Ten Mistakes in Betta Fish Care

Almost everyone knows what Betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, look like. They are very distinct thanks to their brilliant coloring and long, flowing fins. You will find them in all colors of the rainbow. Their beauty has made them one of the most attractive types of fish kept by aquarium hobbyists. They are not only stunning to look at, though. They also make very interesting pets with their sometimes incredible behavior and unique personalities.

Betta fish care is not hard, once you learn to avoid some things which could adversely affect your little finned friend's health and well-being. Let me give you ten examples below:

1. It all starts with the trip home . If you bought your Betta at a pet store, do not drive it home alone. It's better to have someone in the car with you who could hold the Betta and keep it from experiencing bumps, sharp turns or sudden stops. Also, never leave your Betta in the car for any length of time, especially if the outside temperatures are very hot or very cold.

2. Some pet stores advise you not to use gravel in an aquarium. That's a mistake for a Betta fish tank. Substrate is where the beneficial bacteria grow and help break down the waste in the tank. It also adds beauty to your tank and allows you to secure rocks and plants to the bottom of your Betta's home.

3. Do not overfeed your Betta. This is especially important at the beginning – before your tank has produced enough beneficial bacteria. Remember – less food means less waste produced by the Betta. You may be surprised to learn that bettas can live up to ten days without any food.

4. Never use soap or chemicals to clean the tank or the aquarium or any of the decorations. If there is any algae accumulation, you may need to do a little more than a simple wipe down. A 15 minute bath in a 10% bleach solution will do the trick. But do not soak them any longer than 15 minutes.

5. Avoid plastic plants (unless they are brand new and very soft to the touch) in your aquarium or anything that contains metal which will eventually leech into the water and poison your Betta.

6. Do not leave the Betta tank uncovered . Bettas love to jump. You need to prevent them from jumping out of the tank. When you cover the tank with a lid, make sure it has holes for ventilation. Another option is a mesh screen. This will protect the Betta not only from itself, but also from predators, such as your pet cat.

7. Tap water would kill your fish due to chlorine, chloramine and other chemicals. Use a dechlorinator (such as Stress Coat) and AmQuel. Never use distilled water, either, because it does not have sufficient mineral content.

8. Do not clean the tank too thoroughly ! It needs the build up of good bacteria for your Betta to stay healthy.

9. Be very careful with powered filters. Contrary to the opinion of some pet store personnel, Bettas like their waters very still. Too much motion will stress out your Betta. A sponge filter would be your best option. They are the quietest and also least expensive.

10. Discover whether your Betta will be happy alone. There are different theories on the subject of Betta social needs. Many believe that Bettas are perfectly happy on their own, that they should be kept alone. Others swear that Bettas need stimulation and presence of other Bettas or Betta-friendly fish.

These contradictory beliefs seem to suggest that we do not really know what is best for our Betta fish, but that we may be projecting our own preferences on them. Get to know your Betta, observe it, try different things and keep an open mind. They do have different personalities and it could be that while one Betta is perfectly happy alone, another would thrive in some good company.

If you want to create a community tank, learn about good tank mates for Betta fish. Watch for contradictory advice on that subject as well. Some simple guidelines on which most seem to agree are:

  • Do not put two Betta males together unless you know their personalities well and it's a large tank.
  • A male and female also do not belong in the same tank, unless you are breeding them.
  • Avoid placing Gouramis, the Platy and Variatus with the Betta. They may get too aggressive.
  • Avoid also any fish that is long-finned and could be mistaken by your Betta as another Betta.

These are the most common mistakes you could make with your Bettas. Avoiding them and learning the simple principles of proper Betta fish care will help you keep your fish as long as they were really meant to live.

– Mischa