How to Set up a Betta Tank

Bettas, also known as Siamese fighting fish, are a popular freshwater aquarium species. Native to Thailand, wild bettas can be found in the still waters of rice paddies and floodplains. Particularly tolerant of low oxygen levels, Siamese fighting fish are well known for surviving in small volumes of sometimes poor-quality water.

Unfortunately, this has led to several misconceptions about their needs in captivity. Sometimes seen for sale in tiny plastic cups, while bettas can survive for short periods in small volumes of poor-quality water, they cannot, and should not, be expected to thrive in these conditions.

Instead, these beautiful fish are best housed in aquariums of 40 litres or larger, provided with filtration, heating, and lighting. They should also be fed an appropriate diet of dry and fresh foods and given plenty of places to hide among live plants and other pieces of suitable aquarium decor.

A natural substrate and one or more floating plant varieties will further help replicate their ideal natural habitat. Provided with these necessities, bettas are wonderful little fish, full of personality, and which will happily live for 3-5 years on average.

They should never be housed in vases or used for decoration. As their common name of Siamese fighting fish suggests, they shouldn’t be housed together, either. This fact is most important regarding male bettas, who will almost always fight to the death.

Female bettas, most easily identified by their shorter fins and more rounded bellies, can be housed together under the right conditions. However, this is best left to more experienced aquarium owners.

So, without further ado, here’s a brief look at everything you need to set up the perfect aquarium for your Siamese fighting fish friend.

Choose an Aquarium

An aquarium of 40 litres or larger is ideal. Bettas can jump, so choose one with a lid. Smaller aquariums of 25-35 litres may be suitable at a push, but bigger is definitely better.

Select Your Equipment

Bettas need filtration, heating, and lighting. An appropriate filter rated for the size of the aquarium in question should be selected. Because of their long fins, Siamese fighting fish prefer a lower, indirect flow of water, so adjust your filter accordingly.

A suitable heater to maintain the betta’s optimum temperature and a light on a timer to mimic daylight hours are also necessary. Proper lighting will further allow you to grow live plants, which bettas love.

Get Creative With Your Decor

Siamese fighting fish prefer a naturalistic aquarium. A dark substrate, rounded stones that won’t damage their fins, plus plants and any other suitable decor will give your betta a home to be proud of!

Other Considerations

Bettas can be unpredictable in terms of tankmates. Snails should be fine, but shrimp may be eaten. In a larger tank, peaceful species of a similar size may be added with caution, but avoid those known for fin-nipping for your betta’s sake.

Be sure to stock up on suitable high-quality betta food, and purchase an appropriate aquarium test kit to ensure that your water parameters remain in order. Feed sparingly per the instructions, perform regular partial water changes, and you and your Siamese fighting fish should be happy together for years to come!