Betta Fish Care in a Nutshell

One betta to a bowl

Never put two male bettas together in the same aquarium. Think very carefully before you put a male and female betta together in a community tank – if they decide to breed you’ll have to either move the paid to another bowl or take all the other fish out, or put a divider into your carefully aquascaped tank.

Bowl size – at least two gallons

Do not continue the cruel practice of keeping a betta in the smallest bowl possible. Keeping a betta in anything less than a gallon container is cruel. Its kind of like keeping a puppy in a crate that’s just big enough for it to turn around in. It might live, for awhile, but it makes for a very sick, very sad puppy.

Keeping your betta in a bowl less than a gallon means you’ll miss out on all kinds of cool antics your fish would have been entertaining you with. Keeping a betta in a two gallon or larger bowl will mean you betta will be healthier, more fun to watch, and it will live longer. You’ll also have to clean the bowl much less often.

Where to put the bowl

Your betta’s bowl or aquarium needs to be on a secure surface that doesn’t get any direct sunlight and has no risk of getting electrical equipment wet (in other words, do NOT put the bowl on top of a TV). It also needs to be a spot where there are no drafts, and no heat sources that go on and off. While coffee tables seem like a good choice, you may have to put a buffer under the bowl or aquarium – otherwise your fish will jump out of his skin every time someone puts a glass down and sends a huge BANG through his home.

Related: Are Betta Fishes Easy to Take Care of Compared to Others?


Between 75-80 degrees. Bettas need to be kept warm. Warmer than the average household, and definitely warmer than the average household on a winter night. Letting your bettas water even get down to 72 degrees causes stress, and will make him much more likely to get sick. It will also make him lethargic, and half frozen bettas aren’t very fun to watch… they just lie on the bottom of their tanks.

Heat can come from a standard submersible, nonbreakable heater, if you have a straight sided tank, or it come from a heating pad or seedling heating pad put under the bowl. Whatever heat source you use for under the bowl, it must be low heat, and it must be waterproof.

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Water changes

Two-gallon bowls need to be changed every 7 days, and three to five-gallon or larger bowls or aquariums need to be changed every ten days to two weeks. If you have a true round bowl, do a complete 100% water change. If you have an aquarium, do a 50% water change half as often as recommended above. For example, if you have a 3-gallon aquarium, change half the water out every 5 days. Get a good water conditioner and treat your tap water. Using bottled betta water with the cost you hundreds of dollars a year.


Do not feed your betta any more than he can eat in 2 minutes. Do not feed your betta more than once a day. Remember, your betta’s stomach is about the same size as his eye. Adjust your feeding portions accordingly. After being cold and having dirty water, overfeeding is the next cause of betta fish illness and death. It is OK to not feed your fish for a long weekend if you have to go away.

Companions or not

If you want to keep things simple, just stick with one betta fish. If you really want to have just one more fish, get a cleaner fish like a catfish. The next step up from the catfish would be a little school of rasboras. At that point, though, you’ll need a ten-gallon tank with a filter to fit everybody.

Plants & decor

Your betta will appreciate something to hide behind. If you get a live plant, it will also appreciate grazing on bits of plant and algae from time to time. It won’t eat the plant; just pick at it.

If you get a live plant, try to get one that needs low light – bettas can’t handle direct sunlight, so the plant won’t be getting any. A plastic plant will suffice if you don’t want to worry about keeping the plant alive too.

If you get a live plant, try to get one that needs low light – bettas can’t handle direct sunlight, so the plant won’t be getting any. A plastic plant will suffice if you don’t want to worry about keeping the plant alive too.

You can also add a ceramic castle or other structure the betta can hide in or under. Even a rock or a bit of driftwood will be a fine addition. Just don’t overcrowd the tank – your betta needs room for exercise. Also, don’t get anything with sharp edges that could tear one of those beautiful fins.