What is a Betta Fish? [Are betta fish good pets?]
If you ever thought about having a pet fish consider the Betta. They are amazing, colorful creatures and make interesting aquarium fish.
Betta fish are wildly colorful, strikingly beautiful, small, freshwater fish that originated in Southeast Asia. They are considered one of the easier pet fish to take care of and a good starter fish for beginners. Taking care of a Betta fish does require a lot of work though. You will need to feed your fish daily and clean their tanks fairly often.
Because of their amazing look, Betta fish are one of the most popular fish for aquariums in the world.
Betta Fish History and Facts
Another term for Betta fish is Betta Splendens or better known as Siamese Fighting Fish. They were originally found in Thailand and Southeast Asia in freshwater Asian rice paddies.
How Did the Betta Fish Get Its Name?
As the story goes, an English zoologist, named Charles Tate Regan, was introduced to some ‘colorful fish’ by a colleague that had received these fish from the King of Siam (now Thailand).
The fish were used as entrainment by children as they put them in small containers of water and would watch them fight with each other.
In the early 1900s, Regan decided to name these fish Betta splendens, meaning ‘beautiful warriors’.
Betta Fish Natural Habitat
Betta fish lived in areas susceptible to drought. In their natural habitat, they basically survive in muddy water.
Because of this, Betta fish actually formed a lung-like organ that allows them to breathe air at the water’s surface rather than just using their gills.
NOTE: Keeping your Betta in a fishbowl for a long period of time is not a good idea as it will end up killing the fish.
How Many Species of Betta Fish Are There?
It is reported that there are over 70 different species of Betta fish.
How Big Do Betta Fish Get?
Betta fish are pretty small averaging between two and three inches long. Some say a “giant’ Betta fish can be up to four inches in length. Either way, Betta fish are small pets.
Betta Fish Colors
Betta fish come in a wide variety of colors and patterns including solids, dark, light, and multicolored. Betta fish colors combinations can be truly remarkable and stunning!
Most Common Betta Fish Colors
Why Betta Fish Fight
Betta fish are very territorial and naturally aggressive fish. This is the main reason for them fighting with one another as well as other fish.
Usually, there are signs to show you that the Betta fish were fighting.
From personal experience, I tried to do a sorority tank with two female Betta fish and it didn’t work out. The new fish went right for my other fish, following it around and nipping at it.
I had to put the fish back into the bowl it came in and return it, unfortunately.
Other signs of Betta fish fighting with other fish are glaring or ramming. If you don’t see them actively fight, you may notice missing scales, torn fins, or increased hiding.
Some more severe signs are lethargy, decreased appetite, prolonged hiding periods, and sudden death.
Can I Have a Single Betta Fish?
It is highly recommended that you keep your Betta fish alone. You won’t have to worry about fighting fish if you do!
However, there are some types of fish and other animals that you can keep in the tank with your Betta that it won’t fight with such as snails and a few other types of tropical fish.
Do Betta Fish Get Lonely?
Betta fish enjoy having their own space to themselves, however, they need a lot going on in the tank in order to keep themselves entertained.
They will need many plants, caves, and room to explore.
Betta Fish Care Tips
As I mentioned above, Betta fish do require a good amount of care and attention. So keep that in mind.
Betta Fish Care Guide
If you are interested in a free Betta fish care guide send us a message via our contact page and we will send it to you.
Here are some of the things you need to think about before getting your Betta and after.
Betta Fish Tank Requirements
Although caring for your Betta fish isn’t really considered hard, it isn’t very easy either. It is recommended that Betta fish live in at least a five-gallon tank in order for them to live a long, healthy life. They don’t do as well in small tanks.
Betta fish can’t live in a tank with poor water quality. They need a water filtration system as well as a water heater.
What Temperature Should the Water Be for a Betta Fish?
The tank should have warm water, consistently be about 74 degrees Fahrenheit, as Bettas are a type of tropical fish.
When you first fill the tank, you will need to pour in a bacterial solution in order for the water to be a safe environment for the fish and let it run through the filtration system for a week before getting your fish.
How Often Should Bettas Water Be Changed?
Regular water changes should be done every other week and the filter needs to be changed once a month. When you do the water change, it is recommended you use a siphon.
You have to be really quick with it though because you can only change about 10-30% of the water at once, otherwise, your Betta fish won’t survive.
How to Change a Betta Fish’s Water
Make sure you have a separate bucket and heater for the new water that you will add to the tank during your water change.
If the new water is at the wrong temperature, your fish could go into shock and will not make it. If you’re using tap water for the water change, it is important that you add the right amount of water conditioner to the new water because the fish requires clean water.
If your Betta fish lives in a small bowl without a filter, you will need to do water changes twice a week in order to keep the water clean and fresh.
What PH Level Does a Betta Fish Need?
Betta fish prefer water with a PH of between 6.8 and 7.5. You should consider getting a tool in order to test the PH levels of the water.
It is important to check the water’s PH levels weekly. If the PH is off, there are plenty of Betta safe solutions to put in the water which you can buy online or at pet stores.
Do Betta Fish Need Live Plants?
Betta fish do seem to enjoy having live plants in their tank. Just make sure the plant is not too large and taking up too much space.
Also, ensure that you only use plants that are Betta safe in case they take a nibble.
What is the Best Live Plant for Betta Fish?
A Java fern seems to be a particular favorite live plant for Betta fish. Java ferns give your Betta fish plenty of hiding spots. It is also a native plant of Southeast Asia so they feel right at home!
Betta Fish Diet
Betta fish can eat almost any tropical fish food along with bloodworms, brine shrimp, and pellets specifically made for Bettas.
From my own experience, none of the three Betta fish I’ve ever had would eat Tropical Flakes. One of them did prefer the Betta pellets and the Betta I have now will eat pellets and bloodworms.
If your fish won’t eat one of the foods you feed it, it’s important to try out other foods to find out what it likes.
Best Time to Feed Betta Fish
I feed my Betta fish around dawn and dusk because that is about the time when wild Bettas would feast.
I feed it one pellet at a time in order to avoid excess food sinking to the bottom of the tank. You should feed them whatever they can eat in about five minutes in order for them to not overeat.
Can You Fast a Betta Fish?
It is safe to fast your Betta every now and then. Betta fish can survive 10-14 days without food, but you should not be fasting them for that long.
If you forget to feed your fish every once in a while, they will be okay. Just try not to make it a habit.
It is also important to mention that your Betta fish will likely not eat the first day you get it. You should wait at least 24 hours before first feeding your Betta fish in order to give them time to adjust to their new environment.
Betta Fish Health Issues
There are many diseases that your Betta fish could develop that affect freshwater aquarium fish, however, there are a few that you’re more likely to see.
Bacterial infections are common when your tank is poorly maintained. Here are a few diseases to look out for:
- Fin rot
- Tail rot
- Mouth fungus
Fin rot and tail rot are usually caused by fungus or bacteria that can eat away at your fish’s tail and fins.
Keeping your tank clean is the best way to prevent rot of any kind, however, if your fish does develop it, there are a few antibiotic medications, like sulfadimidine and erythromycin, that can be used to treat it.
Ich is a parasitic disease that causes little white spots to form on your fish. This disease is highly contagious, but also treatable if caught in the early stages.
It can be treated with a salt bath or medications like malachite green.
Popeye is a disease that causes swelling in one or both of the eyes. It may be caused by either a tumor or a viral infection. This disease can be easily treated with antibiotics like tetracycline.
Velvet is another parasitic disease that causes rust-colored mist to develop all over the fish’s body. This disease is treatable with a salt bath or medications like BettaZing or BettaFix.
Mouth fungus is caused by a bacterial infection. It is usually treatable when caught early. It can be treated with amoxicillin.
How to Tell If Your Betta Fish is Stressed or Dying
Unfortunately, I made a mistake caring for the very first Betta fish I ever owned which led to its death. I took too long to siphon the tank and replaced too much of the water.
I could tell it wasn’t going to make it because of its behavior. It was extremely lethargic, it wasn’t eating, it started losing its color, and it would spend most of its time lying in the gravel at the bottom of my tank, not moving. It was heartbreaking, to say the least.
There are some general signs of stress and illness that are important to learn to identify in Betta fish.
Signs Your Betta Fish Has a Health Problem
- Hovering around the surface of the water more than usual
- Lying at the bottom of the tank, particularly in a corner
- Not showing interest in food, failing to eat, or spitting out food
- Changes in coloration or vibrancy, paleness
- Rubbing against items in the tank to scratch himself
- Fins clamped against the body, tail not spread as much as usual
- Swollen or red gills, gills not moving as much as usual
- Swelling of the eyes or other parts of the body
- Raised scales on the body, may be accompanied by swelling of the body
Learning to recognize the signs of illness in your Betta fish is very important. The sooner you notice a disease, the sooner you can treat it, making it more likely for your Betta to make a full recovery.
You may also want to keep a Betta first aid kit on hand so you’ll be ready in case your fish does get sick.
It’s always good to have medications like tetracycline, kanamycin, malachite green, and ampicillin in advance in case your Betta does get sick.
Can You Leave a Betta Fish Alone?
As with any pet, you need to do some preparation for your Betta to be left alone.
How To Prepare A Betta Fish Tank Before Leaving It For A Few Days
If you need to leave your Betta fish alone for a few days, there are a few things you can do to keep them fed while you are away.
Fish Feeding Blocks
There are these little blocks of food that you can buy online or in a pet store that you just have to leave in your tank and your fish can feed itself whenever it’s hungry.
However, I have tried this method before and my Betta didn’t eat any of it.
Automatic Fish Feeder
Another option is using an automatic fish feeder. It will release food periodically in adequate amounts to make sure your fish is fed but not overfed.
This is the option I would recommend, however it is the more expensive option.
How Long Can a Betta Fish Go Without Food?
Worst case scenario, your Betta fish can go 10-14 days without food.
You also may be able to slow down its metabolism by setting the water temperature to a lower temperature, about 73-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
This way, your fish will have less energy to swim around and it will be burning fewer calories than it would usually need when it’s eating.
Plan to clean your tank before you leave your Betta fish alone. A clean tank is more likely to be a healthy tank which in turn leads to a happy Betta fish!
How to Play With Your Betta Fish
When it comes to fish, Bettas are more intelligent than most. Bettas tend to be very aware of their environment and like to explore their surroundings.
Can a Betta Fish Recognize Their Owner?
Betta fish do seem to know their human companion and they get excited when it’s feeding time.
Can Betta Fish Do Tricks?
Something fun that you probably didn’t know is that you can teach your Betta fish tricks. I did some research and am attempting to teach my Betta some tricks as well.
Fortunately interacting with your Betta and teaching them tricks is healthy for their mind, keeping them active and preventing boredom.
You will need patience, but eventually, you’ll be able to teach them to do things like following your finger, eating from your hand, or even jumping out of the water.
Bettas Need Positive Reinforcement
Fish food is the best reinforcement; just be careful not to overfeed your fish. Remember you can always take a break and come back later during your regular feeding times.
To get your Betta to follow your finger, slowly slide your finger on the water surface and reward it with food once it comes up to your finger.
From there, see if it will take the food directly from your fingers by sticking a pellet to your fingertip or holding live food below the water surface.
Can a Betta Fish Jump Out of the Water?
Once you’ve come this far, it will be time to teach your fish how to leap out of the water for a treat.
Once your fish learns how to eat from your hand in the water, gradually lift your hand slightly higher to entice it to jump out of the water for food.
Since Bettas are natural jumpers, make sure you have a secure lid on the tank whenever you’re not interacting with it.
Once I learned I could teach my Betta this trick a few days ago, I’ve been trying to teach it this and so far my Betta has been nibbling on my finger trying to eat the food from my hand.
Stay patient. In the beginning, my Betta used to freak out and swim away when it was feeding time because she was scared.
Can a Betta Fish Swim Through a Hoop?
Another fun trick you can teach your Betta is swimming through a hoop. You can make a hoop using a pipe ringer or use the plastic ring that comes from a milk jug.
Hold the hoop just below the waterline and coax your Betta to swim through it for a treat.
You can also put something small like a ping pong ball at the water surface and see if your Betta will push it around.
You can always find more fun activities to do with your Betta using either your imagination or by doing some online research.
All Bettas have different personalities and abilities, making it hard to find out what tricks your Betta will be able to do.
Betta Fish Training Tips
There are some tips to keep in mind when trying to train your Bettas:
- Patience is key
- Only spend 5-10 minutes training your Betta per day then stop in order to prevent stress and overfeeding
- Reward your Betta whenever it does something cool
- Call your Betta by name as you would any other pet. Bettas are smart, and through this type of training, your Betta will eventually respond to its name
Good luck training your Betta. I hope these tricks are fun and entertaining for both you and your fish!
Betta Fish Names
If you have an amazing Betta fish as a pet you need an amazing name for it! Here is a shortlist of some popular Betta fish names.
Betta Fish Names Male
Betta Fish Names Female
Are Betta Fish Good Pets?
Yes, if you give them the proper care and you have the right mindset then Betta fish can be good pets.
They are beautiful and entertaining fish and are perfect for aquarium lovers in many ways.
Related Betta Fish Questions
What is a Labyrinth Fish?
Labyrinth fish are certain breeds of fish that have a lung-like organ that allows them to breathe and get oxygen from the air.
The purpose of the labyrinth organ appears to be to allow these fish to thrive in low oxygen water. A Betta fish is a labyrinth fish.
It is said that a Betta fish could survive an hour or two out of water due to its ability to get oxygen from the atmosphere. CAUTION! We do not recommend you do this!
How Long Do Betta Fish Live?
You can generally expect your Betta fish pet to live between two and five years.
What is the Rarest Betta Fish?
Many Betta fish experts suggest that the Fantail Betta is the rarest.
How Much Does a Betta Fish Cost?
You can probably find a nice selection of Betta fish with vibrant colors at your local pet store for between $5 and $30.
There are also Betta fish breeders so you can see if you have one in your local area. Generally, prices will be higher from a breeder but you may be able to obtain a higher quality fish.
What is Marimo Moss Balls?
Marimo Moss Balls are actually green algae with a soft, velvety look. They are a great addition to your Betta fish tank as Bettas actually love to interact with these green balls.
Sometimes your Betta fish will ‘sit’ on a Marimo Moss Ball or even push them around the aquarium.
Bettas are simply beautiful fish and add a splash of amazing color to your aquarium. Keep in mind, Betta fish have a lot of specific tank requirements to live a happy, healthy life.
Betta fish can be a good beginner fish pet as long as you know how to give them the proper care. Make sure you keep their tank maintained well and always keep a watchful eye on them.
Good luck with your future Betta! They can be great pets!