Pamela enjoys enriching her betta's habitat with bamboo and decorative stones and hopes to share tips with other betta fans.
Bettas or betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, come from a tropical area in Thailand. They are very colorful, antisocial fish that breathe air. They do not have gills like most other fish, so they can’t breathe underwater. It’s important they have plenty of room at the top of their tank so they can get air. A lot of people don’t know this and inadvertently smother their betta after getting them home.
Betta Tank Supplies
- Large tank: I found my bowl at Target; it looks like a large brandy snifter and holds about two and a half gallons of water—plenty of room for one male betta and four bamboo plants.
- Plants: My plants have about eight or nine-inch stems, eighteen inches long counting the leaves.
- Rocks: My rocks also came from Target. I like the black ones because they give a pretty contrast with the bright color of the fish and the nice green of the plants. Note: Make sure you clean your rocks really well before placing them in your fish’s home. I don’t use soap, but if you do, be sure to rinse very well.
I keep my bowl on a ledge above my kitchen sink that is between my living room and kitchen. My back wall is all glass, one large window and a patio door. Bamboo doesn’t need a lot of sunlight; in fact, I’ve seen them growing fine in office buildings with only fluorescent lighting. Bettas shouldn’t be in direct light mostly due to algae growing more quickly in their tank.
Rocks and Bamboo Enrich the Environment
I put black river stones in the bottom because I like the look of them and to help hold the bamboo in place. My fish enjoys having the plants to hide behind, and it gives a more natural feel to his home. Bamboo and bettas come from the same region and live happily in the same environment. Bamboo and bettas need their water replaced and their homes cleaned routinely, so they do well together.
Bettas Are Solitary
Do not put two bettas in a container, as they will fight to the death—hence the name Siamese fighting fish. In the wild, they are loners and keep to themselves unless mating, and they are only together for a short time. They are pretty aggressive even when mating and sometimes accidentally squeeze the female to death, so I don’t advise having multiple fish unless you know what you are doing. One is plenty for me.
Purchase Quality Food
I don’t recommend buying the cheap pellets at Walmart; this is comparable to buying cheap dog food that is full of fillers. Bettas eat so little that it isn’t much more expensive to buy good food that is mostly fish and better for them. Any good pet store will carry the better variety.
Give them one flake a day and crumble it between your thumb and forefinger (or as directed on the packaging). If you drop the flake in the tank whole, it will float, and as he tries to eat, most of it will fall below in the rocks where he can’t get to it; it will also dirty the water more quickly. When it's crumbled, he has a better chance to eat it all. He has a tiny tummy and doesn’t need very much.
About every three to four weeks, you will need to clean out his water and put in new. Bottled water that is free of chlorine is best. If you have well water, you don’t have to worry about that. Make sure the water is room temperature—not too cold or too warm.
How to Clean Your Betta's Habitat
Take a fish net and scoop out your betta, putting him in a temporary vase until you have cleaned his home. I like a vase because some fish will jump, and I wouldn’t want to put him in a shallow bowl taking that risk.
How to Clean the Tank
- Rub the bamboo with your fingers under running water to remove any algae that has built up on the plants; be careful with tender roots.
- Take a scrubber sponge and clean any residue on the sides of the bowl and clean the rocks thoroughly to clean away any algae or dirt.
- Replace your stones and bamboo, arranging the rocks to hold the plants in place. Refill with water and lastly pour in your fish.
Maintain the Correct Temperature
Betta fish are tropical animals, so you may need to put in a small heater. You can also buy stick-on thermometers to monitor the temperature in your fish bowl. Keeping them warm enough is important.
Bamboo and Bettas Thrive Together
Bamboo and bettas live well together. The droppings from the fish feed the plant, and the fish enjoys having natural plants to hide and play in. I've noticed the bamboo that are in my fish tank are healthier than the ones just growing in a container.
You can add ornaments; just don't go overboard. You want your betta to have plenty of room to swim around. They aren't as active as other fish but still need exercise.
Bettas Deserve Care and Attention
Remember, this is a live animal and needs care, so if you don't have time to feed your fish or clean his tank, you should reconsider getting a betta. They are less work than a dog but still need attention. Mine enjoys watching me almost as much as I like looking at him.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Emily on July 24, 2020:
Please don't EVER put a betta in a small bowl!! Get a 5 gallon at the smallest with filtration and a heater! I have a beautiful black orchid male in a 5 gallon...for now. He is in with cat fish and a small pleco with a heater and outside hanging filtration system on LOW! He has his hide out house that he LOVES to sleep inside. He has few places to lay on at different levels. He even loves to jump for food. So another tip put a lid on the tank...they can jump out of the water! Bettas have different personalities and love to greet you when your near by. I'm working on a 20 gallon planted tank as I want to have a sorority of female bettas and one day breed. But how can I breed them knowing there are so many people out there with little knowledge of betta fish! I would die knowing if just one baby betta was put in a bowl like this woman did to hers! Sure its larger than the how they are kept at the pet store but that's the extent of it. It is NOT any better of than larger! I will add i got my gorgeous male from Petco which was heartbreaking not being able to save them all! He was small and skinny. Now he is enormous! I didn't know they could get as big as he is...time for a 10 gallon! I can't wait as then i can save another lol!
FishFacts on February 10, 2020:
Similar to what has already been said, this is COMPLETELY WRONG and it is sad to see that people think this is spoiling their betta. This needs to be taken down by the website or the author because it is promoting horrible living conditions. Some other things that need to be said IN ADDITION TO PREVIOUS COMMENTS:
Yes, well water is technically fine but you should always have a water conditioner. Using bottled water and especially doing such a large percentage water change removes all good bacteria and shocks the fish.
Under very little circumstances should you ever remove the fish, you will stress it out way too much. (Another reason for a filter and a bigger tank)
TO THE AUTHOR: You clearly care about your betta. I hope you find more reliable sources of information and stop promoting this cruel way of fish keeping.
Hannah on February 02, 2020:
Bettas need AT LEAST a 5 gallon to thrive and be happy, two is like you living in your bathroom and never leaving.
One flake a DAY is practically STARVING THEM.
With a bowl that small you need to do a 15-20 percent water change DAILY.
You need a heater that will make the water 78-80 degrees so they can be happy.
They absolutely have gills your information is so wrong.
This is cruel to a fish.
Aria on February 02, 2020:
Please do NOT listen to this woman. There are SO MANY THINGS WRONG WITH THIS ARTICLE. Betta fish DO NOT LIVE IN SMALL PUDDLE WITH NO FILTRATION FOR ONE. Number 2, round bowls with no filtration or heating system are freaking terrible! Bettas require a 5-gallon tank to be sufficiently thriving, not just living. 2, IT. IS. A. FISH. BETTA FISH HAVE GILLS, YOU MORON! You are the most incompetent pet owner and I would not trust you to own a goddamned FLEA much less a fish! Please ignore this article and please, please, PLEASE go do your own research and ignore this crazy lady!
Sabrina on December 31, 2019:
If you keep only 1 beta in an appropriate size tank, can other non aggressive fish be added without issues? Like tetras or something? For more activity and color?
Rossco on December 17, 2019:
Hi, Pamela, quick question here. Has your male beta fish ever made a bubble nest in this tank/vase set up?
muscleguy32 on March 13, 2019:
" They do not have gills like most other fish so they can’t breathe under water. "
This is absolutely and utterly wrong. Even a cursory look at a betta will reveal deeply red gills. They are deeply red as another adaptation to living in often oxygen poor water. The red comes from LOTS of haemoglobin.
Anabantids have an accessory breathing organ in their heads a bit like a lung. This enables them to breathe air from the surface but it does not replace the gills. Gouramis, paradise fish and bettas are all anabantids.
I'm afraid I have no faith in the rest of the article from someone so ignorant.
Yours Muscleguy BSc. PhD.
John10012 on March 07, 2019:
This Betta vase looks great and is a great idea. That vase is quite big and looks similar in size to some of the small BiOrb aquariums you see. Possibly 15 litres or 3 Imperial Gallons, Perhaps 2 to 2½ Imp Gallons to the waterline.
The only thing really needed would be a very small heater of maybe 25 or 50w for any times when room temperature would not be enough to keep the water between 78°F and 80°F a Betta's preferred and natural temperature range. The author may live somewhere blazing hot though near the tropics so might not even need a heater.
For those saying a filter is needed you have missed the obvious staring you right in the face. The stones and bamboo itself is the filter sucking up fish waste and ammonia and I am sure with water changes as well this set up is pretty decent.
Wolfman on June 24, 2018:
I'm getting a pair of fighter plakat bettafish to breed they will have lots of babies and they will be fed brime shrimp and when they become mid adults they will eat blackworms then soon they will start their stamina training for 10 days to half a week then then later I will send 3 to Cambodia for fighting mine will last in a fight for 7 to 8 hours I call these my 20* fighters.
Wolfman on May 31, 2018:
Well as for me I'm breeding 2 of the top plakat fighter bettas of all time I can't wait till the babies come these will be the GREATEST fighter plakats since MUHAMMAD ALI and the ROYAL WEDDING. If they were to fight a plakat in Cambodia they would win cause their fight style would be multidimensional that makes them 20* plakat fighter bettas.
As[en on May 07, 2018:
You need a filter and heater
Mckenna on March 22, 2018:
I've kept Betta sorority and single male Bettas. Of course Bettas live in a bigger environment in the wild! So does every other fish! So I guess we should all return our fish to the wild instead of keeping them. ( I'm joking please don't start an invasive species epidemic)
Although I choose to keep my bettas in a community tank of 15 to 29 gallons I don't attack others for their choices in reasonable tank size. As long as the betta is kept in more than 2 gallons by it's self it honestly will be fine. Bettas don't live in puddles but they do live in shallow low flow waters. Do NOT use a powerful filter with them. You will damage their fins.
Ginger on March 13, 2018:
Theres alot to discuss here. Alright. Just because an animal is hardy enough to keep in a small container, it doesnt mean thats the care it deserves. Bettas dont come from puddles. Nothing comes from puddles, because a puddle is not a proper home for ANYTHING. Bettas come from rice paddies. Shallow, but they go for MILES. These paddies are densely planted, and this is why experienced keepers like myself reccomend 5+ gallons of water with decent plant cover, either fake or real plants. Fish produce ammonia with their waste, and this ammonia will build up and poison an animal very quickly. This is why you cant keep them in small containers, and why a seeded filter with beneficial bacteria is CRITICAL to every fishkeeper. This beneficial bacteria neutralizes ammonia in the water. The water for a betta is ideally 76-82 degrees F. Tropical fish from southeast asia. Bettas need high protein diets and a variety of frozen, live or dried foods to stay healthy. Water changes should be done with water conditioner and a ph buffer if the natural ph of your water is too high or too low. The ideal ph is 7.0. I realize that its commonly believed that bettas dont need anything more than a .4 gallon vase and a water change everytime you remember to, but its simply not true. A betta can live 5+ years in proper care. A vase is not proper care. Please, please, for your animals sake, reconsider your set ups. And please remember that surviving is not thriving. Your fish will thank you with many years of joy to come!
Alyssasnell on January 26, 2018:
You obviously care about your betta, so please hear me out. Bettas need a filter. It stores beneficial bacteria. Please consider reading about the nitrogen cycle and how it benefits bettas. They do not live in puddles, they live in slow moving streams with natural filtration. They are only in puddles during dry seasons and that is when they die off the most. Also, they are labarynth breathers and use both lungs and gills. They also only breath at the surface if there is insufficient oxygen in the water due to poor parameters and stagnant old water. That said, with a tank that size, you should be changing your water at least 1-2 times per week. 50% water changes. This will help keep ammonia low. Please do not rely on bottled water. You need to use a water conditioner. The water may be free of chlorine, but it is still containing heavy metals and possibly chloromines. A true water conditioner is the only way to eliminate this. A healthy betta can also live up to 7 years if properly cared for. Your betta may be surviving, but if you are only changing the ammonia-ridden bottled water once a month, i assure you he is not thriving. Please consider doing more research from better sources. If you use facebook there is a group called bettafish keepers and it contains very valuable and informative information, you and your bettas would benefit greatly. Sorry to be "that" person, but i couldn't say nothing. I sincerely hope you do consider what I have said
Anonamys on December 20, 2017:
Bettas have both gills and a lung, betta fish just prefer not to use their gills. bettas can live for up to 4 years if taken care of and since they are tropical fish, they need a heater. you failed to mention that bettas are also picky eaters. you also may want to think about getting a low flow filter for your fish if you don't want to clean the bowl as often as you probably do now. I appreciate that you didn't stick your fish in a 1 gallon or smaller like some horrible people do, but next time you get a pet, do some research. if you can, do research on every aspect of that specific pet you want, even breeding. you can learn a thing or two from their habits if you find something off.
Vignesh V on November 06, 2017:
can baboo be used as aquarium plant?
wolfman jenkins on August 01, 2017:
I'm soon getting a pair of bettafish to breed they will have lots of babies. The babies will grow up and win 20 fights they will be 20-0 champions.
CJ on July 31, 2017:
Doris, you said your Betta live 5 yrs but didnt tell us if they were in bowls and how you cared for them, water changes, food u use, etc
Doris on June 13, 2017:
Hi, just read you blog. I enjoy it. I have had several betas, 12 to be exact, I guess I have been lucky, my betas seems to live longer then 2 years, my has lived around 5 to 6 years. My last one just died after 5 years and only because a friend moved from where I had him and placed her by the window. I found that it lives longer in certain areas of the house, I keep mine in the hallway, bedroom and the bathroom with different scenarios, sometimes with a plant, sometimes with just rocks.
Evan Soles on June 06, 2017:
This may sound dumb but I didn't read it so is it lucky Bamboo
Don Pratt from United States on May 05, 2017:
Hi again Pamela, I have done a lot of trials with Betta and have successfully bred and raised many . I have found that occasionally a Betta seems unhappy in a smaller home but I have also raised many in a 1 gallon 2 gallon 3 gallon up to 5 and 10 gallon containers . To me every Betta has a different personality which I find enlightening and fascinating. I see you have many critics with specific guidelines they seem to demand . I have been in the aquarium hobby for over 30 years and my guideline is this, if a Betta has bright colors healthy appetite and is energetic then that Betta is not stressed . I admire your sticking to your guns with your bamboo set up . You are interacting with your fish and you take time to care for him. Your little Betta seems happy and healthy. I have had them live for 3 years in a 2 gallon container looking and acting healthy their whole life and have successfully bred them in a 2 gallon container. I wish you continued success with your Betta keeping !
Ruth on May 04, 2017:
Thank you all your tips are greatly appreciated i love bettas and bamboo plants now i can have both together
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on April 30, 2017:
In the wild, bettas live in a tiny puddle not much bigger than they are with no filtration system. They are very hardy fish with minimal care needed. I've raised them for years without any problems.
Caitlin1986 on April 20, 2017:
A betta needs filtration in order to live a happy healthy life. Before buying a betta u should have a tank (5gallons preferably..no less than 2.5gallons) that has an eastablished nitrogen cycle. Beneficial bacteria needs to be established so that it will turn ammonia in2 nitrite and then in2 the less harmful nitrate which u remove by doing a partial water change. High levels of ammonia and/or nitrite can kill your fish...it would be like us swimming in a kiddy pool of water and large amounts of waste. You also should invest in the API Freshwater Master Test Kit so u can regularly check ur water parameters 2 make sure water quality is pristine. If u r keeping a betta in a bowl with no filtration u should be doing 100% water changes daily 2 keep the ammonia low. Bad water quality is the leading cause of disease and death among fish. You cant just buy a fish and throw it in some bottled water expecting it 2 thrive. As a responsible fish owner u need 2 meet the water quality specifications that every fish deserves...u r in fact trying to mimic nature. Please ppl do ur research.
Theresa Dietz on March 06, 2017:
Yes they could be fine but why should we accept the responsibility of taking in wild creatures and then subjecting them to restrictive environments that are really not acceptable for enhancing the daily activity and life
of such beautiful creatures.
I, too, could live in a closet if given food and water but what a sad comment on our humanity.
dkokie2 on February 17, 2017:
I appologize for any typos in previous post I have fat fingers and a small tablet. Also the moss ball should have read Marimo moss ball.
dkokie2 on February 17, 2017:
I appoligize for any typos in my previous post. I am not an idiot just have fat fingers and a small tablet. I tried to edit the post but it would not take the resubmitting..
dkokie2 on February 17, 2017:
I am fostering a Betta. A woman who rides my bus had purchased a Betta but when her cloth shopping bag handle broke she would have to use both hands to carry bag and no way to carry the cup with the Betta in it. She asked me if I would the Betta home and she would get it later. I gave her my cell number and she gave me the Betta and the food for it. I also offer to repair hhercshopping bag since I see. After two days I could no longer stand to see the Betta in the little cup. I am a low income senior so purchasing a tank is not monetarily feasible but I did find a larger round container for about $8 and also bought some dried bloodworms. I called the University of Oklahoma which has an excellent veterinary college and was able to speak with a vet that specializes in aquatic animals. I was told Betta do okay in smaller containers although on gal+ is preferred. He also said pellets are preferred but they should be soaked in dechlorinated water before feeding so as not to cause bloating. He said a Betta in a smaller container should not be fed more than every other day since it does not get as much exercise as one in a larger container. He suggested using a Misamo (not sure of spelling) moss ball as a plant in a small container since it does not grow very fast. Also, the moss ball is an excellent filter removing ammonia in the water and is the best at converting any wassa watero nitrite and then to nitrate for its own food and releases oxygen into the water. He said using a cup to remove the Betta is okay but there is type of net that is made from a micromesh that is okay for Betta. He said water change is important but to only do a 25% change once a week (unless really dirty). I told him about the sun tea jar idea and he said it was a good idea and because going to try it himself. Who knew a fish could be fostered (lol). The fish guru at Petco said if I find I can't continue to foster Impie that Petco will take him and foster him and find an adoptive forever home for him ( again "who knew). To keep him I would need to get a larger container when I can afford it. I noticed Impie was very pale when I first got him. The vet said he was most likely stressed and that his color should return with proper care. A week later rather than a pale lavender color Impie is now turning a red color so I guess I am doing something right. The vet also said that Betta also liked steamed sweet potatoes and also like a canned pea with the outer shell removed to be given as occasional treats. He said changing up the food with live brine shrimp or small pieces of raw shrimp (well rinsed) is great to do. Any ideas for a financially strapped senior will be appreciated. If this were a letter to Dear Abby I could sign it "Unintentional Foster Parent" (lol).
smart arse on November 30, 2016:
is the bamboo for the fish to use as a snorkel?
gracie on November 21, 2016:
you need a heater & filter + at least 3 gallons.
Don't use rounded bowls or tanks
Lelina on October 29, 2016:
this is the most uninformed article I have yet to see online about Bettas! I can't believe this is a pet website....
first off, a "guy who owns an aquarium" wants to sell you fish and supplies, and isn't a credible resource. If they really cared about proper care and well being of fish, they wouldn't house them all together, in tanks that can't filter the bioloads. Nor would they store bettas in cups.
fish in pet stores die on the daily!
Buy a proper book about Betta care.
-3 gallon minimum
-25% water changes, weekly, if you have a filter. If not, more water changes are needed. the smaller the aquarium, the more the water should be changed.
-never wash all the decor and tank at one time, as it kills the beneficial bacteria
-blood worms/brine shrimp
-master test kit to check PH, ammonia, etc.
-bamboo is fine
-heater for 78-80 degrees
thats the basic info to get started
hkjhkj on October 22, 2016:
bettas should NOT be in tanks this small and please please look up proper pet care before you get a fish. fish are animals too!
thegildedswampgirl on May 20, 2016:
the plant that you are using is not actually a true bamboo, it is in the dracena family
Luisa on March 22, 2016:
The good thing with this page is you learn a lot, not only from the writer of this article but from the comments. I just pick-up the right stuff and smile and get entertained with the "corrections" for the wrong ones (e.g. spelling, gills vs no gills). Overall I enjoyed this page. Thanks Pamela.
raisin on March 21, 2016:
You are very close in saying that bettas don't have gills. But take a look at him while he is flaring- he will puff out his gills! The fact is they do have gills and CAN breath under water, but only if the surface is agitated enough (by a filter usually) to put oxygen into the water. Otherwise, they suck up surface oxygen with their LABYRNTH ORGAN, which is like lungs.
Also "BETTA" is correct, technically. "beta" is autocorrect's fault.
Arya on July 24, 2015:
its Betta, it is NOT interchangeable. Beta is the last version before the software is fully released to all actual customers. Last "test" release before the "released" production version.
this lady has ALOT of wrong info. The Organ in which they 'breathe air' as she says is called the Labyrinth Organ, Betta and Gouramis both have this organ alot with some other fish in the same family. This organ allows labyrinth fish to take in oxygen directly from the air, instead of taking it from the water in which they reside through use of gills. The labyrinth organ helps the inhaled oxygen to be absorbed into the bloodstream. They DO have gills, that is how they mainly get oxygen.
Also after cleaning the tank, or when you first get the fish. DO NOT just dump your fish in, let them float in the cup you put them in for about 15 to 20 minutes to let them acclimate to the water temp, before you dump them in. Don't shock them by dropping them in water that is not the same temp.
Morgana on May 17, 2015:
How can you say betta is interchangeable with beta? Betta is a genus name. You can't change it! And you really should have bettas in larger tanks. It's cruel to keep them in a bowl. I have been raising and breeding betta fish for almost 15 years now. They need heaters, filters, proper water stabilizers, etc.
Mik on October 08, 2014:
I'm sorry but that thing about betta's only breathing air is hooey. Bettas have functioning gills and they also have a secondary "lung" system (if you can call it that) which allows them to suck in air and blow bubbles. When bettas reproduce the males create a bubble nest to keep the eggs and young fish safe. The secondary system is not their way of breathing. It's an accessory to reproduction.
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on February 03, 2014:
I wouldn't use the drops, they may harm the fish. Probably plant food. My bamboo did very well without any kind of food so you shouldn't need any.
Monika on January 31, 2014:
I have a Question you know how Bamboo Plants Come With A green bottle to put it as Drops, Will it affect My betta.?
jonno96 from Australia on November 28, 2012:
Chewy Mommy on October 30, 2012:
I had no idea that Betas breathed air, although it does make sense. Every person I have met who has had a Beta has had it in an open bowl.
myawn from Florida on October 20, 2012:
I didn't know much about taking care of the bamboo plant. Thanks for the information. Nice hub!
Kelela on September 26, 2012:
I want to make note to say, that when taking care of a betta fish, the best way to do this, is to have a tank, preferably with more horizontal room, rather than vertical, and bowls are really not suitable, they don't have enough room to really swim, as betta fish love to swim, and to watch them swim, is a beautiful thing, I have 5 betta fish, 3 boys, and 2 girls, and the boys have 5 gallon tanks, with all the amenities, my HM has a betta floating log, and plenty of silk, and live plants, and a filter for prestine water, and unless your tank is a "Cycled" tank, water cleaning is a must on a weekly basis. If your tank is under 5 gallons you will need to do a water change, 2x a week, 1/2 and then a full water change. Also please do not "Net" your betta fish, as it can be damaging to their fins, it is best to "Cup" them, and clean the tank thoroughly, and the best plants to have would be Silk, and Real plants..and keep your betta away from drafts, and uneven tables, and places where your tank, could drop. Also it is very important to have a heater, and keep a consistent temp of 78 degrees and a thermometer to watch for temp flucuations, as this will get your betta very sick, if the temp drops, as room temp cannot remain stable, there will be rapid flucuations, as night falls, and temps can drop 10 degrees or more.
roxygurl464 from New Jersey on July 27, 2012:
Reading this Hub makes me want a Beta fish! They are so beautiful and so calming to watch. I am definitely going to add some bamboo for a little Asian flare as well! Great Hub, thumbs up & shared!
T4an from Toronto, Ontario on July 27, 2012:
Very good hub. I never thought of adding bamboo to my tank. I used to have beta fish on my desk at work. This hub makes me want to get another one. Voted up!
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on July 26, 2012:
JaKGuzi, I buy the flakes because they were recommended by a man that owns an aquarium store. He said the pellets have a lot of filler that isn't good for the fish. If you over feed them the water will become dirty sooner. Sounds like you are doing fine, just read the ingredients on container and see what is in the food. They mostly eat fish in the wild.
Cybermouse, I had noticed that my bamboo that live with my beta are much more healthy than the ones in regular bamboo planters I figured the fish somehow fertilized the plants.
Thanks for reading.
Cybermouse from Bentonville, AR on July 25, 2012:
Excellent hub, bamboo is a great idea for plants.
I can clarify a few points being discussed here: for one, betta fish do have gills. However, despite this, they will drown (as you said) if they can't reach the water surface. They get most of their oxygen from the surface, but I've seen my bettas go as long as ten minutes without breathing air from the surface - something that I don't believe is possible without gills. If you're still in any doubt, just look carefully and you'll notice two little flappy things on either side of their head that move back and forth when they breathe. One way to easily identify a bad water condition is if they are breathing very fast but don't appear scared - too much ammonia in the water. If this happens, it's time for a water change!
The fish waste actually does not directly feed the plants. Via the Nitrogen Cycle, its byproducts can feed plants, but as-is, the fish waste actually kills them. I've had every live plant I bought die from this very cause - the plant chokes on the fish waste (ammonia) and then itself decays and produces more ammonia, compounding the problem. Ammonia is a powerful cleaning agent, not a plant fertilizer. It would be a miracle of science if you could get ammonia to fertilize anything!
Instead, it is two types of bacteria (known as the biological filter) that turn the ammonia into nitrites and then nitrates, and the nitrates are what actually feed the plant. Cleaning the tank completely is bad - this kills all the bacteria, forcing the Nitrogen Cycle to start from scratch again. This lack of bacteria is known as "new tank syndrome" and can kill fish if not managed carefully - ammonia builds up quite rapidly, with nothing to break it down or make it less harmful. Thus, when cleaning the tank, never change all of the water, so the biological filter stays intact. The bacteria grow on every surface in the aquarium - plants, gravel, decorations, and the sides of the tank. When people talk about "cycling" a new tank before adding fish, this refers to building up the biological filter and thereby avoiding the new tank syndrome. You can buy some of this bacteria at pet stores to help kick start the process.
As far as plant food goes, I am guessing store-bought plant food would be a lot less harmful to the fish than ammonia. It probably doesn't affect all fish the same, but I might consider using some if it was labeled betta-safe.
JaKGuzi from Plano, TX on July 25, 2012:
Thank you so much Pamela! I received my betta from a coworker at school who said the children were picking on him too much. I love my little Clyde. She has a great deal of experience with betta fish, and suggested to get him pellets, instead of flakes, because flakes make the water foggy and dirty faster, in addition the betta eats the pellet better with less sinking to the bottom. I had him in those little containers they sell at the pet store. I cleaned his bowl out once a wk, but saw it stayed pretty clean because of the pellets so I did every other wk. Summer vacation came, and I brought him home. I didn't like his small container, so I did some searching and bumped into your hub! I had never heard of this site, but I read up on your info, and having already a bamboo plant, I thought this was perfect! I got a large vase, just a little taller than yours, and more smooth rocks 3 1/2 inches. I put little Clyde in there with the bamboo, right on my breakfast table that overlooks the backyard. HE LOVES IT. He always swam up to me, but now he swims more, does little flips and looks so happy! THANK YOU SO MUCH! I am wondering then, you said 3-4 wks on changing water? I have read more often...but you have had fish in your vase for a while and they all did well? How do u decide between 3 or 4?
Also, one last comment, I did read on this betta site that strongly recommended NOT to use a net for the bettas b/c their fins can get damaged in the process. They recommended using a small cup to get him out along with some water for his bowl. I had just purchased a net, but afraid of hurting his fins, I am going to return it. Have you heard or searched about this before?
Again, thank you so much for posting! Clyde thanks you for his new home too! From a small container to an almost 3 gallon vase! :-)
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on July 25, 2012:
Bamboo are very attractive in the home and look nice with beta fish. Mind seems to enjoy them. Thanks for reading, Bluebird.
bluebird on July 25, 2012:
Great hub. I've learned alot about Betas from our son who has three. Using bamboo for foliage is a wonderful idea. I like bamboo in the house also.
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on July 22, 2012:
Beta fish must have special food. I've read some articles that said they can live on water lily roots but that isn't true. They are meat eaters and in the wild have a wide diet of insects and water life. Beta food has all the nutrients he will need to stay healthy.
Beta food is not very much and they eat so little it doesn't cost much to feed them. I got my fish and food at PetSmart.
You can use any rocks or glass stones (Use only smooth glass so they can't cut themselves) just make sure you wash them thoroughly and if you use soap rinse all of the residue before putting it in your bowl.
Yes, bamboo roots are a pretty orange color.
Lorraine Burrage on July 21, 2012:
I'm preparing for my first beta/bamboo set up. I have the container and I have the bamboo. The bamboo has orange roots. Is that what they should be? Could I put in some pretty colored stones that I have that I bought at Michael's? Do I feed the fish some special food or does it just live off the roots? I would be so grateful if you could answer these questions. This document was exactly what I was looking for. I saw a nice beta/bamboo where I have my nails done and I wanted one. Thank you. Lorraine Burrage
Marcella Santos on April 17, 2012:
You can buy bettas with really good breeding on aquabid.com
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on April 17, 2012:
Anusujith, here in America they have them at pet stores and aquarium shops. Outside the US I'm not sure.
Anoop Aravind A from Nilambur, Kerala, India on April 17, 2012:
Hi Pamela good hub. from where we can by this beta fish?
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on April 07, 2012:
Beta bowls you buy in the pet store are smaller than the bowl I use. Yes, it is a great place for them to live. I've talked to aquarium experts and they said it is plenty of room for one fish.
MagicSnow on April 06, 2012:
Are you sure that is a fair way to raise them?I have had many bettas and I have only kept one in a bowl which did not do well.
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on April 06, 2012:
MagicSnow, I've raised several betas this way without any problem. They lived to their full life expectancy.
MagicSnow on April 06, 2012:
Hi.I like the idea about the bamboo but most bettas really shouldn't live in a bowl.My betta lived in a bowl for a while and really did not do well even though it was four gallons and not really a bowl(it had a flat top and bottom with curved sides like a BiUbe)
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on April 04, 2012:
Maybe you can get another one. They are a lot of fun.
Seal Beach on April 03, 2012:
I missed my Beta--Sam! The power-outage was a bit overwhelming!
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on April 03, 2012:
Thanks for reading, Valentino. Good luck with your Beta.
Valentino on April 03, 2012:
Wow, thanks a lot. Your instructions are very thorough and well done. Thank you very much!
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on March 02, 2012:
Thanks for reading, Jonny.
jonny and andi on March 01, 2012:
Thanks, Pamela - great tips! I, too was told by a guy from a pet-store, to not too (!) often clean the fish-bowl. I also use pH measurement equipment to check on the water softness. I also do deep-water fishing, using more advanced equpment like fishfinders. Currently, I use the Lowrance hds7
So deep-water fishing is definitely also pretty demanding, trust me ;)
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on February 19, 2012:
They don't have to have plants, Cortney. Make sure the water doesn't have chlorine in it and feed him everyday. Thanks for reading.
cortney on February 18, 2012:
this was very helpful for me becouse i have already killed one of my beta because i didn't have the plant i wasn't sure wat to do with the bamboo after i got and i found this it was very helpful hopfully this keeps my fish alive :)
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on February 10, 2012:
True, Santos, it is really good for plants.
santos88 from Austin, Texas on February 10, 2012:
You can also use any old fish tank water to water your other plants.
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on February 10, 2012:
Erin, don't put any plant food in the water as that would probably kill your beta. The feces from the fish feeds the plant. My bamboo that are in with my fish are healthier than the ones that are only in rocks and water or the ones in soil. I'm thinking the fish droppings add nutrients to the plants.
Erin on February 10, 2012:
I was just curious- do you need to feed the bamboo plant at all? I remember having bamboo a long time ago and they gave me a little bottle of stuff to give it like once a week. Would that harm the fish?
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on February 06, 2012:
Thanks, wonderingwoolley. I like the look of betas and bamboo together.
wonderingwoolley from Madison, WI on February 06, 2012:
This is a really cute idea. I've had several wonderful beta fish, but none of them have ever had such a nice little home as this (only plastic plants for them) This is really unique and i love that you shared it with us!
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on February 05, 2012:
czczcz, I have enjoyed mine. Your tank sounds lovely, I used to have a tank full of fish but it was too much to take care of. My small bowl is just enough for me.
CZCZCZ from Oregon on February 05, 2012:
I've seen several people do this and it is a nice look. I have a tank full of cichlids but I think a betta bamboo set up would be interesting in another part of the house.
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on January 29, 2012:
Thanks for reading Baileygenine.
baileygenine from San Francisco, CA on January 28, 2012:
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on January 26, 2012:
RetailRich, yes I have, they live in tiny little bowls until someone buys them. Mine seem very happy and get good quality food. They live to be two to three years old so I think I'm doing okay. Thanks for reading.
RetailRich on January 25, 2012:
Nice idea, but i disagree with fishlover. I was in the tropical fish business for years. They do not need 5+gallons of water to live in. A small bowl is just fine. Have you ever seen how they're shipped or sold for that matter?
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on January 25, 2012:
Santo, all I know is that the aquarium store told me they cannot breathe under water and if the top is completely closed off they will drown. I've seen some containers with plastic holding a plant and have heard those fish can't get enough air. With my set up my fish gets plenty of oxygen.
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on January 25, 2012:
John, you have to understand online writing and keyword classification for this title to make sense. Thanks for reading.
santos88 from Austin, Texas on January 25, 2012:
*Bettas DO have gills. The reason they can breathe from the air as well is because they are Anabantoids. This means they have a special organ called a Labyrinth that allows them to use air for oxygen. That is why wild bettas thrive in low oxygen bodies of water like rice patties and ponds.
John on January 25, 2012:
Before writing an article on this fish, please learn something about it as simple as it's proper name! It's name is Betta Splendens or Betta (Bed-tah) for short. There is no Beta(bay-tah)Fish or Betta Fish. The only time you use fish is to describe it i.e. Siamese Fighting Fish. Really people this is getting out of control!
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on January 16, 2012:
SanXuary, that is a good idea for people who have Country décor in their homes. The spout would be great for getting rid of some of the waste.
SanXuary on January 16, 2012:
Another great idea for Bettas. Instead purchase a large sun tea jar with a spout at the bottom. Place gravel above the spout area inside the jar. Let water sit in a jar overnight to remove chlorine and to reach room temperature. Open spout and remove water, being below the gravel it will also remove waste build up much like a ground filter in an aquarium. Replace removed water, weekly exchanges should keep your aquarium cleaner. I have seen many very nice sun tea and even punch containers that can be purchased and achieve such a need.
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on January 14, 2012:
Santo, he wasn't just an employee, he owns an aquarium store. I took his advice and have been raising bettas for years. They live to be two years old (full life expectancy) so I must be doing something right.
santos88 from Austin, Texas on January 14, 2012:
I usually dont trust store employees, they don't always know what they are talking about even if they work at an aquarium store. You would be surprised how fast the ammonia will build up, it is basically swimming in your own "stuff" for a month.
I wasn't concerned about the water, I just meant after you clean the bowl, when you out the betta back in do you acclimate him first? Because going from dirty water to clean water can be a big shock. The ph and other chemical levels will be different. Also, bettas are tropical, and should be at about 76-80 degrees, room temp can be too cold sometimes.
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on January 13, 2012:
Santos, the man at the aquarium store told me that was too often to clean the bowl. The bowl I bought is the same size as the betta bowl they sell at the pet store. My fish is healthy, seems happy and lives to the full extent of their lives so I think I'm doing okay.
Water temperature is important and why I make sure it is room temp. There are ph testers you can get if you are concerned about the water you use. I have well water which comes from an underground stream.
santos88 from Austin, Texas on January 13, 2012:
I liked this article, but I did find something that didn't sound right. You mentioned their water should be cleaned every 3-4 weeks. Bettas, while hardy, can still be sensitive to the ammonia build up. In a 2 gallon, the water should be changed at least twice a week. Ammonia builds up fast in something that small, because it comes from their waste and decaying food. Also, I am not sure of you forgot to mention this or not, but when you do a water change you need to acclimate them to the water. Putting the betta in totally new water can shock and sometimes kill them, either from the difference in temperature, ph, other chemical levels, etc. Please don't take any offense, just trying to help. :)
@Fishlover, 2-2.5 gallons is the minimum size for bettas. While 5 gallons is great, it isn't totally necessary. A betta will do just fine in a 2.5.
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on September 17, 2011:
Thanks for reading, RalphGreene.
RalphGreene on September 13, 2011:
Wow! That's really interesting having bamboos and Betta together.Great hub, Pamela.
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on July 31, 2011:
fashion on July 31, 2011:
Awesome hub and you really did your research.Well done
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on July 05, 2011:
Thanks for reading, Mark.
MarkMAllen15 on July 05, 2011:
I'm glad I took a dropped here. Interesting hub!
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on June 30, 2011:
Fishlover, I've heard they need more water but the ones I've had seem to do okay in a 2 gallon bowl. As far as a heater, I live in the south so it doesn't get that cold here plus I have central heat and air. Keeping the water clean is very important. Thanks for your input.
Fishlover on June 29, 2011:
Hi, just wanted to point a couple of things out...
unfortuneately, betta fish need five plus gallons of water, as well as a heater. They also need a cycled tank (as any other fish) and cannot be kept in a bowl. You need to do partial water changes every week, as they require very clean water. You would also need to test the water, and watch out for diseases, as well as other elements.
Pamela N Red (author) from Oklahoma on June 29, 2011:
They look good together, rwelton and it give the Betta a place to hide.
rwelton from Sacramento CA on June 28, 2011:
Very cool hub - have had fish and have bamboo - never thought to "co-mingle" them.