Even if you haven’t owned a live betta fish, you probably know that they are notorious for fighting with other fish if they are all in the same tank or bowl. If not just for their fighting skills, betta fish are also well known for their vibrant, fun colors. Owning a betta fish can be fun and relaxing, but before heading to the pet store to pick one out it’s important to know how to take care of them and what other fish they can or cannot live with.
What is a Betta Fish?
The betta fish is a special kind of little fish that is native to the rice paddy fields of Southeast Asia. These adorable little red and blue fish have quite the history of how they evolved into the kind of fish that they are now.
Betta fish are labyrinth fish, meaning they have adopted the ability to breathe both the oxygen from the water they are in as well as the oxygen from the air above the water. They are doing this using their gills for both forms of respiration. Meaning Bettas can survive for some time out of the water by breathing the air just as we do, as long as they are kept moist by some means.
Bettas were forced into learning how to breathe air for periods of time when their native homelands would experience extreme droughts periodically. Bettas are truly remarkable fish. Not only can they breathe air, but they can also survive in small spaces of unclean water for extended periods of time as well.
Taking Care of Your Betta Fish
Now that you know where Betta fish are from and what makes them such a special species of fish, now it’s time to learn how to best take care of them before bringing one home. They are very adaptable fish but also particular about their bowls or tanks.
Betta’s prefer warm water and plenty of room to swim around in. This might be due to their natural environment in Southeast Asia that they come from, or maybe Bettas are just particular little creatures. They thrive best in water that is 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit. Meaning, you may need to purchase a water heater for certain times of the year when the temperature might drop in your home.
Bettas also do bets in water that is a little more on the acidic side, according to the pH scale. The best pH for Betta’s is just below that neutral point of 7, as low as about 6.5. Most local pet stores will let you bring in a water sample so that you can see how the water in your fish tank is doing. From there the store associates should be able to direct you to what you might need to do or buy to adjust their water if it was slightly off.
Can Two Betta Fish Live Together?
Betta fish are extremely territorial fish, meaning they would not be happy to share a bowl with a fellow Betta. They are known to fight and potentially kill another Betta if they are put in the same bowl together. There are other species of fish that Bettas have been found to get along with and happily cohabitate with. This is good news if your goal is to create a tank full of fish rather than having just one Betta alone.
Female Betta fish are known to be more complacent with the idea of living with other fish, compared to their male counterparts. Unfortunately, females aren’t adopted as readily as males are due to how much more vibrant and exciting the male Bettas are.
The following aquatic creatures are a few good tank buddies that your Betta is more likely to get along with long-term.
- Different varieties of Tetras such as Neon and Ember.
- Ghost Shrimp
- African dwarf frogs
- Cory Catfish
Best Plants for Betta Fish
Adding a plant to your Betta fishes bowl or tank might sound like a good idea for decoration, but adding certain plants also provide great benefits for your Betta. Adding plants makes your Betta feel more at home, as they now have a place to hide and rest. Don’t be surprised if you catch your Betta taking a nap on the leaves of the plant that you’ve added to their home.
Fake plants will do the job as far as making your Betta fish feel more secure and comfortable. But, adding a real plant to your Betta fish’s tank is never a bad idea. There are a few live plants in particular that Betta fish are rather fond of having in their home. These plants include the following:
- The Amazon Sword Plant - Easy to maintain and perfect for your Betta to nap on.
- Marimo Moss Balls - They act as natural filters in the water.
- Java Fern and Java Moss - These plants require no fertilizer or light to grow and thrive in your Betta’s tank.
When you walk into a pet store, typically the first animal that you encounter is the shelves full of Betta fish in containers. Sometimes it’s hard to resist wanting to bring one of them home, but it’s crucial to know best practices when it comes to caring for a Betta before you make on your pet.
One of the most common misunderstandings about Bettas is that they cannot live with any other fish. Now, you know that this isn’t entirely true. Betta can in fact live with a number of other community fish in a tank. They just aren’t happy about sharing their home with a fellow Betta fish. Overall, Betta fish make great low-maintenance pets to have in your home to admire each day.