Halfmoon Betta Fish Care and Tips
Betta fish are beautiful and elegant pets. Often called Siamese fighting fish, Bettas are vibrant and can live from two to four years with the proper care.
As small as they are, bettas need specific care. They are tropical fish with space and temperature requirements to stay healthy. If you are thinking about getting a betta, please do your research first. If you buy one from a general pet store, chances are you won't get the right advice about how to care for your fish. Read on to learn the following:
- About betta fish
- Aquarium sizes and necessary inclusions
- Water temperature
- Bringing a betta home safely
- Cleaning the tank
- Signs of good health
About Betta Fish
Halfmoon betta fish are among the prettiest tropical fish species, due to their 180-degree, fan-like tails. They are known for their brilliant colors—red, blue, green, purple, and orange—and large, flowing fins.
Betta fish have been kept as pets in Thailand and Malaysia since before the 19th century. The males were bred to fight each other. Naturally aggressive, pet betta fish fight longer and more ferociously than they would in the wild.
Betta fish fights became popular in Thailand in the mid-1800s. By the 1890s it became common for Europeans to keep bettas as pets too and the species was imported to France, Germany, and then Moscow.
It is incorrectly thought that bettas are low-maintenance pets. One reason is that they have what is called a labyrinth organ, that allows them to breathe air at the water's surface. It used to be thought that this trait meant the fish could live happily in an unmaintained aquaria. In fact, poor water quality will make any tropical fish, including betta, more susceptible to disease, including fin rot.
Best Tanks for Betta Fish
Bettas are quite sensitive to habitat changes. You may be told that your betta will live happily in a small fishbowl. This is not true.
- Betta fish live longer, happier lives when they have ample space. Five gallon aquariums are best.
- Bettas can live with other fish, but a male should never live with another male, as they will fight one another.
Ideal Aquarium Conditions
At least five gallons (19 liters).
73-81 °F (23-27 °C).
Under-gravel type with adjustable control.
To keep the water at approximately 76 °F.
Inside the Tank
Real or silk plants are best, to avoid cutting the betta's fins.
Lava rocks work well, as long as they are not sharp. Good bacteria will grow in the rock's porous surfaces.
Find something big enough to give your betta a place to hide when they want to.
Buying a Betta and Bringing it Home
The best place to be sure that you are getting a healthy betta fish is to buy one from a store that cares for their fish under excellent conditions.
- Are the bettas living in little cups or bowls? If so, this is not a good place to buy your fish.
- Are the fish active, colorful, and living well with other fish in an aquarium? If so, then this is a store that knows what it is selling.
- If you choose to buy a fish online, look for an experienced dealer or breeder. Ask them about the conditions in which they keep the fish and how they will ship the live fish to you. Also, ask to see pictures of the fish before making a purchase.
Acclimating to a New Tank
When you bring your betta home from the store (or receive it in the mail), have their tank ready.
- Fill the tank about 24 hours before introducing your new fish. Add a basic water conditioner (follow the directions on the bottle). The water should be de-chlorinated and the right temperature by the time you introduce your fish.
- Place your betta in a container, or keep it in its original container. Slowly pour out about 1/4 of the water in the container and replace it with tank water.
- After about 5-10 minutes, do this again, but take out a little bit more water this time.
- Repeat this three times, every 5-10 minutes.
- Finally, use a net to release your betta into its new tank.
What to Feed Your Betta
Betta fish are actually carnivores. They do best when they eat meat, including:
- dried shrimp
- mosquito larvae
- live brine shrimp
They also enjoy a peeled, cooked pea once a week (yes, an ordinary green pea!).
Do not over-feed your betta! Once a day, at the same time, is fine. Observe how much they eat and stick to that amount. These small fish need less food than you think!
Keeping the Tank Clean
A lot of the "dirt" that develops in a fish tank cannot be seen. This includes chemicals like ammonia, which builds up very quickly. It is important to use a good water conditioner that removes heavy metals, chorine, and chloramines.
- With that in mind, if you have a filter then cleaning the tank every week is sufficient. This does not mean replacing all the water in your tank. Do a 50% water change only, to reduce the chance of shock to your fish.
- Get a test kit. If the test shows high ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate, then do a larger water change to get levels back to 0.
- Make sure to vacuum the gravel once a week (with a special aquarium vacuum).
- If you have no filter in place, you should get one. In the meantime, change 25% of the water every other day.
- Some bettas like to jump and can easily jump out of their tanks. If this is your fish, keep a lid on their tank!
Watch Your Fish: Signs of Good Health
• Bright, vibrant color.
• Smooth, gliding movements.
• Healthy appetite.
• Smooth, clean, and unblemished.
• Tails and fins are not drooping.
A Fish Owner's Poll
What do you like best about having a betta fish?
Questions & Answers
My beta fish hides vertically on the back wall of his bowl most of the time. He does come out to eat. Otherwise, I don't get to see him, what is wrong?
Nothing sounds overly wrong- some betta fish are shyer than others and prefer hiding spots. Make sure your fish has one or two covered areas to retreat to, but otherwise this can be considered normal fish behavior.
Will a female attack another female?
There’s potential, but I’ve housed two females in a ten gallon tank without issues. It depends on the size and temperament of the fish. But females are generally less aggressive than males.