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:
- All about betta fish
- Aquarium sizes and necessary inclusions
- Water temperature
- Bringing a betta home safely
- Cleaning the tank
- Signs of good health
All 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.
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
Questions & Answers
Question: If I put a male betta with a female, will the male attack the female?
Answer: Often, yes. In a large enough tank, maybe not. Keep in mind that they might also breed repeatedly and leave you with a lot of babies.
Question: Can I introduce other fish to my betta?
Answer: Yes, provided they aren’t equally aggressive fish. Females get along with other aquarium fish better than males, which will be more territorial.
Question: Will a female betta attack another female?
Answer: 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.
Question: Will a male betta kill a goldfish?
Answer: It depends on the size of the tank, the goldfish and the aggressiveness of the particular betta. In general, I have not housed goldfish with betta fish as goldfish grow far larger and take up a lot of space. I think that due to size the betta would likely leave the goldfish alone.
Question: 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?
Answer: 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.
Question: My betta spits some of his food out when eating. What’s wrong?
Answer: This is normal fish behavior! Nothing is wrong.
Question: Do you have to have a filter system for the beta fish?
Answer: Beta fish can survive without a filter, but would prefer a filter if available.
Question: How much food should I give my Halfmoon fish on its first time?
Answer: A tiny pinch of flakes or pellets is fine!
Corona time on May 29, 2020:
My betta fish just stays still all the time
Asahel on April 28, 2020:
My fish is always hiding . is it cold?
halfmoon betta on April 27, 2020:
my betta is always hanging out on the bottom of the tank . is it cold?
vhg on April 26, 2020:
do betta fish need a heater
new fish owner on March 21, 2020:
I got my daughter a Betta fish for her birthday in a cup at PetSmart. we also got a 3-gallon tank. will it be ok?
R.M.W on March 15, 2020:
my betta is lonely and she doesn't eat her food often. Is she ok?
Hector Alvarado on December 07, 2019:
Can many bettas love together?
K. L. B. on October 05, 2019:
Hey, I got my halfmoon betta fish today, and I would like some tips to help my fish have a long, and nice life. My previous fish... yeah you know.. passed away of hot water. It was my first fish and didn’t know to put cold water in first instead of hot water. R.I.P. learned from my mistake. I wanna know, should I give my halfmoon flakes? I’ve been giving him bloodworms. Are flakes ok? I might alternate between flakes and bloodworms. I just wanna know if flakes are ok to feed my fish. I also wanna know if a 3.1 gallon tank is ok for my fish. He’s been dashing around a lot on his first day. Is this a sign of stress or happiness? Or is it a common thing for halfmoons to do? I’m sorry for the long comment.
Savannah Harris on February 02, 2019:
My beta is staring at his reflection in his tank, but he is not trying to fight it ,more like just watching himself swim. Is this okay?
liya on January 01, 2019:
i have no clue when to feed my bata help of you know when because at the shop they said feed it twice a week but here they are saying once a day how do you do it ??
NT. on December 02, 2018:
Whoever knows the question to this tell me, Thank You. Why is my half moon Betta (female) keep going in the upper right corner of my 5 gallon tank?
Hussam on September 29, 2018:
Where can I find free Betta Fishes ?
Morgan on September 01, 2018:
I just got my bettas two dyas ago and they are both in .5 gallon tanks right next to each other (dont worry, theres a blinder so they cant see each other) my white one pearl, is constanly stiking to th surface of the water and doesnt really eat. my blue one, king, ill put thefoos in his mouth them spit it back out. he also hides a lot but when he does, he goes on his side under the plant. I was wondering if any of this is abnormal and also if they will be ok without a bigger tank, heater, and filter because i cant afford them right now. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Anshi on July 29, 2018:
Got one today and name her luna
Jeron Stone on June 16, 2018:
I got a halfmoon betta fish and we got him a half gallon aquarium. Should we get a bigger aquarium? He seems to do fine in a half gallon aquarium.
Katrina,Janis on April 03, 2018:
My Betta is always Asleep and he only moves for food,is this a problem if so or not,What Should i do?
Selina on December 08, 2017:
My betta is not eating the food and looks dull..and likes to stay at one place only most of the time..what shall I do..?
Chrishelle sands on November 27, 2017:
I've had my Betta for about a year now and he doesn't swim around. He lays at the top of his tank all day. I feed him at most 1 day and sometimes he doesn't eat what do I do? How can I help him? My email is: Chrishelle2004@gmail.com
Maria on November 11, 2017:
I got one today and I named it Rainbow(Rain, Raina)
EZ-E_14 on September 21, 2017:
How big do halfmoon betta get
Isabella on July 26, 2017:
I just got one and named it Eclipse
lol on July 13, 2017:
hi I got a new halfmoon betta and its royal blue, I'm kinda paranoid about their fins tearing because its perfect, but their anal fins starting like cutted edges?
Funnyman on June 20, 2017:
I got a new beta fish..... Named Wanda. Lol get it? A fish called Wanda?
Jonas A. on June 13, 2017:
Do they really need a 5 gallon tank? My betts lives happily in a 2 gallon tank.
K. on May 28, 2017:
How oftentimes should the water be changed?
sameer on April 29, 2017:
Your correct but my half moon is in brown copper with red colour but its fin rots what can i do but it is rotting only in the edges give any helpful video for this question and and i have it in 8 gallon tank with real plants ,a bowl inside the tank with 6 kg stone
J.nwarner on September 20, 2016:
Pets Supplies Plus in Marlton. Healthy Bettas. Great store. Very clean. Love shopping there.
Randy N on July 14, 2016:
What kind of aquarium is that in your photos? Brand name? Looks like a greta setup! I want one! :) Thnaks for the article - lots of good info!!
Gracey K. on July 08, 2016:
My Halfmoon was a very active little fish and swam around joyfully in his 16 gal tank. Recently he came down with fin rot, ich and dropsy, which is a shock since I always keep a clean tank and a good temp, I also feed him proper nutrition. I decided it must be either that other fish I brought in had this with them or he has suffered from these diseases before. A couple days later, I put him in a quarantine tank and started treating him. I give him Epsom salt baths, I put in tetracycline and put in a pinch of ginger for the first few days to help his liver. I'm hoping for the best, however many fish do not survive dropsy and he is already very weak as it is. He eats but getting him to come to the surface is the problem since he always lays at the bottom and won't really move.
My point is, before anyone gets a Betta, do your research about diseases and such so you can catch them and treat them before they get to serious that you can't save your fish! I waited a little to long before I started treating my fish and that was a mistake, because now I don't know if he'll make it. The only thing I can do is hope and pray he will be okay. So take this a warning and maybe go pick up a few REALLY GOOD medications such as Maracyn 2 or API's T.C. Tetracycline, aquarium salt or Epsom salts so you can be prepared if your little fishy gets ill. I wasn't prepared at all for any of these sicknesses to happen. Do yourself and you Betta a favour!
Ky on June 11, 2016:
My betta is very inactive. I am not sure if he is sick or tired. Anyone know what to do?
BK on June 08, 2016:
My half moon was fine yesterday, very active and personality plus. Today it died. Water tests were great. What happened?
five nights at Freddy's on June 02, 2016:
My betta fish is happy!.
Ranen Dey on April 12, 2016:
This sight will be helpful to everybody who will follow it continuously and apply the instructions correctly. Thanks!
alastair on April 06, 2016:
i just got a new half moon betta from pets smart its name is vv i feed it 2 times a day 3 blood worms i havent tried the peas but i think i will thanks for the info :-)
Thatoneguy on October 04, 2015:
My favourite local pet store gets new shipments of bettas every Friday and they have a pretty decent variety of half moons, and to make it better it's hard to come across a half moon there that is sick cause most of their bettas are in great condition
Madison on July 21, 2015:
I just got 2 halfmoons yesterday. One is a red betta named Bob and the other is a white betta named King Triton. Thank you so much this helped and they are very happy so far!
Mark on July 19, 2015:
I bought my cat for his birthday a male half moon betta today at pet smart. I have him in a 10 gallon tank filtered and heated. I do suggest a small filter system though. It seems like the current from the filter I have is a little much for him. My cat love watching him though.
sunny on April 10, 2015:
I liked my beta with garlic and just a little tomato sauce...
Crystal on March 11, 2015:
AWESOME THANKS! I got a salamander halfmoon betta with dumbo fins and he loved the place! (He loves me and his name is Dreamboy) I even taught him some tricks like eating a worm out of my hand! :-) ;-)
samoel on February 08, 2015:
Betta fish Halfmoon
Kayla on January 26, 2015:
Why is my Beta fish sitting at the top of the water and not swimming around? Only once in a while do I see him move, but not far.
Kaylatdt2011 on July 10, 2014:
My daughters beta died just this past week and I went and got a bigger tank with a filter and this one is a half moon. He is BEAUTIFUL! She named him Mike Wazowski because he is green with a hint of red. The last one died from ick and fin rot. :( so I looked this up. I can't wait to put him in the tank. He will be so happy!
coolgirl on May 14, 2014:
My mom got me one for a surprise and i found this website thanks
victoria on January 02, 2014:
I had a beautiful halfmoon male. His name was ferntail.I see halfmoons at petco all the time.when we got him, he wasn't in that great of health. However, I very easily got his health up, and he was a very strong Betta. He wouldn't eat the food that fell on the bottom, so we decided to get two ghost shrimps to clean it up, unfortunately, one of them died and the other one got eaten!! We aren't sure if he got sick from eating the shrimp, or got sick from bacteria from the dead one, I miss him terribly:'(
danielle on December 23, 2013:
Gave Emma ( my half moon) a pea, with the shell off, she loved it! But in small pieces maybe she ate 1/3 and was done!
bettaexpertperson on October 26, 2013:
be carful of what treatment you give to the beta because it might not be a sickness might just be a genetic disorder that the beta was born with. if it is a genetic disorder the beta might just die because there is no medicine for disorders in fish. also it could be a disease of the skin but you should treat it because if untreated it might lead to death
Shanna (author) from Utah on March 31, 2013:
I'm not sure what you mean Bob. If the fins or scales are turning black and falling off, it's obviously a bad sign. Go to your pet store and describe the problem. Show them pictures if you can. They'll tell you if they can treat it or not. Usually they'll point you to some drops you can add to the water and your fish will recover within a week or two. It's not always the case though. Your betta could have something more expensive to treat, or something that may eventually kill it.
bob on March 31, 2013:
why is my half moon Betta tearing black
name on March 26, 2013:
Getting 4 in rep Days, so happy.
Dolphin girl on February 24, 2013:
My beta fish is awesome, thanks ;)
sam on October 31, 2012:
FullOfLoveSites from United States on October 02, 2012:
Both interesting (it's the first time I've seen such kind of fish) and useful. Thanks for putting up such great hub. :)
Person on September 29, 2012:
My betta fish died. I am heart broken. Next time I am goin to fallow this. :(
butterflystar on August 27, 2012:
Shanna (author) from Utah on June 08, 2012:
Depending on where you live they can be hard to find-- but you're right, in recent years local pet stores are getting them more and more. Female halfmoon bettas are very rarely stocked though, at least at Petco.
JERPYjerp on June 08, 2012:
HArd to find halfmoons? There are like 8 at my local petsmart for only 7.99. I think you are just having trouble :P
DigbyAdams on May 20, 2012:
I've never thought about buying a fish on ebay! This was very interesting and I enjoyed reading and learning about Betta Fish. I also had never given much thought to the fact that goldfish need filters. Now I know why I never had much success. Thanks for an informative and interesting hub!