3 Myths About Male Betta Fish Care

Male Bettas (Siamese fighting fish or Betta splendens) are kept for their beauty and low maintenance requirements. But you still need care, attention and money in order to successfully keep a male betta. There are many misconceptions about how to take care of Bettas, which will be cleared up here.

Bettas Can Live In Those Little Bowls

Chances are you came across your betta in a pet store, crammed into a tiny round, open-topped bowl known in the trade as a “betta bowl. The pet store employee probably even told you that the fish can live all of his life in that bowl or in a slightly larger bowl. Don’t believe it.

For maximum health, a male betta needs to be in at least a one gallon tank or mason jar. They do need some room to move around and stretch their fins. Although male bettas aren’t the most active of fish, they do appreciate a good swim every now and then. Being more active usually improves their color and appearance as well. The real character of an individual fish comes out in a tank at least ten gallons large.

It’s best to have a lid, as long as there are some holes for ventilation. Bettas can unpredictably jump, almost as if they expect to fly.

Bettas Can Live With Other Fish

Unfortunately, many male bettas and other tropical fish have died to prove just how false this misconception is. Although some male betas will get along peacefully with other freshwater tropical fish, many do not. Bettas also seem to suddenly bring out the aggression in otherwise placid species such as mollies, angelfish and swordtails. Bettas and gouramis seem to have a deep hatred for each other.

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Bettas also swim more slowly than other fish species and so they become the target of harassment and chasing. They also can’t get enough food when faster swimmers like danios and tetras sweep it all up.

There used to be a practice of putting a male betta in with goldfish. Don’t do this. Goldfish not only require colder temperatures to live in, but they swim a lot faster than your betta and will eat his food. Goldfish also excrete a lot more than a betta can handle. Bettas do not survive long in a goldfish tank.

Bettas Only Eat Bloodworms

In the 1970s, it was thought that bettas could survive well on a diet of bloodworms. Now we know that the betta diet needs a bit of mixing up. They still adore freeze dried and frozen bloodworms, but there are also commercially available “Betta pellets” that they will eventually eat. These are usually smaller versions of pellet food for tropical fish. There are even micro wafers that can tempt a betta. This writer currently has a female betta that likes to sample the algae wafers dropped for the plecostomus.

Bettas also like fresh insuforia or white worms, but you can only put a tiny bit in the water at a time. If you put in too many, then the worms start attacking the betta. There are freeze dried or frozen versions available. They also like tubifex worms, brine shrimp and frozen mysis shrimp cubes.

Bettas can be finicky eaters. If they ignore a new food after ten minutes they are not going to eat it, remove it or it will foul the water and cause a bacterial bloom.

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“Aquarium Care of Bettas.” David E. Boruchowitz. TFH Publications; 2006.

“Bettas.” Marshal E. Ostrow. TFH Publications; 1989.

First Tank Guide. “Betta Care Basics.” http://www.firsttankguide.net/betta.php

Author’s personal experience