Gallon, or Larger, Tank With Lid
It is important to keep a betta in at least one gallon of water. Make sure the bowl or tank you purchase has a lid – bettas can jump right out of their tank. Also, the lid should allow air flow into the tank – bettas breathe surface air and need a fresh supply of oxygen from outside the tank.
There are many food options for bettas – flakes, pellets, freeze-dried, frozen, live, and in gel. Bettas are carnivores and require food that is high in protein. The best diet for bettas is one that contains a variety of foods. For a more in-depth article about betta food choices, please visit: What should bettas eat?
Bettas require a stable temperature between 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit. A thermometer is important to make sure you are keeping your betta warm enough.
If you use tap water for your betta’s tank, it is necessary to have a water conditioner that removes Chlorine, Chloramines, and Ammonia. Pictured here is a common combination of Kordon NovAqua and Amquel to be used together. There are many other water conditioner choices, just make sure it removes the toxins listed above.
Water Test Kits
Knowing and keeping track of water conditions will help to keep your betta healthy. It is important to monitor your pH and ammonia level on a regular basis for unfiltered tanks. Generally, bettas prefer a neutral pH around 7.0. Ammonia is toxic for your fish and should never be present in a betta’s tank.
If you detect Ammonia, a partial or complete water change is needed. Ideally, you should establish a water change schedule to prevent an Ammonia reading before it occurs. If you choose to cycle your tank with a filter, it is also important to monitor Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate levels. Once the tank is cycled you’ll want to determine when to do water changes to control your Nitrate reading.
Silk or Live Aquarium Plants
Silk aquarium plants are generally soft and safe for your betta. To make sure any decoration is betta-safe, run a pair of pantyhose along all surfaces and make sure it does not fray or catch. If it passes this test, the item should be safe for your betta’s delicate fins. Live plants are a great addition to an aquarium and help to keep water conditions in the ideal range.
Substrate – gravel, sand, glass stones, etc.
Note: Colored aquarium gravel should only be washed in lukewarm/warm water so the coloring does not come off.
Brine Shrimp Net
If you decide to use a net for water changes, a brine shrimp net is ideal for a betta. It is a soft mesh with very fine holes and will not snag your betta’s delicate fins.
Aquarium Salt (optional)
Some people find aquarium salt to be useful in the care of bettas. It is said to reduce stress, add electrolytes, improve disease recovery, and improve gill function. Aquarium salt is best used only for the treatment of illness at the dosage of 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per gallon and up to 1 teaspoon per gallon for a short time period depending on the ailment. Doc Wellfish’s Aquarium Salt is a common brand, pictured here.
Note: Only “Aquarium Salt” should be used. Table or marine salt are not acceptable substitutes.
Heater (if necessary)
Since bettas need to be kept warm (between 78-80 degrees F) at a temperature that is stable and does not vary more than 2 degrees, a heater may be a necessity for some tanks. Heating a tank under 1-gallon is not suggested with a tank heater, but other options such as waterproof heating pads can be used. Anything over 1-gallon, preferably over 2-gallons can be heated with a tank heater that is well monitored.
Basic Betta Book
Having a database of knowledge and information about bettas is useful for their care. It is also fun to learn more about your bettas! A few popular basic betta books are:
Bettas: A Complete Introduction. By: Walt Marcus. 1995. TFH Publications.
Bettas: A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual. By: Robert J. Goldstein, Ph.D. 2001. Barrons Educational Series. (pictured)
The Betta: An Owner’s Guide to a Happy Healthy Pet. By: Mic and Maddy Hargrove. 2001. Wiley Publishing.
Clean water is the best preventative (and cure) against disease for your betta! Always try to figure out if water readings or other environmental causes may be the cause of your betta appearing ill before treating it with medication. Some people like to have a few common medications on hand in case illness does strike. This may include medications such as Jungle Fungus Elminator, Tetracycline, Maracyn, and Maracyn II. For a more complete listing of medications, please visit Medicine.