a planted tank. The substrate will cost $5-20 for a 5- or 10-gallon tank.

Gravel Siphon

A gravel siphon is essential for removing debris from the bottom of the tank. This will make your tank look cleaner and is a great help during water changes. These cost between $7 and $15.


A bucket is used to catch the water coming from a gravel siphon. You can then carry the bucket and dump it in a sink, tub, or a garden. The nitrogenous compounds in fish water are great for growing plants.

You should then refill the bucket with water the same temperature as the tank, use a water conditioner, then gently pour it back in. Try not to disturb the substrate or make a strong current that your betta could get swept up in.

You can also use food safe containers, like empty gallon jugs of water, instead of buckets. Buckets do not cost much, but they must be food safe. They also cannot come into any contact with soaps or chemicals.

Water Conditioner

Tap water is toxic to betta fish due to the chlorine or chloramines in it. These clean the water for us and keep us safe from certain diseases, but the low levels that are safe to us are deadly to bettas.

Since bettas are about the size of our thumb, it takes a lot less chlorine to poison them. In addition, they are constantly breathing it in and surrounded by it, which is very different from simply drinking the water. Water conditioners neutralize chlorine, and some also take care of chloramines and heavy metals. They cost between $2-20, depending on the type and amount.


A net is useful for either moving your fish or taking out certain debris on a daily basis. It is always a good idea to have one laying around. They are normally $2-8 for the size that a betta needs.


The betta fish itself will cost anywhere from $2-200. Specialty bettas will be in the higher end while pet store bettas are normally between $3-25. Pick the fish you want, since you will have this fish for 2-7 years.


Medications normally cost between $8-12 depending on the type and size of the medication. It is always a good idea to have Kanaplex around, as it is a strong antibacterial that can treat fast moving diseases such as Dropsy and Columnaris. If you must wait for the medication to arrive for these two conditions, you will lose fish.

In conclusion, betta fish have a lot of required equipment, but you have a wide range of choices. Some of the equipment can be swapped out for cheaper ones, like a gravel siphon can be replaced with airline tubing for sanded tanks. The initial investment into your fish will be the majority of the cost during your betta’s life.

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