What is a Betta Fish? The Ultimate Guide on the Siamese Fighter Fish

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what is a betta fish

In the simplest terms, Bettas are the colorful fish housed in tiny containers at the pet store. This specific breed of fish is also known as the ‘Siamese fighter fish’ who have been originated in Thailand but is now popular amongst aquarists all around the world!

Taking care of a Betta fish can be an exciting task. However, there are some responsibilities that should be taken up in order to ensure that you provide a healthy and stress-free life for your loving fish pet

Having 15 years of experience in the fishkeeping hobby, I have learned a lot about the Betta fish. Here are the topics I will discuss in details that will enhance your knowledge on Betta fish:

  • Features of a Betta fish
  • Temperament of Betta fish
  • Betta fish care and tank setup
  • Aquatic accessories for Betta fish
  • Introducing to the tank
  • Suitable tank mates
  • Feeding and diet
  • Common diseases and treatments

Features of a Betta fish

Bettas come in a variety of different colors and fin shapes mostly of which are subject to breeding combinations. However, primarily, Bettas can be identified as small fish with large, silky tail fins and dorsal fins. While there are a number of variations of this species, a few of the most common types are Delta, crown tail, halfmoon, veiltail and double tail bettas whose dissimilarity are mostly the shape of their fins.

Growing up to two inches long, a betta fish can be considered ‘old’ once it reaches two years of age but given a healthy environment, there is a possibility that your betta could live up to five years.

A fun fact about this species is that in certain regions, especially in Asia, Betta fish competitions are hosted to select the most attractive fish.


The prices of Betta fish depend on a number of factors such as type, quality and region. On average, prices range from $4 to $20 in the United States, whereas prices in Asia are usually between $1 and $4 per fish.


The behavior of Betta fish is perhaps one of the most interesting aspects when having this wonderful creature as a pet. Just as its name “fighter fish” suggests, these fish have aggressive instincts and would fight other resulting in wounding each other and sometimes may even cause death. This applies only to male betta fish as females can be kept as a community due to their much more restful temperament.

Seldom cases of female betta fish chasing each other could be discovered.Nevertheless, these are usually minor concerns as they do much less harm opposed to male fishes.

Betta Fish Care and Tank Set Up

The routine care needed for Bettas can be substantially less when compared to other species of fish, thus making them ideal for beginners who wish to start on this hobby. A common mistake of fish keepers is housing a Betta in a tiny tank or even sometimes in recycled jars or containers as they believe Bettas are inactive and usually stay stationary, which is totally incorrect.

Ideally, a five-gallon tank is sufficient for a male Betta fish as it provides adequate space to live a healthy life with minimum stress. Meanwhile, up to four pairs of female fighter fish could be kept together in a ten-gallon aquarium to create a visually pleasing Betta sorority tank.

A pH of 6.5 to 7.5 is ideal for these fish, and a temperature of 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended for healthy growth, but don’t stress too much over this, because betta fish tend to adjust themselves to the water parameters.

Aquatic Accessories for Betta Fish

Since Bettas are mouth breathers, they often swim up to the surface of water to grasp oxygen, which means having an air pump or aerator is not be mandatory. Even though it is arguable that having an air pump should be vital because it adds oxygen to the water, male Betta fish are generally placed alone in a tank and this means that they consume much less oxygen, thereby eliminating the necessity of fitting an air pump.

The water current of the aquarium should be calm as these fish are slow-paced swimmers and having strong water circulation may disturb their movement, which could cause stress to the fish. It is recommended to place a filter with less power, such as a corner filter, to ensure that clean water circulates within the tank.

Fish keepers who are committed to performing regular water changes and maintenance may sometimes avoid investing in filters as they frequently clean the tank to maintain good water quality.

 Introducing to the tank

Now that the tank has been chosen and set up, it is time to introduce the betta to its new home! Before releasing the fish into the aquarium, it is important to make sure that the temperature of the aquarium matches that of the water in which the fish is bought with, to prevent temperature shock, which could be intolerable to fish at times.

Acclimation could be performed by floating the fish bag on the water for about fifteen minutes whilst gradually adding water from the tank into its bag. Next, the Betta could be gently released into its tank while preventing water from the bag from flowing into your aquarium.

It is common to see Betta fish being stationary at the bottom of the tank immediately after being moved to the tank, and there may be a visible change in color due to stress, but this is likely to disappear as the fish adjusts to its new environment.

Suitable Tank Mates

Selecting tank mates for Betta fish could be a hectic task due to their territorial and aggressive behavior, but there are some species of fish that could be kept along with your Betta fish.

Yet there are some measures that need to be taken prior to introducing a companion for your fish. Firstly, it is advisable to have a backup tank just in case the Betta decides to pick on its companion. Secondly, it is recommended to add other fish a few days earlier than the Betta since it allows the tank mates to settle themselves into their territory.

Plecos can be a great companion for Betta fish due to its tough skin armor, which makes it insensitive in case the Betta decides to attack. Ghost shrimps would also be compatible since they are translucent in color and do not get much attention from the Betta.

Furthermore, species of snails such as Mystery snails and Zebra snails would also be perfect due to their relaxed temperament, which keeps them safe. Other types of fish such as the Kuhli loach, Cory catfish, Rasboras and Neon Tetras could also be considered as good companions.

By adding decorations or aquatic plants, tank mates will find hiding spots, allowing them to protect themselves from any potential attack. Predatory fish should not be kept with fighter fish, as Bettas cannot withstand any attack by larger monster fish.

Feeding And Diet

This carnivore fish species is far from a picky eater as it consumes a variety of foods, making it easier for us when feeding them. Floating pellets or flakes sold at fish stores can be purchased, which provide the necessary nutrition for these fish.

Furthermore, live foods such as larvae or brine shrimp could be fed in addition to frozen or dried krill and bloodworms. Certain fish stores offer pellets/flakes dedicated specifically for fighter fish, which contain the required amount of nutrients, thereby promoting a healthy growth.

Feed the betta fish up to twice a day, but don’t overfeed them, as this can lead to a slew of health issues that can be fatal. During feeding times, observe when the fish is done eating and then scoop off any remaining food particles. This is done to prevent water from getting cloudy as leftover food could dissolve and contaminate the water

Common Diseases and Treatments

A common disease amongst Betta fish is dropsy, which cannot be easily cured, but if diagnosed in its early stages, it is possible to treat this illness. Firstly, Dropsy can be identified by the fish’s bloated belly and early symptoms are lack of appetite, swollen scales and inactivity.

The causes of this disease are often from bad water conditions or poor-quality food. To treat this, perform a fifty percent water change and add Epsom salt.  

Fin rot and fungal diseases are some other frequently reported bacteria-influenced complications which cause infections and deterioration of fins. These diseases are also caused by poor water conditions or an ineffective filtration system which spreads harmful bacteria.

Remedies for this disease include performing a seventy- percent water change followed by thorough cleaning of all surfaces of the tank. Medications such as “anti-fungi treatment” can be used according to its prescribed dosage.

Wrap-Up Thoughts

Having a Betta or fighter fish can undeniably be an enjoyable experience due to its friendly and vibrant features. In addition to that, this is an ideal fish for beginners and kids who are new to this hobby.

Owning this type of fish requires less investment when compared to most other fish species, making it an affordable yet fascinating experience to have one as a pet. Once your Betta gets used to its aquatic environment, it can almost be guaranteed that there will be a social bond between the fish and its owner!


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