How To Care For A Betta Fish-A Beginners Guide

If your child wants a pet fish, you should get them a betta fish. Betta fish are said to be the perfect “first” fish. They are very easy to care for, come in many amazing colors, and they have a very strong immune system. The colors will give you relaxation and entertainment as you watch them swim around. The strong immune system suggests that they may be around for a few years because it will be more difficult for them to become ill.

The betta fish is also known as the Siamese Fighting fish. They have been given this name because the males will attack each other. The betta fish are a very territorial species. If you choose a betta fish, it is recommended that you do not put females together, males together, or a female and a male together. Your better fish will be the only fish, if you do not choose to put something in the tank with him/her. 

This is a beginners guide to the betta fish. We are going to give you all of the information you will need to begin your journey with your new betta. We will cover filters, heaters, food, tank set up, and more. What exactly should you put in the tank? Do betta fish need an actual tank?

Betta Fish Tank Set-Up

Most people, including myself, just purchase a goldfish bowl for their betta fish. After all, pet stores normally just have them in a small glass bowl, vase, or goldfish bowl. Unless they specifically clarify, a person wouldn’t know that they should not leave them in the bowl they purchase them in. I didn’t know any better, and mine lived in the fishbowl I bought it in for over a year. 

If you want your betta fish to actually thrive and be happy, then you will want to purchase a 5 gallon tank, minimum. If you are going to put other fish in with the betta, then it is recommended that you go no smaller than a 10 gallon. Even if you are only going to put 1 other fish in the tank. Betta fish do not require a filter, but it is highly recommended/suggested that you have one. It is important to have a big enough tank to establish the nitrogen cycle.

We will go into more depth on types of heaters, filters, plants, food, and other topics in the following sections. One extremely important rule that I have already mentioned; NEVER put 2 betta fish in the same tank. It doesn’t matter if they are the same sex or the opposite.

They are very territorial fish. Males will fight until 1 dies, females will fight but not quite as aggressively and the male and females will fight each other. You can only have 1 better fish in a tank, period. It doesn’t matter the size.

 Do Betta Fish Need Heaters

Since the betta fish are native to the tropical waters of Thailand, you will definitely want to have a heater for your tank. The best type of heater for the betta fish is on that is submersible. You will have to monitor it fairly closely, because you want to keep the water at 78-80 degrees.

It is recommended that you get a separate thermometer, to double check the water temperature. There are the occasions when something you purchase no longer works properly. Most of the submersible heaters are very reliable, but things wear out over time and need to be replaced. So it is better to be safe than sorry with the extra thermometer. 

The #1 submersible heater is the Fluval E 300 Watt Advanced Electronic Heater. These will come in a package of 3, but you can also purchase a single one if you want to go that route. Check it out the Fluval E 300 at Amazon here. The Fluval’s have a few features that are going to be important to have.

  • High/low-temperature alert
  • Easy temperature adjustment controls
  • Fully submersible
  • LCD display- easy to read and reliable

Does the Betta Fish Need A Filter

We touched on this very briefly in the beginning of the article. Filters help with the harmful bacteria that is in your tank, as well as keeping the tank clean. So yes, you want to have a filter for your betta tank. But, you need to purchase a “gentle” filter. The betta’s long fins make it difficult for them to swim in strong currents.

The use of a filter allows you the convenience of only changing ⅓ of the betta’s water each week. If you keep them in a fish bowl, you have to change the water at least once a week and depending on how much food doesn’t get eaten and the amount of fish waste; you are putting your betta at risk for disease, infection, and possible death.

Your betta fish will do best with a low out-put filter. The water flow/pressure will not be hard on the betta and the water will stay well oxygenated and clean. The betta will be happier with the low out-put filter because they have those beautiful flowing fins, that make it hard for them to swim if the water flow/pressure is too high. Neither you or the fish will get much enjoyment out of that. 

The top rated filter for your betta tank; Whisper in-tank Filter made by Tetra. The same company that makes a large variety of fish food and other products for any fish that you wish to keep in your tank.

This filter has a bio scrubber, that helps to keep the tank clean. The Whisper filter mounts on the inside, instead of the outside, of the tank using suction cups or a brace/bracket. It is extremely quiet and convenient. You can adjust it very easily to high or low water levels. Whether you have a 10 gallon or a 40-gallon tank, this filter is under $20.

Toys For Your Betta’s Enjoyment

Yes, toys! Betta fish love to have ‘toys’ in their living area. There are actually a few toys that they prefer. The betta is an intelligent species of fish. They enjoy having things in the tank to interact with, to hide in or under, and to lie on. But, be careful what you put in the tank. You don’t want anything with sharp edges or points that could potentially harm your betta fish. You also do not want anything, like plastic toys, that may leak toxins and make your betta sick. 

Plants are like a jungle gym for your betta. Not only do they provide hiding spots but they also provide oxygen, if they are live plants. Plants that are alive or silk are highly recommended. You can use plastic but you have to be careful. Again, no point or sharp edges or tips and you will have to wash them thoroughly in hot soapy water before you can place them in the tank.

Betta fish love to spend time on the water’s surface. Look into a betta hammock or a floating log. A log is going to give them the perfect place to play or build a bubble nest. You can suction cup the big leaf hammock just below the surface, about 2 inches, and they can sit on it and rest (as fish do not sleep).

Feeding Your Betta Fish

What do you feed a betta? How often should you feed them? How much do you feed them? These are all important and very good questions to ask the pet store associate. You do not want to feed your fish the wrong type of food, betta or not. You do not want to feed them too much food and you definitely don’t want to feed them too much at once. 

Betta are carnivores. Out in the wild the betta will eat insects, eggs, insects, and larvae. They prefer meat and protein in their diet. Check the ingredients on the betta food container. The proteins in the food should be at a 40% or higher, protein level. You also want the first few ingredients to include meat based products.

If you have other fish in the tank, then you are going to have to make sure you have a good food balance for all of the fish involved. You want to make sure you feed your betta fish twice a day, about 12 hours apart.

Try to feed them at the exact same time every day so that you and your fish can develop a personalized feeding schedule. You will notice that the fish will begin to get excited when they see you come to the tank with the food container. 

Compatible Fish To House With The Betta

Since you can only have 1 betta in a tank at a time, is it safe to have any other fish in the tank with the betta? If they are territorial, won’t they attack all fish and not just their species? Let’s take a look at the top 4 fish that you can put in the same tank as your betta fish with very little to absolutely no concern for the other fishes safety.

  1. Ghost Shrimp– these are classified as an invertebrate and for the most part, they are seen through. You will not even notice they are in the tank unless it is pointed out to you or you look very very closely into the tank. It is recommended you put 2-4 in a 10 gallon+ tank. The ghost shrimp will be approximately 1 ½ inches long and they will clean up the left-over food that is on the bottom of your tank. 
  1. Feeder Guppies – this species of guppy is content living on their own, so you are able to just put 1 in the tank if you wish. You do not have to worry about buying a ‘school’ of them. Feeder guppies are pretty docile so they will not antagonize your betta in any way. They enjoy the same temperatures and pH balance as the better. That is a huge plus!
  1. Mystery Snails – these spectacular creatures will clean up excess food and algae, helping to keep the tank clean. The mystery snail has a hard shell that they can hide in, in case your betta fish gets curious and tries to nip at the snail. These snails are also docile and will keep to themselves. They will get to be about 2 inches in size but will only live for about a year.
  1. African Dwarf Frog – these frogs have a very calm demeanor. You will want to have 2 in your tank as they like to have the company of another of their species. The frog can live up to 5 years and grow to about 2 ½ inches in length. Since the frogs do not have gills they will visit the surface to get air. Every 1 to 2 weeks they will shed their skin. It is quite interesting to watch, but don’t worry, they eat what they shed. 

Other Important Facts About The Betta Fish

We have covered a lot of information on betta fish today. But, there is more.  A few more little tidbits that we are going to include, and a lot more that we just do not have room for.

We want to make sure that you have as much information as possible when you walk into the pet store to purchase your first betta. But remember, they are there to help you as well and should be able to answer any questions that happen to come up during the purchase. 

Here we go:

  • Not knowing how old the betta truly is when you purchase it makes it tough to estimate how long you will have your betta, or even how old they could be. Yes, nothing in life is guaranteed and anything can happen in the blink of an eye. How long do betta fish live? betta fish are said to live to be between 3 and 5 years old. 
  • The betta will be happy if they have a lot of resting spots, toys, to play with, and room to swim around
  • Replace your can of food every 6 months, especially if it has any kind of cardboard backing. The food loses the nutrients quicker if it comes into contact with cardboard. 
  • The bigger the tank or volume of water the fewer the tank changes. 
  • Respect your betta. Believe it or not, there are people out there who will buy the betta and put them together to fight, on purpose. Or they will buy them, put them on a shelf, and never pay attention to them. 


Betta fish are a very beautiful species of fish. They come in many colors/color combinations, they have long flowing fins, and they are easy to care for. When you think about it, they are a fairly simple fish. They prefer (or should i say it is recommended) for them to be the only betta in the tank, they love to play and entertain, they only eat 3-6 pellets of food per day, and they are relaxing to watch. 

As with any pet you are getting ready to purchase, please do in depth research so that you know what you are getting yourself into and to make sure it is a perfect match for your family and your lifestyle. If we didn’t provide an answer to something that you wanted to know, please feel free to research or call the pet store and get the information that you need. Until next time, enjoy the view!


I'm passionate about fish pets and love sharing everything I learn about them.

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