Taking Betta Care of Bettas

You've seen them in the pet stores, maybe even in a department store: elegant tubes or vases or bowls with a single lovely fish in it, and a promise of easy care and feeding. Bettas are beautiful and captivating, but the way they are sold in stores definitely isn't the model for how they should be treated at home. What does a Betta need? First and foremost, it needs warm water. These are tropical fish, and the water needs to be at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit, if not more. Even more importantly, the temperature of the water needs to remain steady. If it changes more than five degrees over a twenty-four hour period, then the fish will not remain healthy as the temperature changes diminish its resistance to disease and allow lower-temperature parasites to take hold.

Here's my key piece of advice to keep the water temperature even: take the fish OUT of the cruel enclosure it's been sold in and transfer it to a bigger bowl or tank! Those little "Betta Cups" sold in stores are designed by marketing people, not by fish-lovers! Bettas CAN survive in such a small space, if there's a decent nitrogen cycle going, but it's neither comfortable nor happy, and the small volume of water is almost guaranteed to fluctuate wildly in temperature. And what about that nitrogen cycle? You need to seed their environment with some nitrifying bacteria, most often with some "seasoned" water or gravel from an existing tank. Without these little critters, the ammonia wastes generated by your Betta won't be broken down and he'll slowly poison himself. It's easiest to keep Bettas one at a time, as males will fight each other, and a male and many females can be tricky to manage.

Master taking care of just one, before you try adding additional Bettas to your tank. When it comes to feeding, Bettas like variety as much as anyone else. Although Betta pellets will do for much of the time, these are carnivorous fish.

Try to mix their diet up a bit with the occasional bit of meat, especially live meat, which you can buy in many forms at your fish supply store. Fresh or freeze-dried Daphnia, Brine Shrimp, Glass Worms, or Blood Worms are just a few of your many choices for improving your Betta's diet, health and happiness.

Together with Iszuddin Ismail, Mic Hudson is sharing his wealth of knowledge on saltwater and freshwater tropical fish tanks. You can start with a free ebook on decorating your fish tanks. Download Fish Tank Aquascape at


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