Betta Fish – The Complete Beginner Guide!


Betta Fish – The Complete Beginner Guide!

Betta Fish are popular for first-time aquarists for several good reasons!

Whether you're new to fishkeeping or an experienced aquarist, I’m here to provide you with all the information you need to care for your Betta fish.

That's right, I'm not just talking the basics here, I'm diving deep to bring you the complete, no-holds-barred guide on these magnificent fish. 

From their origins and history, to their care and feeding, I've got all the scoop.

And once you get the basics down they are fairly easy to breed as well! So grab your snorkel, let's make a splash, and discover everything there is to know about Betta Fish!


Overview of Betta Fish

The Betta fish, also known as Siamese Fighting Fish, are more than just pretty faces and a pop of color in your aquarium. I'm talking personality, charisma, and a whole lot of sass.

They are relatively low-maintenance and can be kept in a smaller tank, making them suitable for both beginners and experienced aquarium keepers.

Origin and History of The Siamese Fighting Fish

One of the most badass fish in the sea, the "plakat" (which means "biting fish") is native to Southeast Asia and was first discovered in Thailand, the land of smiles, in the late 1800s.

The betta fighting sport was popular in Thailand in the past, for a reason similar to rooster fights, where the winner gets prizes and pride. There was no end to the fight until one betta surrendered or died. Betta competitions are considered to be major events even now in Asian countries.

But thank goodness! In today's competitions, betta fishes are no longer allowed to fight each other; instead, they are judged on their breeding qualities, colors, patterns, and behaviors. A variety of categories are involved in these competitions with cash prizes being awarded to the most successful breeders.


Physical Characteristics of Betta Fish

There are two main reasons why Betta fish are so good at surviving.

First off, they're very territorial and won't even bother fighting against bigger fish.

Secondly, Betta fish can tolerate bad water conditions and low-oxygen tank environments better than most other fish varieties. As long as they stay moist, they can even survive out of water for a short period of time. Talk about versatility!

Additionally, They've got long and flowing fins that are used to attract mates and intimidate other fish, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including veil tail betta, half-moon, delta, and crown tail.


Betta Fish Appearance

Bettas have been captive bred for centuries in Southeast Asia and come in a wide variety of color and fin shapes. Brilliant blue and red are the most common colors, with yellow, white, purple and other shades available as well.

Wild Betta fish have short, rounded fins while most captive bred Bettas have long, curtain-like fins. Their eyes are large and they have an upturned mouth for feeding and breathing from the water surface.

Types of Betta Fish

So, what kind of Betta fish should you bring home? Well, there are a ton of different types to choose from, each with its own unique set of physical characteristics and personality traits.

  • If you're looking for a peaceful companion, The Veil Tail might be for you. These fish have long, flowing fins that resemble a veil, and they're known for their calm temperaments.
  • If you're looking for a dancer, The Half-moon Betta is your choice. These fish have fins that are rounded and spread out to form a 180-degree circle, and they're known for their aggressive personalities.
  • If you're a beginner, The Delta Betta species is a popular choice. These fish have triangular-shaped fins that resemble the Greek letter delta, and they're known for their hardiness.
  • And if you're looking for an energetic companion, The Crown Tail Betta is a great option. These fish have fins that are split into multiple rays, giving them a crown-like appearance, and they're known for their energetic personalities.

Sexing Betta Fish

Bettas are some of the easiest fish in the hobby to tell the sexes of. For starters, the vast majority that you come across are going to be males. Male Bettas have the most color, the longest fins, and grow the largest. They are also intolerantly aggressive towards one another and are kept separated from each other.

Female Bettas aren’t as common in the hobby as males because they aren’t as colorful and have shorter fins. They usually have a few solid bars of color on a plain background.

But captive breeding efforts are starting to turn out females with colors comparable to males! Female Bettas are also visibly plumper even when not carrying eggs and shorter in length than males.


How Long Do Betta Fish Live?

A well cared for Betta will live for 2 to 5 years, which is an average lifespan for a tropical fish. Rarely do they live beyond 5 years.

It's also important to note that some Betta fish may have a shorter lifespan due to improper care or living in sub-optimal conditions. To ensure a long and healthy life for your Betta fish, it's essential to research their needs and provide the best possible care.

Factors Affecting Betta Fish Life Span

Water temperature and diet are the big players. Keeping the water clean and at a stable temperature, and feeding them a balanced diet, will ensure your betta fish swims happily for years to come. Don't skimp on their care, because a healthy betta is a long-living betta!


How Big do Bettas Grow?

Despite there being so many color varieties out there Bettas are very consistent when it comes to size. 3 inches is typical for adult male Bettas, with females almost always being smaller and weighing less than an ounce.

While their size is modest, they make up for it with their striking appearance and unique personalities. It's important to provide them with a suitable living environment, such as a tank that allows for sufficient swimming space and filtration.

But, don't be fooled by their size, they pack a punch of personality and color. They're small but mighty!

Factors Affecting Betta Fish Size

Genetics, diet, and water conditions all play a role. A healthy diet rich in protein can help them reach their maximum size, and good water conditions can ensure they thrive. But ultimately, genetics is the determining factor for how big these little powerhouses will grow.


How To Care For A Betta Fish?

Betta fish care 101! These stunning fish deserve the best, so let's make sure we're giving them what they need. I'll break down the essentials for keeping your betta healthy, happy, and living their longest life.

Water Conditions

Of all the issues surrounding Betta care, water conditions are the most misunderstood.

To provide the best environment for captive Betta fish, it is important to mimic their natural habitat as closely as possible. Betta fish are best kept in an aquarium with a low water flow, as they are not fond of strong currents.

Filtration and proper maintenance are also essential for keeping Betta fish healthy. The filter should not create a strong current, as Betta fish are not fond of strong water flow. An adjustable or sponge filter is a good option for a Betta fish tank.


It’s time to dispel a few myths about keeping Bettas healthy and happy!

The first issue with Bettas is providing the right water temperature for them. New aquarists often see Bettas lined up in tiny, unheated bowls and think “wow, what a low maintenance, undemanding fish! I can easily keep a bowl like that on my desk!”

The thing is, these conditions are tolerated by Bettas. We want our pets to thrive, not merely survive. They come from steamy Thailand and Bettas prefer heated water in the 75-82℉ range. They can survive room temperature conditions but it depresses their appetite and makes them much more vulnerable to ich, fungus, and bacterial infections.

All of which are easy to get when kept in a cold, unfiltered bowl. Bettas that are kept in warm water will swim faster, show better colors, and build bubble nests, which are a sign of willingness to breed!

Don’t buy the Betta + Houseplant combinations, either. They are sold on the idea of the plant filtering the water and the Betta nibbling on the roots, which doesn’t actually happen.

Water Chemistry

Maintaining clean water is crucial for the health of Betta fish. This can be achieved through regular water changes and the use of a good quality water conditioner. A water test kit should be used to ensure the water chemistry is at appropriate levels.

Bettas tolerate a wide range of water chemistry parameters. Bettas prefer acidic conditions with pH ranging from 6.5 - 7.4 as they are typically found in shallow bodies of water full of decaying plant matter.

Rice paddies, ditches, ponds, and creeks are their natural habitat in Thailand. If your water is neutral to slightly alkaline conditions this won’t give them problems; they are simply less likely to spawn.

And given their stagnant water habitat Bettas are very resistant to high levels of ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, and other pollutants. While they will tolerate these conditions we still want to provide them with clean, filtered water for optimal health.

Bettas also have a special adaptation to the low levels of dissolved oxygen that are found in hot, stagnant pools of water: the labyrinth organ!

Every few minutes you’ll see your Betta make a dash for the water's surface to take a gulp of air. It’s refilling its labyrinth organ, which is a primitive lung that Bettas and their relatives the Gouramis use alongside gills to breathe.

Recommended Water Change Schedule for Betta Fish

Bettas prefer regular water changes, about 10-15% once a week, which are important for maintaining water quality and keeping the fish healthy. Debris and waste should also be removed from the water through regular cleaning and maintenance. Here's a Betta's tank Cleaning Made Easy short video guide.

Tank Setup

Bettas are active but slow moving fish.

When it comes to keeping Betta fish, they can be kept in fairly small aquariums. Betta fish are a small fish species and do not require a larger tank, but they should be kept in a solitary setup

Tank Size

It is recommended to have at least 10 gallon tank is an excellent home for a single male Betta. Of course, more space is always nicer, and they thrive in larger tank community tanks with other fish! While it's possible to keep a betta in a 2.5 gallon tank at the minimum, it's not best for the fish.

Do Betta Fish Need A Filter?

Yes! Although Betta fish can live in a murky body of water in the wild, it is still essential to have a filtration system.

A filter is a must-have for a healthy betta habitat. It helps keep the water clean and free from waste, giving your fish a happy and safe environment to live in.

Betta Fish Tank Lighting

Lighting is important for bettas, especially considering their natural habitat. These fish come from shallow, murky waters in Southeast Asia, so they don't require intense lighting.

Too much light can actually harm their health, so it's important to provide a comfortable and moderate amount of light in their tank. Keep it balanced.

Substrate for Betta Fish Tank

Many Betta fish owners neglect the significance of substrate in maintaining the well-being of their fish, but you can't overlook the importance of substrate. Don't get all caught up in color and price, or even worse, just forgettin' about it altogether.

One of the best substrates for Betta fish is:

This is a great substrate for your Betta fish and will make your aquarium fish look and feel like a million bucks.

Tank Decorations

When it comes to decorations Bettas aren’t too picky. Thick plant growth is something they do enjoy, however. You’ll see your Betta resting on plants and picking their way through it, hunting for small invertebrates. Male Bettas also build their bubble nests into floating plants.

Plants also provide shade and a sense of safety for them. Some fast growing, easy to care for plants include:

  • Guppy Grass (Najas guadalupensis)
  • Java Moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri)
  • Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum)
  • Vallisneria (Vallisneria sp.)

When decorating the tank, it's important to avoid anything that could harm the fish, such as sharp edges or items with rough surfaces. If a Betta fish gets a sharp edge cut, it can result in injury and even infection, putting their health and well-being at risk.


What Fish Can Live With Bettas?

Bettas are semi-aggressive, meaning they may occasionally harass other fish. However, they are slow swimmers as their long fins cause some drag. Males aren’t usually bothered by other fish unless they have similar colors or fins. Fancy guppies can be a poor choice for this reason.

These tropical fish can also live with non-fish species such as snails, ghost shrimp, and frogs.

It’s important to keep in mind that Betta fish are solitary fish and do not require the company of other fish. In fact, they might view other fish as competition or potential threats.

Aggression in Betta Fish and Tank Mates

Betta fish do poorly with other aggressive, territorial, or fast-swimming fish that might trigger their aggressive behavior. Avoid keeping fish that might nip at the Betta fish's fins or attack them, such as barbs, tetras, and danios.

So choosing tank mates that are very different in appearance can make aggression a non-issue!

Community Tank Set Up for Betta Fish

The long fins of Bettas can be tempting targets for fish that like to nip fins. Certain barbs and tetras are known for being fin nippers, including Tiger Barbs and Black Skirt Tetras. Other than that, you can keep Bettas with a wide range of community fish – just don’t keep males together and be cautious when introducing them to females!

Good tank mates for Bettas include:


Feeding Your Betta Fish

Feeding Betta fish is relatively simple: Bettas are carnivores, meaning they eat animal prey in nature. Small invertebrates like gammarus (shrimp-like crustaceans), water fleas, mosquito larvae, and other animals are what they hunt for among thick plant growth.

How often to feed Betta Fish?

Bettas aren’t as energetic as tetras and other speedy fish. Feed your Betta 1 or 2 times per day. Its eye is about as large as its stomach, to give you an idea of how much to feed it!


What Do Betta Fish Eat?

In captivity, we should offer our Bettas a protein-rich flake food or pellet formula. I always recommend reading the ingredients label and avoiding products that use wheat, corn, and potato based fillers, which aren’t good for carnivores like Bettas. Look for fish, shrimp, and other sources of animal protein.

You should also offer them treats in the form of frozen or live food. Brine shrimp, blood worms, daphnia, and tubifex worms are all favorites of theirs and add extra fat and nutrients that prepared blends often lack.

How Much Food to Feed Betta Fish?

It’s important to not overfeed the Betta fish, as they have a tendency to overeat, leading to health problems. Offer them small amounts of food two to three times a day and monitor their feeding habits.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements for Betta Fish

Betta fish need a balanced and varied diet, but sometimes even the best diet may not provide all the necessary vitamins and minerals. That's where supplements come in! Adding the right supplements to your Betta's diet can help improve their overall health and boost their immunity.

Here are some recommended vitamin and mineral supplements for Betta fish:


Breeding Your Betta

Ready to take the plunge into betta breeding? From selecting the right pair to creating the ideal breeding environment, I'll guide you through all the steps to successfully breed these vibrant and colorful creatures

How Do I Condition Bettas to Spawn?

Conditioning Betta fish to spawn requires providing them with the right environment and food. Clean water, high temperatures, live plants, and a wide variety of nutritious foods are all helpful in getting your Bettas to spawn.

Warmth accelerates their metabolisms and plants provide oxygen, cover, and anchors for the bubble nest. And a steady supply of non-prepared foods provides nutrients needed for egg production in females, especially the fats found in brine shrimp and tubifex worms.

Providing a suitable environment, including adequate food and proper water conditions, will increase the chances of successful breeding for Betta fish.

Lastly, they need to be kept together, which can be an issue. Male Bettas can be very demanding once they’ve decided they are ready to breed. If a female betta fish isn’t ready he may harass her enough that she never becomes ready and even kill her outright.



Setting up a Breeding Tank for Betta Fish

The best way to ensure your Bettas breed is to provide the female with enough space and cover that she can avoid him until she’s ready. Keeping several female Bettas to one male also helps divide his attention so he’s not constantly chasing any one female.

Additionally, providing adequate hiding spots and a suitable spawning surface, such as a flat leaf or breeding cone, will help to create a comfortable and stress-free environment for Betta fish to breed.

Regular water changes and maintenance of water quality is also important in ensuring the health of the breeding fish and the success of the breeding process.

It’s important to closely monitor the breeding behavior of Betta fish and to separate them if necessary to prevent aggression towards each other, if that happens repeat and condition again your Betta Fish to ensure a mating process after you put them together again.

Watch this fun video guide on How To Set Up A Breeding Tank for Betta fish with success!

How Can I Tell If a Betta Fish is Pregnant?

Once a female Betta is ready to spawn she will visibly swell with eggs over the course of a week. While females are always a bit stout the difference is obvious enough, both to you and your male Betta fish.

She will become receptive to his advances and the two embrace under his bubble nest. During the spawning process itself the male will collect the eggs as they fall and spit them into the nest.

The babies will then develop and hatch over the course of a week. They are extremely tiny and require infusoria – microscopic organisms – as their food source for the first two weeks. After which they can be fed baby brine shrimp.

To breed Betta fish correctly always remember, as bubble nest builders, Betta fish do provide some parental care after they spawn. The male will care for the eggs and fry in his bubble nest, and should not be disturbed. It’s important to provide the male with proper nutrition and a suitable environment to ensure the success of the breeding process.



Raising Betta Fish Fry

After the female has laid eggs, it’s important to remove her from the breeding tank to prevent her from eating the eggs or fry.

For raising Betta fish fry, make sure you have a separate betta tank, with proper water conditions, including water temperature, pH, and cleanliness. Feed them tiny bits of live or frozen foods such as micro worms or daphnia.

I recommend yellow egg yolk and baby brine shrimp as great options to feed Betta fish fry. Just make sure to mash the yellow egg a bit and use a dripper to gently add it to the water. By doing this, you'll ensure that the fry are getting enough food without any leftovers sinking to the bottom and polluting the water.

And, remember to keep a close eye on water quality, do regular partial water changes, and observe the fry for any signs of stress or illness. Happy fry-raising!

What To Do With Betta Fish Runts?

Runts are smaller and weaker Betta fish fry that may struggle to survive and compete for food. To give them the best chance, you can try separating them into their own smaller tank with optimal water conditions. Feed them small, frequent meals of high-quality food, and consider using a fine-bubble air stone to provide extra oxygen. Regular water changes are also crucial to maintain water quality. If you see any signs of illness or distress, take action promptly. With proper care, you may be able to nurse the runts back to health and give them a fighting chance.


Betta Fish Health and Diseases

These beautiful creatures are not just pretty to look at, but also make for great pets. But as with all pets, it's important to keep them healthy and happy. Let's dive into the world of Betta fish health and diseases.


Common Diseases in Betta Fish

Betta fish are prone to certain diseases just like any other pet, but don't worry - with a little bit of knowledge, you can keep your Betta healthy and thriving. Let's start by talking about some common diseases in Betta fish.

  • Bacterial Infections - This is one of the most common diseases in Betta fish and can be caused by poor water quality or a weakened immune system.
  • Fungal Infections - Fungal infections can occur when the Betta's immune system is weakened or the water quality is poor.
  • Parasitic Infections - Parasites like Ich and Velvet can cause skin irritation, loss of appetite and can even be fatal if left untreated.

Signs of Betta Fish Illness

So how do you know if your Betta is sick? Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Loss of Appetite - If your Betta stops eating, it could be a sign that something is wrong.
  • Change in color or behavior - A sudden change in color or behavior can also indicate that your Betta is sick.
  • Clamped fins - If your Betta's fins are clamped close to its body, it could be a sign of stress or illness.

Prevention and Treatment of Betta Fish Diseases

Preventing Betta fish diseases is all about staying proactive and informed. To keep your Betta healthy, it's important to maintain good water quality. This means performing regular partial water changes and testing the water regularly to ensure the pH levels are within the correct range for Betta fish.

A balanced diet is also crucial for keeping your Betta's immune system strong, so make sure to feed them a variety of food, including live, frozen, or freeze-dried options.

Additionally, it's a good idea to quarantine any new fish before introducing them to your tank to avoid the risk of introducing diseases into your Betta's environment.

In the case that your Betta does become ill, it's important to act quickly to treat the disease. The first step is to identify the specific disease or condition affecting your Betta, as different diseases require different treatments.

Some common diseases can be treated with medication, while others may require a change in water conditions or diet. It's always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian or a specialist in fish health to ensure you are providing the best possible care for your Betta.

With proper care and attention, you can keep your Betta healthy and happy for years to come.


Betta Fish Training and Activities

Bettas are semi-aggressive fish but slow moving. The males save most of their aggression for one another, flaring their gills and fins as a challenge.

These stunning creatures not only add color and aggression to your aquarium but they can also be trained to perform tricks and enjoy interactive toys.

Typical Betta Behavior

Betta Fish may occasionally chase other fish, especially if they have similar bright blue and red tones. Long finned Guppies and other fish may also be mistaken for rival males. Fish that are very dissimilar tend to be ignored by Bettas.

Males should never be kept together because Bettas have been bred over centuries for aggression. Two males will fight to the death in most situations.

However, female Bettas are mostly unaggressive towards each other and entirely peaceful towards other fish. You can even keep several of them together in a “Betta sorority!”

Training Betta Fish to Perform Tricks

Now for the exciting part, Betta fish can be trained! Just like dogs, cats, and even horses, these vibrant fish have the ability to learn and perform specific actions on command. The key is to provide positive reinforcement, such as a food treat, every time they successfully complete a trick.

So, what kind of tricks can Betta fish learn? Some popular ones include swimming through a hoop, jumping through a ring, and even following your finger. With a little patience and training, you'll be amazed at what these clever fish can do.


Interactive Toys for Betta Fish

We all know that Betta fish are stunning creatures, but did you know that they also enjoy playing? That's right! These intelligent fish love to explore and engage with their environment, which is why interactive toys are the perfect addition to any Betta tank.

But with so many options on the market, how do you know which toys are the best? Don't worry, I've got you covered.

Here are some recommended interactive toys for your Betta fish:

  • Betta Ball - This small, floating ball is perfect for Betta fish to push and chase around their tank. It's a great way to stimulate their natural hunting instincts.
  • Betta Mirror - Betta fish love to admire themselves, and a small mirror placed in their betta tank can provide hours of entertainment.
  • Betta Labyrinth - This maze-like toy is a fun challenge for Betta fish to navigate, and it helps to keep their minds sharp.

Betta Fish in Popular Culture

These little guys have been popping up everywhere in popular culture, from social media to films and TV shows. People just can't seem to get enough of their vibrant colors, flowing fins, and playful personalities.


Whether they're being used as a symbol of serenity, or simply as a fun addition to your Instagram feed, Betta fish are quickly becoming one of the most beloved creatures on the planet.

Betta Fish as a Symbol

Betta fish are often used as a symbol of serenity, peace, and balance. Their slow, graceful movements and tranquil presence make them the perfect representation of calm and tranquility.


In fact, many people keep Betta fish as pets in their homes and offices to help create a peaceful and relaxing environment.

Betta Fish in Art and Literature

The enigmatic Siamese Fighting Fish, known for their vivacious demeanor and resplendent appearance, have been a muse for artistic and literary expressions for generations. Their fascinating allure has provoked a diverse range of creative expressions, from oil paintings and ceramic sculptures to epic poems and whimsical tales, Betta fish have inspired artists and writers for centuries.

Their unique beauty and unique personalities have captivated the imaginations of many, making them a popular subject in both traditional and contemporary art forms.


Frequently Asked Questions About Betta Splendens

Can I Keep Male Bettas Together?

Only in large (40+ gallons), heavily planted tanks where they can form territories and break line of sight. But even then, there’s a risk of them doing significant damage to one another.

Do Betta Male Fish Show Aggression?

Siamese Fighting fish are well known for their aggressive behavior towards other male Betta fish and even some other species. However, female Bettas may occasionally chase each other but can still be kept together and with other fish.

Are Bettas Omnivores?

People sometimes are tempted to give their Bettas bread or peas for “health reasons.” But Bettas are carnivores and should always be fed animal-based products!

Do betta fish sleep?

Betta fish do sleep but don't worry, they won't snore and keep you up all night!

Can betta fish live with other fish?

Bettas can be kept with a variety of community tank fish, but it is important to avoid keeping males together and exercise caution when introducing them to females.

But it's best to keep them solo in their own castle (a.k.a aquarium).

How long can a betta fish go without food?

Betta fish can survive up to 1 Week without food, but don't let them go hungry for too long! They love to munch on yummy snacks.

Can betta fish see in the dark?

Betta fish have good eyesight, but their ability to see in the dark depends on the level of light available in their environment.

In murky or muddy waters, visibility is reduced, so bettas may not be able to see as well in these conditions. However, they have the ability to adjust to low light conditions and can still navigate their environment effectively.

Do betta fish have teeth?

Yes, betta fish have tiny teeth in their mouths, but they won't give you a nip like a shark.

Do betta fish need a light?

Betta fish don't need a light to survive, but a light can help them see their surroundings and promote a healthy sleep/wake cycle.

Can 2 female betta fish live together?

Yes, female betta fish can live together, but it's important to provide enough space and hiding spots to prevent any fin-tastic fights.

Why is my betta fish not moving?

There could be many reasons why your betta fish isn't moving, such as stress, illness, or being too cold. Check their water temperature and conditions, and consult with a veterinarian if needed.

Do you have any more questions?

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In conclusion, Siamese Fighting Fish, also known as Betta Splendens, are a popular species of labyrinth fish that are often kept as pets in fish tanks. Betta fish are native to rice paddies in Southeast Asia and have been through selective breeding for their vibrant colors and unique double tail shapes.

Male bettas are known for their aggressive behavior and should not be kept in the same tank with other fish species. Female bettas, on the other hand, can be kept in a community tank with compatible fish, provided they are given enough space and the water temperature is maintained within a suitable range.

In captivity, bettas thrive on a diet of insect larvae, frozen food, and freeze-dried foods, as well as fresh or frozen blood worms. It is important for new betta owners to provide their pet with a proper tank, with a minimum tank size of 10 gallon tank, and ensure that the water quality is maintained through regular water changes with aged tap water.

Betta fish tanks can also benefit from live plants and a proper filtration system to keep the water clean and healthy. Bettas are resilient and enduring fish that can provide their owners with years of enjoyment and make great additions to any aquarium.


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