Betta Fish Care: All You Need To Know

Betta fish are one of the most popular fish in the world.

Whether it’s because of their vivid appearance or energetic behavior, these small beauties never fail to impress.

Although it may seem like these species will be easy to care for, this is unfortunately not the truth. Contrary to popular belief, they require lots of care.

This should not scare you though.

With our detailed and comprehensive article, you will be fully equipped to handle even the most intimidating maintenance tasks when it comes to betta fish.

Betta Fish Overview

How To Care For Bettas

Care GuideBetta
Minimum Tank Size:5 gallons
Diet:Carnivore (frozen/dry foods, granules/flakes)
Lifespan:3 years
Size:2.5-3 inches
Disease:The common ones include fin rot, overfeeding, white spot disease, lymphocystis, and hypodynamia
Decorations:Allowed (carefully placed live plants)
To-do checklist:Weekly water renewal (25%) and daily maintenance tasks

First and foremost, you need to fully understand how important the water environment is to the well-being of your Betta.

These fish are capable of surviving a range of different environments in the wild but you should never underestimate the importance of keeping water parameters consistent.

Sudden or frequent changes in temperature, can hurt their health.

Another key factor for their health is nutrition. Just like any other fish, a balanced diet can singlehandedly improve or completely deteriorate their health.

Other things that you might not consider significant at first include the tank setup and position.

This might seem like something very basic, but don’t let that confuse you. By following these easy steps you will be able to ensure a comfortable and safe living environment for Bettas.

Let’s start by looking at how to correctly set up the tank.

How to Set Up Your Betta Fish Tank

Set Up Betta Tank

The most important part of any betta fish tank setup is the tank itself.

You will need to choose the right tank, but you also need to know how to pick the right equipment, prepare the aquarium and set it up.

Let’s start by picking the right tank. This will depend on how many Betta Fish you are planning to keep.

The minimum tank size for a betta fish is 5 gallons, but you should research your specific type of betta fish.

Once you have got your tank you will need to set it up. Avoid placing it under direct sunlight, like near a window.

Lots of noise will also stress your fish, so the best place for your tank is a dimmed and quiet part of your home.

After the tank is in position, you need to consider the necessary equipment. Betta Fish really enjoy light, and for that reason, the aquarium must be well lit.

However intensive lighting can promote the growth of algae, to avoid this try using luminescent or LED lamps.

A filter and heater are essential for your Betta tank too. A normal internal adjustable power filter is an ideal solution. You can easily regulate it, adjusting the intensity of flow to make the tank comfortable.

Betta fish are used to living in tropical waters in Asia, and so you will need to use a heater to warm the water too. You can use a small fully submersible one.

The best water temperature for Betta fish is between 75.2-80.5°F.

What about the substrate? First, a universal rule of choosing the right substrate applies. Carefully wash it and get rid of sharp granules, so it stays nice and smooth.

In terms of the type, the finer the better. Coarse and sharp gravel can damage your fish, so choosing sand or fine gravel is ideal.

Aquarium decorations and plants must be chosen with care. Remember that anything you put into the tank influences the lifespan of your fish. All decorations should have a marking saying that they are aquarium.

Now that you have all the components in place. It’s time to set the tank up.

Test your waters over the next few weeks and once the tank has completed a full cycle, it’s time to add your Betta.

Just check that the recommended ranges are: 75.2-80.5°F, 6-8 pH, and 5-35 dGH.

How to Care for Betta Fish

Male Betta

Now the aquarium is set up, to give your Betta the best possible life you will need to know:

  • What to feed your betta fish
  • When to change the tank water
  • How to maintain the tank
  • And how to choose the best tank mates

We are going to talk you through step by step how to do that.

What Do Betta Fish Eat

Betta Fish are an incredible looking species. Their bright colors and diverse appearance is ultimately what makes them so popular worldwide.

To keep them looking colorful and bright however, a healthy and consistent diet is required.

To best understand what to feed them it’s a good idea to look at their natural environment.

Their natural habitats are diverse and warm basins in Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

These waters are usually filled with numerous invertebrates, insects, and other small organisms. Betta Fish are carnivores that live up to their name.

In the tank, you can easily recreate these conditions. Given the popularity of Bettas, finding suitable foods is not a problem.

There are many different options to choose from. One of the most popular choices is flakes.

These types of foods can save you a lot of time. If you are just starting out, premade foods can help you avoid all the hassle associated with preparing live foods.

If you want to treat them, their diet can also include both frozen and dry foods.

They can be fed brine shrimp or bloodworms – by far the most popular choices for Bettas.

Because these fish are so small yet so active, they can often end up eating more than they can digest.

If you notice that your fish looks exhausted or starts swimming in a strange way, don’t feed them for a day.

To avoid overfeeding pay close attention to how much you feed Bettas. Normally, adults should be fed twice a day.

If you are using premade foods, the portion should be about a pinch or enough to fit on the tip of a knife. They should be able to eat all their feed in 5 minutes.

Tank Mates

Betta Tank Mates

Unfortunately, the appearance of these fish comes at a price – they rarely get along with each other, let alone other species. Male Bettas are very territorial and often end up fighting each other.

Because of their combative nature, it’s recommended to keep only one male to a tank.

Alternatively, you can get two female bettas and a male.

It’s much easier to say what fish should be avoided rather than name the ones they can be kept with. First, definitely cross all peaceful and tiny fish off the list right away.

Fish that have large flowing tails should also be avoided like guppies. Other fish that should be avoided are oscars, parrotfish, killifish, or Acaras, to name just a few.

Compatible fish include Poecilia, black tetras, bloodfin tetras, catfish, croaking gouramis, and rasboras.

You need to take extreme caution when picking tank mates to ensure the best possible conditions for every fish.

Apart from simple compatibility, also check the required conditions for every fish beforehand.

Some of them might require a specific volume or water conditions that differ from what bettas need. This can narrow down your list quite a bit. But usually, the larger the tank, the bigger the choice.

Tank Maintenance

Consistent water parameters are the cornerstone of any successful aquarium. You need to make sure that they are all kept within a suitable range (at all times) and don’t jump around.

Any sudden or prolonged change can lead to sickness. So it’s in your best interest to keep the water conditions stable and healthy.

This can be done in a variety of ways. One of the best habits you can develop is to measure water parameters every few weeks.

It is also a good habit to do daily health checks each time you feed your fish.

Check the equipment is all functioning, that the water temperature is correct and that the fish are well.

Water renewals are another very important aspect of maintenance. Imagine being in one room with closed windows and breathing the same air for a week or two.

That is what fish feel when you let your aquarium just live its own life.

In their habitat, fish depend on natural circulation to take care of that. In the aquarium, you take the role of nature. About 25% of the water in the tank should be renewed weekly to ensure that conditions are stable.

Use a gravel siphon to clean the gravel once a fortnight and an algae magnet to remove any algae build-up.

Once every few months, you will also need to change the filter media.

Betta Fish Disease

Common Betta Fish Diseases

Although Bettas are true warriors, they are not invincible. They can get sick from time to time but looking after their tank will help minimize the risk.

The most common issue is the infection that starts to develop after a cut. With Bettas, this is very common as these tiny soldiers will often have combat scars that can lead to all sorts of nasty infections.

It’s usually a sharp substrate that causes this, so make sure that it’s smooth and safe for the fish. The same goes for any decorations that you put in the tank.

Most other diseases develop when the water is not kept clean. For example, fin rot is common with these fish. This is a bacterial infection that will cause inflammation and irritation.

Fin rot can also be caused by introducing bacteria into the tank. It can end up in the aquarium with new aquarium equipment that you bought from someone or a poorly cleaned substrate.

However, fin rot can also be a symptom of other diseases.

If that happens you should treat it as soon as possible. The sooner you start the recovery process and medication the better.

Another disease, although you may not consider it one at first, is overfeeding. If not spotted it can lead to problems with the digestive system that can ultimately lead to the death of the fish.

If you find your fish overeating, just give it a day to process all the food. However, if that does not help, it could be the diet itself. Take a look at their ration and make sure that everything they eat is good quality and appropriate.


Betta Fish are very exciting fish to keep and will bring life to virtually any tank. Their appearance will impress anyone and in good conditions, their lifespan is 3 years.

These fish are not the most demanding, but they are definitely among the most beautiful ones.

Apart from frequently renewing water in the tank, you don’t need to do too much to keep them happy.

Basic understanding of betta fish care and looking after the water composition is key to maintaining their bright appearance.

Also, remember to pay close attention to their diet to keep them healthy.

Have you ever owned a Betta? Let us know in the comments section below…

About Robert 454 Articles
Robert Woods is the creator of FishKeeping World, a third-generation fish keeper, and a graduate in animal welfare and behavior. He is also a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America, and the Nature Conservancy.


  1. Brandon says:

    You wrote that you can alternatively keep two females and a male. Did you mean in place of a single male or in addition to? I’m fairly certain you meant in place of but if I’m wrong let me know!

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Brandon, yes you’re correct, this is in place of keeping a single male. Thanks, Robert

  2. Linda Licata says:

    I have a black orchid male named eggplant. I have him in a one gallon tank with heater and filter. I change the water once a week. Sometimes twice a week. He gets sluggish before a water change. When I do the water change he gets excited. Starts making bubbles. Is it OK to do a water change twice a week?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Linda, Let me advice you to move him to a 5 gallon tank. A one gallon tank really isn’t big enough for any fish. You’ll then also only need to do one water change a week too. He probably becomes sluggish because the nitrates build up in the water because it is such as small space. Thanks, Robert

  3. Melissa says:

    My juvenile male half-moon betta peacefully co-exists with my fancy guppies. I was only going to have guppies in this particular tank (29 gallon) but when I saw “Moonshine” (he’s platinum) trying to jump out of the sad little cup he was it, I was smitten. I had done some research, and half-moon bettas are less aggressive and can be in a tank with guppies. He and his tank mates are fine; maybe because it’s a big planted tank, but Moonshine is young, (the same size as the guppies) and just flares at his own reflection, and doesn’t bother the guppies at all!

  4. Chrysilia says:

    Hi, Robert! I have a male betta fish for a week now, my friend gave it to me as a present for my birthday. Both she and I never had fish, so she didn’t know that his pale colour, destroyed fins and bloated eyes were indications of sickness, fin rot. He was kept in a little cup with very poor conditions. I got worried and bought today a 14 gallon tank with two live plants, but I know very little about tank maintenance. Your article was very helpful though. I also bought medicine for his treatment, which seems serious. The filter is too strong for him and he can’t swim with his rotten fins and he became anxious, so I closed it. But I read that filter is very important and keeps the environment and biosystem healthy. What can I do with the filter? Will his fins and tail grow back again after the treatment? I don’t care for him to be the most beautiful, but I want him to be healthy. I want to make the best environment I can, but my knowledge about this is nonexistent. Is he going to live? I have become attached to him a bit. Please give me some tips for this situation, thank you a lot.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Chrysilia, thanks for your message. That does indeed sound like fin rot, which can be cured if it’s caught early enough, so his recovery really depends on how long he has had it. With regards to the filter, have you chosen one of the least powerful HOB filters? There are some available that you can control the flow rate on so you’ll be able to turn it right down. Thanks, Robert

  5. Kasandra Peres says:

    I have my Betta male in round bowl with Betta heater low flow filter and 3 different live plants with gravel thermometer and seachem alert series for pH and amonia levels so I can keep an eye on it I keep him in my room on my dresser where I also have my TV and he loves to watch TV he lays on plant leaf and behind the filter so he can just be a lazy boy if I can’t find him I look behind filter facing TV and sure enough he is there he lets me know when he is hungry because he comes close to top but facing me he does lots of bubble nests and when he wants me to pay attention to him he comes to the bowl facing me and he will follow my finger traces or I will kiss the bowl where he is at and he swims real fast around and back to where I am at. his fins have grown bigger

  6. Jackie says:

    My betta’s bubble nest has a brown tint to it, which is unusual. They are usually clear. The tank has been cleaned and the filter changed.
    Is this a problem?

  7. Huluhulu says:

    I purchased a golden Gourami pair along with a single Black moor last night and woke up to see it lying dead. The other two are still alive. What might be the reason?

  8. Harmanjeet Rekhi says:

    Hello. I am pretty new to keeping Betta and the pet store sold me a sick Betta. Since the day I brought him home, he had a bloated stomach and swollen lips. Wouldn’t eat anything and was pretty lethargic. Now I am distressed seeing him like this and want to do something about it. Please guide me on what to do. I wish to send you photos for yopu to have a look.

  9. Jonathan says:

    I read in your article Bettas like light. In a different video article, they stated Bettas don’t like light and get a dimmable light or broad leaf plants to create shade. Which is it?

  10. Heather says:

    Hi there I’m hoping you can assist. I have three bettas and I’ve had constant issues with two. The two with issues are each in their own heated 9G Fluval Flex. As they don’t like agitation, I have sponges over the outflow. I change 2G of water weekly (roughly 22%). Despite having good filtration systems, the one tank constantly has low levels of ammonia. I’ve added Seachem matrix, tried ammonia sponges and added different kinds of beneficial bacteria to no avail. The poor guy (Halfmoon named Ned Flounders) ends up with split pectoral fins and every few weeks goes on a tail biting bender. Any recommendations on how to deal would be appreciated.

    My other betta Hereberto (veiltail) seems to fight fin rot (and also goes on the occasional tail biting bender). We’ve beat most of it, but he still has some on his pectoral fins. We can’t get medications in Canada so I’ve tried varying degrees of aquarium salt. This worked on his other fin rot but not the pectoral. Any ideas are appreciated.

    Is there something I should be trying for both fish? Is the Fluval Flex not a great tank? I’m really trying to keep them in the best conditions possible but seem to be losing the battle. The get a mixture of pellets, Fluval bug bites, daphnia and the occasional blood worm. Thank you!

  11. ava says:

    hi Robert i was gooing to get a betta fish as my first fish but i am not to sure how easy it is to keep live plants. how easy is it ?

  12. Bruno says:

    Hello. I thought I’d comment just a small warning for a tank decoration I had when I had a second betta fish. It was a mushroom (I believe the Iglo Mushroom with Plants) and my betta fish loved it. It was like a little hideout/house with a big entrance where he could rest. The entrance would bleed into a big hole inside the mushroom but small enough where we could know he’s in there. We were unaware that the hole went up and into a smaller hole into the top mushroom. We were cleaning the tank and noticed he want coming out. Turns out he was stuck at the top and had sadly died. So if you’re planning on getting this product, PLEASE cover or fill that small hole. Apart from that the mushroom was pretty good, smooth and safe for bettas.

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