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Caring for Your Betta
Basic Betta Questions

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Table of Contents

  1. What do I feed my betta?
  2. How much and often do I feed my betta?
  3. What temperature should they be kept at?
  4. What size tank should they be in?
  5. What kind of filter/water flow/air bubbler should I use?
  6. What if my new Betta won't eat?
  7. How do I make sure my water is safe?
  8. Can I use distilled water?
  9. Do I need to cover my bettas??
  10. What are suitable tank mates for my betta in a community tank?
  11. How often should I change their water?
  12. My betta has these bubbles at the top of his bowl, what is it?
  13. I think my betta is sick . . .?
  14. What is the average life span of a betta?
  15. How do I treat my betta in a small tank when the meds are for 10 gallons?
  16. What kind of plants should I use in my betta bowl?
  17. Can I keep a male and female together?

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What do I feed my betta?

There is no absolute on this subject. There are MANY things you can feed your betta, and he will live just fine on. Some bettas are finicky, but if they get hungry enough, they will eat anything you serve them, including flake food. You can feed them anything from flake food, pellets or freeze dried worms to frozen & live Brine Shrimp, bloodworms, black worms & mosquito larvae. They will live quite happily on the common 'Betta Foods' found in pet stores. If you are planning on breeding your bettas, click here for more information on how and what to feed them. I have recently found a food at our local Wal-Mart that I would recommend to all Betta pet owners, and breeders as well. It is Aqua Culture's Bettas, distributed by HBH. If placed on the water gently, it floats and usually will twirl around the surface of the water. That usually grabs the bettas attention (as if any food doesn't). It is in a small clear vial with a blue label and a picture of a Royal Blue betta with red wash.

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How much and often do I feed my betta?

Feed your betta daily, they are a pet just like any other. Feed him/her just a small amount because a betta's stomach is only the size of their eye. You can also feed them twice daily if inclined. Just make sure however often you feed him, that you take into consideration his waste and clean his home accordingly ;)

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What temperature should they be kept at?

Bettas are a tropical fish, and therefore prefer warmer water. An ideal temperature is upper 70's(F), but can be kept in the lower 70's(F) if needed, but it isn't recommended. For breeding, they should be kept at approximately 80F. Many people will attempt to convince you that ALL bettas should be kept with a heater to survive, this is simply not true. I have many happy bettas that remain at room temperature, which at times can drop below 70F. I do not recommend constant temperatures below 70F, but they are survivable. I suggest 76F for a happy, healthy betta.

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What size tank should they be in?

This is a highly debated subject, and I will answer it as I see fit. I personally do not like to keep bettas, male or female, in bowls/tanks smaller than 1/2 gallon. Some people will argue that even 1/2 gallon is too small. Others keep their bettas in those small, pint sized Betta Hex containers. They say that their bettas are quite happy. The important aspect to keep in mind is that the smaller the container, the more often it needs to be cleaned. If you choose to keep you betta in a Betta Hex, then be prepared to change their water as often as every 2 days. I change my 1/2 gallon bowls once every 5 days depending on how dirty they have become. You can also keep you bettas in a tank up to any size. I have heard of people dedicating an entire 10 gallon tank to a male betta. You may also choose to have some tank mates with them in the larger tanks. Click here for a list of compatible tank mates.

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What kind of filter/water flow/air bubbler should I use?

This all depends on the size of the tank, of course. If you are keeping him in a small bowl, then no filter is needed as they will get their oxygen from the surface of the water. If you are going to give him a luxurious home of 2 gallons or more, then a small box filter will do. When choosing your filter, keep in mind that Bettas originate from the rice patties in Asia, which are calm puddles with no water flow or currents. Most Bettas do not like swift water flow. I have seen Bettas play in water currents, but they also need a place to rest in the tank where the water stays calm.

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What if my new Betta won't eat?

This is a very common problem for new Betta owners. In most cases, it is not serious. The Betta is simply adjusting to it's new home and surroundings. It may also be that the new food you are offering him does not sound appealing to him. I would suggest asking the pet store what they feed them when you purchase your betta. If you have already brought him home and already purchased food, then be patient. Bettas can go weeks with no food and survive, so he will not die because he hasn't eaten in a few days. If after a few days he still has not eaten, do not offer him any food for another few days. The next time you offer him some, he may greedily gobble it up. If not, then I would resort to buying him the food he was used to. Loss of appetite is also a sign of illness. Although loss of appetite is very common with new bettas, it does not rule out that your betta may be sick. Many pet store bettas are not in the best health, so visit out illness page and rule out any illness he may have.

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How do I make sure my water is safe?

If you are not sure you water is safe, you can usually take a sample to your local fish store and have it checked. If you live in a city, then your water is most likely treated with Chlorine or Chloramines. These are both deadly to fish. To make sure your water is safe for your betta, I would suggest treating it with Prime, by Seachem. This will eliminate both Chlorine as well as Chloramines. By using this product, your water should be safe as spring water. Some people are blessed with perfect water that does not need to be treated and others are cursed with water so bad, they are forced to buy water. Prime is a wonderful product that will make most people's water 'Happy Water' for their fish. 

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Can I use distilled water?

No, distilled water lacks elements and minerals that are essential for a healthy betta. You can, however, use bottled spring water. 

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Do I need to cover my bettas??

YES!! Bettas are well known for their jumping ability! It is always good to keep some sort of cover or lid on your betta's home. If you don't have a bowl with a lid, then a coffee filter with a rubber band works well. You can also use a number of other items including the netting that some produce is sold in such as onions and oranges.

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My betta has these bubbles at the top of his bowl, what is it?

It is called a bubble nest. When a male (and sometimes female) betta is happy, healthy and feels ready to spawn, they will build a bubble nest. It does not mean you have to spawn him, only that they are happy, healthy and content :)

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What is the average life span of a betta?

Approximately 3 years, but with proper care (extreme pampering) they have been known to live up to 6 years. Keep in mind that pet store bettas area already upwards of a year old by the time they find a permanent home.

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How do I treat my betta in a small tank when the meds are for 10 gallons?

Mix up a one gallon container with your medication. You have now formed a concentrated version of the medication. Treat your betta's tank with 1 part medication and 9 parts water.

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What kind of plants should I use in my betta bowl?

My favorite betta plant is sold as a dry bulb and is called Betta Bulbs, appropriately. It requires low light and has nice roots and leaves that bettas truly enjoy. You can also use a variety of other plants, just make sure the plant you choose requires low light unless your betta tank has a light. Java Moss is also a good choice. If you are going to use a fake plant, I suggest silk plants so that your bettas delicate fins are not ripped. When you change their water, remove the plant and gently rinse it in a bowl of water (same temperature) to remove any debris from the roots.

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How often should I change my Betta's bowl?

This depends on the size of his tank/bowl. Here is a quick list of suggestions:

bulletOne quart or less - Every 1-3 days
bulletHalf Gallon - Twice per week
bulletOne Gallon - Weekly
bullet2 Gallon (no filter) - Every Week & a half to Two weeks
bullet2 gallon or larger with filter - partial water changes weekly.

These are my suggestions due to the rapid production of ammonia by bettas.

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Can I keep a male and female betta together?

Yes and no. In a small (under 10 gallon) tank it is not advised to have 1 male and 1 female betta. They will generally fight, perhaps not to the death, however it isn't pretty. I have one visitor that, after an initial show of Who's the Boss, her male and female co-exist happily in a 2.5 gallon tank. However her male has the fin damage to show who is the boss!! She is very fortunate that both have survived! Generally, if you want to keep a male with a female, it is more advisable to house 1 male with several females in a 10+ gallon tank with plenty of vegetation. This allows for a pecking order to be established between the females, plenty of hiding places and the male will have plenty of gals to keep his attention spread out. Consider it his own personal harem ;)

 

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Last update:
  March 23, 2009 10:27 PM CST

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