Whether you have some bettas of your own or you’re interested in them to potentially care for them one day, this article can help you further understand the fish in and of itself. From where bettas originated to how to care for them, this guide contains practically any information you can know about bettas in their truest form.
I’ve put this guide together for your benefit as a result of my owning a few bettas myself, and I think a large amount of people within the fish industry would agree that they’re a particularly interesting species of fish. More specifically, this complete guide contains information about their origins, how to care for them, interesting facts about them as well as some reasons why I think you should consider housing a betta in your home.
What Are Bettas?
Bettas are classified as fish that originally come from Southeast Asia, and they’re labeled as a labyrinth fish species. By having a labyrinth name, bettas are defined as being able to breathe in oxygen both from the air directly as well as through their gills in the water. This gives them the convenient ability to survive outside of water for shorter periods of time, but for a longer time than most other fish species.
Their classification as a labyrinth fish species is also beneficial because it gives them the ability to withstand a variety of different water conditions. Because of that, if you go a little too long without changing the water of your betta tank, then you most likely don’t have to worry too much.
Bettas are most commonly known for their large fins and their beautiful color. They are capable of coming in a variety of different colors, from red, green, blue, to even purples and pinks. Secondly to their diverse color and beautiful nature, bettas are also commonly known for their fighting tendencies.
More specifically, bettas tend to be aggressive towards other bettas as well as other fish species, especially towards other male bettas. Because of that, they’re often kept alone in a tank or with other fish similar in size that they’re known to for sure leave alone (1).
How to Care for Betta Fish
What do they eat?
Bettas typically feed at the water’s surface and that may be because they have upturned mouths. Because of that, feeding them food that’s light and typically stays at the water’s surface is the most recommended. For instance, these fish tend to prefer food that comes in flakes rather than food that falls to the bottom of the fish tank. I think this makes it more entertaining to feed them, since you can let the food float on the surface of the water while watching them eat the food at the same time.
Since these fish are usually larger in size than other types of standard fish on the market, they should be fed food that contains a large amount of vitamins and minerals. A beneficial and healthy diet for bettas would most likely consist of dried bloodworms, brine shrimp, of even daphnia. Each of these foods is recommended because they’re able to promote the health as well as the growth of bettas, since they contain a large amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Even more than that, there are some commercial betta foods that contain all three types of these foods. These are most recommended because they’re able to provide bettas with an adequate number of the beneficial elements needed in order for them to remain in a healthy and strong state.
Why does diet matter?
If you have bettas of your own that you’re responsible for feeding, it’s important that you consider feeding your bettas the right foods with an adequate amount of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. When they’re fed the right types of food, bettas can successfully grow and gain muscle. Not only that, but providing your betta fish with the correct food ultimately improves their appearance as well, since their colors brighten and stay brighter for longer periods of time when they consume the proper amount of elements (2).
Making sure that your fish remain in clean and high quality water is recommended for all species of fish that you may have. That’s why it’s important that you keep your fish’s water clean at all times and that you provide the right type of filtration for bettas in particular.
When you’re cleaning their tank, make sure you only clean about 1/3 of their tank water at a time, since it’s difficult and sometimes even dangerous to change all of the tank water at one time. I think it’s more difficult to get the chemical balances of the water back to normal when you change all of the tank’s water, so I usually only change about 1/4 of the water at a time. This helps to make sure that at least some of the water in the tank is consistent with what your betta fish are used to.
In addition to that, you should make sure that your fish have water conditioner in their environment as well, since this helps to dechlorinate the water. In order to keep the water conditions of your betta tank at par with their requirements, you should have an effective water filter that can remove the dirt, debris, and other harmful substances from the tank. More specifically, make sure that the certain filter that you have is able to offer both biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration.
The water itself in your betta’s aquarium should remain between 76 degrees and 84 degrees Fahrenheit. This may seem warm compared to other fish tanks’ requirements, but bettas are used to tropical environments. In addition to that, you should keep the pH balance of the betta’s tank water somewhere between 6.5 and 7.5 (3).
Since they’re classified as a territorial and aggressive fish, you should remain mindful of this when you’re choosing what types of fish to put in your fish tank with the betta. You may even want to consider putting your betta in an aquarium by itself, which is what I did when I’ve had mine in the past. It eliminates the risk of there being any situations where they either fight with each other or one dies.
Even more than that, it’s important that you only keep one male betta per tank, regardless of other fish species that you try to keep together. Male bettas will rarely get along with other bettas, let alone other fish species. So if you have a male betta, I would recommend that you not house it with any other fish species at all.
Other than that, if you have female bettas, they’re more reluctant to get along with each other while in the fish tank. They’re more peaceful when placed with other bettas, and they can even interact well when they’re placed in fish tanks that have other fish.
More specifically, if you are planning on placing your female bettas with other fish species, you should house them with fish that resemble them in appearance. For instance, female bettas interact well with fish that have large flowing tails similar to theirs, like Guppies, Black Tetras, Catfish, or even Poecilia. Some fish that you should avoid putting with your bettas at all costs include Parrotfish, Killifish, Oscars, and Acaras (4).
Making the right betta habitat
In order to create the best betta habitat in your home, you’re advised to make sure that you have the right tank equipment. For instance, you should have the right kind of substrate, decorations, plants, and lighting features in your tank. This will help your bettas remain healthy and happy, since having the right equipment ables you to create an environment that resembles their natural habitat.
Bettas are native to Southeast Asia in floodplains and marshes, so they’re accustomed to bodies of water that have rather muddy qualities. Because of that, you should keep muddy qualities in mind when choosing certain substrates for your betta tank.
For the best substrate in your betta tank, you should consider laying down either a sand, gravel, or soil substrate. Each of these materials are able to offer mud-like qualities that you can create in your tank to make your bettas feel at home. Sand is able to offer a natural appearance, and it eliminates the risk of dead zones that commonly occur between the sand particles. Gravel gives them the ability to burrow into the pieces of rock, and soil is most recommended because it best resembles mud.
The certain types of plants that you can install in your betta tank vary according to the type of substate that you have in your fish tank. More specifically, soil substate offers a better ground for plants to anchor into and grow well. Assuming that you’re installing live plants in your betta fish’s aquarium, plants require a certain level of maintenance and care that you should consider before purchasing and installing.
Bettas prefer live plants to fake ones, since the live plants are able to offer oxygen for the tank’s water, which helps the bettas breathe more easily. Plants also reduce the amount of harmful ammonia and nitrate levels in the tank, so bettas can benefit from that. But you should also keep in mind that some aquarium plants can irritate bettas. Overall, some live plants that can benefit your bettas in their aquarium are Amazon swords, Anacharis, Marimo Moss Balls, and Java Moss and Ferns.
Lighting and Decorations
Bettas require around eight hours of light and 12 to 16 hours of darkness. Because of that, you should keep decorations in your tank that give them the ability to rest in darker places. For instance, consider installing rocks, logs, or other fish decorations that allow for darkness. If they’re exposed to too much light, then bettas can become too stressed and can even develop a sickness as a result. Given that, make sure that you only expose them to light for their recommended number of hours per day.
This video summarizes in 10 minutes how to care for a betta fish:
Why You Need a Betta Fish
Unlike other fish that people typically have in their homes, bettas have the ability to grow into colorful and beautiful fish. They have large, flowing fins that are able to glow in their certain lighting conditions.
Bettas are also seen as relaxing fish, since they have large fins that slowly flow in the water surrounding them. They aren’t known to be very active, so they swim around smoothly and beautifully for much of the day. Consequently, they can be very relaxing to watch, especially if you place them in an office setting or your bedroom.
Given their low demand for attention and maintenance, are recommended for you if you’re a busy person and don’t want to have the strict commandments placed on you that owning many other fish leads to. This is personally why I liked my bettas because I didn’t always have the time to watch over them and care for them.
Interesting Facts About Bettas
- They’re omnivorous, in that they consume plants, insects, bloodworms, shrimp, and algae
- They all can have different tail shapes from each other
- Male bettas present brighter colors than female bettas
- Bettas can breathe air from outside of their aquatic environment if needed
- There are over 70 different species that include refer to the term “betta”
- Bettas build bubble nests in which the male betta gathers in his mouth to them spit them at the nest of eggs when the female releases them
Overall, bettas are one of the most beautiful and interesting types of fish that people commonly have in their homes. Their beautiful and large fins give them the ability to establish dominance with one another, so they aren’t necessarily recommended for tanks that have other communities of fish species. But they offer their own beneficial features to the people that are willing to respect them for the aggressive fish that they are. Given these features, maybe you should consider housing a betta or two in your own home.