Aquarium Fish

Betta Tank Setup

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Betta Tanks: What's a minimum tank setup for a happy, healthy Betta?


About Your Betta:

You may hear the Betta myth of them living in small, stagnant mud puddles in the wild. Betta Splendens actually live in tremendously large bodies of water with moderate currents.

The Bettas that you buy at the stores have been bred into a tropical fish that's very dependent on their owner for both attention and a heated, filtered tank.

Looking For A Betta Tank:

The general guideline for small, tropical fish is 1 gallon of water per adult inch of fish (just a guideline). The reasoning for this guideline is that an aquarium is a closed system and fish are constantly producing waste.

For a Betta, this means the smallest tank is a 2.5 gallon tank. A popular 2.5 gallon tank is the MiniBow 2.5 Tank Kit. It's an acrylic tank that comes with a Whisper internal filter and a light hood.

Betta are curious fish who like to swim and will get bored. That's why our personal recommendation is the 6.6 gallon bookshelf tank. We're currently upgrading all of our Bettas to those tanks as the budget allows. This tank is also acrylic with a slight bow to the front. It's a shallow tank that's longer than a 10 gallon standard tank. It comes with a hang-on-back filter, acrylic light guard and a fluorescent tube light hood.

Filtration and Heat:

Like any tropical fish, Bettas NEED both heat and filtration.

The best filter for a Betta is one that you can adjust the flow on. Every Betta has a current level that he/she is happy at. Over time, you'll be able to increase the flow a bit at a time until you reach the filter's maximum. Bettas like to swim into a flow that they can handle to build up their swimming strength.

A good submersible heater is a must with a Betta. The 'good' temperature range is very narrow for them (78-80 F). Lower temps open the door for Ich and other freshwater fish diseases. Higher temps speed up the aging process and shorten their life spans. So, you want a heater that you can count on to keep the temperature steady. There are several good brands: Visitherm Stealth Heaters are probably the most popular; Jager and Hydor are also good brands.


Putting air bubbles in your Betta's tank is not an absolute "must" and you can run a minimum tank without aeration, but we really recommend it. With a little air pump, a gang valve (to control the air flow) and an aeration device (aquarium air pump) - you've created a toy for your Betta that also helps with their tank. Betta prefer smaller air bubbles, so we like to use flexible bubble wands with ours.


Bettas are fish that swim at all levels and quite often, you'll find your Betta cruising along the bottom of the tank. Flat glass marbles, found in crafts departments of stores like Walmart, Target and Dollar Tree, are our preferred substrate. Very smooth gravel or small, tumbled river rocks can work as well. The bottom of the tank can be left bare if you really want a minimalist tank but you lose a home for good bacteria without substrate.

Plants and Decor:

Technically, plants and decor aren't a "must-have" but without some 'toys' a Betta gets bored and depressed pretty easily. For plants, silk or live plants are good. For decor, at least 1 cave or cave-like decor that has holes to swim in and out of is highly recommended. Check the inside and outside of any decoration going into a Betta tank for spots that can snag or tear those delicate Betta fins. Look for openings to be big enough to move your thumb in and out of without getting stuck. Betta curiosity has gotten many of them stuck in a decoration.

A good idea with a Betta is to rearrange the decor some when you clean the tank. It helps keep your Betta from getting bored with their tank.


Weekly tank cleaning is the way to go with a Betta tank, especially a smaller one. Each week you should: 1) Clean the tank;
2) Clean the filter media by swishing it around in a container of tank water and
3) Do a partial water change of 25 to 40 percent.

Stuff To Stock:

You'll want to have some items in your "fish cabinet" for your Betta tank:

  • A bottle of Prime for treating the water (and a dropper bottle to measure it out - 1 or 2 drops per gallon).
  • A turkey baster for cleaning the tank
  • Ocean Nutrition Betta Pro pellets
  • Hikari frozen bloodworm cubes in your freezer

Meds and Such:
This is optional, but highly recommended:
  • Vita-Chem (liquid vitamins for general health and fin healing)
  • Fish Protector (helps fin healing and reduces stress, also works as a water conditioner)
  • Garlic Boost (a supplement to help prevent infection and improve health)
  • Rid-Fungus (an organic, herbal liquid to fight off fungus conditions)
  • Triple Sulfa (for fin rot)
About the Author:
Dave (COBettaCouple) started in the wonderful world of Bettas and fishkeeping the Saturday after Christmas 2006. I gave Stacy a Betta for a Christmas Present (Super Mario) and after a rocky start we found what a great community FishLore is and now we have 6 betta splendens, 7 betta mahachai, 4 balloon platys, 4 platys, a roque gang of shrimp and a partridge in a pear tree (well one of the bettas ate him last night) in 9 tanks.

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