Betta Care 101

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Mr Sparkles the I, and II

My personal Bettas (Mr Sparkles the I and II)

Since Betta fishes are a common pet choice for most beginners, I thought I’d create a betta 101 page for people to reference. Most of these answers are found on the forums but I put everything on one page in case someone doesn’t have a Betta yet and wants to read about them before they buy them.

Of course other people may have their own please share if you have a better way or feel that I forgot something important :)(This 101 thing probably has been done though)

If you don’t want to read the entire guide and is looking for something specific, just hold down CTRL and the F key on your keyboard until a box pops up, and type in the title that suits your inquiry in the box to get to that section.

Getting started:

Table Of Contents

1) How Much Should I Spend? What should I buy?
2) The Right Tank & Temperature
3) Betta Behavior & Tank Mates
4) Feeding

5) Common Betta Diseases


1) How much should I spend? What should I buy?

I’ve written these all in Canadian currency system so please do your own curreny conversion as needed. If you don’t have $ to spend, then please find another alternative way that accomodates your wallet because I wrote mine based on my own research/experience I did online...and bought my stuff offline in person, although I’m sure if you have patience you’re better off shopping online.

Before you even choose your betta, make sure his home is properly equipped before you bring it home. That means you should be 150% prepared...not just 100%.

I spent a total of $140,(Canadian Dollars) (without the actual fishes in the tank) on just one Betta fish before I bought him home. There is probably a wayyyyyyyyyyy cheaper alternative but I don’t like shopping online and I don’t drive so I was doing this based on my local pet store. You should probably expect to spend at least $80 if you are truly wanting your fish to be well.

I was also very lucky as Petsmart/PJs Petstore was having a giant tank clearance... You probably don’t have to buy all of these on one go but I recommend you get all the necessities first.

So here are the items I purchased before I got my betta. You don’t necessarily have to do everything I do, but this is just a guideline for people out there.

a) Style 10 Marina Aquarium Kit: $54.00 was $75.00. (it came with a 10 gallon tank, Slim Filter S15, hood, conditioner, filter refill pack, light bulb, flake food, cycle fluid, and catching net.) A 5 gallon kit can go for $30-$90 depending on where you buy it can also get cheaper tanks on kijiji or online but since I’m really new at this, I ended up with a kit.

I also recommend you buying a kit if you’re starting out because a tank may be cheap but the hood will cost you an extra $20 so you’re paying a bit more for less in terms of kits....or buy a tank with hood already intact unless you really know what you are doing and can find cheaper alternatives.

b) Breeding box: $6.00 (because you never know if you get more fishes later on)

c) Heater: $15 (IF YOU OWN A BETTA YOU BETTER BUY THIS OR BE BITTEN BY THE FISH GOD.) Bettas will thrive in temperatures around 74-78 degrees F, that is about 23-25 degrees in C. If you have a tank and no heater, you’ll probably wonder why your betta isn’t swimming around a lot...well cold water is your reason.

d) Gravel: $12.00 Any type of aquarium gravel will do.

e) Decorations: $23 You want to get a nice mountain/cave/log for your aquarium and few fake/real big and small plants and make it look FULL because if its empty your fish will feel vulnerable. It needs places to hide. My mountain cost about $17 (you won’t find anything cheaper unless you order online), then i spent another $8 on plants and shells...I bought 2 small plants, and 3 medium and 3 large.

Plants will provide places to hide for your fish if you plan on having tank mates for your fish.

Bettas are quite territorial so they would prefer a place to hide from other fishes...if they don’t have a place of their own, they will nip or kill your other fishes due to aggression.

f) Medicine : $18.00 Aquarium Salt ($3) make sure its got no iodine! Methylene Blue ($5) Some people may not recommend Methylene Blue but it worked out for my betta, melafix ($5), pimafix($5)

(I got my conditioner in with the kit so if you didn’t get a kit you’d want to pick these up too.)

g) Aquarium Gravel Siphon: $8 You’ll need this for water change and cleaning. Never do a 100% water change unless all your fishes are literally on the brink of death. Dumping water & putting new water in will not do the trick as it does not suck up the dirt underneath the gravel.

f) Things to consider, but I did not buy...tank dividers, $10-$20 or do it yourself for cheaper (in case you have bully fish...) a sifter so when you pour water during water changes, the current of the water won’t startle your fish...

g) Freeze-dried Blood Worms: $4 I also purchased a container of freeze-dried blood worms for my betta only because its closer to their natural food, but due to the low health benefits I mix it with flakes. You can buy frozen worms or pellets as well...


2) The Right Tank

If you want your betta to thrive and live his life to the fullest, forget fish bowls, forget the 1 gallons, forget anything less than 5 gallons...because the minimum requirement for a betta fish to thrive is a 5 gallon tank. Anything less than 5 may eventually be harmful for your fish, and also make your fish die faster. Anything above 15 gallons may also be too big and make your betta feel vulnerable, so if you do put him in a large tank, make sure you decorate it really well so he can mark his territory.

The puny 1 gallon and half gallons you find at your local pet store will do nothing but stress out your fish even if you change the water every day.

Why? Because like humans, FISH need space. If you trap him in one little container he will get bored and sulk, and be easily stressed which will make him vulnerable to sickness. The difference between thriving and just surviving is quite obvious if you do all the right things for your betta. Your betta may seem fine for a few weeks in a 1 gallon, but trust me, eventually your betta will show signs of lethargy and perhaps even depression and then if you want your betta to live life to its on!

My first tank I got is a 10 gallon Marina Kit. I cycled it for 7 days and waited for cloudy water to show up and disappear with my 30% water changes every day before I put my betta in.

I strongly advise you, if you are not going to cycle your tank, you should purchase some kind of cycle fluid like Nutrafin Cycle for your tank...even though it really wouldn’t be my first choice since natural cycling is a lot better. If you don’t cycle your tank there is a high chance your fish will die from shock.

Temperature: The best temperatures for your Betta fishy to thrive in is 72° to 78° F which is 22°C to 26°C...which is why a heater is quite vital for betta aquariums. If its lower than that your betta fish may not be as active and signs of lethargy may be visible. Also, his immune system will be lowered and might become stressed and agressive.


3) Betta Behavior & Tank Mates

Alright now you are ready to choose your betta & put fishes in your tank....

SOOOOO betta are loner fishes, so they prefer to be ALONE! If you plan on getting tank mates, make sure he has his own territory, and make sure they are compatible. Never put in your betta FIRST, and then his tank mates second...put the tank mates first so that the betta will think it is entering someone else’s home and it’ll be less territorial that way...otherwise you’ll suffer the consequences! Also don’t introduce your fishes all at once, start SLOW. Possibly 2-3 at a time in the course of 4 weeks.

Provide tons of hiding spots so he/she can be alone...especially if its a male.

Female bettas are less aggressive but they behave in if you put more than 1 betta in, make sure they are female! If its male they will fight unless its mating season. Sorority just means that there will be 1 leading female that overpowers the other females. They will probably duke it out to sort this out but it doesn’t mean your fishes are all gonna die.

Tank mates: This is a hard question to really answer to because each fish has their own personalities...there are miracle compatibility and then there are deaths. The obvious rule of thumb is to never place bettas together...generally for tank mates for bettas...less is more.

You should also probably avoid putting fishes with long fins or tail or bright colors as this will make the betta feel competitive. If you have a female betta, it will most likely be fine but I would still be cautious.

Tetras, cichlids, plecos are great. If you decide on a pleco make sure the maximum length is accetable for your tank. Danios are a hit and miss, as well as barbs and gouramis as they will nip.

Stay away from goldfishes and kois and any type of fish with long flowing fins.

Unless you’re going to over plant/decorate your tank...I would probably leave the betta fish alone, or buy a divider.

I had 3 Zebra and 3 Pink Danios and 1 Bristlenose Pleco with my betta and they were doing fine in my tank but after I got 3 more mollies I put the betta in his own 5 Gallon Tank due to overstocking.

Please check: for stocking capacity doesn’t tell you about fish compatibility but it’ll tell you if you are overstocked.


4) Feeding

Most fresh water fish stomach are the size of their eyeballs, meaning they do not require large amounts of food per meal. This rule applies to the Betta species as well! Overfeeding is a common issue because it will lead to bloated stomachs, dropsy, or even bacterial infections like Velvet from uneaten food that sits around.

Bettas have potential to picky eaters so not all food may be suitable for your fish. You should keep a variety of food for him so he can be healthy and happy. Bettas enjoy Freeze Dried Blood Worms because its closer to their natural food from nature, but worms won’t be enough protein for Bettas so that’s why you should mix the food. For instance, my betta doesn’t like pellet food and only eats flakes and blood worms.

When you feed Bettas, you want to feed once a day or twice a day, (one or the other) and only a small pinch of food per the amount shouldn’t surpass the size of their eyeball. If you choose to feed him twice a day, make sure you only feed him about one pellet or half a pinch of flakes in the MORNING and throw in 2-3 bloodworms at NIGHT.

If your betta eats flake food: Whether they are large or small flakes, you should take a pestle or a bag and grind up your food in smaller portions so its easier for your betta to eat.

If your betta eats pellets: Do not feed him more than 3 balls per day. Grinding them won’t be necessary.

Bloodworms: Only 2 long ones per night. If they’re short feed 3.

I cannot stress enough, do not overfeed your betta! They aren’t humans :P

I will update/edit this part later, its almost 2 AM and I am sleepy good night MAC :P

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment or give me a


  • Timedformula8: I just got a five and a half gallon tank for my birthday and a king betta
  • Usagi: nice good luck with it! I hope this guide has helped :) let me know if theres anything I can do to help!
  • Mcfish: Hi Usagi!
    Thank you for the information. It is very useful. What do you think about feeding boiled peas? I would like to read about interacting with the beta, like teaching them tricks.
    Thanks again.
  • Timedformula8: Let them chase your finger across the glass or acrylic
  • Usagi: Yeah I’m going to add the boiled peas part in diseases and medicine. I also left that out of food by accident. Thanks for reminding me.
    Peas should only be one quarter of the size and unsalted. It’s not the #1 choice for bettas since they are naturally carnivores in their natural habitat but it is good for them if they have constipation issues.
  • nitehawke2fly: My betta chases the laser light around his well as he will bump a colored ping pong ball about 4-5 times, before he figures he’s the victor. I don’t leave the ping pong ball in very long actually I mix them up so every other day we use one ore more few minutes ..

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