Basic Care

-BETTA HOUSING AND HEATING-

Bettas are Labyrinth fish, which means that they are able to breath and utilize air from the surface of the water. This is one of the reasons why they are able to survive in relatively small amounts of water, without the aid of water flow and oxygen.

Having a filter in a bettas tank or bowl is not neccessary, but a very good thing to have, as they make the water much cleaner than in a tank without one, and they lessen the amount of water changes you will have to do on the bettas tank. Small sponge filters, and/or corner(box) filters filled with carbon, and floss work very well in small tanks of two gallons or more. You will need to get an air control valve to control the amount of air pressure and bubbles if you plan on using a sponge filter or corner filter. Bettas do not like a lot of current in their water, or on the surface of their water.

In my opinion, bettas should not be kept in bowls/tanks/jars of less than a gallon, unless they are in some kind of a barracks, or drip system filtered environment. If the gallon size tank is unfiltered, than a 100% water change must be done at least twice a week, or a partial change every few days. If you are only keeping a few bettas as pets, the best and most efficient way to house them is to buy small tanks that hold at least two gallons of water, and have filters. If you are planning on breeding, or keeping a lot of bettas, then you are going to need to think ahead. Not only do bettas need clean water to grow and thrive, they also need heat, and a steady temperature that does not fluctuate. Fluctuating temperatures are very stressful to fish, and can often bring on disease. Bettas are tropical fish, and prefer temps in the upper 70’s(F). Bettas in small bowls/jars/tanks, are often unhealthy and do not thrive due to the fact that they are kept at fluctuating room temperatures. Bettas in unheated gallon bowls/jars must be kept in a room with a constant, warm temp, in order for them to remain healthy. Or, they must be kept in some kind of Barracks System, such as the one we have constructed, which provides them with heated, filtered water. Bettas that live in two gallon tanks or larger can have their homes heated by small aquarium heaters.(25 watt or smaller) You can buy these in pet stores, and often in Walmart in the fish section. Do not underestimate the importance of heat in your bettas health. Cold bettas easily become sick.

 

-WATER ADDITIVES-

If you have water that contains chlorine, you will need a water conditioner that removes chlorine. City water supplies often contain chlorine as well as chloramines and metals, in which case you will need a conditioner that removes both chlorine and choloramines. If your water contains no chlorine, chloramines, or metals, then you do not need a conditioner. (I live in a rural area, and have well water which contains none of the above, so I do not use a water conditioner at all.) I recommend staying away from conditioners that contain things like aloe, and claim to “improve a fishes slime coat”. These products are often damaging to a fish when used for a period of time, particularly the ones containing aloe. A fishes slime coat is not made out of aloe. 😉 They also tend to leave a slimy coating on the top of unfiltered bowls and tanks. Try to find a simple water conditioner, not one with a ton of additives. As long as it removes chlorine, and chloramines and metals if needed, then it will do its job.

Many betta breeders/keepers add aquarium salt to their bettas water. I use it in all of my unfiltered betta jars, as a disease preventative. (i do not use it in the barracks system as I don’t think it is neccessary, since the water in the barracks is filtered and UV Sterilized.) I add a half teaspoon of salt per gallon of water to my unfiltered jars. I also age my water in a large barrel for at least 24 hours before using it. Aging water allows it to become the same temp as the room the bettas are kept in. (this doesn’t matter if your betta is in a heated tank) It also helps to stabalize the ph of the water.

 

-BETTA FOOD-

Bettas are carnivores, which means they eat meat. In the wild they eat a diet of primarily mosquitoes, as well as other insects that fall on, and into the water.

Adult bettas should be fed a small amount twice a day. (2-4 pellets twice a day) Hikari Betta Bio Gold or Hikari Cichlid Bio Gold baby pellets are a good staple food. A bettas diet should be supplemented with things other than pellets. Bloodworms, brineshrimp, and daphnia are good supplements, and can be fed frozen or freeze dried a few times a week. Live foods like blackworms, brineshrimp, white worms, and fruit flies are also good for your bettas diet. There are also many other types of pellet and flake foods that can be fed such as HBH BettaBites, Aquaculture Bettas, Tetra Bettamin, BioBlend Betta pellets, OSI betta flakes, etc… I also feed New Life Spectrum Small Fish/Fry pellets to my bettas. My bettas really seem to like this food, and it is full of vitamins and natural color enhancers. The more variety you have in your bettas diet, the better. A variety of foods will provide him/her with all the vitamins, protein, and minerals that he/she needs.

 

-FLARING-

When male bettas are within sight of another male or female betta, their colors will brighten, and they will spread their gill membranes and fins, and “flare” at him/her. Females will also do this, though not so much as males. I have found that my bettas seem to be happier and healthier when they are within “flaring” distance of other bettas. ( they are close enough to another betta to see him/her through the glass ) All of my bettas live within sight of each other, either by having their jars placed next to each other, or by living in the barracks system.