Eric is an aquarium enthusiast with over two decades of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish.
Betta Fish Requirements
Betta fish are often housed in bowls. That means no filter and no heater. Even people who keep betta fish in small tanks rarely provide filtration or heated water, and they survive for the most part.
Really, this is what makes the betta so popular. For beginning fish keepers, kids, college students, and others who don't feel like dealing with the maintenance requirements of a real aquarium, the betta is a way to have a pet fish without all the hassles of having a pet fish.
Unfortunately, these same betta owners later end up wondering why their fish appears perpetually stressed, or suffers from some malady such as fin rot. Betta may survive in bowls of stagnant water, but that doesn't mean they are thriving.
Cold temperatures and dirty water can cause stress and make it more like your betta will die before his time. But this doesn't mean you can't keep your betta in an unfiltered, unheated tank. It just means you need to fully understand the requirements of your betta fish before deciding if that is the correct decision.
It also means you need to be ready to do the extra work required to keep an unheated, unfiltered setup in top condition for your fish.
In this article, we'll take a look at whether or not you should consider housing your betta in a tank with a heater and filter.
How Are Bettas Different From Other Fish?
What makes us think it's okay to keep a betta in a bowl, anyway? We'd never consider putting any other tropical fish in a tiny bowl without a filter.
Betta fish do have physiologies that allow them to survive in low-oxygen environments in the wild. They are anabantids or labyrinth fish, and they can come to the surface to take a gulp of air when they need it.
By the way, this is just one more reason keeping a betta in a plant vase is a really stupid idea. Your betta fish needs access to the water surface!
In the wilds of Southeast Asia, bettas can live for short periods in small puddles where other fish would perish. This is because of evolutionary adaptations that allow the species to persevere in times of drought or poor water conditions.
In other words, they have evolved to take in air, not just rely on the oxygen in the water, so they can survive harsh conditions.
This makes them the perfect fish to house in a small bowl, or so it seems. They can do without the aeration effect of a filter, and survive even if the water gets dirty.
This one of the pervasive myths about betta fish. Think of it like this: You could probably go a month without food if you had to, living on the stored fat in your body. As humans, we have evolved to survive periods of famine by storing fat.
But how much fun would you be having during that month without food? You'd probably be pretty miserable, and you might even suffer from some physical problems as a result of your fast. Just because you are surviving doesn't mean you are thriving.
This is why bowls and small, one-gallon tanks are not a good choice for betta fish.
Does a Betta Need a Filter?
Betta fish do best in tanks that include a filter. You can keep a betta in a bowl, though I personally really hate seeing it. You need to really stay on top of weekly water changes, be sure not to overfeed, and keep the water crystal clear. You also need to make sure your room temperature remains appropriate for tropical fish, which means in the mid-70s.
When things go bad in a small bowl, they go bad really fast. Poor water conditions can lead to fin deterioration, infections, and, ultimately, premature death for your betta. This is why, if you are on the fence between a tank or a bowl, I strongly encourage you to choose the tank.
To thrive, betta fish need clean water just like any other fish. Fish tanks with filtration are able to establish themselves as tiny ecosystems, although they're ecosystems that need a little help from you.
Colonies of microorganisms develop in the tank and in the filter, and they assist in breaking down the waste caused by the fish and his uneaten food.
You don't need to, and shouldn't, do a complete water change in a tank with a filter as you'll destroy those helpful microorganisms. About 30% weekly water change is enough, plus vacuuming the gravel and cleaning up any algae.
This equates to about ten minutes of work per week for a 10-gallon tank. Compare that to the hassle and time involved with removing your betta from his bowl or tank, completely cleaning it and the decorations, then adding clean water and waiting for it to return to room temperature before you can put your betta back in his home.
Tanks with filtration are simply easier to care for. And the larger the tank, the easier it is to maintain the system. A 55-gallon tank is much, much easier to maintain than a 1-gallon tank.
That's not to say your betta needs a 55-gallon tank of course, but a 5-10 gallon tank isn't a bad idea.
The actions of a filter also help to oxygenate the water. Bettas do best with low-flow filtration, as they tend to get knocked around a lot by high-output filters. Even a low-flow filter will help with oxygenation.
Recommended Filters for Betta Fish
Below are a couple of filters to consider for your betta. No matter what you choose, keep an eye on your fish at first and make sure he is coping with the water movement without any problems.
Azoo Mignon Filter 60
The Azoo Mignon Filter 60 is is an inexpensive nano filter for small tanks of up to 10 gallons. There are a few things I like about it. The first is the adjustable flow rate. As stated before, bettas don't do well with fast-moving currents. They tend to get pushed around the tank, and that, of course, causes stress.
With this filter, you can position it and adjust the flow so your betta isn't struggling.
I like that it's a hang-on-back filter. Many nano filters are fully submersible, and they take up a lot of space in the tank. If you're already starting with a small tank, you don't want to cut down your betta's swimming area even more with a bulky filter. With the Azoo Mignon, only the intake submerges.
Finally, I like that you can add your own filter media. Some filters are cartridge-based, and when the cartridge gets dirty you have to replace it with the exact type of cartridge. With this filter, you can use whatever fits. You might just want to use a sponge to catch debris, or you may want to include something like activated carbon.
Rio Mini 50 Internal Power Filter
Here's another good choice for small tanks. The Rio Mini 50 is an internal filter, so it will take up a little space and attach to the tank's inside by suction cups. But it's a fairly small design that can be placed vertically or horizontally, so you can tuck it out of the way.
The output can be adjusted by the various included adapters, as well as the direction of the water output, to help keep betta stress-free.
This little filter would be a great upgrade for one of those aquarium kits that comes with the 1, 2, or 3- gallon tank plus the hood and the air-pump filter. People love those tanks for betta fish, but they have their drawbacks.
Those air-pump filters are designed to be a type of under-gravel filter, and frankly, they don't work very well. Even if debris gets sucked down into the gravel, there it stays to foul the water. It's far better to have a filter with a removable sponge so you can clean out any debris.
Like the Azoo above, you have the choice of different filter media.
Does a Betta Need a Heater?
It is a good idea to include a heater in your betta's tank, in order to maintain a constant ideal water temperature. When people keep betta fish in bowls or small tanks they usually don't consider a heater. This means the water temperature will be governed by the surrounding air temperature, which will fluctuate throughout the day.
This can be bad news. Though people don't often think of them this way, bettas are tropical fish. That means they live in warmer water in the wild. They require temperatures from the mid-70s, up to around 80 degrees.
If your room temperature is consistently in the mid-70s at the lowest, you can get by without a heater. This is true of any tropical fish tank. But if you have periods, at night for instance, when room temperature drops into the 60s or even 50s, you need to consider a heater for your tank.
Just like pollution, water temperature is easier to control in larger volumes of water. The water temperature in a 1-3 gallon tank or bowl will drop fast as the air temperature goes down.
A 10-gallon tank will take a little longer to adjust, and big tanks even longer still.
Low water temperatures will cause stress for your betta, and make him more at risk of disease and premature death. Remember, just because he's surviving doesn't mean he's thriving. You need to keep your betta's water temperature between 75-80 degrees if you want him to be as healthy as possible.
One of the problems with very small tanks is that even very small heaters may heat them up too much, and you could end up killing your betta.
This is all the more reason you should consider a tank 5 gallons or bigger for your betta fish.
You need to monitor the water temperature and make adjustments to the heater size and/or settings as you go. Ideally, you should set up the tank, heater included, before you ever add your betta to ensure the temperature stays within desirable ranges.
Taking Care of Your Betta Fish
Although I'd really like to see you choose a larger tank with filtration and a heater for your betta, you can keep him in a bowl if you stay on top of weekly water changes and make sure the water temperature is appropriate for his needs.
Missing a water change, or two, or three will soon mean doom for your pet fish.
If you are too busy to perform the weekly maintenance on a smaller vessel, consider keeping your betta in a 5 or 10-gallon tank with a heater and filtration. It's less work for you, and a better environment for him.
Betta fish are truly the most abused aquarium fish in the world, by both their well-meaning but uneducated owners and by an industry that pushes them out by the millions as disposable pets. It's unfortunate, but countless bettas are purchased every day by people who have no clue about their needs.
It's all about education. The first part is understanding how to care for your Betta fish correctly. The second part is telling someone else, so more of these fish can thrive instead of just survive.
Please consider keeping your betta fish in at least a 5-gallon tank with the proper filtration and heater.
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.
© 2014 Eric Dockett
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on July 03, 2020:
Hi Aiswarya - What kind of filter do you have and what size? Is this a new behavior or did something change recently?
Did you just get the betta? If so, he may just need to adjust to his new setting.
Aiswarya on June 30, 2020:
I have a betta in 13 gallon tank. Whenever I switch the filter on, he starts glass surfing. I even blocked the input as well as output for a smoother flow. But still the same issue. Without filter, he is fine. Can you please suggest what could be done better.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on May 02, 2020:
@New fish owner - This article may help
New fish owner on April 28, 2020:
My betta fish has a filter and a heater . But the tank is always getting foggy . Is that bad
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on April 17, 2020:
@Katie - He will be okay as long as you don't do it in a way that shocks him. That could happen if there is a big difference in temp. I recommend researching the drip method of acclimating fish to new environments so the transition is as easy as possible for him. Good luck!
katie on April 16, 2020:
my betta fish is currently in a bowl, and I take good care of it and I clean its bowl well, once a week. but I have been seeing lots of people online saying that bettas need a filter and a heater. if I were to get a tank with a filter and a heater, would my fish be okay when it moves from cold water to heated water?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on December 27, 2019:
@Lauren: I would do weekly water changes.
@Ken: It is always smart to have a heater and filter for your betta tank if you can.
Ken on December 26, 2019:
I have my beta fish in a 2.5 tank. And I just installed a filter and heater for them. Would this be beneficial or harmful to them.
Lauren25456743356 on December 26, 2019:
My betta fish is in a 10-gallon tank. How often should I change the water?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on November 02, 2019:
@Jaxson - Does the green stuff seem like algae? Here is an article that might help:
Jaxson on November 01, 2019:
I keep my betta fish in a 2.5 gallon tank with a filter and a heater. I change the water weekly. However, the filter turns green within the first week and there's bits of something floating on top of the water. I rinse the gravel I use only spring water in the tank. Can you tell me what I am doing wrong?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on October 10, 2019:
@Donna - The first thing you need to do is figure out what is wrong with him before making changes. I would do some research on betta diseases and see if you can find something that matches his condition. To me, it sounds like a swim-bladder issue, so I would start there. I would stop the use of the betta revive for now as you aren't even sure if he has a disease. However, you should make sure his water is clear and clean. Test it if you can. If he is not eating anyway, go a few days without putting food in the water. He could simply be constipated, and a few days of fasting plus clean water might get him through. Good luck!
Donna on October 09, 2019:
My Betta keeps laying at the bottom of the tank. He barely swims and when he attempts he has no control and flails near the bottom. He tries to go up but can only go a few inches. He also is not eating that I know of. Can you help ? I’m trying to add “aquarium solutions herbal Betta revive for three days now. I’m not sure if there is something else I could Doing.
Aleiah R on October 08, 2019:
I have had my betta fish for 2 years without a heater. He has a filter and lives in a 2 gallon tank. I live in FL so he isn’t cold all of the time. Ever since I moved his tank further from the window he has been more sluggish though.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on August 31, 2019:
@Kayla and Kat - Sorry to hear about your troubles. You should'nt need more than one good heater for a 10-gallon tank. I wouldn't put both in there.
It is odd that they work so poorly. Tetra usually makes good products too. I've used Aqeuon Pro heaters will good luck as well. Be sure to have a seperate thermometer to measure temperature..
Here is an article that offers more suggestions:
Kayla and Kat on August 30, 2019:
Hi Eric, thank you so much for your advice - me and my partner are trying really hard to keep our new Beta happy. We just purchased him today but unfortunately, our new heater failed us. It worked for a solid two days then crapped out. I did a fishless cycle for 2 weeks with Prime and Bettafish Conditioner. Purchased an appropriate silent filter. Washed the rocks before I put them in, picked silk & live plants, and only chose a soft hideaway to prevent harming his fins. However, we've been having the worst troubles with heaters. They will not keep our 10-gallon aquarium heated what so ever.Our room stays at 68-72 during the summer and will progressively get warmer during the winter but just in case of colder nights I wanted to have a heater ready. I first purchased a tetra 10-gal heater, and then a cascade heat 50-watt 10 gal heater. Neither of them worked much less attempted to heat the aquarium. I don't know whether I should maybe put both heaters in the aquarium but I fear that if one malfunctions/if the tank gets too hot it could harm the fish so I'm just not sure what to do. What is a reliable heater to use for a 10 gallon tank? Am I just having a stroke of bad luck? Could I put both in without potentially over-heating the fish? Should I risk not placing a heater in their tank? I'm really at a loss on what to do and my wallet is progressively growing thinner.
LHS on June 17, 2019:
Thank you for the input. I’ve changed the water and seems to be doing so much better. I did fast him as well which seemed to help as well. He’s starting to fan except his top fin but I’m certain in time he’ll do that as well. I love this Betta and enjoy watching him. Again, thank you for your response.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on June 17, 2019:
@LHS - Did you take any steps to cycle the new tank before adding him? Have you tested the water parameters? It sounds like this could be the root of your issue. There is no reason to try feeding a blanched pea unless you notice signs of constipation (bloating) or dietary distress. If you overfed and think that negatively affected him simply fast him for a day or two. Good luck!
LHS on June 16, 2019:
My Betta has been in a very small tank with limited ability to swim. They never cleaned his small tank (5.5 x 5.5 x5.5 inches). He’s been knocked unto the floor several times and over feed. I purchased a new tank (3.5 gallon - only had space to accommodate that size), used 2 gallons of natural water and 1 gallon of tab water with 14 drops). Since his original tank was so small I was unable to any of that water plus the lack of cleaning. I placed him into a plastic bag with his original water for 15 m and then added new water and held him in that for another 15 minutes. I placed him into his new tank. At first he was swimming on the bottom, but never fully fanned out. Yesterday he started staying on the top of the tank. His front fins flap most of the time and he’s still staying on top of the tank. I do have a filter and LED lights. I did frighten him when I opened the top for more air circulating and he swam to the bottom and hid in his new plant (plastic) and later came back up. He’s still up and keeps flapping his little fins. I noticed this morning that the water was cloudy. I turned out he filter and not certain if it’s powerful. I’ll check with Petsmart how I turn it down or the website. I do not have a heater and plan on purchasing one - just in case that is the problem. Wonder if I over fed him - I did not feed him yesterday. I’ll try the cooked pea. Any suggestions. I can forward a picture if you like. I’m really worried. Thank you
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on May 10, 2019:
Thanks for the kind words, Juels, and I'm so glad your betta is doing better with the new filter!
Juels on May 09, 2019:
Just wanted to thank you for the helpful info on the type of filter for my betta. It was getting tossed around and stressed out with the Whisper Tetra filter that came with the tank. My betta kept going down to the bottom of the tank and hiding behind the rock, away from the current. After reading your article, I ordered the Azoo Mignon filter, and now my betta is out and about the tank. He looks much happier. This was the best resource I found when I searched for this information. Other articles out there just enumerated all the small filters that exist. Great article, thanks!
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on May 09, 2019:
Hi Gina - I have many articles on betta fish you may wish to read through which address all of your questions. Remember it is not about making it "fun" for him and it is definitely not about making him "decorative". It is about giving him the best possible home. As always, I recommend a 5-gallon or larger tank for the best betta living conditions. That will make it much easier to find an appropriate heater as well.
gina margaret on May 08, 2019:
hi! i got a male beta fish yesterday along with a glass bowl holding 1 gallon of water but leaving about 3 1/2 inches from the top so he doesn't jump out. i do not prefer the large tank as i wanted him to be more decorative than anything, however, i DO want to be sure to be vigilant about caring for him as he is still a beautiful living creature and i want him to be happy and healthy! i was told to change his water 50% every 4 days, and every so often to wash out the entire bowl (only with water, no soaps) "every now and then." my apartment thermostat says 74 degrees, and yesterday my bowl was around 72 degrees, but overnight it dropped a bit and is around 70. i have him by a window today to get some sun and hopefully raise the temp of the water a bit. i want to get a small heater, but am afraid of fires or any hazard since it will likely be on while i am not home. i also want to keep the aesthetic of the bowl so i do not want a large clunky item. is there a type of device that might sit under the bowl, similar to a hot plate? what are these nano heaters? with regard to feeding, i was told to give 2 pellets every 2 days, and alternate with the bloodworm treats as well. i have one rock with a plant on it and pretty gemstones for the bottom. do you have any other suggestions to make it more "fun" and better for him? i have a thermometer which stays on the side of the bowl with the suction cup. thank you! (his name is henry!) :)
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on March 15, 2019:
@Aiden: There are nano heaters that may work for you. Be sure to check the specs before choosing.
Aiden on March 14, 2019:
i have a 0.8 gallon fish tank i feel like its a really small fish tank im wondering if i can add a heater but i feel like it will take up alot of space because its 0.8 gallons im thinking of putting a filter in it to but i feel like its too big for 0.8 gallon i want my betta to be happy and not stressed at all i dont know what to do im thinking of upgrading to a 1 gallon
Jeff on March 08, 2019:
Mel, add some Marimo moss balls (actually algae) to the tank.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on January 29, 2019:
@Elisha - It kind of sounds like you are supposing some things here. We can't know what betta fish think, and they do not want or need attention from humans. Stick to the basics - a 5-gallon tank is fine for each of them, and temperature between 75 and 80 degrees. There is no reason to increase temperature after the ich has cleared.
I would also caution you against letting them see each other too often, even in separate tanks. Male bettas can be aggressive, even toward females. This may stress both of them out.
Do not put them together in the same tank unless you intend to breed them and fully understand how to that properly and safely.
Bottom line: Just enjoy your wonderful betta fish and try not to worry. Keep up with tank maintenance and smart care practices and they will be happy and healthy.
Elisha on January 27, 2019:
I have a Veitail fish male, of course that is just like a dog. I have never seen a fish interact with me and need so much attention... in my life. I tickle the side of the tank as he is against it and he dances. He plays all these different games with me. I even bought him baby girl in another tank right next to him so he had more company and I could take a breather, lol. He hits the side of his tank to show her then swims to me. He's got double attention and he's working it! I didn't get any break at all lol. I now have more work and they want to mate. And he was sick. I had put her tree in his cage and he got Ick. God, I was devastated. He almost died. I treated him for 30 days and keep him incubated on a heating pad. I had to heat his cage high to kill that horrible infection. He lived for the both of us. Now he wants a hot ass cage and she wants a bigger one. He already got a bigger one. My God this is becoming a fortune and can this two even co-exist or is it baby central? Any suggestions?
Mindy on December 04, 2018:
I have a 30 gallon tank. I have 3 beautiful bettas in it. One king hafmoon which is my male and the other one is a halfmoon female and last one is a female Cory betta. They all get along great. I always had angel fish with male betta never a issue but when I got the second female he became aggressive to the angel fish which he's been housed with for 6 months with out issue. Please help. My betta is my baby he even rubs up against my hand when I add something new for him in his tank
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on December 03, 2018:
@mel - I do not advise adding any other fish to the 1 gal bowl. It is too small, and few fish would be appropriate for an unfiltered, unheated environment.
mel on December 02, 2018:
My boys were given a betta in a 1 gal bowl. We are unable to have a filter/heater due to regulation in our appartment. We have had him for a month, which i have cleaned his tank once a week and he is doing fine. Is there any small sized fish/ alge we can place with the betta that will do good in a non filter/heater environment?
Callie on November 24, 2018:
I usually put my betta in a 1 or 2 gallon tank so it can adjust to the size change and so I can keep and eye on it and once I know it’s healthy and eating properly I move it to a bigger tank
Karen on November 19, 2018:
Upgraded to a 10 gallon for my guy and he is absolutely loving the upgrade. He’s experiencing his life and his ability to move, investigate, learn and live on a much different, a much larger scale that additionally provided the introduction to having a sense of freedom amongst his aquarium world!
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on November 12, 2018:
@Linda - I advise against adding cories to your tank. A one-gallon tank is very small, even for a single betta. Also, cories are schooling fish that are best kept in groups of six or more. If you want that many fish I suggest a 10-gallon tank or larger.
Linda Licata on November 11, 2018:
I keep my female betta in a one gallon tank. She seems active and happy with a good appetite. I am getting two cory cats for company.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on October 23, 2018:
@Shelby - That temp is a little low but not bad. Ideally a filter and a heater are a good idea, but if you feel like they are adding too many variables try it without for a while. I know it is tough to cram even a nano filter in many of those tanks with the built in filters. You just have to be really on the ball with water changes and tank cleaning.
Shelby on October 22, 2018:
I have my first betta in a 5 gal tank that has a built in filtration system. The tank is taller than it is wide. Since I got him a week ago I have left the filter off (it was too strong and isn’t adjustable (to my knowledge)) without any heater and he began making a bubble nest (which I know is good). But the stick-on thermometer on the tank shows that the temp is relatively consistent at a low 71-73 degrees. I bought a heater for him in hopes that that would boost his wellbeing but I don’t want to turn the filter back on because I know it stresses him out. Since there isn’t much horizontal room in the tank I wasn’t sure if I should get an additional low flow filter to hang on the side or whatever for fear that it would overcrowd him. Would it be safe/worthwhile to keep the heater on without any filtration? Should I keep the heater out and filter off like before? Should I get a low flow filter and run both the filter and heater? I just want my betta to live a happy life. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on October 19, 2018:
@Haley - As you can see from the article, I do think betta fish are better off with a heater. But the choice is yours to make.
Halle on October 17, 2018:
Right now I have my beta in a 4 gallon tank and he seems to be okay. I have had him for about two years and I'm now just considering a heater. Do you think it's the right choice?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on October 15, 2018:
@Jacquie - That's quite a wide range of advice. I'd be confused too! I've always fed bettas three or four pellets once per day, or an equivalent small pinch of flake food. About what he will consume in two minutes or so.
If he doesn't eat right away sometimes he will find the food on the bottom later on if he gets hungry. If not, this is we try not to overfeed, and are sure to keep up with tank cleaning and water changes. If he seems to be leaving a lot of uneaten food on the bottom you can always cut back.
Hope this helps! Good luck!
Jacquie Allan on October 13, 2018:
Just purchased a Betta and he is temporarily in a 2 gallon tank, and will be going into a 10 gallon tank before Christmas. I have read your excellent advice on filtering and water change, no problem there, but am uncertain about feeding. My aquarium club suggests anywhere from one floating Betta pellet a day, to 4 or 5 pellets every two days, or 3 pellets a week! I have had fancy goldfish for over 7 years, all still living and healthy, presently 9 in various sizes between 3, 40 gallon tanks, and know betas are totally at the other end of the spectrum. The floating pellets are so tiny, and only float for about 10 seconds. Will he find them? Please help! Thank you :)
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on September 11, 2018:
@Susan - I would not add a betta to a 5-gallon tank that already has four tetras in it. Your tank will be overstocked. Please stick with the tetras or consider upgrading to a larger tank.
susan on September 10, 2018:
I recently added 4 tetra to my 5 gallon tank, which were the first fish to be in it... i thought to allow inhabitants to get acclimated before welcoming a betta to be included to the neighborhood...
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on September 05, 2018:
@Sara - I always advise keeping bettas in 5-gallon tanks or larger, but if you take care of him well he can have a happy if life in his current situation. If you find it possible to upgrade his tank at some point in the future you may want to consider it.
Sara on September 04, 2018:
I just bought my first beta and set up a 2.5 gallon tank with a small low flow filter and some silk plants for it to take shelter in but I still feel like i'm not doing enough for it. I spent as much money as a could on the tank setup. Can a beta live happily in these conditions or should I save up money to replace its tank and get a bigger one with live plants. My main worries are that I don't have the space or the budget to do so.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on August 31, 2018:
@Cary - Sounds like you are on the right track. I agree it would be beneficial to discuss the nitrogen cycle in this article and next update I may include a section on it.
Cary on August 30, 2018:
Being a first time betta owner, i was uneducated about them in the first place. My wife began a project working with Betta breeders and i became fascinated. I bought my first Betta and a 2 gallon tank. I started researching and found that adding plants and a 5 gallon tank would be better, so i bought a really nice 5 gallon tank and placed living plants inside and on top of the water. My Betta is certainly much happier, though one thing not mentioned in the article is the nitrogen cycle. That caught me and my Betta and now I'm changing water twice daily to avoid nitrite poisoning. It's almost over though, but if someone buys a tank, they have to know about the nitrogen cycle, otherwise their fish will die a brutal death from ammonia and nitrite.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on August 21, 2018:
@Monica - Sounds like you are doing everything you can. Keep the water clean and feeding under control and hopefully he'll live a long life. Good luck!
Monica on August 18, 2018:
Hello I want my betta to be happy and healthy but an Aqueon 1 gallon minibow tank is the best I can do. It is a filtered tank and I keep it heated and keep an eye on the temperature. I took extra filter material and wrapped it around the filter intake tube and covered it in pantyhose to reduce suction because it is a small tank and I know bettas typically do not like moving water. I plan on a 25-30% water change weekly and a monthly filter change any siphoning. Can you recommend anything different and in addition to what I'm doing? Thank you!
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on August 18, 2018:
@Cassandra - Bettas sometimes sit on the bottom. Unless you see other issues it is probably nothing to worry about.
cassandra greenwood on August 17, 2018:
is it ok for a fighting fish to sit on the bottom tank
Daniel Kim on June 29, 2018:
Hi again Eric, thanks for the quick reply. I do have a larger tank buy do not have the space for it. While Googling, this tank pops up and I kinda like what it advertised so I bought and uses this one because of the function.
I did stop after 5 tiny bits of the freeze dried worm. I'm just happy that he started to eat compare to when I first got him for few days. I also just found out you have a Faq for betta feeding. Got it. Pellets or flakes as staple food and freeze fried worm as treats.
Thanks again for your expertise. I'll keep an eye on him and perhaps find a place for a larger tank.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on June 29, 2018:
Hi Daniel - I'm not really familiar with that tank. I just took a look at it and it seems like an interesting idea, as long as it works correctly. It is awfully small, though. I like to see bettas in at least 5-gallon tanks.
I'd be careful with overfeeding and only give anything but pellets or flakes as supplemental treats. If you feed a good staple food plus a variety of treats he should be okay as far as his nutritional needs.
You ought to be able to manage his water parameters and keep them healthy without bacterial drops. You can experiment with them if you want but make sure you keep an eye on things.
Daniel on June 29, 2018:
Hi Eric, thanks for the filterization and heater tips. I just got myself a hagen marina ez care tank about 0.7 gallon. Is this tank good enough in your opinion? As I do not need to disturb my betta for the water change. As for food, I am currently feeding him once a day with freeze dried tubifex worms. He seems to be enjoying it a lot. But I have other concerns, such as vitamins and good bacterial drops, are these necessary?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on June 24, 2018:
1. Yes. You need to perform regular water changes and tank maintenance even if you have a filter.
2. Hard to say, but he may just get startled. You may be overfeeding a little too.
3. Bettas come in all different colors, and some are brighter than others. But if you aren't changing the water and if you are overfeeding there is a chance he isn't as bright as he could be. Get on a good maintenance schedule for your tank, get the feeding under control and get an inexpensive freshwater test kit so you can measure and manage his water parameters.
Hope this helps. Good luck!
Jesse Hui on June 24, 2018:
-Do I need to change my crowntails betta water if I have a water filter? It’s a 3 gallon tank.
-Why does my betta swim everywhere when I get close to his tank? I feed him twice daily, 2-3 tetra pallets each time.
- Is it normal that he doesn’t have vibrant colors? He’s red only at the back fin and everywhere else he is like a purple grayish color, I bought him that way.
nagyany on June 06, 2018:
Thank you again Eric Dockett for your quick answer.
He lived most of his life with this shell in his bowl and I take extra care to place it in such manner on the gravel that he can not injure himself in any way with it. The leaves of the decoration are made of silk with the plastic parts rounded and polished and all of them passed the “pantyhose-test”, and I would not think that the leaves of the only live Anubia plant could hurt his fins.
This little guy makes me admire his creativity and geniality when it comes to hurting himself. Thank you again for your advice. I’ll keep watching him and maybe one day I’ll be lucky enough to catch him in the act and confiscate his “weapons”. :)
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on June 06, 2018:
@nagyany - Is it possible he is scraping against the shell? Or the cut leaves? The only thing I can say is to watch him for a while and see if he is squeezing himself into places or scraping against things that could injure his fin. Otherwise, I really can't guess.
If you choose to use the salt I wouldn't use more than about half a tsp for the whole tank, but since he healed up without it before I probably wouldn't use it unless I saw signs of infection. If you can remove the source of his injuries the clean water should be all he needs. Good luck!
nagyany on June 05, 2018:
Thank you Eric Dockett for your quick answer, nice words and good advices. I came back with an update and new questions.
So, I kept my little critter in his bowl, as you suggested while I was cycling the 5 gallon tank. For the first 10 days I did daily water changes, and the injuries healed really well and then I switched to 30% water changes in every 2-3 days and one 100% water change per week until the 5 gallon tank was cycling. His scales are healed completely now and I can hardly see where the injuries were, the scales grew back, and they just have a slightly lighter color then the older scales. As I read a lot of contradictory things about the dosage of sea-salt and how dangerous it could be if done improperly I did not dare to use it, and luckily the frequent water changes did their effect.
The cycling of the 5 gallon tank took me 28 looooong days, but it was worth the effort. I put my little betta in his new heated and filtered home 3 weeks ago, with 4 silk plants, 6 Marimo balls, an Anubias barteri nana and a sea-shell that he used have in his bowl for more than a year now and seems to love resting on [I know it’s not a good idea to have sea-shells in freshwater tank, but the former owner of the fish did not know about it and Joy seems to love it, and I did not have the heart to take it away from him]. His water is constantly heated to 25 degrees C [77 degrees F], with 0 ppm Ammonia and Nitrite and 10 ppm Nitrate.
So life was good, the little guy seemed happy about the new home, eats like crazy, swims, has his favorite spots to rest and to hide, and builds his bubble-nests weekly. BUT even though I was extra cautious not to put anything that could cause him any injury, even made some kind of a mask for the sponge of the filter to keep this little critter away not to scrape his scales again, somehow he managed to tear his fins. He seems to have a super-power of finding out ways to injure himself and drive me nuts :D I even cut round the silk plants’ leaves that are made of plastic so that he can not tear his fins with them, still today morning I woke up to find him with his caudal fins torn in 4 or 5 places. This part of his fin is so much torn as if it would be the caudal-fins of a crown tail betta. [He might think that is the new trend:) ]. Could you please help me guessing what could cause this and how should I Protect and heal him? [My only guess would be that he might have bit it, as I can not think of anything that could cause such an injury inside of his tank.] Should I start dosing some sea-salt in his tank? What would be the safe dosage of it? Would it mess up the cycle in the tank? Or should I take him out of the big tank and put him back in his bowl to treat his fins by doing daily water-changes and eventually dosing some sea-salt?
Thank you for your patience, that you read this long post and thank you in advance for your advices and treatment ideas.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on April 01, 2018:
@nagyany - Good to see you are thinking things through, but try not to drive yourself crazy.
I would do the fish-less cycle and keep him in the smaller tank for now. My main concern with moving him is the stress from his injury. While the new tank is cycling try to keep his present tank water clean. As he is injured, you may consider dosing it with a small amount of aquarium salt for about a week.
If you don't have one, you'll want to get a water testing kit to see how things are going with the cycle. I don't think it will take months or even weeks, but it's hard to say.
You can speed things along by introducing some of the gravel from his present tank into the filter or substrate of the new tank. You'll want to keep it in a fish net or mesh bag if you don't want it in there permanently. This will help the microbial colonies grow faster.
If you were to just move him into the five-gallon tank today and keep up with water changes it would not be ideal but he'd probably be fine. That's what most people would do. But I'm really glad to see you are trying to give him a good home and cycle the tank properly. Good luck!
nagyany on April 01, 2018:
Hi there! I'm new for fish-keeping and I would really like some advice. A friend of mine moves abroad and gave me her betta fish - Joy - to take care of. The fish is about 1 year old and he lives in a 2.2 gallon fishbowl without a heater or filter. As he is going to live with me and be my new little buddy I would like to grant him the best life-conditions possible. So I bought a 5 gallon tank [Aquael smart shrimp set] with a Pat mini filter and heater included. I read that I should start by cycling it, but there are a lot of infos out there and I'm totally confused. As i have never had a fish before and noone around me whom I could ask for help I really have to jump in and and try to do my best for this buddy. The only think I know for sure that I don't want to use bottled ammonia for cycling. I like this little critter and I would not like to harm him in any way. He seems happy and active in his fish-bowl, so what would you suggest? Should I risk a fish-in-cycle with Tetra Safe Start or should I try to cycle the new fish tank with fish-food and leave him in his bow until the cycle is over? Which one is better for him? [I know that he has been in his 2.2 gallon fishbowl prior for a whole month without any water-change and he survived it, but I can not stand letting him in such poor conditions].
I do also have to add that he had scraped himself to a decoration that I thought it would be safe to add to his bowl as a hiding place and now he misses a few scales from his head. I took out the decoration immediately and proceed with daily 100 % water changes to avoid any infections. How should I proceed. Please give me advice, as under the present circumstances I don't know which state is more harmful, letting him for 1-2 more months in his fish-bowl or trying to move him to the heated and filtered 5 gallon tank and expose him to the risks of cycling process. Thank you in advance for your answers.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on March 02, 2018:
@Ava - That's a matter of opinion. Some fishkeepers do dose their tanks with aquarium salt with every water change. I am more of the opinion that it is better to save it for when it is necessary. I see the pros and cons of both approaches. That's just my opinion.
Ava on March 01, 2018:
I just recently bought some aquarium salt for my betta and was wondering if it is ok to add every water change?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on February 17, 2018:
Hi Sarah. I don't think you are overthinking, and the folks in the pet store, as often the case, seem to have a very simplistic view of fish care.
Bettas can adjust to slightly higher pH but 8.5 does seem a little too high. There are over-the-counter water treatment products that will lower pH, and you might want to try some natural solutions such as a small piece of driftwood. Try to get it as close to 7 as you can. You can also use spring water, as you've been. Just don't use "distilled" water.
I think you want to get your betta out of that cup ASAP. Whatever is going on in the tank, it is unlikely worse than that cup.
Good luck! While I don't endorse the idea of bettas as disposable pets, if something goes wrong try to be too hard on yourself. You can learn from the experience and try again.
Sarah J on February 16, 2018:
Hi there! Great post. My husband spontaneously bought me a betta and a 1 gallon tank for Valentine’s Day. I have had only ever had goldfish so decided to do research, so glad i did. I returned the 1gallon in place of a 3.5 gallon (really only space we have) and it has a low current filter and small heater. I haven’t yet introduced “rainbow” to the tank yet as I’m having issues with ph levels and a hard water area. It’s too alkaline (8.5+) and i have tried tap with dechlorinator as well as Crystal Geyser spring water to bring it down. I don’t want to add him to the tank and have him die but he’s in the tiny container from store and I’m worried that will kill him if he’s stuck in there much longer. My husband thinks I’m way over thinking it all but all life matters to me so i want to do the best i can for him! The petsmart staff all said “they like small spaces” which i know to be incorrect from what I’m reading. The pet stores all have the mentality that i can just “buy another one” if he doesn’t make it! That’s just wrong to me. How long should i wait to introduce him? My nitrate and chlorine levels are 0 but not sure if the high ph will be a problem.
Leslie on February 08, 2018:
A new owner of beautiful male Betta fish... 5.5-gallon tank, no filtration, no heater...74.5 degree.
I already love my Betta.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on January 28, 2018:
@Stephanie - I can't say I agree with the assessment by your local fish store person, especially if it was a low-flow filter. I can't imagine why such a filter in itself would cause harm to your fish. Glad he is doing better though.
Stephanie Rymas on January 25, 2018:
Just wanted to post a comment about what happened to me putting my betta, Drako, from a non-filtered to filtered tank. This past Sunday, Drako's bowl developed a stress crack. The bowl broke, luckily I was right there, and everything poured out including Drako. I caught him in my hand an immediately got him into a cup. He had had been in this 1 1/2 gallon glass bowl for about a year. Monday I decided to upgrade him to a 3 1/2 gallon filtered tank. Everything I read said they should really be in a larger, filtered tank anyway. Finally got him in Monday afternoon and he seemed happy as good be. The filter was a very low flow waterfall type filter. Tuesday, noticed he was staying at top of the tank, struggling to swim, starting listing. I attributed this to the stress of the bowl breaking. At 6 that eve he looked really bad. My husband suggested unplugging the filter, since he never had one. Did, and by 11 that eve it looked to me like he wasn't going to make it. the next morning he was swimming around, diving back to bottom of tank. Back to himself. Went to my local fish store and they informed me that if we had left filter on, he would have died. It was because of such a drastic change in his environment. He is now back to being a happy, healthy betta.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on January 08, 2018:
@Aiden - Nope, not too big. :-)
Aiden on January 07, 2018:
I keep my betta in a 15 gallon heated and filtered tank. It this too big for him?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on January 01, 2018:
@Lizzie - I'm not familiar with that filter system and what it removes from the water, or what is already in your city water. You *might* be okay using the filtered water along with a water conditioner for aquariums, but I can't say for sure.
@Pratyush - 65 degrees is too cold for bettas. Surely he'd survive for a while but it is not optimal.
@ Shelly - Moss balls are fine for bettas.
Shelley on December 31, 2017:
Are moss balls good for your Betta tank?
Lizzie on December 29, 2017:
Hi! I have a Berkey water system (system cleans city water and filters all the bad chemicals out) so I was wondering if I could just use that filtered water and clean it every week like you said without a filter?
Julie on December 28, 2017:
I have 3 different betta tanks and I having trouble finding the right filter and heater for them. Two are a 10 gallon tank and one is a 2.2 gallon tank
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on December 22, 2017:
@Kathy - Depends on why your Betta died (I am assuming he did). If he had an infection or parasites you may be endangering the new fish. If he died because tank conditions were poor you'll want to address that. If he died of old age you're probably fine.
Kathy on December 21, 2017:
Do I have to clean my aquarium water after I get ready to put something else besides Betta
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on December 08, 2017:
Hi Rachel! Glad to hear you are advocating for proper betta treatment! My best advice on heaters for small tanks is to always check the specs listed by the manufacturer when choosing a heater and get one rated for the correct tank size. You also want a heater that's easy to adjust, and you'll need an inexpensive thermometer to keeps track of the temp in your tank.
I've read about cases where a heater was too powerful, even though it was supposedly for bowls or small tanks, and ended up killing the fish because it heated the water too much. That's obviously what you want to avoid, and that's why it's so important to choose an adjustable model with the correct rating.
Rachel Patterson on December 07, 2017:
My husband was totally guilty of uneducated betta ownage, he brought home two betta fish for our son's and a ONE gallon container with a divider :O
I did get them quickly into a 1.5 gallon each, but we will be upgrading to a 5 gallon tank for each here on Christmas.
Do you have any heater recommendations for a 5 gallon tank? I really appreciated the price of the filters you listed, both were reasonable, but so far the heaters I have seen for tanks this size are just a constant on ones or the ones that you can set the actual temperature to just have terrible reviews! Our house is kept warm, because I am someone who is always cold lol, so I am sure our betta's will survive but I want them to be happy in their environment as well.
Thanks in advance!
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on December 05, 2017:
Hi Joe. That's a bit of a tough situation in a tank that small when the filter is not adjustable. I've had some success with arranging decorations so they slow the flow of water coming out of the filter. You can try adding extra elements if the filter allows you to do so. That might help. All you can really do is experiment and see if you can find a method that works. Good luck!
Joe on December 04, 2017:
I have a filter that has a little bit more power than I think is necessary for the 5 gallon tank. I got it from someone else. How would you recommend I break the flow from the filter so my fish doesn't get pushed around too much?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on October 10, 2017:
Hi Matthew. I don't know if your betta will survive or not, but those are not ideal conditions. I always recommend a tank of at least 5 gallons. Good luck!
Matthew on October 09, 2017:
Hello I was wondering I have a 0.7 gallon tank with a live plant in it. Not can I put a betta in it and will it survive?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on September 26, 2017:
@Kaylynn: A little more light in the room will prevent him from seeing himself.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on August 11, 2017:
@Alex: You are correct that warmer water can speed up biological processes slightly, but I don't think that's a reason not to use a heater for a tropical fish. If you let your tank get too warm, that could be a problem.
Alex leimone on August 10, 2017:
Okay so I don't have a heater but I have a five gal with a filter, the water is clean and the tank is in direct sunlight but there are objects to hide behind. Anyhow having a heater can sometimes cause more harm than good since heat can help speed up infections cold water can cause stress, so I'm kinda stuck In a root here......
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on August 07, 2017:
@Maya: There are small heaters that may work for you. Just be very sure you monitor your tank conditions closely, especially temperature. Those small tanks can heat up too much sometimes.
A better solution would be to upgrade to a 10-gallon tank where you can have a proper heater and filtration system. :-)
Good luck whatever you decide.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on June 06, 2017:
Thanks for the kind words, Melissa! And nice move upgrading Betta to a better tank. Just be careful that the heater and filter for the small tank are enough to do the job in the 10 gallon. Good luck and glad Betta is happy!
Melissa coppola on June 03, 2017:
I really like this post.Your information is true and accurate unlike other posts i've read to do research on. When i first got my betta i bought a 2.5 gallon tank and was doing water changes every few days to weekly.Then i kept doing research on my lil buddy and read online how they love to swim. So i said im upgrading to a 10 gallon tank to give him more room and it was the best choice i ever made. I also moved the tank to an area where we are more too and he loves the interaction. My 2.5 had a filter and heater for a 10 gallon so i just moved it to my tank to save money and decorated with real plants and a store bought fake tree trunk drift wood piece and he was a different fish when i put him in there. He is more active and looks like he is smiling at times. He swims like crazy now and his fins stay fanned out alot more now. If you are reading this and deciding to get a bigger tank that might seem like a "waste" for you because its only 1 fish remember the rule all fish owners should know 1 gallon per inch of fish. Would you want to live the rest of your days in a tiny bowl or vase?
Melissa on May 13, 2017:
I have a 6.5 gal semi hex tank with a beta and 3 neon tetras and a mystery snail. I've had the beta for awhile and added the tetras and snail about a month ago. So far so good. Everyone is getting along fine. I decorated with a fern in the corner and a decorative coliseum piece across the way.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on April 16, 2017:
@Renny: I think you are probably right that he must have collided with something. Unless he is missing scales or something I'd just let him be to heal up on his own. The best remedy for an injured fish is low stress and clean water. If he has an open wound, scrape or missing scales you may consider dosing the tank with aquarium salt for a few days.
It may be that he injured his fin to the point that it won't be the same again. He can still live a normal life.
I'd take a look around the tank and see if there is anywhere he could have gotten stuck. None of the decorations you mentioned seem to be any particular problem, but a startled fish can run into anything and get hurt.
Hope he's fine! Good luck!
Renny Miles on April 15, 2017:
I have a male half moon beta in a 3 gallon tank. He has a filter and light but not a heater. I am looking for one now after I read the article.
One of his little pectoral fins are bent like an elbow! I don't know what happened I came back from school (I check on all my fish when I get back) and I guessed he ran into something. He has one of the fake leaf that have a suction cup that sticks to the side of the tank so he can rest on, rocks, a "fish school" to hide in, and a little rubber anemone.
If you have any idea what it was and if I can fix it please tell me. Thank you.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on January 29, 2017:
@Betta Novice: I assume your intent is breeding, and unfortunately I don't have a lot of experience breeding Bettas.
If you don't intend to breed them my opinion is they would be better off in separate tanks.
Good luck, whatever you are up to!
Betta novice on January 28, 2017:
I have 3 bettas ( 2 male, 1 female) I am having a custom tank buit, should be ready in about a week. The tank dimensions are 75cm length, 38cm wide & 25cm deep. The tank will have 2 dividers giving each betta 25cm length. I haven't decided yet how many filters or heaters.
What are your thoughts on this? Are the dimensions ok?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on January 24, 2017:
@John: What you read is correct. You need to adjust the light level in the room so they don't see themselves in the reflection in the glass.
John Delgadillo on January 22, 2017:
I habe two Betta. Both male. Both in their own tanks. One is on my night stand in a 1.5 gallon tank that has the filter, heater, couple of real plants and a small cave he likes to go in and out of. The tank also has a led light and is covered. The second is in a 2.5 gallon glass bowl. We rigged the same type of filter with suction cups to work in the bowl and got a heater also. He also has a couple of plants and a cave to swim into and play. They both explore and stay active. They have also both discovered their reflections on the walls of the tank. One tank has a led light and one tank does not have a light. I have read that the lighting in the area or on the tank needs to be changed so this does not continue to happen. Seriously one of the fish is on the head hunt going after himself fiercely. What suggestions do you have for me.
Thank you in advance.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on January 07, 2017:
@Levi: Moving him to a larger tank and keeping the temperature at the correct level should help a bit, but you do need to keep the substrate tidy to prevent too much trapped debris from decaying in there. Even if you do water changes, if there is waste and uneaten food lurking in the gravel it could quickly foul the water again. Just keep doing your best to keep his tank clean. Good luck and I hope he recovers!
Levi Alexander on January 06, 2017:
Our Beta has pop eye. We have been treating him with Bettafix as recommended by the pet store for a few days. He appears to have more energy but his eyes are not getting any better.
As for his living conditions, he is in a 1 gallon tank (now that I've read this I'll put him in a bigger one), we use a heating pad under his tank because the heater made the water too hot even though it said it was for a desktop aquarium. We change his water regularly, but I had never even heard of vacuuming the rocks.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on January 04, 2017:
@Austin: That sounds like a nice idea. However, I ask you to reconsider where you are buying your Betta. While the idea of a "rescue" seems kind, remember that the store doesn't see it as a rescue. Instead, they say to themselves, "Hey, people are buying our Betta fish! Awesome! Let's stock more!"
Instead of "rescuing" a Betta, why not take your business to a store that treats fish humanely? Keep that store in business, and maybe that other store will stop selling fish altogether some day.
Austin on January 03, 2017:
I have a 6.5 gallon tank that I use to heal damaged aquarium plants. I'm considering putting in a Betta fish. To benefit the plants with bacterial and water movement and to rescue a Walmart Betta from impending death by in store negligence
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on December 30, 2016:
@Adam4449: The 20 gal is much better than the one gallon. It's a bit large for one fish but certainly superior to a tiny 1-gallon tank. He will be fine in it, but you do need a filter. With the 20-gallon tank You can grow some live plants and even explore the idea of a few tankmates for your Betta. Good luck!