Setting Up a Tank for Siamese Fighting Fish
Setting Up a Tank for Siamese Fighting Fish is easy.
by Lisa Sykes
Siamese fighting fish, more commonly known as bettas, are vibrant, colorful fish that are great for intermediate fish owners. While these diverse fish are relatively easy to care for, there’s a big difference between surviving and thriving.
Here’s how to set up an aquarium for Siamese fighting fish to keep them healthy and happy.
Choosing an Aquarium Size For Your Siamese Fighting Fish
While bettas can adapt to small spaces, they should have a minimum of two gallons of water for proper health (click here for more information). The more space your betta has to roam and explore, the more lively and energetic they’ll become— especially if they share a tank.
Many pet stores introduce betta fish as a starter fish and present them in a small plastic tank aimed toward children and passive pet owners. However, this is not the ideal setup for a betta. In addition to having space to roam, they thrive on flowing, filtered water.
Adding Substrate and Decor
Substrate and decor are also necessities to keep a betta happy. Using substrate minimizes reflections in the tank. As male bettas are territorial, they’ll often react to seeing their own reflection. While they look stunning while puffing up and flaring their fins, this action causes them extra stress, which could minimize their lifespan.
Betta are intelligent fish and love a place to hide and call their own. Add a few decor pieces that provide cover, like a ceramic skull or log. Don’t be surprised if your betta chooses a favorite and hangs out in there all the time.
Be sure to rinse gravel substrate before adding it to the tank, as there are often substantial amounts of dust and residue in the bag. Additionally, wash the decor with warm water and dish soap to remove bacteria before adding it to the tank.
Considerations for Filters and Pumps
As mentioned previously, a betta will survive in a tank without filters and pumps, but it won’t thrive. You can see the difference between a betta that’s just existing versus one that’s doing well. If your betta floats around and doesn’t do much, it’s not thriving. Your betta should be energetic, curious, and responsive.
A light air filter will be sufficient when preparing your betta tank; you don’t need a fancy setup. You want a bit of movement in the water without a continuous stream. If you have a five-gallon tank, consider getting a filter and pump optimized for a three-gallon tank.
Timelines and Tank Cleaning
Ideally, you’ll set up your fish tank at least two weeks before you introduce your betta. This preparation allows ample time for natural, healthy bacteria to form, creating a more natural environment for your fish.
Plan to clean your tank weekly or bi-weekly, investing in a gravel vacuum to help keep it tidy.
Introducing Betta Fish to Tank Mates
Male betta fish are known for being territorial and aggressive. However, there are a few tank buddies that most bettas seem not to mind, including tetras, ghost shrimp, snails, and catfish. Generally, the bottom feeders who help keep your tank algae-free are the best options for betta tank mates. However, your betta might change their mind about having tank mates at some point and lash out.
You can group female bettas together if you offer sufficient space and similar ages. However, female bettas are less colorful and can still be territorial.
What to Watch For
If you notice your betta puffing up frequently, try and determine what’s causing it stress and fix the issue. Tail and scale degradation are another sign of an infection, as are white spots and bloating. If your fish seems lethargic and disinterested in its surroundings, it’s unhappy.
Providing a healthy environment for your betta will keep it energetic, colorful, and alive. Be conscientious when caring for your fish and follow this simple tank setup guide.