Skip to Content

Betta Fish: Complete Care Guide (Diet, Tank & More)

get 5 secrets to thriving plants

Betta fish, or Chinese fighting fish, are beautiful fish that come in a variety of colors. They typically do better on their own but there are a few exceptions.

Bettas are popular in pet stores, but are unfortunately usually stuck in small containers. Read on to learn more about the betta and how to properly care for them! 

Betta Fish Care Sheet

Scientific NameBetta Splendens
Common NamesBetta Fish, Siamese Fighting Fish
Size2 to 3 inches
Minimum Tank Size10 Gallons

Betta fish are stunning pets that come in a variety of colors such as black, metallic and even luti-colored. Their colors are usually vibrant and are the spotlight of a tank. Male bettas are territorial so should be kept alone in at least a 10-gallon tank. 

Appearance & Temperament


Betta fish are widely known for their stunning appearance. This is the main reason why they are so popular amongst fish owners.

Betta fish are also known for their elegant tails, as they only heighten their appearance. They have large flowing fins that fan out of their small bodies

They are very colorful and come in several variations.

Most common are the red and blue variations, other variations can be black, metallic, and multi-color. Their colors can also flash even brighter during mating or when they are feeling threatened.

Temperament and Behavior

Betta fish are often considered to be aggressive fish, however, they are actually just very territorial which can lead to aggressive behavior.

As the betta fish is very protective of what is theirs or their space, they will puff out their fins and covers to seem intimidating.

Although they are territorial rather than just plain aggressive they are very capable of being mean and can do harm when they or their territory feel threatened.

Because of this most people will opt to house a betta fish alone to avoid any territorial issues.

Betta fish tend to have a feisty but unique personality, they are also intelligent and can learn to recognize their owner.

They are very active and quite curious about their surroundings, their unique behaviors make them fun to observe.

Size and Lifespan

Betta fish will live on average five to seven years with the proper care in captivity. Although they  can adapt in poor water qualities, it is best for them that they don’t in order to live happy and longer lives.

Betta fish are small and will only grow to about three inches in length. They will reach their full adult height after they are around seven months old. 

Because of this they are very popular with nano tank owners. 

There are a few factors that can actually affect how large your betta fish will grow, which are genetics, and the quality of care given to the betta fish.

What Do Betta Fish Eat: Diet & Feeding

Betta fish are carnivores. It is very important to provide them with a proper diet. They will be happier, more active, as well as more vibrant in color when provided a well rounded diet.

The base of the diet should consist of fish flakes that are made specifically for bettas. 

As their flakes will serve as a baseline for their diet the addition of live food as snacks should be given.

Live food such as bloodworms and brine shrimp are great options for betta fish. 

An adult betta should be fed twice a day, they only need a small pinch at each feeding to avoid over feeding.

Due to the fact they are highly active they will eat more than they actually need. To further avoid over feeding they should be given enough food that they can eat within five minutes.

Betta Fish Tank Mates

Since betta fish are very territorial and become aggressive due to this, picking the right tank mates is very important.

The most important thing to start is that two male bettas should never be in the same tank as there will be fights for dominance.

This will lead to severe injuries and death of one of both of the male bettas.

Even though two males cannot be put together, they can be placed with females. As the females are less aggressive than the males, up to five female bettas can live together in a tank.

Two female bettas can live with one male as well. 

Even though the betta living with each other can be done easier with females, it is best to still watch for conflict and fighting.

If a betta is too aggressive it may need to be alone permanently.

Betta fish can live with other bettas as well as other species. If you are looking into different species to live with betta fish you must follow a few rules to determine compatibility.

  • There must be excess room in the tank to avoid unnecessary conflict over territory.
  • They need to have the same water parameters and tank environment as the betta fish.
  • They should be duller in color and have short fins. This is to ensure the safety of the other fish as vibrant colors and flowing tails can cause a fight. This is because it will draw the attention of the betta fish and they will have the urge to compete with them.
  • Tank mates must be peaceful and not aggressive, avoiding conflict.

Examples of good tank mates for betta fish:

  • Catfish
  • Gouramis
  • Molly Fish
  • Large ghost shrimp.

Following the rules above, a few tank mates to avoid are:

  • Guppies
  • Angelfish

Aquarium Setup & Ideal Betta Tank Size

The minimum tank size for a betta fish is five gallons, with the general rule to add a gallon for each additional fish.

There is a big misconception when it comes to housing betta fish; betta fish should not live in a fish bowl as most people believe. They need an aquarium with the proper setup to be happy and thrive.

Mistreated betta fish in cups
How to not keep betta fish

There are certain requirements for a betta tank that should be followed in order to prevent stress or even injury to the betta.

For example, a low current filtration system is needed as too much current will cause the betta to struggle. With a high current, they will struggle to swim around the tank because of their long fins.

A fine substrate like sand or one with rounded pebbles is best suited for betta fish. This is to prevent them from scratching themself with the long fins.

There should not be anything sharp placed in a betta tank as their fins increase the risk of injuries.

There should also be a presence of plants in the tank. If you choose to not have live plants, you’ll need to choose fake plants that are silk to avoid injury from hard plastics.

Live plants will also help improve the cleanliness of the tank as well. The plants will give the betta fish a place to hide to feel safer when they are stressed. 

The plans should not block the surface as the betta fish frequent the surface to eat and breathe. This means you will want a sturdy lid, as they frequent the surface of the water they can jump out of the tank entirely well.

Water Quality, Temperature & Parameters

The most important part of providing a betta fish with proper care is maintaining water quality, conditions, and parameters.

As sudden changes in temperature or chemical levels can compromise their immune systems and can actually be fatal to the betta.

Ideal water parameters for betta fish:

  • Water Temperature: 74 to 81
  • pH Levels: 6 to 8
  • Water Hardness: between 5 and 35 dGH

Like with any fish, the tank should be properly cycled prior to being added in the betta fish. Betta fish also require very clean waters, as they are very sensitive to their water quality. 

Because of this it is recommended to do a water change of about 25% every week to keep it clean. It is also advised that every week, or every other week, the substrate should  be cleaned thoroughly. 

Breeding Bettas

Breeding betta fish can be tedious as it requires many steps to complete the process. Breeding betta fish is actually done in two different phases, courting and fertilization.

Following the steps correctly will increase your chance for successful breeding.

Phase 1: 

It is important when selecting a pair of bettas to mate to choose a pair that have no health problems. The female should be slightly smaller than the male for the pair.

Both of which should be conditioned prior to breeding. Also the best age for breeding betta fish is around 4 to 12 months of age.

To condition the male and female betta for breeding, they need to be fed a high protein diet. This diet should start at least a few days prior to breeding.

They should also stay on this diet leading up to the breeding time as well.

After you have selected your bettas for mating they will need to be acclimated to the breeding tank. The breeding tank should already be properly cycled with only about 3 to 5 inches of water. 

Bettas also require a dimmer light in the breeding tank as well. The shallow waters will encourage close proximity of the bettas.

The filter in the breeding tank should be very gentle as too much current will disrupt the bubble nest.

The breeding tank should also not contain a substrate on the bottom.

This is because even though the bubble nests are used for breeding at the surface water, once the eggs are laid they will sink to the bottom and can get lost in the substrate.

Placing plants in the breeding tank is also recommended. This is to provide the female betta a place to hide during the breeding process.

This is due to the males being potentially violent during the breeding process, this hiding place will allow the females a break from that.

To make the acclimation to the breeding tank easier, most find it helpful to use a divider in the tank. Doing so will allow better acclimation after you introduce the bettas to the breeding while separated.

This will also help the introduction of the female and the male betta fish as they will be in their own space but able to see the other.

On the male’s side he will require a floating area at the surface. This will allow the male to attach to his bubble nest once the time to breed comes.

Any that will float will do, such as almond leaves, driftwood, or even styrofoam.

With the divider still in place you will need to start looking for signs of interest. If the female is interested she will darken in color as well as display vertical stripes that are known as her barring patterns. 

Her ovipositor, where she will lay eggs from, will also stick out more and she will start to move her tail in the male’s direction. For the male he will darken in color and may even start to nip at the divider. 

When the female shows her interest in the male he will then start to build his bubble nest at the surface. At this time the divider can be removed however be on the look out for a battle between them.

As mentioned prior, the males can become violent during breeding. They may need to be separated again if the male becomes too violent, or if the female immediately destroys the bubble nest.

The process will need to be started over at this point.

Betta spawning/breeding

Phase 2: 

If courting was successful and the pair does not need to be separated after the divider is removed then the mating process will start.

This is when the male and female will begin chasing each other and flashing their vibrant colors. They may even bite at each other, or the female might hide in the plants until she is ready.

When the female is ready, the male will actually flip her upside down, fertilizing the eggs as she releases them.

They may do this on and off for a while, after the female has laid all of her eggs she can be removed.

This is because she may eat her eggs, also the male will carry the eggs after they are laid up in the bubble nest.

For the first two days the male will maintain the nest and will start catching the babies if they have used the oxygen in the nest and sink in the tank.

He will rebuild the nest as needed, placing the babies back until they are free to swim for around four days. After this the male can be removed from the breeding tank leaving the fry to be raised without the adults.

Origin & Distribution

Betta fish in the wild are found in rice paddies and small shallow streams in Thailand. They are very popular freshwater fish due to their beautiful and vibrant colors and bodies.

They can also be found in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia. They are actually the national fish of Thailand. 

get 5 secrets to thriving plants