Betta Basics

Taking care of a fish might seem like an easy task, but if you’re looking to give your pet the best life, it can be a lot of responsibility. Depending on what you buy for the tank, it can be expensive as well. As with any other pet, you will need to acquire its housing well before you even consider buying one!

Betta fish are fairly simple to buy for. Their tanks aren’t too big, and they don’t require filtering like other, messier fish do (like goldfish). Here is a complete list of what you will need to house your betta:

  • 1-3 gallon tank
  • rocks
  • false plants
  • a house
  • decor
  • water treatment
  • food

Depending on the size of your fish, you can buy a tank as small as one gallon or as large as three gallons. Anything larger for just one fish isn’t really necessary, and, honestly, it’s more expensive. Make sure that your tank has a lid to avoid anything dangerous falling into the tank!

You will also need some small rocks to cover the bottom of the tank with. Marbles are also an option, but rocks are a safer option. Sometimes marbles will sit at awkward positions at the bottom of the tank, and your betta fish can become trapped in the small spaces between them. It’s not common, but I had it happen to my fish once. If you use marbles, make sure that they are placed evenly across the tank bottom. You only need about 1-2 inches of rock/marble.

Your betta, like you, needs some decoration around the house. Try jazzing the place up with some false plants! Be careful not to overcrowd the tank, as your betta needs room to swim around. Plants that are rooted by the rocks/marbles are good hiding spots, but I would also like to suggest a fish hammock. Sounds silly, right? Betta actually naturally hang out closer to the surface of water, so you can stick a fish hammock to the side of the tank about an inch below the surface. If your fish likes it, they can lounge around up there when they aren’t exploring the rest of the tank.

Additionally, while I previously stated that false plants are required, there are a few live plants that you can include in your betta’s habitat. Marimo moss balls are good to keep in the environment– they’re safe for your betta, they help keep the water clean, and they’re low-maintenance. There are other types of plants that are compatible with your betta, but please do research before putting a plant in the tank. This site gives you a list of compatible, betta-friendly plants you can incorporate into your tank.

Finally, a house is needed to provide a safe, secluded space for your fish. Again, please make sure that the house isn’t too large or otherwise unsafe (sharp, chipping paint, etc). Houses and plants make cute decorations, but please keep in mind that the betta needs to actually be able to use them. Be sure that the house isn’t too small, or that the plants aren’t too spiky or clustered.

The last item you need is water treatment, which will rid the water of any chemicals/minerals that may harm your fish. In putting water into your fish’s tank, make sure to let the water settle for 24 hours before use. This is to allow the water to become room temperature, as well as to allow the water treatment to actually work. The treatment can be bought at PetSmart, Walmart, or any other pet store that sells fish. Likewise, all your supplies can be found at these locations, but try to buy locally! Explore new places– there’s no telling what you can come across.

As for cleaning your items, do not use dish soap! Soap is highly toxic to fish, and it is very possible that it will kill them. Instead, scrub your tank/decorations with hot water and salt. Since betta fish are freshwater fish, it is important that you remove all the salt when rinsing. Salt is a safer option than soap, and it works just as effectively in disinfecting. Change half of your betta’s water twice a month, and completely clean everything at least once that same month, depending on how dirty the water is. Additionally, be sure to clean your decorations and the tank itself before placing them in the tank (upon buying them and when cleaning the tank/changing the water).

Finally, a filter for a betta fish is not required, but you can can definitely include it in your habitat! It can only help. The best part about having a pet fish is decorating– choose a theme! Change it up every once in awhile. Have fun with your fish.

And don’t forget the food!


Note: Betta fish are aggressive, solitary creatures. Housing them with other bettas will result in certain death! While it is dangerous, it is not impossible. You can visit this site to learn about what other types of life are compatible with your betta, but I would recommend starting small (ex. a snail), especially if you are new to the betta world.

Note: while your betta will not have any vet bills, they can get sick just like we can. This site gives you a complete list of betta illnesses, symptoms, and how to treat them. Take care of your betta– they are small, but they are important. Love them and treat them with kindness.


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