Betta Facts and FAQ: Betta Fish Care, Behavior and Tank Setup
About Betta Fish
Betta fish are easy to care for, but they have some special tank requirements due to their behaviors. They are colorful fish, both fierce and fragile, and require a unique set of conditions in which to thrive.
If you've just brought your new Betta home you probably have a lot of questions. This article can help you figure it all out, and give you the information you need to provide your new pet with a healthy environment where he will be happy for many years.
Or, perhaps you're having trouble with a Betta you've had in the family for a while. It is tremendously disheartening when a pet gets sick or starts acting strangely, but you're not alone. Here you can find the answers to many frequently asked questions about Betta fish and the things they do.
Maybe you'll discover your Betta's actions aren't so weird after all!
Even though the tiny cups they come in at the pet store might suggest otherwise, Bettas are not disposable pets. They require the same care and respect as any animal. Are you up task?
Of course! If you didn't care about your Betta fish you wouldn't be here! So let's get down to business.
Betta Fish FAQ: Behaviors, Facts and Fighting
Have some questions about your Betta fish? Is he doing something strange? Are you worried about his health? Odds are you're not the first Betta owner to witness this behavior.
I really wanted to make this article a comprehensive guide to caring for Betta fish. However, I have a lot say on the subject, and I didn't want it to be so long that you'd be snoring before you got to the end. So, I've broken out some of the more important points into separate topics you may find useful, or may want to come back to later.
If you are new to Betta keeping, or if you just want to learn more about this wonderful tropical fish, you can find in-depth answers to many of your questions in the articles below. If you don’t see your question addressed here, scroll down and you’ll find many more facts about Betta fish and their behaviors.
After all of that, if you still can’t find the answers to your Betta questions feel free to ask in the comments section below! I do respond ASAP to all legitimate questions, but be patient and give it a day or two.
Betta Care Articles and Reference
- Tankmates for Bettas and Betta Fish in a Community Tank
Learn which tankmates to choose for your Betta fish in a small aquarium or community tank environment for the best chance of success.
- Betta Fish Supplies List
A list of supplies and accessories including everything you need to keep a Betta fish happy and healthy. Give your Betta fish a great home!
- Betta Fish Tanks: Choose the Best Aquarium for Your Betta
Check out some of the best tanks for your Betta fish and learn how to choose the right size aquarium for a healthy, happy fish.
- Do Betta Fish Need a Heater and Filter in their Tank?
Find out if you should add a filter and heater to your Betta fish's tank. Learn the true needs of this beautiful tropical fish.
- Goldfish vs Betta Fish Care and Facts
Get the facts about Goldfish and Betta Fish care and decide which of these popular fish is best for you!
More Betta Care Questions and Answers
Didn't find the answer you needed above? Here are more frequently-asked questions on Betta fish care and behavior.
Why are there bubbles at the surface of the water?
It’s a mating thing, but in this case it means you have a happy Betta. Male Bettas build bubble nests, especially when they are content. In the wild this is where the male Betta stashes the eggs after they are released by the female.
Why is my Betta hiding in the corner of the tank?
Bettas need some kind of decoration or structure they can swim into when they need to feel safe. If that isn’t provided, and he feels he needs it, you may find him tucked into a corner. Always provide a place for him to escape to. This is especially true if the current in the tank is somewhat strong.
Why is my Betta lying on the bottom of his tank or on a plant leaf?
This is normal Betta behavior, and as long as he appears otherwise healthy it is no concern. He’s just lazing around. Bettas often sit on the bottom or of the leaves of real or artificial plants. However, as stated above, if he appears to be tucking himself in a corner or in some other unnatural position it could be a sign that you need to include a hiding spot in his tank.
Why is he restlessly swimming up and down the sides of the tank?
This is called glass surfing and it’s usually a sign that a fish in unhappy in its environment. That means he is experiencing stress of some kind. It could be because of poor water conditions, or it could be because the tank is too small.
I recommend tanks of a least five gallons for a single Betta fish. Some people put their fish in tanks as small as one gallon, but in my opinion this is far to little space. Bigger is better. Like any tropical fish, Bettas need to swim around and have a little room to be happy and healthy. One word of caution: Bettas do not like fast currents, so if the filtration in the tank is pushing him around it could be causing him stress.
Why is my Betta flaring up at the glass of his tank?
He sees his reflection and thinks it is another Betta fish! This may be comical, and to some extent good for the fish, but don’t let it go on for hours on end. Adjust the light near his tank so he doesn’t see himself. If he is always flaring up because he perceives another fish in the tank he will be under constant stress and prone to illness.
How can I have two male Betta fish in the same tank?
The only possible way is to use a divider system to partition the tank. Otherwise, two males in the same tank will severely injure or even kill each other.
Male Bettas are aggressive fish, and will attack each other and fish similar to them. It’s important to realize this when planning the environment where your Betta will live. In fact, even having two in the same tank with a partition isn't always a great idea, as there will be constant stress.
Can Betta live in a community tank with my other fish?
Maybe. It depends on the temperament of the other fish, and your Betta. Many people keep Bettas in tanks or bowls separate from their other fish, which is fine. But few people realize Bettas can be fine community fish as well, under the right circumstances.
Always have a backup plan (small tank or bowl) ready in case Betta doesn’t get along. See the article listed above for more information.
What are the correct water conditions for a Betta?
If you are lucky enough to live where you have fresh, clean water without additives floating around in it, this will be fine for your Betta.
If your water is drinkable, but you know it contains additives such as chlorine, there are dissolving tablets you can purchase that will condition the water and make it safe for your Betta.
If you are unsure about the safety of your water you can purchase quality bottled spring water.
It’s a good idea to have the pH of your tap water tested. You can bring a sample and ask the staff at the pet store to do this for you, or you can purchase a kit and do it yourself.
Should I wait for the tank water to get visibly murky before doing a water change?
No! By then it’s too late.
If your Betta lives in an unfiltered setup you’ll need to completely change his water and clean his tank weekly. If he is in a tank with filtration, you need to change about 20% of his water weekly.
It’s best not to net him if you need to remove him from his home. His fins are fragile and it can greatly stress him. A better idea is to scoop him out into a small cup or bowl while you perform the weekly maintenance.
Be aware that Bettas can jump, so make sure he’s in a safe place.
Where do Betta Fish come from?
In the wild, Betta (Betta splendens) can be found in ponds, slow-moving creeks and rivers in Southeast Asia.
The Bettas you purchase in the pet stores are all male, and bred to bring out their amazing colors and flowing fins. Wild Bettas are far more dull. Some pet stores sell female Bettas, but they are not nearly as common.
What makes them different than other fish?
Betta fish are Anabantoids, which means they can breathe air above the water through their mouths as well as obtain oxygen from the water through their gills.
This is why you’re able to keep a Betta in a bowl without filtration or water movement, for short periods of time: They can exist in low-oxygen water environments where other fish would perish. In the wild, this means rice paddies or even muddy puddles.
However, this is not an excuse to keep Betta fish in inhumane conditions. You could live in a closet if you had to, but it wouldn't be very pleasant!
What Do Betta Fish Eat?
Your Betta will eat flake food, or special Betta pellets, as well as freeze-dried foods and (thawed) frozen foods. Experiment and see when he likes. It’s best to find a good flake or pellet food for his regular feedings and provide the more exotic foods as treats.
Your Betta won’t eat a lot, so pay attention to what he’s letting float to the bottom of the tank and learn to gauge the appropriate amount of food to feed. Remember, he is one small fish and doesn't need a lot of food. Uneaten food can spoil the water.
Why is his face white?
This is due to stress. If he just went through a water change or some other event where his environment was disturbed he should relax in a few minutes. If it seems like he’s always stressed some possible reasons include poor water conditions, no hiding spots in the tank, or a tank that is too small or overcrowded.
Why is my Betta swimming sideways?
If you notice buoyancy issues with your fish, it could be because of swim bladder issues. Overfeeding and poor water conditions are the cause of many Betta maladies. Do a water change, and switch to an alternate day feed/fast schedule for a week and see if he improves.
Why are my Betta’s fins deteriorating?
This is often due to poor water conditions. Keep up with water changes, don’t overfeed, keep his water super-clean and he ought to recover.
Why does my fish look like his scales are ready to pop off?
If your Betta seems to be blowing up like a balloon to the point where his scales seem to be ready to burst, this is condition called dropsy. Unfortunately it is usually fatal, but can be prevented if you avoid overfeeding, especially live or very rich foods like bloodworms.
Take Good Care of Your Betta!
Betta are so popular not just because they are beautiful, but also because they are so easy to take care of. But don’t make the mistake of thinking they are disposable pets. If you follow the simple steps necessary to keep your Betta happy and healthy, he’ll live a couple of years and might even end up your favorite fish.
Please don’t keep your Betta in a tiny cube, and if you’re given one in a plant vase please liberate him as soon as possible. Good luck with your Betta, and here’s hoping there are many happy bubble nests in your future!
How is your Betta Care knowledge?
Do you feel confident that you know all the facts to properly care for your Betta fish?
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