How to Look After Betta Fish

Betta fish, also known as Siamese Fighting Fish, are colorful fish often kept as pets.  Wild Betta fish are pretty but are not nearly as colorful as the ones in the pet trade which have been bred for generations to have long fins and stunning colors.

Is My Betta Fish Male or Female?

The Betta fish in pet stores are typically males.  Females are less colorful, have shorter fins, and are usually kept by breeders to produce more fish.  Females can be kept together with other females if the tank is large enough, however males need to be kept alone.

What is the Best Tank Size for a Betta Fish?

Although pet stores often display Betta fish in tiny cups and will tell you that they live in tiny puddles this is not the truth.  Betta fish do much better with a minimum of 3 gallons.  In the wild if the puddles get smaller they do try to jump to larger bodies of water.  The small containers they are displayed in are too small for long term care and are just to save space in the store.

Tank Conditions

Betta fish prefer warmer water so a tank kept in a warm part of the house is generally best.  They do not need a filter as long as they get a partial water change every 2 weeks.  They dislike a lot of movement in the water so the filter is a disturbance.  Betta fish get their air from the surface and as such an air pump is not needed, however it is important for them to have a big open area at the surface (no floating plants).

blue betta fish

Betta Fish, art by author ©

How Much to Feed a Betta Fish

Betta fish are generally very easy to care for, they do not eat much but are carnivores and must have proper (meat based) Betta fish food.  Pellets are a good staple (and usually preferred over flakes) and they can be given 2-4 per day, but if a day is missed here or there it is not the end of the world.  They can be given brine shrimp or blood worms as a treat too.

How Long Do Betta Fish Live?

Most Betta fish will be 2 to 4 months old when you buy them and should live another three to five years with proper care.

*Note that male and female Betta fish cannot be put together as they will fight unless the female is in her breeding phase and they have been properly introduced.


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