*The Beginner's Guide to Betta Fish Care*
- An Introduction to Caring for Betta Fish
- Tank Selection & Setup
- Water Requirements (Temperature, Changes/Cleaning, etc.)
- Feeding Your Betta Fish
- "What Else Do I Need To Know?"
The first step to learning how to take care of a Betta fish properly is to understand them. As an experienced Betta owner, I can tell you a couple of things: First of all, Betta fish are finicky, they like things a certain way, and if you can't get things just right, they start having trouble. That's not to say Bettas are a bad pet, however, because the other thing I can tell you is that Bettas are extremely rewarding and interactive pets, and by reading this you're already taking a positive step in setting yourself up for success.
Betta fish don't demand a lot, and the nice thing is that most of their needs are a one-time purchase, meaning you'll likely never need to spend more money than your initial investment.
The supplies you'll want to have on hand before you bring your Betta home are...
- A tank (we'll discuss size/type in a minute)
- Food (pellets or flakes are both fine)
- An aquarium heater
- A small aquarium filter
- An aquarium thermometer
- Rocks for the tank bottom (this is called "substrate" in the aquarium world).
- De-chlorination drops for your water
Beyond these items, taking care of a Betta fish. The only exception could be treatment if your fish falls ill, but these are self administered, only a few dollars, and likely won't be needed anyways, so don't worry about it for the time being.
Tank Selection & Setup
The confusion behind tank size comes from the face that Betta fish in the wild lived in the ponds of rice paddies in farming and irrigation fields, which some people interpret to mean puddles. However, the truth of it is that while these ponds were shallow, they could span tens or even hundreds of feet, and Bettas are clearly more happy and active when they have ample room to swim around in, trust me on this one you'll enjoy your pet a lot more if he's happy, and he'll let you know as well!
Water Changes: After you've put your Betta into the tank and everything is running smoothly, you'll want to do water changes on a weekly basis... but don't worry: this is super easy! In fact, you don't even need to clean the tank or remove all of the water, in fact removing too much water is a bad thing, because beneficial bacteria cultures will start to grow in your tank that are necessary to keeping ammonia and nitrate levels down.
My recommendation is to remove 20-30% of your water and replace it with fresh (de-chlorinated!) water just once per week. This takes just a couple of minutes, keeps your water quality balanced, and when you only do these medium water changes once per week you don't stress out your fish as much as doing smaller changes more often, or a huge change every once in a while (this is one aspect of Betta keeping that usually isn't explained very well to new owners).
Feeding is one of the simplest things you'll have to do, but it often gets messed up. First of all, the brine shrimp and various live or freeze dried foods should be used as snacks, or a supplement to your fish's diet, and not as the whole diet itself; they are high in fat and lack other essential nutrients that you can get your fish through pellet or flake food (see below).
This will basically mean you'll buy either pellets or flakes to feed your pet, and they should be made for Betta fish (i.e. don't use gold fish food for them). Either pellet or flake form food is just fine, and while it is important to read the instructions is is not always the best to follow them exactly, because the labels tend to suggest feeding amounts that are really too large for the average Betta. Overfeeding is a common danger for your Betta fish and the best way to avoid it is to feed him or her just once per day, and probably about half the food bottle's recommended feeding amount. They have extremely efficient metabolisms, and under-feeding is not nearly as much of a danger as overfeeding for Bettas.
Betta Tricks & Training: Betta fish food is also a great incentive when training your pet to do tricks. Yes, you heard me right, Betta can be trained to do all sorts of things for food from jumping out of the water and grabbing food from your fingertip, to swimming through a hoop, etc. This takes a while and it's important to let your Betta get settled in his new home for a couple weeks before trying this, but a trained fish is sure to impress friends & guests!
What Else Do I Need To Know?
- The 3 deadly Betta care mistakes most new owners don't know they're making until it's too late!
- How to setup your tank properly
- How to maintain perfect water quality
- What to do if your Betta gets sick
- And much much more!