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How to care for Betta Fish

Betta splendens is a small siamese freshwater fish, really common in aquariums for it’s colours, easy care and peculiar behaviour, sadly they don’t have a long life, usually they reach two years old.

Betta is also known as a siamese fighting fish for it’s intra specific aggressiveness, for this reason it’s impossible to house two males together in the same tank, since they’ll end up fighting to death; males can be aggressive towards females and females can attack each other as well, so keeping one male with two or three females is the best solution to avoid continuous attacks on the weaker fish.

Males can be easily distinguished by females for their long fins and bright colours. In nature male bettas are brown-grey with iridescent green-blue fins and tail, while females are dark brown-grey with light coloured fins. Years of captive breeding has created new colours and fins shape both of males and females. New colours can be divided into:

1) Solid colour, where all the body and fins are of the same colour: cellophane (almost transparent without colour), white, yellow, red, blue, orange, green, black and turquoise.

2) Bi-colour, where body and fins have different colours: cambodian (white body and red or blue or green fins), chocolate (dark body and cream fins).

3) Patterns, where body and fins colours follow an organized shape: butterfly (body has solid colour and fins are half of the same colour of body, half of another one), marble (solid or bi-colour with botches on body and/or fins), piedball (light face, no matter the colour of the body).

4) Multicolour, it’s the easiest to find in shops: body and fins can have different colours, but don’t follow a pattern. For example, they can be totally red with violet top fin.

5) Colour mutation interest both males and females, while only males have peculiar fin shape (some breeders have also the female with mutated fins anyway the difference between them and the standard shape is minimal):

6) Veil tail, is the most common you find in pet store.

7) Delta, Super Delta and Ultra Delta tail, where the shape of the tail looks like a delta and reach a spread of 50 degrees (delta), 120 degrees (super delta), 160 degrees (ultra delta).

8) Half moon, the name says it all, the spread should be from 160 to 180 degrees, but you can find also lower.

9) Double tail, where the tail is divided into two parts.


Basically, there are two solutions for keeping bettas: a dedicated aquarium or a community tank.

In case you want a dedicated aquarium, a 10 gallon is fine for a male and two or three females. Bettas are anabantidae, this mean they can breath oxygen directly in air not in water; for this reason shallow water is necessary to let the fish easily reach the surface and breath, and the classic fish bowl isn’t suitable, because of the poor air circulation; remember also to choose a closed on top tank so the air will be nearly at the same temperature of water, and bettas won’t jump out.

Water must be calm, almost static, so set the filter pump at the minimum speed, temperature must be 77°-80° F (25°-27° C), PH should be near 6.5. Anyway bettas don’t need special chemical values and can live in all clean waters with right temperature. Also the aquarium decoration is a personal decision, gravel or sand (for freshwater) is the best solution. Plants are very important to keep the water clean and to copy the natural fish environment, you can choose fast growing plants like Cabomba caroliniana or floating plants like Pistia stratiotes, anyway every other plant that gives a repair for fish is fine. Other complements like rocks, woods and artificial decorations are a personal decision, remember only to make some hiding-places for females and to avoid decorations that could damage male’s fins.

If you want to put bettas into a community tank, then an anabantidae aquarium is a good decision. Avoid other bettas (i.e. betta imbellis) even if they’re gentle fish, betta splendens could attack them. You can choose Colisa lalia, Colisa chuna, or any small gourami. Also other asiatic fish like Danio rerio or Rasbora are fine, while Barbus are a bad choice since they like to bite long finned fishes and are faster than bettas.

If you want to put bettas with other fish, then two general rules to remember are: not to put them with other long finned like Poecilia reticulata, because males could misunderstand them for other bettas and kill them, and do not put bettas with fast aggressive fish, even if betta is known as a fighter is almost harmless and slow with other fish.

Even if bettas eat everything, if you want to keep them healthy, colourful, and want to try breeding take a look on which foods you offer. The most common food is chironomus, you can use it dried or frozen, usually bettas like it a lot; also worms are a good food: earthworms, tubifex and mealworms, they can be used frozen or fresh. Feed fish once a day with a little of food, or every two days with some more. It’s important for fish not to become fat, because they can develop problems to their swim bladder, this could mean they won’t be able to swim well and won’t reach the surface to breath.


Reproduction of bettas is really easy as long as you can set up a dedicated tank and you have healthy and well fed fish. Once the betta male become an adult, it starts creating a bubble nest on the surface of water, the presence of plants make the nest structure more resistant. Although betta creates it’s nest in the community aquarium as well, it’s not a good idea to breed inside because it could become really aggressive and you won’t be able to take care of babies (a baby betta is really small: it could end eaten or sucked inside the filter).

Bettas may spawn from 50 to 1000 eggs that hatch after 2-3 days. Betta male takes care of eggs and fry until they start swimming. Fry eat basically live food, and brine shrimp is the best choice. When they reach two months males start fighting.

Copyright note: This article is originally written by Michela Ferretti. owns the full copyright of this article.

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