Betta Fish Care: How To Take Care Of A Betta Fish

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Watching betta fishes serenely glide through the water of an aquarium can indeed be tranquillising. One can intriguingly spend hours staring at the electrifying colours of the fish as if it has some calming effect. It is such a shame when one of your bettas falls ill, and it is then mishandled.

Like all pets, betta fishes need to be adequately taken care of. For proper betta fish care, what you can do is, learn what keeps them healthy and content. With appropriate care, betta could live more than their average life expectancy.

Managing your betta requires little instructions and obligations. The amazing betta is really pretty and modest to buy.

betta fish care how to take care of your betta
Betta fish, Siamese fighting fish with green plants

Importance of Taking Care of Your Betta Fish

In case you are perusing this, the odds are you want to know about betta fish, or you are planning to get one.

When you decide to get a pet, they become part of your life, and it is your responsibility to take care of them. Before getting one, it is good to know how to take care of a pet, and it will help you in a lot of ways.

Just like us, humans, they need a pleasant environment for a healthy life. And before buying betta, we must learn about the tanks and other accessories. Just feeding your betta is not enough.

It is crucial to understand whether your betta is healthy or sick. With time and appropriate care, you’ll be able to distinguish the difference between ill and healthy betta.

Symptoms of Healthy And Sick Betta

Healthy Betta fish

  • Swim up to explore when you draw near to their surroundings
  • Are active and may flare at you
  • Have brilliant hues
  • Are hungry and eat properly
  • Undamaged fins

Sick betta fish

  • They don’t eat for an extended period of time
  • They don’t move much and hiding frequently
  • Their colours are dull
  • Their fins are in poor condition
  • Swimming abnormally
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Bloated

How To Prevent Your Betta from Getting Sick

It doesn’t feel good when your betta is sick. You’re terrified, and a number of questions pop up in your mind as to how this occurred. Betta can suffer from many diseases just like any other fishes. If the right treatment is taken at the right time, it will cause less damage, and soon your betta will be healthy just like it was before.

Now, if you live in a dirty place, you’ll eventually get sick, and it goes the same for your betta. Living in a messy and uncomfortable place will also get your beta sick. It is highly essential that you buy proper accessories for them and set up the right environment so that your betta could lead a happy and healthy life.

The least minimum tank size for healthy betta is 2.5 gallons with the suggested size being 5 gallons.

Make sure you put some plants and make other decoration for shade. The decoration will also increase the beauty. Your betta needs free space to swim and also need a place to hide. Remember not to fill your tank to the most extreme volume.

Your betta needs access to the water’s surface to swallow air, too. Before we forget to let you know, understand that bettas are high jumper so put a lid on your tank so they can’t jump over the tank. It would be sad if you lose a betta like this.

There are some aquarium starter kits suitable for betta. Read our round up review on the best betta fish tanks.

Requirements For a Thriving Betta Tank: What Should You Consider To Buy

Light: Natural vs Artificial

Lights are essential for betta. Whether natural or artificial, as long as they are awake and they need darkness so they can sleep or take rest. It’s best to avoid direct sunlight because it will raise the temperature of the water so it will be better if you use artificial light. Place your tank somewhere from where you can control the lights.

It is good idea to have a planted tank for your betta fish. Learn more about lights that are suitable for freshwater planted tank from this article.

You need to ensure proper lighting cycle as the betta will need darkness as well for a sound sleep!

Plants, Hideouts and Decorations

One of the most important parts of caring is to make sure that the betta is not stressed and that they are in a state of peaceful happiness. Betta needs places to hide so they can feel safe. You can decorate your tanks with artificial rocks, plants, sticks.

Be cautious with the decoration because it can cause harm to your betas because some of the decorations material can be sharp. Silk artificial plants and leaves are recommended.

Water Quality and Temperature

Temperature is one of the most essential things because you need to know which temperature is suitable for your betas. Betta fish originate from a tropical atmosphere in Thailand, so they must require warm water in their tanks.

Never let the water in your tank dip under 65 degrees or go over 82 degrees, and attempt to keep it in the scope of 76 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The standard room temperature in a house is 68 degrees Fahrenheit, which is well beneath their required temperature.

Thermometers and Heaters

You can even buy an aquarium safe thermometer to record the water temperature. You will be able to know whether the temperature is too high or too low. And also buy an aquarium heater so you could adjust the temperature.

Betta is sensitive and continuously changing in the environment can stress your fish and also can cause health issues, so it’s better to keep the temperature stable in which they will remain healthy.

Filters

While filters are not obligatory; they are exceptionally empowered for aquariums bigger than 3 gallons. Filters lessen unsafe microscopic organisms while supporting sound microorganisms (beneficial bacteria). They are your little assistants with regards to tank upkeep and thinking about your betta fish. A filter is generally economical and is best when included with the whole setup.

Water Conditioner

Ensure that the water in the tank is chlorine-free and does not contain other contaminants. In case you are using tap water, don’t forget to use a betta water conditioner that would get rid of chloramine, chlorine, ammonia and any other heavy metals. This is to prevent harm or death in betta fishes.

However, do keep in mind, not to use distilled water as it strips off the necessary minerals that bettas need to grow in.

Betta fishes thrive on slightly acidic water. They are best kept at a pH range of 6.5 – 7.5; 7 being neutral. Apt to tap water and spring water, they are notably higher than 7.5, which means that you need to test your water before you go on to adding it to your betta tank. You can also consider buying a pH kit to maintain a healthy range.

You may consider putting aquarium salt into your aquarium water in order to relieve your betta fishes from stress, swelling and further promote healthy fins.

Tank Mates For Your Betta

Try not to put two males in a similar tank since they will battle and nip at one another, probably until one is dead or seriously pushed. Male ought to likewise never be housed with a female except if they are breeding for brief time-frames and afterwards separated.

Male will display forceful conduct against females as well. Whereas, females can live respectively in gatherings of at least five, yet the tank size should twofold to 10 gallons or more. A decent standard guideline is 1 gallon for every 1 inch of each fish. On the off chance that you have 5 females, every 2 inches, that would mean a 10-gallon tank.

Learn more about the fighting behavior of betta fish from this article.

Cleaning, Care and Maintenance

The most important task for if you are keeping a betta tank is to keep it clean and the species inside healthy and happy. How do you do that? You know that your betta noshes at their heart’s content digests it and finally gets rid of it (poop!), which ends up remaining in the tanks water. The smaller of a tank you have, the quicker it will get polluted.

What’s linked to poor betta health is prolonged exposure to more levels of ammonia and nitrites. Do take note that water quality has a terrible decline when ammonia builds up from the fish’s waste and uneaten food, forcing the pH level of the water to zone out of a healthy range.

As a result, your fish would be swimming on its own waste, which by the way, would lead to illness and even fatal death in your betta. Henceforth, look for a good filter that will help you reduce such levels of toxins and thus establish healthy bacteria inside the tank.

How Often Does an Aquarium Need Cleaning?

You must be thinking that the smaller your tank, the lesser maintenance you’d ever need. Well, we’d like you to see some truth here. Tanks below 3 gallons need more regular water changes in order to keep away from hazardous levels of ammonia.

For instance, a non-filtered tank (which is never recommended) needs about 1 – 2 cycles at around 25% with a full 100% water change every week (relying on the water quality). The best suggestion that we could give you is to keep a pH kit handy somewhere near your aquarium to test the water if you sense anything suspicious.

Since smaller tanks do not need filters, it means that there is more work in the long-run, as the water quality declines too fast. On the other hand, you can even add live plants to reduce the levels of ammonia in the water, naturally.

While it is important to go for frequent water cycling, note that you do not need to remove your betta every now and then. This could lead to potential stress and injuries.

Typically, betta fishes get very used to their ecosystem and are not likely to get suited with abrupt changes. For this reason, you need to cycle the water more than a complete change. Removing the existing water by adding new will cause a state of shock for your fish.

Try to remove 20 – 50% of the water in the tank and refill it with similar temperature and pH levels.

Learn about water test kits from this article.

Food and Feeding

Oh, who knows it better than a betta fish owner that owning fishes is all about frequently feeding them! Betta fishes need a particular type of food as they are carnivorous and they are fond of meat.

In the wild, they feed on insects and its larvae on the water’s surface. Replicating such feeding environment will make your betta happy and keep them healthy in the long-run.

Their food usually come in a wide variety for which it’s easier to feed them with an array of feeds. Nonetheless, keep in mind, never feed your betta fish with other tropical fish food as they need a certain protein-rich diet.

Betta fishes are quite picky eaters. It’s not surprising for them to refuse to eat a certain brand or blend until you get them the ideal one. But one thing is sure that betta’s love treats! Treat them with something they like, and they will be eternally grateful to you.

Most commonly, betta’s favourites include freeze-dried bloodworms and brine shrimps. Whatever it takes, make sure that your betta receives a rich and varied diet.

In a separate article we have covered all aspects of betta food and feeding. Please check it.

Overfeeding

You love your betta so much that you might overfeed them at times. We don’t blame you; it’s not your fault. It’s, in fact, a little hard to gauge as to how much you should feed your betta. Food labels are not always clear either.

You need to Know that betta’s tummy is hardly the size of their eye and pellets can expand after they have been consumed. Therefore, overfeeding leads to constipation, bloating, swim bladder problems and also a build-up of uneaten food in the aquarium.

Work through a regular feeding schedule, and try to follow the guidelines if you are still not sure. If you plan on feeding your betta for two times a day, do not feed them more than 2 – 3 pellets during each feeding. Conversely, 3 – 4 pellets in a day should suffice.

You might get worried as to why your betta is not eating, but in reality, they are still full of their overfeeding from the previous session. Your betta may also refuse to eat when she’s stressed; usually, when you bring her home for the first time. They can starve to death if they go without food for 14 days straight, just like us, humans.

If you’re going for a vacation, make sure never to leave extra food. It’s always a better idea for bettas to leave them without food than to tip them a bunch of food floating on the water’s surface. They won’t eat it; instead, it will make the aquarium dirty and eventually poisonous.

How to Take Care of Different Betta Fish

Although there’s not much difference between caring for a female and a male betta fish, they might need a little different type of care before, during and after breeding. It’s more of advance care than the basic ones. Be familiar that both male and female can sustain in the same parameter of water, tank size, food and plants/decorations.

The difference lies in where the females can coincide with other sororities that lead to different recommendations on care, too.

Betta fish babies (betta fry) need intensive care during their upbringing. Pet suppliers these days sell baby betta fishes and do not adequately care for them, which can lead to premature death.

Fries need special care and diet to survive as they cannot fit the betta pallets into their mouth. That’s why we’d say that they are reserved for experienced breeders and caretakers.

There are no more than seventy different species of betta fish, out of which betta splenden is mainly sold in pet stores. They come in different tail variations via selective breeding; however, all of them need the same level and type of care. It includes, but are not limited to, the veil tail, crown tail, double tail, butterfly, delta tail and half-moon.

How to Clean Betta’s Aquarium Properly

If you are planning on cleaning your betta’s aquarium tomorrow, fill up an empty water jug with normal tap water. Leave the jug open so that any chlorine present in the water will smoothly evaporate. Place the jug near your aquarium so that the water turns out to be the same temperature as in the aquarium. It’s best to be left off overnight.

You will need a few supplies at your hand to get the work done efficiently and quickly. Here’s what you need; a bucket, a syphon, a sponge or even an algae pad would work, an aquarium vacuum, a water testing kit to check the nitrates and distilled water.

Let us tell you that never use an old kitchen sponge for this purpose. Most importantly, any sponge that had detergent put on it. The reason? Soaps and detergents are toxic to fish.

Typically, replacing about 25% of the water does the job, but a dirtier aquarium with higher levels of nitrate will need about more than that of to be removed. Take the water out by syphoning it into an empty bucket. Never syphon your fish into the bucket!

Make use of the aquarium vacuum to clean the marbles and rocks. You can even push the vacuum into the bottom to stir up the sediments and wastes. In case when the stones are too small, use your finger to gently stir them up so that the deposits float up and you can suck it up using the vacuum.

When cleaning, make sure to take out the plants and other decorations that you have put inside. Rinse them thoroughly with plain water. Again, do not use detergents. Pure distilled water would do a great job.

Add in new water to the aquarium once you have cleaned and prepared everything. Make sure to test the water and remedy as much required. Test the water just to ensure that the nitrate levels are not too high. If needed, remove some water and add some more prepared water.

How to Tell if Your Betta is Happy and Healthy

Does your betta swim and interact with you when you wiggle your finger (outside the tank) in front of her? And where does she swim around; near the middle or the bottom? A betta who swims up near the top of the tank or tries to put his mouth to the top might be under stress.

You should also look for bumps and lumps on his body. His fins and tail should be of the same size. Notice if the tail or fins are tearing apart; it’s a potential sign of him showing he’s not healthy.

Other indicators of poor health include white dots or white film on the betta with colored streaks that were not present before along with a swollen body. Check the water to see if there’s anything wrong with the pH balance or if the level of ammonia is high that’s causing the problem.

Last but not least, you can even take your fish to the vet if you see any abnormal signs. This may sound funny, but only a vet can diagnose any issues with the betta in any case.

Maintenance Schedule for Proper Betta Care

Daily:

  • Make sure that the water temperature is no less 76 and more than 81 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Look for any abnormal behaviour, signs of illness or fin damage.
  • Check the aquarium’s heater, filter and other equipment.
  • Feed the betta fish.

Weekly:

  • Recycle 25 – 50% of the water every week for larger tanks.
  • Try to fast your betta fish all day long for an effective digestive system.
  • Empty up the uneaten foods and waste once a while.
  • Check the pH and bacteria levels.

Monthly:

  • Check if the filter is working just right, replace the media whenever necessary.
  • Do trimming of the live plants, remove algae from fake plants & decorations (if any).
  • Be religious to your water changing.
  • Clean up all the waste and uneaten feeds.
  • Check the water quality and pH levels thoroughly.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q 1: Why does my betta fish make bubbles?

Answer: Male betta fishes create bubble nest at the surface of tank water. It’s the first step towards their mating process. As soon as they become old enough to reproduce, they will start nest building. The bubbles are merely a safe haven for their eggs during incubation.

We have covered this topic extensively in a separate article.

Q 2: How long can betta fishes live?

Answer: Despite their gender, betta fishes have a lifespan of about 2 – 4 years in captivity. However, their lifespan depends on a number of factors. The most crucial factor is how they are being cared for in captivity. It’s always a better idea to get a betta fish from professional breeders, who are more likely to take good care of them.

Q 3: Is it necessary to have filters for a betta fish tank?

Answer: This question does not have a simple yes or no answer. That’s because betta fishes can thrive through any situation with the proper care. But a filter is always the preferred option.

Q 4: Do betta fish sleep?

Answer: Yeah, they do. The reason why you have never seen them sleeping is that you might be sleeping at that time too. They sleep mostly at night. These vibrantly-coloured aquarium creatures do not have eyelids for which you might be thinking that they are still awake (when they are motionless).

Never tap on to the tank because it’s them resting. Don’t you hate it when someone wakes you up from a nice nap? It’s the same feeling.

Final Words

Caring for Betta fish is not rocket science. Once you get a hold of a schedule and separate the myths from the proper facts, you will get to see that everything is at the tip of the iceberg. All you need ever to do as a betta fish owner is to maintain and monitor the health of the fish and look out for any signs of concern.

You can trace back that most of the issues are from poor feeding patterns, poor tank maintenance and acclimation.

When you find out the right way to care for the betta fish, you will simply love them! Please pass this piece of information to all those of your friends who are beautiful owners of betta fishes. Beta fishes deserve a long and healthy life.

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