Bettas can also be kept on their own in a small tank and make a great first fish for a beginner. Betta fish are also able to breathe air as they have a sophisticated gill system called a Labyrinth. This means that they don’t need an aeration system in the tank.
The Betta splendens fish, which literally translates as Splendid Fighter are often called "Siamese Fighting Fish", are members of the Osphronemidae family. This family also includes several gourami" species.
They can often be found in their natural habitat in tiny pools, minor streams, roadside ditches, or even rice paddies.
Betta males can’t be kept in the same tank as their Fighting Fish name tag is well justified and two males in a tank will fight to the death. Males and females will also fight, which can make breeding them tricky! So if you want to keep more than one male betta fish it’s best to have more than one tank so they can be kept separately. You can keep multiple female Betta fish together and when you have 3 or more female Betta fish together then this is called a sorority.
Often when you see them in pet shops they are kept in small tanks lined up next to each other. Usually there will be a divider between them to stop the male Bettas from seeing each other. When the object is removed from between the tanks and the males see each other then they will start posturing to each other ready to do battle. Whilst this is an excellent way to see your Betta fish in all it’s glory without risking them actually fighting with each other. Be sure not to leave the males able to view each other for too long. As they will not realise they can’t actually get to the other fish and so continue to try and fight.
Betta fish are found in South East Asia, most notably Thailand. Thailand was formerly known as the Kingdom of Siam which is where they get their other name the Siamese Fighting Fish.
Their natural environment is slow moving streams, marshes and ponds as these fish aren’t fond of strong currents.
Behavior/Compatibility for Betta fish
Betta fish are usually placid; this does change if there are two males that come across each other either in the wild or the aquarium. The Betta fish is known as the Fighting Fish for a reason as two males will fish to the death. They will start off by displaying to each other, which males will also do to their own reflection. You can observe this by putting two males in small tanks next to each other so they can’t actually fight. You can also find special tanks that have a dividing partition that can be used to block the fish from seeing each other all the time.
Male Betta fish can also fight with females if they are not ready to breed as they are very territorial with their own species. So if you are looking to breed your Betta fish be sure to have tanks to keep each of your Betta’s in so if they aren’t ready to breed they can be separated.
It’s often best to only keep them together when you are breeding them. When they are ready to breed the male will build a bubble nest and guard the eggs protectively. He will continue to guard the fry until they become independently swimming and then he may view them as a threat to his territory and attack them. The best option when breeding Bettas is to use a separate spawning tank. You should remove the female once she’s laid the eggs and remove the male once the fry hatch.
Female Betta fish are much more sociable than males and can be kept together in groups. They will usually cohabit without a problem and when in these groups they are known as a sorority.
This species is compatible with other community fish but you need to avoid fin nipping fish like Barbs. Also Gouramis which are related and can trigger male Betta’s aggressive territorial behaviour if it mistakes it for another Betta fish. Peaceful community fish like Mollys, Platys, Swordtails and Guppies are usually fine. They have been known to fight with male guppies with elaborate tail fins, which is most likely a case of mistaken identity. Other fish that are fine to keep with Betta fish are Loaches like the Striped Kuhli loach and Coryadas.
They like to have live food in their diet and so are likely to eat fry of livebearers in a community tank.
Housing Betta and Tank Set-up Tips
Betta fish only grow to around 2-3 inches (6-8cmcm) long. They are not an active fish and so a very large tank isn't needed for them. They can be housed in one of our small start tank set ups like the AquaEl Shrimp Tank set 10L or the AquaEL Shrimp Tank set 30L. Larger tanks with a filtration system have the advantage of reducing the maintenance needed to do to keep your tank and fish healthy.
Betta fish tend to spend most of their time near the top of the tank and so longer shallower tanks are more suitable for them as opposed to tall tanks.
Recommended Max Fish Count Tank Volume 1 Male or 4 Female Bettas 39 litres (10 gallons) 1 Males or 8 Female Bettas 57 litres (15 gallons) 1 Males or 12 Female Bettas 71 litres (20 gallons) 1 Males or 16 Female Bettas 94 litres (25 gallons) 1 Males or 20 Female Bettas 113 litres (30 gallons)
Betta fish spend most of their time near the surface of the tank, meaning the base is mainly decorative for them. This means you can choose a base substrate that suits any other tank member.
You can pick gavel, driftwood and plants and other items to decorate the tank. Bettas can also be jumpers, so we recommend a lid on the tank.
In their natural habitat there's often fairly dense foliage, so having plenty of plants is appreciated by your fish. Including some floating cover will help to make them feel at home.
Not being strong swimmers Betta fish prefer calmer waters without a strong current. A pH of between 6.8 and 7.5 is the range that your water should be kept at to keep your fish happy and stress free. These fish are from a tropical climate and so if your aquarium will be in a room where the temperature is below 25.6° C (76° F), then you should consider getting an aquarium heater for your tank. The recommended temperature for Siamese Fighting fish should be between 25.6° and 29.4° C (76° and 85° F). The water hardness for Betta fish should be between 5 – 15 dH.
The Betta fish as mentioned earlier is able to breathe air due to it’s Labyrinth gill system. This does mean that you don’t need an aeration device if you just have a Betta fish in your tank. Even though these fish can live in fairly small tanks it’s still important to carry out regular water changes. Ensure to also clean the substrate in your tank to ensure that your fish stay healthy.
Be sure to check and adjust the chemistry of your tank with one of our water conditioning products, like Easy Balance Plus. This is especially important if you don’t have a filtration system in your tank.
Use caution when keeping a male and female in the same tank as they may fight. It’s best to have a backup tank available when introducing them to the tank in case you have to separate them. If you are breeding Betta fish use a separate spawning tank. As the female will need to be removed after spawning and the male will need to be removed once the fry become free swimming.
Feeding and Care
In the wild Bettas will eat invertebrates and insects and like a varied diet.
There are specific foods formulated to fulfill all the requirements of Betta Fish such as Betta Mini Pellets. They will also of course appreciate live foods such as bloodworm as treats.
Great reasons to keep Betta fish in your tropical fish tanks
- Betta Fish males are truly one of the most beautiful of all tropical fish.
- Available in a wide range of colors with different fin shapes.
- Betta fish can be kept in a relatively small tank, the smallest recommended is 38 liter (10 gallons).
- You can keep a single male Betta fish in a community aquarium tank set up, so long as you select the right tankmates.