betta fish tank

Setting Up Your Bettas Tank

“Welcome Home Betta!”

Setting up a tank for your Betta is exciting and quite easy providing you have planned ahead and have all of the supplies you will need before bringing your fish home.

Your Betta will provide you with companionship and hours of entertainment. Having a bright and healthy tank for your fish to thrive in benefits both you and your Betta!

A Misconception on Fish Tank Size

There is a misconception that Bettas can be kept in small jars, containers, bowls or what’s referred to as a Betta tank. Betta tanks are nothing more than a miniature version of a regular fish tank.

Stores display Bettas in tiny plastic containers on shelves. This is perhaps one of the most cruel practices of fish retail. Not only is the Betta limited in movement, but the only air it receives is through a punched hole in the lid which is usually covered by another container stacked on top of it.

Treating Bettas in this manner is unhealthy and promotes additional aggression in the fish. If the average consumer knew this, they probably would not purchase a Betta off the shelf.

The best place to purchase a Betta is a breeder. Breeders care for their fish ethically, and you can be confident you are getting a healthy fish. 

Planning Ahead

Responsible fish owners do not rush out and buy the fish before having a tank in place with the necessary supplies. There are a number of things to take into consideration before getting your fish.

  • What gender of Betta do you want?
  • Where will you place the tank?
  • What kind of tank do you want? 
  • Do you want a planted tank?
  • Do you have the time to commit to caring for a Betta?

Get A Male or Female Betta? 

When placing Bettas with other species of fish, although they are listed as compatible, be careful to monitor them. Bettas can suddenly become aggressive towards other species.

If you notice your Betta flaring at other fish, you will need to remove it from the community tank and place it in a separate tank.

Male Bettas:

  • Do not place with other male Bettas
  • Aggressive to female Bettas that are not ripe for spawning
  • Can be aggressive towards other fish

Species Compatibility:

  • Ember Tetras
  • Neon Tetras
  • Harlequin Rasbora
  • Snails
  • Ghost Shrimp
  • Feeder Guppies
  • Cory Catfish
  • Clown Plecos
  • Kuhli Loach

Female Bettas:

  • Does well with other female Bettas

Species Compatibility:

  • Ember Tetras
  • Neon Tetras
  • Harlequin Rasbora
  • Snails
  • Ghost Shrimp
  • Feeder Guppies
  • Cory Catfish
  • Clown Plecos
  • Kuhli Loach

Fish-to-tank ratio: 1” of fish per 10 gallons of water. With this ratio in mind, a tank smaller than 5 gallons will be suitable for 1 fish only.

Be careful not to overcrowd, or you will end up with poor water quality and dead fish.

Supplies Needed

Tank:

For more information on tanks, see our section on further down on, “Recommended Tanks.”

Filtration System:

Most tanks come as kits and include filtration systems

Plants:

For more information on adding plants to your tank, see our section further down, “Benefits of Adding Plants to Your Tank.”

Substrate:

This is ideal for plants or placing tank decor in.

Fish Net:

This will be used in transferring your Betta to/from the tank during water changes.

Fish Food:

  • Live Food is best
  • Pellets
  • Flakes
  • Water Treatment:

    Water Conditioner (treats tap water)

    Lighting:

    Most tanks comes as kits and include lighting systems

    Recommended Betta Tanks

    We have taken the Top-Three Best-Rated Betta tanks and have included features with each tank. We have not included any bowl-type containers due to the fish being confined with no access to freshly oxygenated water. Bowls and small containers do not allow Bettas to thrive.

    Marina 5G Aquarium Kit

    Fluval Spec III Aquarium Kit, 2.6-Gallon

    BiOrb Classic 15 Aquarium Kit

    Marina LED Aquarium Kit, 5 Gallon

    5 Gallons

    Fluval SPEC III Aquarium Kit, Aquarium with LED Lighting and 3-Stage Filtration System, 2.6 Gallon, Black, 10515A1

    2.6 Gallons

    biOrb CLASSIC 15 Aquarium with LED - 4 gallon, Silver

    4 Gallons

    16" L x 8.5" W x 10.5" H

    10.8 x 11.8 x 8.7

    13 x 13 x 13.2

    2 yr warranty

    2 yr warranty

    2 yr warranty

    Placement of Your Betta Tank

    Good

    • Place tank near an electrical outlet.
    • Place tank where you have easy access to water.
    • Tank should be placed in a strong and sturdy area. Ensure the floor can support the weight of your tank.
    • Make sure you have enough room to move around the tank when doing maintenance.
    • Place the tank in a place where you can sit and enjoy your fish.
    • Do not place in a loud or high-traffic area. Fish prefer a peaceful, quiet area. Otherwise, noise and traffic will stress your fish which could lead to disease. It’s best to place them where you can keep an eye on them for any signs of stress or disease.
    • If you have small children, be sure to anchor the tank and any supporting cabinet or shelf it is on.

    Bad

    • Don’t attempt to move or relocate a tank that is full of water.
    • Don’t place tank near TV or near any speakers. The sound and vibration is intensified in water and will cause your fish stress which will lead to disease.
    • Don’t place tank in direct sunlight. This will promote growth of algae and will eventually affect the quality of your water. Bad water quality leads to stressed and diseased fish.
    • Do not place your tank near a central air (heater / air conditioning) vent. This can raise or lower the temperature of the tank.
    • Keep any lamps or other electrical items away from the tank.

    Adding Plants to Your Betta Tank

    Live plants not only produce oxygen for your fish but absorbs carbon dioxide and ammonia that is generated by fish waste. Plants provide a place for your fish to hide. A planted tank recreates the natural environment fish are accustomed to.

    Adding plants to a tank is referred to as “Aquascaping.” This form of under-water gardening is fun for you and your fish!

    Plants should not be added to tanks smaller than 5 gallons due to the space the plants take up taking away from your fish. If you wish to do a nicely planted aquarium, go with a larger tank, so you don’t compromise on space for your Betta.

    What is Aquascaping?

    Aquascaping is primarily landscaping within a water environment. This is done by adding rocks, wood, substrate soil, and plants into a fish tank. One might say this is “gardening under water.”

    There are formal styles of aquascaping; however, many choose their own style which lends to a more personal touch.

    Planted Tank (Aquascaping) Designs

    BIOTOPE

    biotope aquascape
    • Emphasis - on plant matter
    • Utilizes - wood and plant matter for a swampy mangrove look
    • Plant Matter - dense that requires regular trimming
    • Colors - dark green, brown, black
    • Lighting - requires a lot of lighting
    • Ease of Care - moderate to difficult

    DUTCH

    dutch aquascape
    • Emphasis - on fish
    • Utilizes - layering and terraces built up in back with a downward slope to the front
    • Plant Matter - dense that requires regular trimming
    • Colors - variety
    • Lighting - requires moderate lighting
    • Ease of Care - moderate to difficult

    IWAGUMI

    Iwagumi auqascape for aquariums
    • Emphasis - on fish
    • Utilizes - a large stone and other smaller stones
    • Plant Matter - green carpeting that requires regular trimming
    • Colors - vibrant and lush green
    • Lighting - requires regular lighting
    • Ease of Care - easy

    HARDSCAPE

    hardscape aquascape for aquariums

    Image Credit: Svdmolen / CC BY-SA

    • Emphasis - on fish
    • Utilizes - wood, and stones
    • Plant Matter - none
    • Colors - muted and monochrome
    • Lighting - requires regular lighting
    • Ease of Care - easy

    What will I need to Aquascape?

    Once you have made a decision on what design concept you are going for, now you can purchase the supplies you will need.

    Lighting

    Lighting should be chosen based on the output and spectrum. Having a range of all colors is the best as it promotes photosynthesis process required for plants.

    Water Filtration System

    A filtration system for your planted aquarium should be capable of keeping your water clear while filtering waste and decaying plant matter. Be sure to order the correct tank capacity when ordering this system.

    Freshwater Test Kit

    It is essential to have a reliable testing kit that will monitor the levels of ammonia and also test for nitrate spikes. This kit will tell you when it’s safe to add your fish.

    CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) Injection System

    Recommended for tanks that are 25+ gallons. A supply of CO2 is required for your plants to be able to photosynthesize. Carbon dioxide is not present in water and plants require CO2 to live.

    A CO2 injection system delivers the gas into the tank. You will need to monitor the CO2 levels because if too low, algae will grow, and if too high, the pH level will be off.

    Plants and Plant Matter

    Some beginners are intimidated by having to care for the plants within a planted aquarium as well as choosing the right ones.

    Plants and greenery should be chosen based on:

    • Balancing overall design, you are wanting to achieve.
    • The desire to have a dark or bright tank.
    • How much you want to spend time maintaining.
    Substrate

    The substrate is what’s placed on the very bottom of the tank to serve as a ground to support your plant roots as well as holding the nutrients for the plant matter.

    For beginners, we suggest you use Aqua Soil or Aqua Sand because it contains nutrients that will promote plant growth.

    Beginners seem to do better with Aqua Sand, but again, it’s a personal choice.

    Fertilizer

    Your plant matter will require fertilizer to thrive. It’s best to choose something that is free from nitrates and phosphates because anything other than that will promote algae growth.

    Tool Kit

    You will need a toolkit that gets into hard-to-reach places for pruning the plant matter.

    We suggest a basic toolkit that has:

    Plants for Beginners - Best Choices

    Java Moss
    Aquatic Arts Easy Aquarium Plant Package (10-20 Gallon) Heavily Plant Your Aquarium - 5 Different Large Plant Portions of Java Moss, Marimo Moss Balls, Moneywort, Anubias Barteri, and Java Fern
    • Appearance: carpet-like, fuzzy
    • Water Preference: 72-90 degrees (F)
    • Lighting Preference: Tolerates any level
    • Uses: Carpeting floor of substrate
    Dwarf Baby Tears
    Live Aquarium Plants Hemianthus Callitrichoides Cuba Cup Dwarf Baby Tears FR02
    • Appearance: carpet-like, thick, vibrant
    • Water Preference: 72-85 degrees (F)
    • Lighting Preference: Bright Light
    • Uses: Carpeting floor of substrate
    Dwarf Hairgrass
    Mainam Dwarf Hairgrass Easy Live Aquarium Freshwater Plants Decorations 3 Days Live Guaranteed
    • Appearance: carpet-like, lush, vibrant
    • Water Preference: 72-85 degrees (F)
    • Lighting Preference: Bright Light
    • Uses: Carpeting floor of substrate
    Amazon Sword
    Mainam Amazon Sword Plant Echinodorus Bleheri Tall Bunch Live Aquarium Plants Freshwater Planted Tank Decorations
    • Appearance: sword-like leaves, tall
    • Water Preference: 72-82 degrees (F)
    • Lighting Preference: Medium Light
    • Uses: Background, Covering up Plumbing or Hardware
    Java Fern
    Java Fern Bare Root | Microsorum Pteropus - Low Light Freshwater Aquarium Plant
    • Appearance: bunches of thick leaves
    • Water Preference: 72-82 degrees (F)
    • Lighting Preference: Low-Medium Light
    • Uses: Decoration
    Anubias Nana
    Potted Anubias Nana Aquarium Plant
    • Appearance: curved stems with semi-round leaves
    • Water Preference: 72-78 degrees (F)
    • Lighting Preference: Medium Light
    • Uses: Decoration
    Marimo Moss Ball
    Aquatic Arts 3 Betta Fish Balls - Live Marimo Aquarium Plants for Fish Tanks - Natural Toy Accessories for Betta Fish, Green
    • Appearance: sphere-shaped with a velvet-like appearance
    • Water Preference: 72-77 degrees (F)
    • Lighting Preference: Low to medium and indirect
    • Uses: Decoration

    Maintaining Good Water Quality

    By having a basic understanding of how fish change the chemistry of the water they are in, helps you to realize the importance of good water quality. Poor water quality is the #1 killer of fish in captivation. This can easily be prevented through regular tank maintenance.

    • AMMONIA  is produced by fish waste, plant decay, fish food, algae, bacteria).

    (Ammonia is toxic to fish, must be broken down)

    • AMMONIA is converted into NITRITES by nitrifying bacteria in the fish tank.

    (Nitrites are toxic to fish, it must be broken down further)

    • NITRITES are converted into NITRATES by beneficial bacteria in the fish tank.

    (Nitrates are not as toxic to fish, but must be removed; plants and algae consume nitrates to grow. This is why a planted aquarium is beneficial.)

    • Remaining ammonia, nitrites and nitrates are removed with water changes.

    Regularly test your water and act promptly to any indication of poor water quality. 

    “Swimming On”...to our next article

    Join us now as we continue on in our Betta series where we will dig deeper into the fascinating world of the Betta fish.

    Next: “Diseases and Treatments for Bettas.”

    Scroll to Top