What to Know About Owning a Betta Fish

Bettas look a bit like goldfish in that they have the same basic shape. However, their fins and tails are fan-like and vibrantly colored. They can grow up to three inches long and live for up to three years. They are also extremely territorial against other fish. For example, it’s not a good idea to make your Betta community co-ed without dividers. If they start showing signs of aggression towards each other, it’s usually a good idea to separate them.

How Should I Care for a Betta Fish?

One thing almost every fish owner is concerned with is maintaining the cleanliness of the tank. As a result, one thing new fish owners often wonder is, do Betta fish need a filter?

The answer to that is not really all that simple since Bettas are capable of adapting to either pristine or muddy conditions.

But, generally speaking, if your tank is two-and-a-half gallons or less, a filter isn’t recommended. This is because they cause currents, which can imbalance and stress the fish. They’re not strong swimmers and their fan-like fins can get caught and/or jammed into the filter, or worse, blind them.

However, unfiltered tanks need to be cleaned at least every few days. Otherwise, uneaten bits of food and feces leach ammonia and nitrates, which can cause the fish to get sick and die. These tanks also need entirely new water each week.

With more than one or two fish especially, it’s recommended to get a tank that is at least five gallons. With filtered tanks, the water only needs to be changed out on a monthly basis. Aside from waste reduction and less maintenance, filtered tanks also oxygenate the water and allow for beneficial microorganisms to thrive.

Do Betta Fish Need a Heater?

In most cases, the short answer is yes. They thrive best in temperatures ranging from the mid 70’s to the mid 80’s. Betta fish can survive at room temperature but it stresses them out, which makes them prone to illness. So, unless the owner lives in a climate that maintains that temperature range year-round, they should not listen to pet store owners or employees who claim that Bettas don’t need a heater.

How Often Should I Feed a Betta Fish?

Two small feeds per day is recommended by most experts and it’s generally recommended to keep the feedings 12 hours apart. It’s best for owners who work outside their homes to feed their fish just before going to work and then again, an hour or two after coming home. Some owners will fast their fish for 24 hours every 10-14 days, which helps to prevent constipation. One thing new owners need to keep in mind is that a Betta’s stomach is hardly larger than its eyes.

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