Betta Fish Care: How To Care For Betta Fish

The ultimate guide to bette fish care written around two betta on white backgroundThere is a lot of contradictory information out there when it comes to betta fish care. Everybody seems to have an opinion while few seem to agree.

This is sad because misinformation is the number 1 cause of poor health and ultimately an early death for many of these beautiful fish.

Owners that want to do well, but find and follow the wrong advice on how to take care of a betta ultimately fail, but not through lack of trying. On this page, we’re going put that right.

Below is a collection of articles that bring together all we have learnt through years of caring for betta fish.

We’ve spent years not only keeping betta, but reading books, magazines and websites on their care and now want to pass along to you all that we’ve learnt.

In the below articles we dispel all the myths and mis-truths you may have heard and replace it with accurate and up to date betta care advice.

From tank size to dietary requirements, water temperatures to lighting needs, everything is covered in step-by-step guides that will teach you to create and maintain the perfect little ecosystem for your betta. So they can live a long, healthy and happy life.

So whether you’re simply doing a little research before you get your first betta, or are an experienced owner looking to take your knowledge to the next level, this is the page for you.

Welcome to Its A Fish Thing’s complete guide to betta fish care!

Betta Fish Care 101 Infographic

We have incredibly detailed, actionable advice in the form of some amazing articles later on in this page, but first we thought we’d summarize everything into a fun infographic that you can see below.

So check out this graphic for the skinny on caring for a betta, and find our betta care library below it for further essential detail:

Betta fish care sheet detailing betta care in one infographic


If you’d like to display this infographic on your website, please contact us and we’ll see what we can do!

Betta Fish FAQ: Your Common Questions Answered

Blue betta surrounded by question marks with betta FAQ written top right

© Depositphotos.com / Nadym

This article has lots of short, punchy yet useful information in bite-sized chunks – and is growing all the time!

With short questions, quick answers, and links to more detailed articles should you want them, this is a must read for all betta keepers, to get a good background and general understanding of the breed.

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Betta Fish Tank Size: What Size Tank Do Betta Fish Need?

What tank size do betta fish need written beside a red betta in a small bowl

Photo credit: © Depositphotos.com / 9george

A betta in a bowl? Well, I guess you could do this if you don’t care for your fish!

Yes, betta bowls and vases are common. Yes, they are cheap. Yes they’re seen everywhere and sometimes they do look nice. But they are still very wrong.

Like all fish, betta thrive when given room to live and exercise, room to perform natural behaviors and a high water quality that’s simply un-achievable in a tiny, tiny bowl.

Providing a large enough tank for your betta is the very first and most important step toward caring for them properly.

But what size tank is best for a betta? Find out by clicking the following link:

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Heating: Do Betta Tanks Need a Heater?

Do betta tanks need a heater text above two blue betta facing eachother in an aquariumMany inexperienced betta keepers home them in small bowls or jars, rarely ever considering a heater. And this means the water temperature rises and falls with the surrounding room temperature.

This is usually a very bad thing!

Betta are tropical fish, they naturally live in warm water and indeed they need this to survive. Optimum temperature for a betta tank is 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s safe to say that the vast majority of places in the world will have room temperatures that fall way below this, particularly at night, so every betta tank really should be fitted with a heater.

In this article we discuss betta tank heating requirements, how to choose the best heater for your tank, and even what you can do in the emergency case of your heater failing, to keep your fish alive.

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Filtration: Should a Betta Tank Have a Filter? Of Course!

Do betta fish need a filter written in a circle beside a blood red betta fish in a tank

© Depositphotos.com / dmitryo

All aquariums are closed environments, so all the waste your betta creates remains right there in the tank with them, there is nowhere else it can go.

It doesn’t take long for this waste to build to harmful levels. In fact, with ammonia and nitrites, the chemicals released from decomposing fish waste, even the tiniest trace present is extremely dangerous for your fish.

This is why filtration is needed, to biologically clean the water of these dangerous chemicals and keep the water in the tank at a high quality for your betta to breathe and live in.

But that’s not all, filters also catch and remove a lot of the physical dirt and detritus that would otherwise float around in the water, making it look unsightly and unclean. I don’t know about you, but this isn’t how I want my aquariums to look.

So a good filter is needed both for fish health and aesthetics and there are a wide variety of filters of available, most of which do at least an acceptable job of keeping a tanks water clean.

But bettas do have special requirements so you can’t just rush out and buy any old filter. You need to make an informed decision. Learn what you need to know by clicking here:

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Aquarium Filters 101: Filter Media, Maintenance and More

Aquarium filtration 101 written across a beautiful aquascaped aquarium scene

© Depositphotos.com / abramovtv

The last article discussed how you really should get a filter, as well as the different types available, covering which are suitable for betta tanks and which types really aren’t aren’t.

But there’s more yet to consider!

Filters have removable media that perform different jobs and clean the water in different ways. It’s important to understand these differences, and what options for filter media are available to you so you can make the right decisions.

In this article we discuss: Sponges, pads and floss, ceramic tubes, activated carbon, what each of these do in a filter and whether you need them or not. We also touch upon filter maintenance and keeping things running optimally.

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Bubbles: Do Betta Tanks Need Aeration?

A red betta in air bubble filled water on white background

© Depositphotos.com / lifeonwhite

Many people love the look of a stream or curtain of bubbles rising up through their aquarium and it’s certainly something we have in our goldfish tanks – but not with our bettas.

Aeration in a betta tank isn’t essential and in fact is usually quite strongly discouraged. It’s not that you must never have it, you can in the right set-up when taking into account the right considerations. However, usually it’s a big ‘no-no’.

But then, some of the filters most highly recommended for betta tanks actually work on an air pump and rising bubbles system. So which is it?

Learn about the ins-and outs of aeration, air pumps and what you need to consider for betta tanks here:

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Lights: Do Betta Fish Need Light? If So, How Much and What Type?

Do betta fish need light written next to a red betta with long flowing fins on black background

© Depositphotos.com / plepraisaeng

Betta fish most certainly do need light and just important is a nightly period of darkness too.

Betta fish need a daily cycle of light and dark to mimic night and day in nature, a cycle that sets their body clock and regulates their sleep, waking and feeding times. Without such a lighting cycle, the health of your betta fish will rapidly deteriorate.

But with so many different fittings, bulbs, spectrum’s and strengths of aquarium lighting available, knowing what’s suitable for a particular tank isn’t immediately obvious.

Discover in this article all the ins and outs of lighting for your betta aquarium. The lights you should choose, the ones to avoid, how strong a light for how many hours per day…and much more besides!

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Substrate: Gravel? Sand? Marbles? Which Is The Best to Use?

The best substrate for betta fish written across a montage of sands and gravelsFirst of all: What is substrate? When the word is used in reference to aquariums, it’s the substance used to cover the bottom of the tank, usually sand or gravel.

Substrate isn’t used just to make an aquarium more attractive, it plays a few very important roles in the health of your aquarium.

Substrate provides a home to highly beneficial bacteria, creates a more natural looking and suitable environment for your fish and in doing so decreases stress, while also providing root anchorage and a home for any living plants.

Therefore, the particular substrate you choose can have a dramatic affect on the inhabitants in your aquarium.

So which should you choose? Gravel? Sand? Marbles? Something else maybe?

In this article we discuss the ins and outs of using substrate, the pros and cons of the most popular types available and help you to make the right decision.

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Cycling: What Is ‘Cycling A Tank’? Why Must You Do It BEFORE adding fish?

A diagram of the nitrogen cycleFish waste very quickly turns to ammonia and the presence of ammonia, in even the tiniest of amounts, is highly toxic to fish. Furthermore, ammonia gets turned into nitrites – another extremely toxic chemical to fish.

In mature and established tanks, there are colonies of friendly bacteria that convert ammonia into nitrites, and this in turn into nitrates. This is known as the ‘nitrogen cycle’ (as well as by many other names.)

Luckily, nitrates in low concentrations are harmless to fish and you remove these from the tank by way of frequent water changes, before they ever reach harmful levels.

However, in a new fish tank the necessary bacteria do not yet exist. They take many weeks to develop. And putting your betta fish into the tank BEFORE bacterial colonies have a chance to establish means your fish has to live and swim in an incredibly harmful ammonia and nitrite soup.

To prevent this from happening, you have to ‘cycle’ your tank before you ever introduce your fish.

In this article, we detail the process of nitrification, why you simply must understand the nitrogen cycle, why and how to test your water quality, and how to ‘cycle’ your tank to grow beneficial bacteria before you even introduce your fish.

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Food: How to Feed Your Betta Fish? What Do They Eat?

How to feed your betta fish properly written beneath a brilliant blue betta on white background

© Depositphotos.com / 9george

The better question to ask is: What SHOULD betta fish eat? Because a lot of betta aren’t being fed what they really need, and certainly not what they’d choose to eat.

Betta fish are carnivores and need a diet very high in protein, which means shrimp, worms and larvae are best. Like all animals, they also do best when fed a variety of foods to provide a balanced diet containing the wide array of nutrients they need to truly thrive.

The ‘betta-in-a-bowl’ where the fish lives off a plant? It’s just totally wrong. And so are many ‘generic’ fish flakes or pellets.

Just important as what you feed your betta, is how much and how often. Obviously you don’t want your fish to starve, but over-feeding is a very serious and common problem too.

In this article we discuss the betta diet, what they would eat in the wild, what you should feed them in your aquarium, how much to fed them and how often. You’ll soon be feeding your betta exactly in the way they need!

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Betta Fish Diseases, Symptoms and Treatment Guide

Betta fish diseases, symtoms and treatment guide written beside a sick looking betta

Photo Credit: © Depositphotos.com / foto76

No matter how hard you try, it’s a sad fact that your betta will encounter disease, illness or parasites at some stage in their life.

In this guide, we cover preventative measures you should employ to help keep away any disease. We cover the most common illnesses and diseases that affect betta fish, and we offer advice on treatment and how to recover when the unfortunate does happen.

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Water Changes: A Step-by-Step Guide to Partial Water ChangesHow to do a partial water change written above assorted equipment for the job

Because a fish tank is a closed environment, anything that goes into it remains. This means all the food you put into the tank either gets converted to waste by your fish, or is uneaten and left to rot. This results in a build up of harmful chemicals in your aquariums water.

Yes, a filter is an indispensable tool for converting highly toxic substances into less harmful ones, but those less harmful ones are still a danger if left to build into high enough concentrations.

Water changes are the essential way for you to ultimately remove these accumulated harmful chemicals, something you simply MUST do on a regular basis.

In this article we discuss in depth why water changes are so important, why you should only perform partial changes, how much you should change, how often – and more besides – so that your fish has quality water to live in.

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The History of Betta Fish – Origins and Landmark Moments

A betta fish jumping from a map of the mekong basin into a modern aquariumThe betta splendens ancestors and wild counterparts have far smaller fins, are almost exclusively a drab brown color and aren’t a patch on the fish we see today.

So how did they become the multi-colored, noble looking fish with long flowing fins we see and enjoy in our aquariums?

Discover these answers – the history and development of betta fish – from humble beginnings to one of the most loved fish we have today by reading this article:

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How to Breed Betta Fish

Beginners guide to breeding betta written beside a red male betta with a bubble nest

© nayneung / Adobe Stock

Breeding Betta fish can be a little complicated, but it’s also a very rewarding experience. In order to make the process as pain-free as possible, you need to do some research and go into the process well armed with the right knowledge.

And that’s where this next guide is useful: The beginner’s guide to breeding betta tips – complete with a few expert tips thrown in!

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Video: How To Care For Betta Fish

In this video, Tom Sarac from Fluvalgives the basics of betta fish care, covering food choices, water quality and more besides.

External Resources On Betta Fish Care

Recommended site no. 1: This first recommendation is a very handy, comprehensive and factually correct site full of information for betta keepers: BettaFishCenter.com: Learning center

Recommended site no. 2: This second site, if you can forgive the somewhat dated look of it (sorry faith if you read this!) has an unbelievable amount of good information. Set aside a couple of hours, have a click around and learn a great deal: BettaTalk.com

Recommended site no. 3: A fantastic site that gives you the opportunity to submit your tank and have others rate it… while you rate theirs! But not only this, there is a wealth of information to be found and a lively and helpful community to boot: RateMyFishTank.com: Freshwater Aquarium Articles

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 4 comments
Ilaria - August 28, 2015

You do not cycle a tank for a betta.you should chnage the water 50% each week and make sure you add water conditioner. I’m sure if you add water conditioner and agitate, it has done its job in about 10 minutes. Most water conditioners say they work instantly. Make sure you have a heater and filtration with an adjustable knob on it so you can make sure the current isn’t strong. Was this answer helpful?

    M Jenner
    M Jenner - September 6, 2015

    Hi Ilaria,

    Thank you for your input. But I do have to disagree on one point: Having a cycled tank is of massive benefit, regardless of fish species, as discussed in the article linked to above.

    But yes, using water conditioner is a must, and an adjustable heater and filter is sometimes recommended, I agree 🙂

    Happy fish keeping!

Robyne - April 13, 2017

Help I have a betta that is suddenly not doing good I recently put him in a new tank 1/2 a 10 gallon with a buddy any way he is laying at bottom of tank wont eat and I know this sounds strange but he is bent his body is totaly bent i dont know how else to desribe it his head is 1 way then his middle goes another way and then his back half goes another way its wavy what do I do? please help if u can, I really dont want to lose him I have had Van Gogh foe over a year 1/2 now HELP

    M Jenner
    M Jenner - May 5, 2017

    Hi Robyne,

    Have you tested the water parameters? You should check ammonia, nitrates, nitrates and PH especially, so you can at least rule these out if your water quality is good. But poor water quality can lead to these symptoms.

    Secondly, could he be constipated? Could you have overfed him? Or perhaps are feeding a very dry food that may swell in his stomach? That can lead to these symptoms.


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