You’ve seen them in the store. They look little jewels floating in tiny cups amongst the many store shelves. Betta fish. The myth states that betta fish live in puddles and don’t need a large tank to live in. While it is true a betta might survive (for a little while, anyway) in a very small container, they certainly won’t thrive! Keeping betta fish comes with the same requirements any tropical fish has: Space, Heat, Filtration.
The betta’s natural habitat is the rice paddies and slower moving waters of southeast Asia. Only in the most extreme circumstances do the waters they inhabit shrink to small puddles. Because of this, it is important to recognize that bettas should be given the most space a new owner can afford. A general ruel of thumb is one gallon per inch, meaning betta fish should be kept in at least 2.5 gallons of water, but 3 or higher is preferable. Most tanks come in standard sizes of 2.5, 5, 6, 10, and 20 gallon tanks. The larger the tank, the most space the betta will have to display its beautiful fins and personality.
Being a tropical fish, bettas should be in heated environments. A cold betta will be sluggish, is susceptible to disease, and might display dull or washed out colors. Placing bettas in a heated environment (roughly 76 or 78 degrees) will bring out its beautiful colors and support its health and growth.
Finally, bettas should be in a cycled and filtered tank. If you’re unfamiliar with how to cycle a tank, please research how to do so. Once your tank is properly cycled, the filter will help ensure the water remains healthy for a betta to live in. Remember that bettas are native to slow-moving waters, so filters should be set on their lowest output setting (if adjustable) or the water leaving the filter should be baffled or slowed down. A strong current can overwhelm a betta, causing stress, and even rip its delicate fins.
Betta fish have strong personalities and can provide hours, days, months, and even years of entertainment to its owner. Placing a betta in a heated and filtered tank with room for a betta to swim and explore will provide the betta with all it needs to flourish. Its vibrant colors will come out when it is in a healthy environment.
Once these three conditions are met, care should be taken to ensure the betta stays safe and secure. Cover all holes in the top of the tank so your betta doesn’t jump out. Silk plants are preferable to plastic, as plastic plants can rip the betta’s fins. Any décor should be checked to ensure it has no sharp or ragged edges which can also tear fins. Finally, ensure décor has no holes or gaps smaller than your thumb. A curious betta can get stuck or wedged in these types of holes (entrances to sunken ship décor, for example) and this can lead to injury or even death.
Meeting the needs of a betta is not hard to do. It is identical to the needs of all other tropical fish, with just a few minor tweaks, discussed above. As always, remember to keep your betta in a tank all by itself, as it will defend its territory vigorously.