Betta fish care involves a number of proven rules. Sadly, over the years, a whole host of misinformation has been shared, which has resulted in the untimely death of numerous beautiful bettas.
In this betta fish care guide we dispense with this inaccurate information often shared on forums and social media, to bring you the most detailed and accurate guide to keeping betta fish as pets. Let’s get started!
Choosing a Healthy Betta Fish
The first step in successful betta fish care is starting with a healthy fish. While more advanced keepers may manage to bring an unhealthy fish back to the peak of health, for most of us buying a fish like that is likely to end badly. If you want to start off on the best possible footing then start with a betta fish in the best of health.
Fortunately, choosing a healthy betta fish needn’t be difficult. As betta fish will often fight if kept together most fish shops display them individually in small tanks. This makes it easy to assess the health of each individual fish; as opposed to community fish where you may be trying to health check dozens of fish in a single tank.
Elements to look out for in a healthy fish:
Smooth body shape: Look closely at the body of the betta fish to ensure that all scales are present. Missing scales could be a result of improper care and may allow pathogens or parasites access to the fish. Be sure to check the fish over fully, looking at both sides.
Additionally the scales should lie flat against the body, giving a smooth and aerodynamic appearance rather than sticking out giving a “prickly” appearance.
Bright coloration: One of the reasons why betta fish have become so popular is down to their bright coloration. While males tend to be noticeably brighter than females, it can be wise to select the most colorful specimen you find, which can be a strong indicator of good health.
Activity levels: Unlike some other fish many bettas won’t swim continuously around their tank. Instead, even healthy bettas like to rest sometimes, relaxing on a plant or other item of tank decor. Therefore don’t necessarily assume that a “resting” fish is unhealthy, but instead compare the different betta fish on offer and be sure to select one of the more active individuals.
Balanced posture: Betta fish that appear swollen or seem to have trouble swimming can be a cause for concern. Note how your betta fish swims; a fish that swims at an angle or floats on it’s side is likely to be best avoided.
Clear eyes: As with other animals, bright healthy eyes are often a good sign of full health.
Undamaged fins: Betta fish are known for their luxurious fins, but these can become damaged due to improper care. While fins may heal in time, bacteria and fungi can take hold in the meantime. As you’re almost certainly choosing a betta fish primarily for its appearance it therefore makes sense to select a specimen with healthy, complete fins.
Elements to look out for in an unhealthy fish:
Extended scales: Some betta fish diseases make themselves felt when the infected fish extends it’s scales, giving it a rough or prickly appearance. Such fish are best avoided.
Visible physical body damage: If the betta fish you’re considering has obvious cuts, grazes, patches of fungus or missing scales then they are best avoided for the new fish keeper.
Inactivity: Even healthy betta fish may sit calmly in the corner of their tank for periods of time, but in general the less active a betta fish the more likely it is to be suffering from some kind of health condition.
Swollen body: A distended and swollen body shape may be an indication of swim bladder problems, tumours or digestive issues so avoid such specimens.
Difficulties swimming: With their luxurious fins some betta fish – especially males – can struggle to swim in fast-moving water. Assuming you’re confident that the bettas at our local aquarium shop are kept correctly then pay attention to how easily they swim. Avoid any that seem to struggle with even modest movement.
Eyes cloudy or glazed: Dull or cloudy eyes are best avoided.
Damaged or torn fins: Damaged fins are a primary entry point for fungi and other pathogens that may shorten the life of your betta fish. Invest the time into carefully assessing all of a betta fishes fins for damage before making your final decision.
Underweight: Betta fish are not as “fat” as many other fish; even a healthy betta can appear quite lean and athletic in appearance when compared to other tropicals. All the same, try to avoid any fish that are obviously underweight; where vertebrae or ribs are clearly visible on the animal.
Setting Up Your Betta Fish Tank
Once you’ve selected a healthy betta fish from your local pet store the next crucial step is getting their tank set up correctly. Indeed, the best advice is to purchase your betta fish tank and all the associated equipment some weeks before you plan on bringing your betta fish home.
A good plan-of-action is to set up the tank fully, as though you were about to introduce your fish, and let the tank “cycle” for a week or more before actually purchasing your fish.
This waiting period can help to eliminate any rapid swings in water chemistry, and allows you to monitor tank conditions such as water temperature and nitrate levels, and to ensure that all electrical equipment is working as planning.
So what factors should you consider when it comes to betta fish care?
Betta Fish Tanks
There are a number of elements to consider when it comes to choosing your betta tank:
Size & Dimensions
In the past it was popular to keep betta fish in tiny (so-called “nano”) tanks providing just a few gallons or so of water. In more recent times however fishkeepers have become more enlightened, and now most betta fish keepers offer their prized specimen far more swimming space.
These days most experienced fish keepers agree that the bare minimum for a single betta fish is 5 gallons.
That said, a more typical “standard” tank size for betta fish is a 10 gallon tank. If you’re planning to introduce other fish to live alongside your betta fish then you’ll want to consider an even larger tank.
Betta fish can be quite shy fish, and appreciate places where they can hide away from view on occasion. This means that a standard oblong fish tank can work well, in that it gives you plenty of room to add “hides” such as plants and rocks for your fish.
It also has a very obvious “front” and “back”, so your fish can slink around the rear of the tank when it feels the need.
This is in contrast to circulator tanks like goldfish bowls, where fish can feel “exposed” from every angle, lacking as they do any corners or an obvious “back”.
Some betta fish have discovered to their shock that bettas can be surprisingly adept at jumping. More than a few betta fish have met a sticky end after leaping from their tank, landing on the ground nearby. It doesn’t take long for the inevitable to occur.
This means that a securely-fitting lid is crucial when keeping betta fish. Of course, such a lid also offers a range of other benefits, such as helping to retain warmth in the aquarium, as well as protecting your fish from other household pets like cats.
Be sure that the lid you choose neatly fits your tank. If in doubt it is possible to purchase complete aquarium kits of a suitable size, which include both the tank and a bespoke lid designed to work together seamlessly.
You’ll need to put some thought into how you’ll fit the various pieces of electrical equipment that your fish will require.
We’ll talk about these in more depth later in this guide, but for now assume that you’re going to need to fit a filter and an aquarium heater at a bare minimum. Many betta fish keepers also add a good quality aquarium light to really show off the colors of their pet.
When choosing a betta fish tank, therefore, always keep these electrical components in the back of your mind, questioning whether there is suitable space for them, and how they’ll be attached.
This is another area where pre-made aquarium kits can take a lot of pressure off you; after all you’ll know with confidence that the filter and heater in the kit have been specifically included to fit the tank you’re purchasing.
Lastly, of course, you’ll want to select a betta fish tank that appeals to you visually. There is little point in buying a beautiful betta fish and then putting into the ugliest tank you’ve ever seen. Consider where you’ll site the tank in your home and select one that will add interest to your home, rather than distracting from your fish.
Note: Due to these reasonably specialist requirements it should be obvious by now that keeping betta fish in a goldfish bowl is unlikely to give them everything they need. No, if you want to keep your betta fit and healthy an aquarium is really the only way to go.
Essential Equipment – Filters & Heaters
After selecting your betta fish aquarium and lid you’ll then need to consider how you’re going to provide the correct environmental conditions.
At its most basic that means providing consistently warm and clean water in which your fish can swim. There are two pieces of kit that will help you to achieve this outcome…
Aquarium filters gently clean the water in your betta fish tank, not only providing a healthier environment for your fish, but also cutting down on the amount of cleaning required from you.
There are many different options available, but for a small betta fish tank an internal canister filter can work well. When choosing an aquarium filter for your betta fish here are some crucial elements to consider:
Be sure to take the size of your betta tank into account when looking at filters. This is of particular importance with filters that sit inside the tank itself. Be sure your chosen tank can accommodate the filter you’re considering.
Filters vary significantly in the amount of water that passes through them. Try comparing different filters to ensure that the model you choose has been designed with small tanks in mind.
Betta fish, with their long fins, aren’t always the strongest swimmers. As a result they tend not to do very well in fast-moving water. Aquarium filters that creates too much of a current can therefore be problematic for bettas, and are generally best avoided. A slow, gentle flow rate is far more suitable.
Aquarium Heaters for Betta Fish
The second piece of essential equipment that you’re going to need is a heater to keep the water warm. Fortunately, aquarium heaters have not only improved significantly in terms of their reliability but have also fallen considerably in price over the years.
Aquarium heaters are designed for different tank sizes, so as with choosing a filter be sure to check that any aquarium filter is designed for small tanks like yours.
Carefully follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions to ensure the heater can operate to maximum efficiency.
As a final tip, be sure to turn off your aquarium heater, allowing it to cool down, before you carry out a water change or remove the heater from the tank. Failing to do so can result in the glass casing shattering, requiring an expensive trip to the pet shop to buy a replacement.
Betta fish hail from Southeast Asia, and as a result have evolved to live in warm, tropical waters. As a result, unless your home is heated 24/7 to a suitable temperature it’s almost certain that you’ll need to invest in a suitable aquarium heater.
A good rule of thumb for betta fish is a constant temperature of between 78 and 82’F (25-28’C). This can be achieved with a suitable aquarium heater, which should be left on 24 hours a day.
While most aquarium heaters have a thermostat to maintain the right temperature it is always worth “double checking”. I recommend purchasing a stand-alone aquarium thermometer that you can monitor regularly, to ensure that your heater is working properly.
A variety of different substrates have been used by betta fish keepers. The two most popular options are either gravel or sand.
Gravel is the most traditional substrate used in aquariums. It tends to produce a really nice natural-looking effect and comes in a range of different colors and particle-sizes.
To keep your betta fish safe it is advisable to select gravel than consists of smooth particles (to avoid tearing your betta fish’s fins) and larger particles than cannot be accidentally swallowed by your fish.
Besides it’s appealing appearance there are also two other benefits of using gravel in your betta fish tank. Firstly it creates a large surface area on which beneficial bacteria can grow. These bacteria, naturally present in a healthy tank, break down waste material produced by your fish, so help to keep your aquarium water in good condition.
The other benefit is that gravel is super-easy to clean using a low-cost aquarium vacuum. Just dig the end of the vacuum into the gravel and gently raise it up an inch or two; the gravel particles will drop back to the floor of the tank, while any faeces or uneaten food will be whisked away.
For these reasons gravel is probably the most suitable substrate for betta fish owners.
Sand has grown in popularity over recent years as a substrate for betta fish tanks. Like gravel it comes in a range of different colors and looks very attractive in a tank setting. The finer particles also eliminate the risk of physical damage should you betta fish rub against it, while any swallowed particles should easily pass through the digestive tract.
That said, there are some potential issues you should be aware of. Firstly sand doesn’t offer the same opportune conditions for beneficial bacteria to become established, and can be more challenging to clean with an aquarium vacuum.
There have also been stories of compacted sand leading to harmful bacteria becoming established in an aquarium; to avoid this ensure you agitate the surface of the sand regularly, to ensure suitable oxygenation.
Sand certainly isn’t a bad substrate over all, and either this or gravel should help you to create a safe and healthy environment for your beloved fish.
Other Substrate Options
While gravel and sand are the two most popular aquarium substrate options they are far from the only choices. Some betta fish keepers opt to use aquarium marbles, for example, while others use no substrate at all.
For a full rundown of the options available to you please check out my substrate guide.
Tank Decor – Plants & Other Decoration
Despite their reputation for aggression betta fish can be quite shy and retiring in captivity. Tank decor can therefore be highly beneficial as it creates little nooks and crannies in which your betta fish can hide. This tends to result in happier and healthier fish.
A variety of items can be suitable for betta fish…
Driftwood and vine roots are two popular examples of wood used by aquarists. Both can be bought from pet shops.
The “weathered” look of wood can really make an attractive focal point within your fish tank, and of course can give your betta fish somewhere to hide away. Rotting wood is also a popular food source for some common betta fish tank mates such as pleco sucker fish.
When using wood in this manner soak it extensively before use, otherwise tannins and other natural dyes can change the color of your aquarium water. Only when the water in which you’re soaking the wood becomes clear should it be placed into your tank.
As wood can be heavy, consider using aquarium-safe silicone sealant to fix it in place. The last thing you want is that carefully-arranged pile of wood falling and damaging your fish.
One other consideration when it comes to betta fish is trying to avoid any sharp or rough objects that may snag or tear the fragile fins of your fish. Smoother wood is therefore more suitable for betta fish than alternatives with a rougher surface.
Stones & Rocks
Stones and rocks can look fantastic within a betta fish tank – and just like with wood creates yet more places for your betta fish to hide and feel comfortable. This is especially so with “tall” rocks that offer some vertical height, rather than flatter rocks that simply litter the floor of the aquarium.
As with the wood, try to purchase smooth stones and rocks, avoiding those with sharp edges that may damage your fish.
Artificial caves can be bought for aquariums. While they may not look as “natural” as actual wood or rocks they can represent a cheap and easy way to offer your betta fish some privacy.
There is little more attractive than a well-planted aquarium. Sadly, at the same time, live plants can take some considerable effort to keep healthy and may negatively affect water chemistry (see below).
So, while many betta fish keepers opt to include live plants in their tank an easier alternative for the beginner are the range of artificial aquarium plants currently on sale.
The latest range of silk aquarium plants are particularly worth considering, because they not only look surprisingly lifelike but are also much softer than plastic plants, helping to protect the fins of your betta fish.
Betta fish seem to have a particular affinity for tank decor that floats on the surface of the water. Whether this is a floating plant like a java fern or a floating betta cave, these floating decor items are definitely well worth a look.
Note: As a final note on decor, try to only use tank decor that you have bought from an aquarium shop.
Picking up bits of wood from the forest or rocks from the beach can affect water quality and/or introduce toxins that cause problems for your betta fish.
Even with shop-bought tank decor be sure to soak it thoroughly in fresh water for 24 hours before adding it to your tank to ensure any build-up of dust or chemicals from the shop has been removed.
Betta fish are diurnal fish – which means they are awake during daylight hours. That said, in the wild they are often found in muddy or shaded pools, so bright sunlight isn’t absolutely necessary in captivity.
All the same, most betta fish keepers opt to add lighting to their betta fish tank, as this really helps to bring out the colors of your fish and make your tank an eye-catching display.
Over the years all manner of different aquarium lights have been used for betta fish. These days possibly the best are those that use LEDs. Not only do LED aquarium lights stay cool – so they don’t interfere with your aquarium heater – but they’re also very energy efficient so cost little to use.
If you have opted to include live plants in your aquarium then be sure to select an aquarium light that encourages plant growth. Many standard LEDs simply don’t provide the right wavelengths of light for plants to survive.
If you opt to include a good quality LED aquarium light then be sure to turn this off over night. This creates a “natural” day/night cycle, and your betta fish will sleep gently during the dark hours of night.
I now use a simple timer to turn the aquarium lights on and off, ensuring that I don’t need to constantly keep an eye on the time.
While there are “purists” who like to keep just one stunning male betta fish in a tank, it is becoming ever more popular to include other fish. If you choose the right tank mates they can also provide a useful service to you, helping to keep your betta fish tank clean and free from algae.
Some examples of suitable tank mates can include:
Snails – Snails can be a very low maintenance addition to your betta fish tank. They will readily clean your tank, rasping algae from the walls of the aquarium. That said, be careful in your choice of aquatic snail, as some species can rapidly reproduce, leading to your tank becoming overrun. Examples of suitable snails include Mystery Snails and Zebra Snails.
Shrimps – Another invertebrate suitable for your betta fish tank is the humble shrimp. Smaller shrimps will generally mind their own business and add all manner of color to your tank. Their feeding habits can also be beneficial, as they slowly work their way across the floor of your betta tank picking up any uneaten fragments of food. Good examples can include Cherry Shrimps and Ghost Shrimps.
Small Community Fish – Possibly most popular of all are the number of small, shoaling fish that will survive life with a betta. These can include neon tetras, harlequin rasboras and white cloud minnows.
Small Catfish – Catfish tend to be very amenable in the aquarium. Some smaller species such as kuhli loaches and pygmy corydoras stay relatively small in the aquarium. Many of them also benefit from armoured plating, which can be useful if your betta becomes aggressive. Lastly, they also tend to spend most of their time on or near to the floor of the tank, once again ensuring they won’t routinely come into contact with your betta.
Algae Eating Plecos – Plecostomus catfish are another good option, feeding as they do on algae and other vegetation. Some species can grow surprisingly large so be sure to select a more modestly-sized species, such as bristlenose or clown plecos.
For a full list of suitable tank mates please click here.
Setting Up Your Betta Fish Tank
Once you’ve gathered together all the necessary equipment it’s next time to set up your betta fish tank.
Select a Location
The first step in setting up your betta fish tank is choosing a suitable location. Fish tanks should be placed away from windows, where direct sunlight can not only lead to overheating on sunny days, but can also cause unsightly algae to grow.
It is also advisable to place your betta fish tank somewhere where the ambient air temperature remains reasonably steady. This means avoiding areas near draughts, doors and radiators.
Positioning your tank at a decent height will not only afford you a better view, but will also make routine tank cleaning much easier.
Lastly, ensure you have suitable space for routine water changes. Cramming your tank in next to books or ornaments can make those water changes quite inconvenient.
Once you’ve selected the most suitable position in your home many people opt to place their betta fish tank on a polystyrene tile (available on Amazon or from many aquarium shops).
This helps to insulate the tank, evens out the weight distribution if you’re planning to use rocks, and protects whatever surface you place the tank onto.
Only continue with the next steps once you’re happy with the positioning. While most betta fish tanks may be reasonably small they can still be very heavy when filled with substrate and water. You won’t want to move your tank at a later date unless you absolutely have to!
Whether you’ve chosen sand or gravel, placing it into the tank first makes sense. To state the obvious, if you have opted for an undergravel filter then be sure to install this before the substrate.
Substrate should be washed thoroughly to remove dust and debris before it is added to your tank. If this job is not done properly you may well find your aquarium water going cloudy; and this can take some days to clear.
Fill With Water
Gently add chlorine-free aquarium water next. This means either using an aquarium-safe dechlorinating liquid (my preference), or using non-chlorinated water like rainwater or bottled spring water.
Some fish keepers like to place a plate or bowl onto the substrate before they begin filling up the tank, so that the water doesn’t disturb their carefully-arranged substrate.
Don’t completely fill the tank to the top: aim for around 50-75% full. This will allow you to put your hands into the tank in future steps without the risk of it overflowing.
Add Electrical Equipment
Assuming you left yourself some space, next install your filter and heater in line with the manufacturer’s instructions.
I would also suggest adding a standalone aquarium thermometer to confirm everything is working properly. Don’t turn on your electrical equipment just yet.
Add Tank Decor
Now is the time to get creative. With rocks, with driftwood, with plants and so on. Go to town and create the aesthetic look that appeals most to you.
Top Up With Water
By now you should have all the crucial elements in place so you can look at filling up your tank with the last bit of water needed. Remember that betta fish will sometimes breathe oxygen from the surface of their water, so leave an inch or two of “air space” above the water.
Add Your Lid
Placing a lid onto your aquarium will prevent the water becoming contaminated with any household chemicals, and will also allow you to test the lights.
Leave to Acclimate
Your tank is now set up! All you need to do is turn on the electrics and leave it for a week or two to ensure that everything is working properly. In this time carefully monitor the water temperature. Ensure the plants are growing well. Add small amounts of food each day, which will serve as food for beneficial bacteria.
Lastly, it is a very smart idea to invest in a water testing kit, so you can monitor the inevitable changes in ammonia, nitrites and nitrate. Only when the water testing kit tells you everything is well should you consider introducing your fish.
Introducing Your Betta Fish
Patience is a virtue when it comes to introducing your betta fish to their tank. Don’t just throw your betta into their tank the moment you get home from the aquarium shop; instead be willing to invest an hour or two into properly acclimating them.
Start by floating the bag in your aquarium. The goal here is that the water temperature both inside and outside the bag can start to equilibrate. This is likely to take some 30 minutes or so.
Next, open up the plastic fish containing your betta fish and transfer a little water from your tank into the bag. Leave the bag once again so that your fish can get used to the new water.
Lastly, some 30 minutes or so later it should be safe to gently tip the plastic bag, allowing your betta fish to swim out.
It is important to realize that your job isn’t “over” at this point. The first few days after you bring home your betta fish are crucial. So be prepared to spend plenty of time checking on them; from the water temperature to water chemistry to ensure they’re acclimatizing well.
Note: Every animal you add to your betta fish tank will cause a degree of “shock”. The added waste they produce will lead to changes in water chemistry, and it will take time for the beneficial bacteria to replicate enough to deal with this new threat.
If you’re planning to include tank mates in your betta fish tank then it is advisable to add these slowly and gently over the coming weeks.
Introduce your betta and track water chemistry until all seems well. Then add one or two tank mates and again track water chemistry.
While this might not be as exciting as filling your tank with fish in one go, it tends to result in greater long-term success.
Feeding Your Betta Fish
Betta fish tend to do best when fed on a high-protein diet. That means that while they can eat standard tropical fish flakes for short periods of time, other foods are generally more beneficial.
These can be roughly divided into specially formulated betta fish pellets and invertebrate prey.
Betta Fish Pellets
Betta pellets are easily sourced from Amazon or your local pet store. They tend to be readily accepted, reasonably priced and make feeding your betta fish very easy.
It is therefore always a good idea to keep a tub on hand, even if this is only your “backup” menu for when you run out of other foodstuffs.
In the wild betta fish naturally feed on an assortment of different invertebrates. Feeding a diverse array of these in captivity can help to ensure you fish receives a balanced diet with all the vitamins and minerals they require. Some examples of invertebrates popular with betta fish include bloodworms, brine shrimps and daphnia.
There are numerous ways to purchase these aquatic invertebrates. Some, like bloodworm, can be bought live from many fish shops. Others like brine shrimps can be bought as eggs and easily hatched out at home.
Perhaps the most practical option however is to purchase frozen blocks of these invertebrates. You can then simply remove a cube from your freezer and place it into your betta fish tank.
This can also be very cost-effective, too, because you won’t have to worry about live invertebrates dying before you get through them.
Betta fish will often also eat non-aquatic invertebrates such as fruit flies or hatchling crickets if they are scattered onto the surface of the water.
Note: Overfeeding is a common source of problems among fish keepers. Aim to feed your betta fish twice a day, removing any uneaten food after 5-10 minutes. Excess food can rot down in an aquarium environment, muddying the water and causing health problems for your fish.
Ongoing Betta Tank Maintenance
Just because you’ve set up your betta fish tank and have successfully introduced your fish doesn’t necessarily mean that the work is over.
Indeed, even a perfect betta fish tank can turn if not properly maintained over time.
In this final section of our betta fish care guide we’re therefore going to look at routine ongoing maintenance to ensure a healthy fish tank and a long-lived betta fish.
Cleaning Your Betta Fish Tank
All fish tanks require cleaning from time to time. Uneaten food and waste from your fish can start to muddy the water, which in turn can damage your betta fish.
Algae can begin to grow, especially if you tank is exposed to direct sunlight, which can be ugly to look at. F
ortunately with a modicum of time each week you can keep your betta fish tank looking spotless at all times.
Here are the elements you should consider:
Use an Aquarium Vacuum to Clean the Gravel
Much of the waste in your betta fish tank will fall gently to the bottom of your tank. While, in time, these particles may be removed by your filter, regularly removing these with an aquarium vacuum will keep water conditions healthy for longer.
Aquarium vacuums can be purchased very cheaply from most aquarists, or can be bought online at places like Amazon.
Every week or so invest a little time into working your way along the substrate, removing this particulate waste. Note that an aquarium hoover will also remove some water from your tank, so it can be wise to combine this process with a partial water change (see below).
Use an Algae Scraper to Remove Algae
If you find that green or brown algae starts to build up on the aquarium glass then use an algae scraper to keep this under control.
The best scraper I have in use comes in two magnetic parts. One half goes inside the aquarium, while the other is attached to the outside.
In this way you can gently move the scraper around without getting your hands wet, and getting it even into tight corners of your tank.
Consider Introducing Beneficial Tank Mates
There are many fish that don’t get on with betta fish, either because bettas tend to attack them, or they nip at the delicate fins of betta fish.
However not all fish are that way inclined. Indeed, there are a number of tank mates that will live in harmony with most bettas.
Of these, many smaller species of pleco sucker fish not only add interest to your tank, but will also feed on any algae found in your betta tank. Another great option is to consider introducing an aquatic snail or two, which can have a similar impact on keeping algae under control.
If algae becomes an ongoing problem, or you’re keen to introduce a tank mate, then one of these “algae eaters” can be a strong contender.
Change Part of the Water Regularly
One of the biggest jobs when it comes to maintaining any aquarium is regularly removing some of the water, and replacing this with fresh clean water.
Clean Your Filter in Old Aquarium Water
In many parts of the world our tap water is high in chlorine and other chemicals of benefit to humans. Sadly, these same chemicals can be highly toxic to the beneficial bacteria growing in your aquarium filter.
One of the most common mistakes that beginner fishkeepers make it rinsing their dirty filter under the tap; at which point the effectiveness of your filter will decline for weeks.
A better option is to use the aquarium water you’ve just removed during a water change. By definition this water will be dechlorinated and so should be much safer to use with your filter.
When it comes to water changes one of the most common questions is how much water should you change, and how often? The honest answer is “it depends”.
The size of your aquarium, the effectiveness of your filter and whether you keep any tank mates with your betta fish can all affect the size and frequency of water changes needed to maintain suitable water chemistry.
As a rough rule-of-thumb many betta fish keepers opt to replace 20-30% of the aquarium water every 1-2 weeks. However it is crucial to point out that this is just a general guide.
To get a more accurate view of water changes it is wise to invest in a water testing kit (see below) and to monitor the effects of water changes over time. Keeping records will allow you to make a fair assessment of what changes are needed in your unique situation to keep your betta fish at the peak of health.
Monitoring Environmental Conditions
In a closed environment like a fish tank it is crucial to monitor the conditions that your betta fish is exposed to.
While each fishkeeper will develop their own set of environmental checks there are two crucial aspects that every betta fish keeper should prioritize. These are water temperature and water chemistry.
Even just 24 hours without heat – especially in the winter months – can cause serious issues for your betta fish. It therefore makes sense to get into the habit of checking on the water temperature in your betta tank whenever you feed your fish.
Buy and install a good quality thermometer, then just glance at it during feeding to ensure all is well. If not, you’ll have a decent amount of warning to either turn up your aquarium heater or replace it swiftly.
Water chemistry checks can be just as simple, but require slightly more specialist equipment. Water test kits are available from most aquarium shops or can be bought online at places like Amazon.
You simply tip a little aquarium water into a test tube, add a testing tablets and wait to see what color develops.
While testing for ammonia is the most important you are advised to also check for nitrates and nitrites. Try to test all three of these on a weekly basis.
If you find that levels are too high on a regular basis then more frequent or larger water changes should be made to correct this issue. On the other hand, if levels are shown to be consistently safe then you can feel confident that your water change regime is doing exactly what is needed.
Regular Health Checks
It is much easier to resolve health-related issues in fish when they are caught early. Spending some time just observing your betta fish – and their tank mates – is therefore time well spent.
This is possibly easiest when feeding, as your betta fish is likely to be far more active than normal.
Look for the points discussed earlier to satisfy yourself that your fish remains healthy. If any issues become clear then try to seek advice from a vet or your local aquarium shop as soon as possible.
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