How to take care of Betta Fish | Breeding | Health and wellness

Betta's are also known as “Siamese fighting fish”. They are mostly seen in bowls swimming solo with their renowned vivid colors and ethereal fins at pet stores. Unlike any other species, males prefer to swim alone and will attack if they are housed with other males. These tiny aquarium fishes are among the most popular pet fish in the world because of their tail, many breeders breed their betta fish to obtain a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes. The fighting fish is certainly a particular specimen, which adds a fascinating touch of color to any home aquarium. 

It has few needs, is very easy to keep and therefore particularly loved by aquarists newbies. The colors of the body and the long fins that sway in the water create extraordinary contrasts. The numerous subspecies are classified into different categories. Males have extraordinary iridescent colors, while females are less colored. Both do not exceed a length of approximately 160mm. In their native Thailand, they are known as “pla kat”, and often been referred to as “The Jewel of the Orient”.

Some specimens of fighting fish protect their offspring by incubating the eggs in their mouths, while others lay them in a compact foamy body on the surface of the water. The categorization of these fish is also done on the basis of the shape of the tail. There are therefore the so-called Crown Tails, with their multi-colored fins, reminiscent of the feathers of the bird of paradise.

Betta Fish Health and Wellness

The Halfmoon Tail instead have a fin in the shape of a half moon, which also in this case comes in different colors. Long Tails, on the other hand, have a very long tail fin, as well as a large fin on the belly. You can also buy fighting fish with veil-shaped, round, triangular or double-tailed tails. 80% of the specimens sold in pet shops have a showy rectangular or rhomboid tail in the shape of a veil.


Betta fish are mostly discovered in freshwater environments of Southeast Asia. The fighting fish has various categories and they can be distinguished through the pattern and coloring of the scales and fins. These fishes make their home in shallow, nearly stagnant waters, such as rice paddies, drainage ditches, marshes, and floodplains. They are accustomed to frequent storm flooding, and droughts, the drastic environmental change has helped them in becoming a true labyrinth fish. Labyrinth fishes have the ability to breathe oxygen directly from the air, and they can survive for a short period of time out of water. 

The aggressive behavior of the betta fish has been exploited by the people of southeast Asia for financial gain as they gamble on fish fights. Some people even started breeding bettas specifically for heightened aggression to compete in staged battles. The winner is determined until a fish retreats and in some cases either one or both fishes die depending on the seriousness of their injuries.

Betta Fish Breeding

How to feed a Fighting Fish

In nature, fighting fish feed on small molluscs and aquatic insects, which prey in the water or on its surface. In their breeding it is important to know that the Betta is a real carnivore. Fish feed based on plant ingredients is therefore not to be taken into consideration. In specialized stores and pet stores you can buy granular or flake feed.

It is important that these foods are rich in animal proteins, which are necessary for the muscle structure of the fish. Another possibility is offered by live food, and therefore specifically insects such as flies, dragonflies, larvae or mosquitoes. Frozen insects are also very popular with those who breed Bettas. It is also possible to use pellets and fine granules.

Most fighting fish can also eat small portions of green beans.

Fighting fish: breeding and life in the aquarium

The fighting fish is, in principle, rather easy to keep and for this reason much loved by newbies. It is a fairly small fish and for this reason it does not need a large aquarium. The aquarium must have a water volume of at least 54 liters and a length of about 60 centimeters.

Smaller fighting fish, such as the so-called dwarf fighting fish, can also live in 30 liter aquariums. However, due to their large fins, fighting fish usually need a lot of space and energy to move in the water.

The fact remains that a small aquarium also offers its advantages: the Betta will have to defend a much smaller territory and the water temperature will easily remain at 26 ° C. Lower temperatures, below 20 ° C, will exhaust the fish, which will hardly move anymore. In a 30 liter aquarium you can heat the water with a 25 Watt heater.

Siamese Fighting fish

The optimal PH for the water in which a fighting fish lives should have a value between 5 and 7, and can therefore be relatively acidic. We must never go beyond these values. The optimal hardness of the water has a value that is generally between 5 and 15. Absolutely no artificial current should be installed. In its country of origin, the fighting fish lives in calm waters, and these conditions must be reproduced in the aquarium as well. It is also absolutely necessary to use plants, which can be added to the bottom of the aquarium.

Aquarium plants of Asian origin are always preferred to European variants. Fighting fish love very dense aquatic flora and small floating plants. However, there must be space on the surface of the water to allow fighting fish to build their foam nest. With floating plants, the aquarium environment will get darker, but these are ideal conditions for the fish.

The green-red or green-white marsh plants offer the optimal shade for the fighting fish. Stones and wood can be used to decorate the aquarium. The backdrop can be covered to your liking and only colored stones are prohibited. Apart from this precaution, it is possible to decorate the backdrop with gravel, round stones or sand.

In theory it is possible to avoid the use of a filter, but in this case it is important to change a large part of the water once a week. In this regard, small internal filters are very useful. They are quiet and usually adjustable. It is also possible to use a filter, which with chemical additives eliminates the heavy metals that may be present in the water. However, the filter also eliminates important bacteria, which can also be useful to a fish from time to time. These bacteria form after about four weeks. During this time it is important to leave the aquarium running before introducing the fish.

Crowntail Betta

What other fish species can a fighting fish live with?

Be careful, even when it comes to a peaceful specimen, the fighting fish is by no means a friendly type. Its territoriality can be very aggressive, and it is for this reason that it is not recommended to introduce two males in the same environment. In the presence of female specimens, the breeding of fighting fish is less problematic. As for the coexistence with other fish species, it is important that these are neither too big nor too small. The Persian will also try to defend its territory and will contend with the male specimens of the Betta. Big fish might see the Betta as a prey, while small fish could be considered a prey in turn. Danio, on the other hand, are extremely lively and can cause a lot of stress in fighting fish. The best solution is catfish and fish of the same size and with small fins. Absolutely to be avoided are the Guppies.

Health and wellness

The fighting fish is not a very long-lived fish breed, but in their 3 to 5 year life span they are not often affected by the typical fish diseases. A greater danger is represented by fungal and bacterial infections, which can occur if the aquarium filter is not effective enough. However, filters can be a source of stress on their part, which can also lead to the onset of diseases. To keep the fighting fish always healthy, it is important to regularly clean the bottom of the aquarium from excrement, dirt and food remains.

Caring for Betta Fish

The alarm bell about the health of the fighting fish must sound when it stays on the bottom and behaves apathetically. This behavior can be a sign of stress or illness. Another reason could also be the too low temperature of the water. A healthy fighting fish regularly patrols its territory by swimming, and is therefore active throughout the aquarium. During its swims, it holds its tail and fins well stretched. The scales are smooth and clean. In breeding fighting fish it is always important to pay attention to the exchange of water and its temperature when the fish is not eating, idle or swimming against other objects.

The same is true when we notice changes in its color or reduced activity of its fins: swollen eyes and half-open gills are another important reason to contact a specialized shop and ask for a consultation with your trusted veterinarian. In addition to fungal and bacterial infections, the most common fish diseases are tail and fin deterioration and dropsy. In case of dropsy, the belly of the fish visibly swells and the scales are raised. Unfortunately, there is no drug tested against this pathology. 

Equally difficult to cure is velvet disease, which causes the fish to take on a pink or golden color with a kind of veil. This change in its outward appearance is attributable to the presence of a parasite. To cure the Betta, it is necessary to isolate it for a period of time from other fish and give it medicines such as antibiotics. Such therapy can take up to four weeks.

female betta fish

Methods to save your sick betta fish

One of the most annoying things with fish keeping is dealing with disease. There could be many reasons why your fish is affected, it could be due to infection that would have occurred while transferring the fish from fish farm to wholesaler to fish store to you. Since we cannot do anything about it, It is important to look at other options to why our betta fish is falling sick.  

Many of the infections are caused by the environment the fish live in. We can measure the water parameters with test strips which give information on PH, KH, GH and Chlorine. Ammonia and Nitrite can be measured with a liquid test kit. Also make sure not to add your fighter fish right after setting up the aquarium, add beneficial bacteria to kick start the aquarium cycle. Then you can use the test kit to measure the above mentioned parameters. 

Check with your filter to avoid any type of oxygen issue and make sure the flow is in a controlled state. It is recommended to put a lid or hood on the top to avoid betta fish from jumping out. You are also required to change the water regularly and measure the water parameters before putting the bettas to make sure they are back in the safe zone. 

How to rescue..the unhealthy betta fish?

If you see your fish stop eating or hiding all the time or lying on the ground for long or gasping, in those cases you need to take action immediately to save that fish and the rest of others. In most cases it is the bacterial infection that seems to strike really fast. If you suspect it is a bacterial infection, you can treat it with an antibiotic, make sure to follow the instructions on the manufacturer's website. Make sure to have medication for bacteria, fungus and parasite infections and add them as instructed by the manufacturer. 

I have seen bettas with rotten fins and it could be due to parasites or some other factors. It is important to find the source of stress due to which they became sick. If you don’t find that, they are going to keep getting sick again and again. Some stressful things to remove include, bad water quality, too many fish, smaller tank, flow of water too high. Clean your filter on a regular basis to keep them clean and to keep the water clean. 

Make sure that we are not overfeeding our bettas and offer them with a variety of food so they get all the vitamins and nutrients. Trying to breed betta fish too often can also shorten their lifespan. 

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