I created this to help educate new or young betta owners give the best chance of life to their new pet. Please help spread the words – you will earn a betta karma with each one :). This manual now comes in multiple languages, thanks to our wonderful international friends:
Your betta needs clean water to thrive, the same way we need clean air to breathe. The key to keeping them happy is simply to give them enough space, clean water, live plants, a good variety of food & some human love. That is all! They are a beautiful and intelligent species of fish and deserve proper care. Being able to take care of them and getting ready for their arrival means knowing what makes them happy and healthy so you are able to offer the best quality of life for them.
Bettas will not thrive if kept in a little bowl. They will survive for a while, but they will be stressed, bored, unhealthy and unhappy and this is certainly against the betta owners’ code. A single betta can live in a 5-gallon tank—but more is always better. The Betta Police will come and arrest anyone who keeps a betta fish in a bowl.
While filters aren’t mandatory, it is highly recommended. Filters reduce harmful bacteria while supporting healthy bacteria and will contribute to the overall health of your tank. A filter is available as in internal, external or hanging type. Please note that betta fish are not very strong swimmers so please make sure that you pick a filter that has an adjustable flow rate.
Betta fish are considered as diurnal animals and need natural or artificial light while they are awake and active during the day, and darkness at night so they can rest. This establishes a regular day and night pattern to regulate their internal biological clock. They require a minimum of 8 hours or light a day to thrive.
Betta fish come from a tropical climate in South East Asia so they require warm water in their tanks. They are also very sensitive to changes in their habitat’s temperature and water parameters. Abrupt changes can stress your fish and even cause adverse health consequences. If you live in a colder climate, please make sure you have an quarium-safe heater and maintain a tropical habitat at 76-81° Fahrenheit or 24-27° Celcius.
Mimicking a betta’s natural habitat is the best way to accomplish a content and happy betta. To achieve this, consider adding organic materials such as wood and live plants in their tank that will provide shelter and plenty of places to hide. They are curious and love to see new things and they also enjoy changes in their dwelling from time to time. They also enjoy resting by the water surface so why not try ‘betta hammocks’ – this will give them a perching spot.
Water added to the tank must be free of contaminants. If you use tap water, be sure to use a water conditioner or dechlorinator to remove chlorine, chloramine, ammonia, and other heavy metals to make sure the water is safe for your betta. Never use distilled water as it has been stripped of all the essential minerals that bettas need to thrive on. I personally age my water for 24 hours before I use it – this also ensures that the water chemistry is stabilised and allows time for chlorine to evaporate.
Betta fish prefer their water’s pH to be slightly acidic with the pH range of 6.5 to 7.5. To reduce pH naturally and enhance betta fish’s vitality, I highly recommend adding Catappa leaves to your betta tank. Catappa leaves will change your tank water colour and ‘stains’ it as tannins leeches into the water during decomposition – this lowers the pH of the water. In addition to that, catappa leaves are known to have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effects to fish. These benefits have been known in Asia for many years and is extremely popular with betta breeders.
Adding some live betta fish plants in your tank will not only make it look aesthetically pleasing and livelier, but it’ll also resemble their natural habitat. Unlike fake plants, live plants have varying levels of maintenance and can provide lots of additional benefits. Live plants for betta fish tanks can add oxygen to the water and reduce harmful ammonia and nitrate levels which can stress or even be deadly to your betta. Like fake plants, they provide hiding and resting spaces and can keep betta fish from getting bored. Boredom can lead to fin biting and other unwanted side effects.
Marimo moss balls are ideal for betta fish because they absorb nitrates and act like natural filters, removing ammonia and other tank phosphates that are harmful to your betta. Marimo moss balls don’t require much light (low to medium and indirect), but do need to be rinsed and washed every so often. Betta fish love these little moss balls for a bunch of reasons, but mainly because they can be rolled around, just like a toy or real ball. Betta can also nibble on them if they want to, rest on them, and hide around them.
By the time you get your betta home, it would have gone through stress of travelling and transit. In order to minimise the time that they are in a state of stress, start the acclimation process immediately.
Bettas are extremely sensitive to changes in their environment and sudden changes in water parameters and temperature will cause unnecessary stress. There is also a good chance of introducing diseases or parasites into your tank affecting your existing fish so acclimatising your new friend is a must!
If you’re aquarium is already set up and cycled, congratulations! You may now move onto the next steps below.
Turn off your tank lights to help your betta settle and float the plastic bag in your tank for 20 minutes. This will allow the tanks water to surround the bag and reach an equilibrium temperature.
Open the transport bag carefully by cutting the top end of the bag. I recommend using a cup or bowl to steady the bag and avoid accidental spillage. Remove 50% of the water in the bag and clip/secure it to the side of the tank.
Drip method is used to slowly add tank water into the bag, and the drip rate should be 1 drop every 1-2 sec. You can use tube or pipette to do this until you have added the 50% water from the tank.
30mins after drip method is complete, scoop your betta carefully and ensure as little water from the bag gets transferred into the tank as possible. Remove and dispose the bag! Phew, that was easy, wasn’t it?
Acclimation is all about being patient, slow and steady. Please take your time and don’t rush the process as this is crucial to getting your betta settled in quickly in his new home.
Feeding our betta fish is one of the most fun activities of aquarium keeping. Feeding time provides personal interaction between you and your pet betta. My favourite is hand feeding where your betta sits on your palm to eat his meal.
However, overfeeding can lead to constipation and bloating which can be deadly if ignored. Additionally, excessive food in your tank creates toxins in the water which is the most common cause of betta overfeeding deaths.
You should replace at least 40%-60% of the tank water weekly. Remember to use water conditioner / dechlorinator to neutralise the chlorine & chloramine present in tap water.