9 Common Betta Fish Myths - Did you know

  • Feb 21, 2019
  • PalaciosAn
  •   5031        0      0

Bettas fish are easily one of the most popular and recognized fish, and most people in the aquarium hobby have owned one at one point in time. Unfortunately, the basic needs of the Betta are also one of the most misunderstood.

Below are nine common myths about Bettas, did I miss any? If so comment below.


Betta fish are lazy and do not move around

A healthy Betta fish in the proper environment and right water conditions is active. Betta fish like to explore their surroundings and will react when you come near the tank, in hopes that you will give them food.


If your Betta sits there, there could be a problem. One of the most common reasons why your Betta is not very active is the water temperature, they are tropical fish, and low water temperature will make them slow down to conserve their energy. If your water temperature is right, then perform the standard water test like ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, and pH. There could be an issue with your water parameters.


Betta fish tanks do not need heaters

One of the top reasons why people think their Betta fish is lazy is because it is too cold. Unless the ambient temperatures around the tank stay around 78 to 80 degrees, you will need a heater. Keep in mind the water in the tank will be a couple of degrees lower than the ambient air temperature in most cases. So if the room stays at 80 degrees, then the tank will range between 78-80 degrees which fall in the ideal range for Bettas which is 76 to 80 degrees how Bettas are tropical fish.


Most home temperatures range between 72 and 74 degrees which is too cold for Betta fish. You can add a heater and provide optimal conditions for your fish, and it will most likely become much more active. There are many small, inexpensive heaters available like this one.


Betta Tanks do not need any filtration

Well, this one is true so why is it in the list? Technically no freshwater or saltwater aquarium have to have a filter. The big questions are, why do we add filters to aquariums? Well first of all if you value your time in any way, then you should have a filter. Because to keep healthy water parameters you would need to do daily water changes or at minimum every other day to prevent any measurable amount of Ammonia and Nitrite from building up. Any detectable levels of Ammonia and Nitrite are deadly to fish and will affect their health and life span.


So back to the real question why do we need a filter in a Betta aquarium, for the same reason that all fish tank needs a filter? It cleans the water, allows for good bacteria to grow and helps remove waste build up, through mechanical filtration and biological filtration. By doing this it will allow you to go a more extended period without a water change. That period of time will depend on the size of your tank, the number of fish in the tank and the amount of food you feed and the frequency of the feedings.

Most people do either weekly 10% water changes or a 20% water change bi-weekly.


Feed your Betta for 2-3 min each day

There are lots of messages printed on food containers claiming you should feed your fish enough food so that it can eat for two or three minutes each day. 


Betta fish like most fish are opportunistic feeders. Their stomachs are small. You should feed your Betta roughly the amount of food as the size of their eye. You can feed them once or twice a day, and if you forget one day, you are not a horrible person but do try to feed them at least once a day. If you are feeding pellets, we are talking about 2-3 small pellets per feeding.


Betta fish just like most fish are overfed which can lead to all sorts of issues and extra work for you. Overfeeding causes more waste which means more water changes, it can also lead to health issues for your Betta, and they can become bloated.


Due to being opportunistic feeders like most fish, they will eat large amounts of food not knowing when their next meal may come. So every time you feed them they will eat like today is their last meal, don't let them fool you.


Betta fish can survive on plant roots

Betta fish are omnivores meaning they are both herbivores and carnivores so they can eat plants and meat. Many people are vegetarians so why can't my Betta be just a herbivore and eat plant roots? Vegetarians eat a wide range of plants to gain the nutrients and vitamins needed to survive. They don't just eat grass all day every day, in essence. If the Betta only have roots to pick on, then that is what you are forcing the Betta to do. 

Roots are just not an adequate food source for Bettas. In the wild, they eat larvae and insects. Yes, they will pick at the roots to get something in their stomachs. I imagine if enough time passes with no food that even you, would start to think the grass outside would start to look appetizing. While they are omnivores, they lean to the carnivore side more.

Choose a high protein processed pellet and try to feed them frozen food. I like to provide all my fish a variety of foods.


Betta fish feel safer and prefer small tanks

Betta fish can be found in the wild in rice paddies, drainage ditches, river basins and shallow streams of Asia. Keep in mind these sources of water may be shallow, but most of them are miles long. During droughts, these water sources can become very small forcing the Betta to live in tight quarters. Also, just because they are found in these environments during droughts does not mean they are ideal environments for them to live in, it just means they can survive in them.


It is easy to see why someone would think this, many pet stores keep them in small cups of water stacked one on top of the other. If I placed you in a closet, you could survive, but you may not thrive? The suggested Betta tank size is 2.5 gallons, but a 5-gallon tank is ideal. There are many reasons why you may want to consider going with even a larger tank.


Going bigger could make your life easier (a good way to get a bigger tank). If the Betta was in a larger aquarium there would be more substrate, decorations or plants that you have in the tank. These items may seem like they are there for decorative purposes and that is true, but these items also have value to your aquarium. Good bacteria can grow on everything on your tank, the more surface area you have, the more good bacteria can grow.


So why do you need good bacteria? Good bacteria will break down Ammonia and transform it into Nitrite. Good bacteria can also break down Nitrite and turn it into Nitrate. Most people are performing water changes to get rid of Ammonia and Nitrite how they are incredibly deadly to fish. Nitrate is less harmful to fish, but it promotes algae growth. Nitrate is also a natural fertilizer for plants.


The more good bacteria that you have in your tank, the quicker it breaks down Ammonia and Nitrite which may buy you time, and you may be able to do fewer water changes. Wanter changes should be based on your water quality. To determine how often you should change the water or how much you should change you need to test your water.


Betta fish must live alone. They will kill any other fish added

Everyone has heard that the Siamese Fighting fish (Betta fish) will fight to the death when two of them are placed in the same aquarium. True and False… Two male Betta fish will fight when they cross paths in an aquarium and if the aquarium is too small, one of them can't retrieve. They fight because they are very territorial and if a female comes around they do not want any competition. If one of the Bettas does not retreat then the fight could lead to death, but most of the time it will end in missing scales or even an open wound that could get infected.


You can have a male Betta, and you can add one or more females to the same tank. If you have a large enough aquarium, you could even have more then one male. Some people have two males in a 40-gallon tank. At first, they may chance each other around, but they should eventually settle down. They will each establish a territory, and they will not mess with one another.


Some females will also cause problems as well so its a good idea to have a large tank setup if you would like to keep more then one Betta. If you are planning to have more then one male, try to have a tank long enough to support them approximately 20” of tank per male or roughly 20 gallons of water volume. You may be able to have more than one in a smaller tank but why risk it.


In a smaller tank, they will not have enough room to establish different territories which they can protect, so they have no choice but to keep fighting. While usually captive breeding of fish is great, it means we can bread them and do not have to take them from the wild. Great right? When Betta fish were initially captive breed in Thailand, they were using the fish as a sport and were purposely breeding the most aggressive Bettas to raise champion Betta fighting fish.


If you plan to have, multiple Bettas try to add them all at the same time. This way neither one has had a chance to establish a territory to defend. If you have a healthy male Betta and then you introduce a new Betta that is still weak. You may have to add the new betta to an acclimation box to allow the two Bettas to interact as well as to get the new Betta healthy before adding them to the tank.


What about other fish? Can I add any other fish with my Betta? Yes, you can, you want to stick with peaceful tropical fish that live in similar water parameters as Bettas fish. Some options include:


Betta fish should have lots of hiding spots available if they get stressed out. These hiding spots will allow them to get away. Also, if possible, try to add the Betta fish last. When introduced last they will most likely hide for a while before they start to come out. It’s a massive change in their lifestyle form a small cup and alone. Being added to a fish tank with other species is a major change. It’s a lot to take in all at once, so be patient. If they do not eat for a few days, don’t worry they will be ok.


You do not want to add a Betta fish to a tank with aggressive fish or fish that are known to nip on fins.


Betta fish have a short lifespan of only 2-years

In poor water conditions, their lifespan is short. But in the proper environment, good water conditions and adequate feeding they can live a much longer lifespan. On average between 5-7 years but some hobbyist have claimed that they have had theirs for over ten years.

Not all Betta deaths are the owner's fault, of course, they could have gene issues or health issues, and there could be other circumstances, but once you get them, you should try to provide an ideal environment to keep them as healthy as possible.


Bettas build bubble nest when they are happy

A Betta fish building a bubble nest has nothing to do with their happiness or an indication that your water quality is good. Bettas build a bubble nest on instinct and heir natural desire to mate. So if they do not make a bubble nest does that mean that there is something wrong? No, there could be many reasons why they do not build a bubble nest the most common reasons are: There could be too much surface water agitation which will not allow the bubbles to stay in place or the other reason is that your Betta does not have a desire to mate yet.



About author

I have been in the hobby for a while, my main focus is automation. I am interested in doing aquaponics in 2018.


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