Betta Care Sheetbetta splendens
Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.
Typical betta appearance and behavior
Bettas are generally calm, slow-moving fish who do not require as much space as many other fish. Bettas will "flare" fins when threatened or disturbed and to show aggression.
Male bettas will attack other male bettas, and males have also been known to attack similar-looking fish and fish with flowing fins. Therefore, male bettas should not be housed together or with other species who have long fins.
|Care Difficulty||Good for beginner aquarists|
|Average Life Span||3-5 years with proper care|
|Average Adult Size||2 1/2 inches long, not including tail|
|Minimum Aquarium Size||1 gallon or larger|
Betta fish habitat
- Single bettas- Keep in an appropriately sized aquarium, 1 gallon or larger. Bettas must be able to breathe from the surface of the water. Because bettas are known to jump out of aquariums, there must be space at the top of the aquarium below the lid for them to surface and breathe
- Male bettas - Should be kept individually and do best in habitats of 1 gallon or larger. Male bettas can live successfully in a community aquarium of 10 gallons or larger that does not have aggressive fish (such as tiger barbs, gouramis or giant danios) or fish who bettas may become aggressive toward (such as fancy guppies)
- Female bettas - May be housed with other community fish or other female bettas. If keeping a female betta sorority, a minimum of 15 gallons with numerous hiding places is recommended
- Filtration - Bettas prefer water with little or no current, so gentle water filtration is best
- Décor - Be sure aquarium décor is free of sharp edges that may injure a betta’s delicate fins. Ensure there is some floating cover under which bettas can hide
- Temperature - Use a heater to maintain water temperature between 72-82°F. If the temperature falls below 72°F, bettas may become less active and prone to infection
- Water quality - Stable water quality (pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate) and temperature are critical to the health of aquatic life. If you are unsure of your water quality, bring a sample to Petco for free testing
A well-balanced Betta diet consists of:
- A variety of meat-based foods consisting of flakes, pellets, freeze-dried bloodworms, daphnia and frozen food to ensure complete nutrition
- Bloodworms and brine shrimp are favorite treats and should be fed in moderation to prevent obesity
Things to remember when feeding your betta:
- Feed bettas once a day to prevent overfeeding
- Feed sparingly and no more than fish can eat in 1-2 minutes; overfeeding can quickly foul the water, especially in smaller, unfiltered aquariums
- Uneaten food should be removed to prevent water from becoming fouled
- Thaw frozen foods before feeding
- Baby bettas should be fed smaller pellets or finely crushed flake food
Betta fish care
Avoid overcrowded conditions, which are a major cause of stress and immune system suppression and can increase chances of infection. Maintain good water quality with regular water changes.
- Daily - Check filter, water temperature and other equipment (if used)
- Weekly - Test check water quality at least once a week. Change a third of the water in unfiltered small habitats (less than 2 gallons) once to twice a week every 3-4 days. In larger aquariums, change 10 to 25% of the total volume of water every 2-4 weeks, or more often as needed
- Monthly - Change the filter media cartridge at least once a month and use only dechlorinated water for water changes
Recommended aquarium mates
Male bettas must be kept separately in individual aquariums or be the only betta in a community aquarium containing non aggressive fish (such as tiger barbs, gouramis or giant danios). Female bettas can be kept in a community aquarium. Do not keep male and female bettas together.
Betta fish health
Signs of a healthy betta
- Active and alert
- Eats regularly
- Vibrant colors
- Unfrayed fins
- Reacts aggressively to outside stimulus
- Loss of color or appetite
- Spots or fungus on body or mouth
- Cloudy eyes
- Elevated scales
- Unnaturally frayed fins
- Labored respirations
- Erratic swimming
- Weight loss
Common betta health issues
|Health Issue||Symptoms or Causes||Suggested Action|
|Health Issue Fin or tail rot||Symptoms or Causes Frayed or disintegrating fins; the base of the fins usually reddens or blackens.||Suggested Action Improve water quality; add aquarium salt; consult your local aquatic specialist or veterinarian for treatment.|
|Health Issue Bacterial infections||Symptoms or Causes Cloudy eyes, open sores and/or reddening of the skin.||Suggested Action Improve water quality; use a commercial antibacterial remedy as directed.|
|Health IssueIch||Symptoms or Causes White spots appear on fins and body; fish rubs against hard objects or swims erratically; rapid respiration.||Suggested Action Quarantine fish immediately; add freshwater aquarium salt and use a commercial ich remedy as directed.|
|Health IssueCottonmouth or Columnaris||Symptoms or Causes Cottony white growths along the body and/or gills; frayed fins; gills turn brown and necrotic in late stages. From bacterial infection.||Suggested Action Quarantine fish; improve water quality; lower aquarium temperature to 72°F to deter bacteria from growing; medicate as directed.|
|Health IssueDropsy||Symptoms or Causes Swollen body; flaring of scales to make them look like pinecones. Viral/bacterial/parasitic infection.||Suggested Action Quarantine fish; improve water quality and consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian.|
|Health IssuePopeye||Symptoms or Causes Bulging eye from poor water quality or bacterial infection.||Suggested Action Improve water quality; use antibiotics as directed.|
|Health IssueSwim bladder disease||Symptoms or Causes Floating on side; problems swimming. From overfeeding, constipation or bacterial infection.||Suggested Action Decrease overfeeding; use antibiotics as directed.|
|Health IssueVelvet||Symptoms or Causes Gold/yellow discoloration looking like rust; rubbing on décor. From poor water quality or stress.||Suggested Action Improve water quality; increase water temperature to 82°F; decrease stress. Quarantine fish immediately; add freshwater aquarium salt and use a commercial ich remedy as directed.|
Betta fish supplies
- Appropriate size aquarium
- Appropriate food (dry and frozen)
- Water conditioner
- Freshwater substrate
- Freshwater aquarium salt
- How long do betta fish live? Bettas can live 3-5 years with proper care.
- Can betta fish live with other fish? Male bettas must be kept separately in individual aquariums or be the only betta in a community aquarium with other, non aggressive fish. Female bettas can be kept in a community aquarium. Do not keep male and female bettas together.
- How often should I feed my betta fish? Bettas should be fed once a day, only what they can consume in 1-2 minutes. Uneaten food should be removed from the aquarium to prevent it from negatively affecting the water quality.
- How big do betta fish get? Bettas can grow up to 21/2 inches long, not including their tail.
- Can male and female betta fish live together? Keeping male and female bettas together is not recommended, as they may tolerate each other but can become aggressive and fight.
- Why do betta fish fight? Betta fish fight to establish their territories and to fight over resources, including food, shelter and access to females.
- Can you have more than one betta fish in an aquarium? Male bettas must be housed separately but can live successfully in a community aquarium of 10 gallons or larger that does not have aggressive fish (such as tiger barbs, gouramis or giant danios) or fish who bettas may become aggressive toward (such as fancy guppies). Female bettas may be housed with other community fish or other female bettas. If keeping a female betta sorority, a minimum of 15 gallons with numerous hiding places is recommended.
- Can I have two female bettas together? Female bettas are more tolerant of each other than males but often will fight in community aquariums if they are overcrowded. If keeping a female betta sorority, a minimum of 15 gallons with numerous hiding places is recommended.
Additional care sheets
Notes and sources
Ask a Pet Care Center associate about Petco's selection of products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.
Because all aquatic life are potential carriers of infectious diseases such as mycobacteria and salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your aquatic life or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.
Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing or caring for aquatic life and should consider having a pet other than aquatic life.
Go to cdc.gov/healthypets for more information about aquatic life and disease.
Note: The information in this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, contact your veterinarian.