How To Choose & Set Up The Best Betta Fish Tank

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Blue Betta swimming (caption: How to Choose the Right Betta Fish Tanks)The Betta is a popular aquarium fish around the globe. From amateurs to professionals, there is something about these brightly colored fish that makes them appealing to many.

Before you dive into getting one, there are many things to consider when keeping a healthy Betta fish, including what type of betta fish tanks to keep the fish in.

Learn the factors to consider when setting up a tank to house a Betta fish including the size, water conditions and potential tank mates.

Article Overview

Betta Fish Behavior

Before we get into the specifics of what to look for in a tank, we should give a little more insight into the Betta fish behavior and characteristics.

Aggressive Tendencies

Red beta fish swimmingThe Betta fish is best housed in a solitary environment when kept in captivity due to its aggressive nature when confronted with other fish. Betta fish will attack and generally kill other male fish that have a more fantastic appearance to them. These attacks are typically preceded with puffing out of the fins in an attempt to make itself seem more prominent and then the fish will attack out of territoriality.

When Betta fish attack, it often results in the driving away of one of the other fish. However, in an environment like an aquarium where there is nowhere to run, the fish will often fight to the death.

Should You Keep Female Bettas Separate From Males?

While most commonly these fish are known for the male on male aggression displays, there are also many incidents of male on female aggression.

As a result, it’s generally recommended that male and female Betta fish be kept separated except for mating. Unlike the male, the female can thrive in a large tank with a couple of other females if the tank is large enough.

How To Choose The Right Tank Type

Now that you understand a little more about Betta fish, it’s time to select a tank that is a good fit for you and your lifestyle also taking into consideration your fish’s needs.

There are many things to look for, including:

  • The tank size
  • How much “decoration” to place in the tank
  • Water testing, filtration and heating
  • Other equipment to include in the tank

Since there are hundreds of different types of fish tanks and bowls on the market, deciding which to buy can be overwhelming. So here are things to keep in mind when it comes to shopping.

Optimal Tank Size

Red betta fish in tankBetta fish are typically sold in cups in pet stores which is fine for a short period. However, they do require adequate space to swim. While they would love a vast aquarium, sometimes space is limited, so a smaller tank is perfectly fine. A general rule of thumb is the bigger, the better (especially if you plan to have multiple fish).

Bettas like to exercise, and larger tanks allow them to do so. It’s better for their health to get activity and a larger fish tank also allows for higher water quality (smaller tanks get dirty faster than bigger ones). A betta fish tank should be at least one gallon, but ideally it would be five gallons.

Ideal Tank Shape

There are traditional aquariums, round bowls, bow front tanks, tanks with dividers, Zen looking tanks, advanced “bio” tanks… the list goes on and on. The truth of the matter is that the actual size of your fish tank is more of a concern than the type of fish tank that you use. The shape of the tank that you select is more of a vanity factor that concerns you more than it does your fish.

Best Betta Fish Tanks

Now that you know a little bit more about what to look for in a tank, here are some of our recommended picks for best Betta Fish tanks. All but one of the tanks below come in a “kit” that includes everything you need to get started. You still need to supply food and water. We also picked out our favorites for each category to make it easier to decide which is the right fit for you.

Best Modern Design: The Fluval Chi Aquarium – 5 Gallons

Fluval Chi II Aquarium SetView on Amazon

The Fluval Chi aquarium is not specifically designed for Betta fish, but it has everything any Betta fish owner could need to raise a healthy fish. This 5-gallon aquarium is large enough to allow any Betta enough room to roam. It has a small grass-like Zen garden in the bottom of the tank as well as a waterfall type filter that stands out of the top of the tank. It also doubles as a great home décor piece.

This contemporary tank kit comes with the aquarium and base, low voltage LED lighting and filtration system, décor tray with a plant box, foam pad, filter pad, low voltage transformer, transparent pebble holder, natural pebbles, water conditioner, biological aquarium supplement and an instruction manual.

Price

Best Bowl-Shaped Tank: The biOrb Aquarium Kit – 4 Gallons

biOrb aquariumView on Amazon

The biOrb is a 4-gallon spherical tank that sits on a base and features a matching top giving fish a 360-degree view. Made from acrylic, this tank is stronger than glass aquariums but can scratch easily.

This unique round bowl features a 5 step filtration system that is patented by biOrb and guarantees to provide a crystal clear environment for any fish. This biOrb aquarium tank kit comes with the tank, halogen light, gravel, filter, air pump, water chemicals, fish food and an instruction booklet. This tank is available in many different colors.

Price

Best For Small Spaces: Tetra LED Betta Tank – 1.1 Gallons

Tetra LED 1.1-Gallon Betta TankView on Amazon

As mentioned above, the ideal habitat for your betta is 2 gallons or more, but if you are working with a tight space, the Tetra LED 1.1-Gallon Betta is best. Its half-moon shape has a rounded and flat edge to create enough room for your Betta to swim around while also allowing you to put against a wall or window which is great for an office or apartment.

It features a repositionable and removable LED light that fits above or beneath the tank and a lid with a convenient feeding hole. The only downside is it comes without the pebbles and decorative items (sold separately). However, then you can get creative and select the items you wish.

Price

Setting Up Your Betta Fish Tank

Once you have purchased your Betta fish tank, you might be anxious to put your new pet into place soon, but it is critical to ensure that the tank is set up correctly to create the ideal environment for your fish to thrive.

Step 1: Clean Your Tank

Before setting up your Betta fish tank, it is essential to clean it with warm water, reducing contaminants in the tank when you fill it.

Step 2: Clean Your Gravel

Gravel is an integral part of any aquarium, but frequently, when packaged for pet stores, dust will settle in the gravel. So it is essential to wash it thoroughly before placing it in your aquarium. Gravel can easily be cleaned using a small hole sieve or colander. Place the gravel within it and allow the water to flow through it.

While allowing water to pass through the gravel, use your hand to move it around to ensure it all gets cleaned thoroughly from top to bottom. Once it has been cleaned adequately, the gravel can be placed in the bottom of the tank.

Step 3: Add Décor And Plant Life

Editor’s Pick
Sinking Ceramic Betta LogSinking Ceramic Betta Log Cave

It is vital to add plants and décor not only for decoration but to provide spaces for your fish to feel like they are in their natural element. Excellent additions to your tank include “caves” that your Betta fish can swim through and use for shelter if they choose to “hide” and tall grass plants that allow your fish to hide within them.

You don’t need to fill your tank to the brim with décor and plant life. When placing your décor, remember that your Betta fish MUST have access to the surface of the water so that it can breathe. The fish breathes air not only through the water but also from its surface. A Betta fish tank that is too overcrowded is going to make it difficult for your fish to come to the surface of the water to breathe.

Step 4: Fill Your Tank

The best way to fill your Betta fish tank is to put tap water into a container and allow it to sit out for 24 hours. Letting the water sit out helps for a couple of reasons: to help reduce the chlorine content in the water and to enable it to come to room temperature.

Tap water usually has chemicals added to make it safe for humans to drink, but some chemicals may be harmful to your Betta. So depending on the quality of your municipality’s water, it may be a good idea to use a water conditioner or treatment to ensure that it doesn’t contain any elements that could be harmful to your fish (i.e. chlorine).

Another option is to use bottled spring water with the chlorine already removed, but you’ll want to make sure the PH levels are between 6.5-7.5 (see next step below).

Step 5: Check The pH Of Your Tank Water

Editor’s Pick
API Freshwater PH Test KitAPI Freshwater PH Test Kit

Betta fish have specific requirements when it comes to the pH of the tank. To keep a healthy tank, try to maintain a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5. Most municipalities maintain water pH levels between 6.5 and 8.5, based on EPA guidelines. You can purchase pH testing kits that will allow you to test your water and adjust it as needed.

Step 6: Filter Your Tank Water

Every healthy fish aquarium requires a filter designed for the specific size of that aquarium (verify the size before purchase). Before placing your Betta fish in your tank, it is best to allow water to filter for a day or two and to test the water’s pH levels to ensure that your fish is not going to be stressed out by the levels of pollutants in its new environment.

Step 7: Heat Your Tank Water (Optional)

Editor’s Pick
Tetra HT Aquarium HeaterTetra HT Aquarium Heater

Not everyone chooses to heat their Betta fish tank. However, if you do decide to add a heater in your aquarium, it is critical to make sure that you place a thermometer in the tank as well to monitor its temperature.

Important:

A malfunctioning heater can quickly produce water that is too hot, possibly killing your Betta fish. You do not have to heat your Betta fish tank, but it is recommended to keep water temperature between 77 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. You will also want to place the tank away from any HVAC vents.

Step 8: Add Your Betta Fish

Last but not least, it’s time to add your Betta fish to its new home. It is important to remember that merely throwing your new fish into its fish tank will most often result in shock. So you should always acclimate your fish to its new environment. When you purchase your Betta fish, it will come with its own water that is likely to be significantly different from the water that you have set up in your fish tank.

Acclimating Your Fish To Its New Home

When you bring your new Betta fish home, allow it to remain in its original water and float them together in your aquarium. This will allow the temperature of the two bodies of water to reach the same temperature so your fish will not be shocked when placed in its new tank.

Once the temperature of the two water sources are the same, you should begin to add the new tank water to the original fish container a little at a time to adjust your fish to the new water. Once the majority of your fish’s water is new tank water, you can release your Betta fish into its new home!

Video: How To Introduce A Betta Fish To It’s New Tank

In this video by Creative Pet Keeping, you’ll learn how to introduce your Betta fish to a new tank safely.

Debate Between Real vs Plastic Plant Life

Plant life is important in setting up a Betta fish tank because they thrive in a “natural” environment.

There are 2 options: real or plastic plants. Real plants create a natural environment for your fish while also providing additional oxygen to the water. However, many people prefer to use plastic plant life because it keeps the tank cleaner. Plastic’s static nature doesn’t break down or contribute to dirt in the tank.

Choosing the right plants for your tank is easy, and any pet store that carries a good selection of fish and aquarium supplies will be able to help you in selecting the right one for your tank.

Additional Betta Fish Tips

Here are a few more things to keep in mind so you can make sure your new pet lives a long and healthy life.

Bluel beta fish swimming in tankDo Not Keep Your Betta Fish In A Vase

While keeping your Betta fish in a vase may look pretty, it is not the preferred environment for any fish. While fish can live for a period in stagnant water, it does not thrive and will not be as healthy as it would be in a larger pool of water. Keeping a Betta fish in a vase will result in rapid stagnation of water in addition to insufficient room for your fish to exercise, eventually resulting in an unhealthy fish.

Avoid Cheap, Flimsy Tanks

It is vital to make sure your tank is made from a solid, high-quality material that will withstand wear and use over time – not cheap plastic. Flimsy tanks do not hold up well to the use of a heater and can be extremely dangerous.

Do Not Aerate The Tank

Aeration with air stones might make a tank look pretty, but is not recommended for Bettas. Betta fish are used to swimming in still water and aeration can create too much turbulence for your fish, resulting in stress from the amount of strength needed to swim against the current.

Do Not Use Distilled Water

Many people believe that using distilled water is the best way to fill a tank because it creates a pure environment for the fish. This is not true. Fish require specific vitamins and minerals that can be found in regular tap water and distilled water filters out these essential elements, denying your fish life-sustaining nutrients.

Betta Fish Infographic

Check out this graphic we made that summarizes tips and how to set up your tank.

Betta Fish Infographic

More On Betta Fish

Once you get your Betta acclimated, you will enjoy watching it swim around. However, if it starts acting unusual or showing signs of illness, you might want to reference our article on how to spot and treat common Betta fish diseases. We also have an article with some Betta fish facts.

Are you looking for a Betta fish tank? Had good results with one? Share your thoughts, feedback and advice below.

NOTE: While we have provided some information about recommended tanks, we are not certified fish experts, so we look to our community (in comments below) to help answer each other’s questions regarding specific fish tank experiences.

About The Author:

Sadie is a vegetarian and an avid recycler who loves riding her bike and practicing yoga. She is passionate about the planet, conserving life’s precious resources and making the world a better place for generations to come. A big fan of up-cycling, Sadie loves yard sales and vintage stores to find new uses for old things. She loves to cook, clean and enjoy the many parks and outdoor spaces in DC where she currently resides with her husband.

Her expertise has appeared in many notable media outlets, including The New York Times' Wirecutter, Forbes, People, Reader's Digest, Apartment Therapy, and other regional news organizations.

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