Showcased in pet stores around the globe, betta fish are often marketed as the ‘easy’ choice when adding a pet to your home. However, many of the popular betta-specific products fail to meet their basic needs! What is the best tank size for a betta fish? You may be surprised!
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There is no doubting the fact that betta fish are one of the most popular aquarium fish. Their vivid colours and long fins dancing about them as they move, they are certainly eye-catching!
Combine that with the low cost to purchase and the promise of how easy they are to care for, and you have a recipe for disaster!
You may be wondering, ‘why would it be a disaster’? After all, there are so many little starter kits. It can’t be that hard! Right?
A quick internet search will reveal a wide assortment of betta fish tanks ranging from the super common little 1-gallon plastic starter kits to elaborate plants with a fish in the vase.
Unfortunately, these products are a perfect example of one of the biggest myths relating to betta fish care. These small tanks and kits fail to provide their basic needs.
But don’t worry, armed with the correct information, you can raise a happy, healthy betta fish!
(Yes, a fish can be ‘happy’ or experience pain. In fact, scientific studies have found that their perception and cognitive abilities actually match or even exceed other creatures!)
The Ideal Tank Size For A Betta Fish
As with any myth, the idea that a betta fish can survive in a tiny space like those that are often marketed originated from a fact… Just a misunderstood and misinterpreted one.
Native to Asia, betta fish generally live in shallow bodies of water like ponds, marshes or streams. During the dry season, however, they will (at times) survive by living in a puddle. Therefore, it IS true that they can survive in a small space – but only for a short period of time as a means of survival!
If you’re looking at adding a betta fish to your family, the ideal tank should be at least 2.5 gallons in size. That being said, they love their space and some specialists will recommend 4-5 gallons at a minimum.
Not only does a small tank create unnecessary stress and deprive a naturally active fish of the space necessary to swim around, but it can also encourage toxic conditions.
The smaller the space, the quicker a mycobacterium infection can take over the tank. This can have a significant impact on your betta’s health and in many cases is fatal.
Other Needs and Considerations
The tank size isn’t the only misconception when discussing the care of a betta fish. In fact, nearly every piece of information commonly shared about these fish is incorrect. They aren’t the ‘easy to care for starter fish’ that pet stores love to market them as!
For best care, a betta fish requires filtration, warm water, routine tank cleaning, regular feeding, and enrichment in its tank in the form of plants and/or caves.
Sounds a lot more complicated than the pet stores would lead you to believe, doesn’t it?
Let’s start with the regular feeding…
Many first-time betta fish owners choose to go the plant vase root due to the belief that the roots of the plant will provide the fish with a source of nutrition.
Their natural diet consists of larva and insects. In addition to commercial betta pellets, there are a variety of live or frozen food options available including:
- Brine shrimp
- Mysis shrimp
- Blood worms
Note: If you do select a frozen option, be cautious when thawing your betta’s food. Never use hot water to speed up the process as this will ‘cook’ the food, ruining its nutritional value.
In addition to enough space, the ideal environment for a betta fish should include a filtration system (to help keep the water clean) and potentially a small heater.
The water in a betta fish’s tank should be kept in between 78 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit (25.5 – 26.5 degrees Celsius). However, room temperature water generally ranges from 68 – 72 degrees Fahrenheit (21 – 23 degrees Celsius).
Finally, use tank decorations like plants, rocks, driftwood, and caves in order to create an ideal environment.
Avoid any decorations that include a mirror or reflective surface. Betta fish (in particular, male betta fish) can be highly territorial and the site of ‘another fish’ can cause unnecessary stress.
Don’t forget to always keep your betta’s space for movement and exercise in mind. The more decorations you add, the larger your tank will need to be! Don’t over-fill your tank.
Have you ever owned a betta fish? If so, I’d love to hear your tips and tricks!
In addition to ensuring that you have the best tank size for a betta fish, what other important information would you share with a first-time betta owner?