Everyone who has strolled through the aisles of the local pet store has happened upon the betta fish.  Displayed in separate cups, rather than larger tanks, new pet betta owners can be misled by the minimum betta fish care required for a healthy, unstressed fish.  I am not a betta fish breeder, but I’ve learned a lot through experience.  I’ve decided to write this blog so others don’t make the same mistakes I’ve made.

Betta fish care

Keeping a pet betta healthy and free from stress doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.  Below you’ll find brief descriptions of what you’ll want to get started.  Over time, you’ll learn what works best for you.

A shopping list is included at the end of this article.

Betta fish tank

Never put a male betta in a tank smaller than 3 gallons.  These fish need enough room to swim.

One option some fish fanciers prefer is to divide a 10 gallon tank using a fish tank divider.  This essentially turns a 10 gallon tank into 2 five gallon tanks.  If this is an option you prefer, please remember to add plants to block one betta’s view of the other.  Seeing an enemy stresses a betta and, like humans, stressed fish live shorter lives.

Betta fish tank heater

There are several styles of heaters available.  Read the packaging closely.  Each heater is rated for a specific tank size.  If you buy a heater that’s underpowered for the task, you’ll have a cold (stressed) betta.

Betta water conditions

In a nutshell, the tank water should be free of the following:

  • chlorine (added by water processing plants)
  • ammonia (added by the fish!)
  • nitrite (added by bacteria)
  • nitrate (caused by many different factors)

As you’ll need to address the chlorine issue immediately upon bringing your pet betta home, please know that there are two types of chlorine additives.  There are two ways to find out what’s been added to your water.  You can either call your water supply company to confirm which type(s) have been added or you can just buy a water conditioner at the pet store.  There are several brands from which to choose.

The only way to know if your tank has unacceptable levels of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate is to test the water.  At first , you’ll test the water at least daily.  When you’ve learned more about your betta, testing weekly may be sufficient. 

Water test strips are available at all pet stores.  Initially they appear to be the cheapest option, but given the amount of testing you’ll be doing at first, consider buying a water test kit.  It will be cheaper for you long-term.

Betta fish food

Another item on the betta fish care list readily available at your local pet store is betta food.  It comes in many forms including flakes, pellets, blocks (for vacations), freeze-dried and frozen.  Some fishkeepers feed their pet bettas vegetables and others feed living insects.

Every betta is different, so you may have to try several types of food before hitting on the version your betta prefers.  Start with the pellets.  Many bettas are willing to eat them.

Pet betta shopping list

  • A betta fish tank.  Allow no less than 5 gallons per betta.
  • A heater rated for the size of your tank.
  • Betta water conditioner.  Read the label to ensure it’ll remove chlorine and chloramine.
  • A freshwater water test kit.  They are more economical long-term than water test strips
  • Betta food.  Pellets are a great way to start.
  • Tank decorations (optional)
  • Don’t forget the betta!