Siamese Fighting Fish, Bettas and Their Care

For ages people have been asking me about Bettas, or Siamese Fighting Fish. And I have not until now authored anything on them, while at the same time being a huge fan of these desktop favorites. My first attempts at Bettas were ‘fails’ because no one knew what to tell me about their successful care but over the years, good luck. In fact, now when I see Binkie, I think “Why won’t you die? I want a red Betta!” Siamese Fighting Fish, Bettas and Their Care

(Just kidding)

Here is the only way I have been successful at Bettas and then I will tell you what I did to kill the first ones:



Successful Betta / Siamese Fighting Fish care:

  • 1-2 Gallon facility
  • No aeration
  • Must have gravel on the bottom.
  • Must have live plant like Banana plant, Apon bulbs, dwarf lilies, Java fern, Java moss, valisneria or sword plants or Bacopa type. NOt anachris or cabomba. (Nothing that would be sold as a “bunch plant” so beware.)
  • NO filtration
  • Rare to no water changes (as long as live plant is on board and adequately lit)
  • Underfeeding with a mere 3 pellets of Tetra’s “Tetra Betta” food per day.
  • Adequate lighting to grow the plant but not so much the algae. If algae appears get a trapdoor snail or similar. ‘Not so much’ on the apple Snail, Mystery Snail or Ramshorn snail.
  • Temperature comfortable for people, not cold, not hot.

How I killed other Bettas as a kid.

  1. No gravel
  2. No plant
  3. Keeping in a tropical fish tank and watching them gradually almost imperceptibly but inexorably picked down.
  4. Too frequent water changes or too infrequent water changes.

The live plant, underfeeding and gravel are the “keys” to success.

You can also keep Bettas in a tropical fish tank without fin nippers and they may thrive, as the water IS filtrated and clean. They just retire to the low-flow areas of the tank in out of the way places.




Dr Erik Johnson is a Marietta, Georgia Veterinarian with a practice in small animal medicine. He graduated from University of Georgia with his Doctorate in 1991. Dr Johnson is the author of several texts on Koi and Pond Fish Health and Disease as well as numerous articles on dog and cat health topics.