Setting up your fish tank is an integral part of having a betta as a pet. You'll need a spacious tank, the right water temperature, ideal water quality, and fun décor for your betta to play with, among other things. Set yourself and your new fish up for success with this guide to betta fish tank ideas.
Betta Fish Tank Ideas
Betta setups can be naturalistic, designed to mimic their native environment, or fun and fanciful. Decorations aren't just nice for you to look at; they play an important role in the enrichment of your betta. For example, your fish can use the décor to hide or play within when they're feeling frisky. Use these betta tank ideas to elevate your setup.
1. Set Up a Planted Tank
Aquatic plants look very attractive in a betta tank, but they have other benefits, too. They help remove some of the toxic components from the water, oxygenate the tank, and provide your betta with fun places to hide or explore.
Bettas do very well in planted tanks, and you can go with a simple setup and a include a few plants, or go all out and heavily plant your setup. Just make sure you choose plants that are safe for your betta.
2. Choose a Fun Tank Theme
If you don't want to go the planted tank route, you can use silk plants, rock, and driftwood to create a naturalistic theme. If you want to try something different, you can setup clay flower pots on the bottom with some gravel and a few pieces of aquatic decor from your local aquarium store to build a "sunken city" theme. Or buy a small acrylic statue to create a "hidden temple" vibe.
Consider not just how the decorations look, but how your betta can use them for mental and physical enrichment. Try driftwood, hollow logs, different colored rocks, floating toys, moss balls, or anything else that catches your eye, but pick only a few items to avoid crowding the tank.
Be careful about incorporating mirrors or reflective surfaces into your betta's setup. Male bettas were originally bred to fight with each other, and they will do battle to the death, so if your single male betta sees his reflection for a long time, this can stress him out and cause injury.
3. Put Together a Fun Kids' Tank
Decorating your betta tank is an exciting and enjoyable project to share with your kids. Children often like to pick funny, fun cartoon-inspired tank setups and decor. Visit your local aquarium store and pick out a few items to liven up your betta's tank.
Classic like a sunken ship or SCUBA diver figurine are always popular. Many licenced products and themed options exist, as well, including Spongebob aquarium decor or Finding Nemo decor, are very popular with kids.
Select décor that's free of sharp edges, which can injure your betta's delicate fins.
4. Match Their Native Environment
Bettas live in small, shallow pools of water in their native habitat. These are often filled with leaves and other debris that slowly decomposes over time, creating a tannin-rich, dark-tinted water that bettas love.
This is known as a "blackwater" aquarium setup, and it's almost perfect for bettas. You can recreate this same setup with a few almond leaves and natural decor specifically packaged for the aquarium hobby. You can match this with any decor you like, though it looks great with real aquarium driftwood and rocks.
5. Go With a Community Aquarium
Contrary to popular belief, bettas can live with other fish. They just don't do well with other male bettas, gouramis, long-finned guppies, or any fish fish long, flowing fins who don't move around a lot. These types of fish are likely to be attacked by your betta.
However, a couple female bettas - which do not have the long, beautiful fins that male bettas have - are great tankmates. A few fast-moving cardinal tetras, small catfish, loaches, and rasbora species all do very well with bettas, and can even liven up your betta's life and offer enrichment.
6. Pick a Minimalist Setup
You might not be into all the decor and setup some of these ideas require. The good news is, bettas can get by very well with a simple setup. They just need a few places to hide and some places to rest. You can even keep the tank bottom bare or use colored marbles for easier cleanup.
A tank with a few upturned flower pots with holes in the sides, some floating moss at the surface, some clear or colored glass marbles, and even a few aquarium moss balls on the bottom, can create a great visual aesthetic for your betta's tank. The big benefit is, the easy-to-keep floating moss and moss balls help improve water quality and don't take as much upkeep. A system like this is easy to keep clean, as well.
What Size Tank Does a Betta Fish Need?
A single betta fish needs to live in a 5-gallon tank or larger. A 5-gallon setup is the minimum, but a larger tank of 10 or more gallons is ideal.
It's a common misconception that betta fish can live happily in a small fishbowl or vase with a peace lily in it. Betta fish originated in Thailand, where they naturally live in warm water like rice paddies, ponds, or marshes, but these bodies of water are still larger than a bowl. Bettas do best with tanks with more horizontal than vertical space since they naturally live in shallow water. Your betta can thrive and live a full life with adequate space to swim around.
If you don't want to buy each piece of equipment separately, you can instead purchase a complete tank kit with all components. Just make sure it has everything listed above and is at least 5 gallons or larger.
Betta Tank Supply List
In addition to an adequate-sized tank, you should have the following supplies for your betta fish setup:
- Stable base on which you'll place your tank. A wide-based table or shelf usually works well.
- Hood or tank cover to keep your betta from jumping out and keep other pets from dipping their paws in.
- An aquarium filtration system - a hang-on-the-back filter works great - to keep the water free of harmful byproducts.
- An aquarium heater to maintain their water at a warm 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
- An aquatic thermometer to monitor the water temperature.
- An aeration system or air stone to oxygenate the water.
- An aquarium water quality test kit.
- A few inches of aquarium substrate at the bottom of the tank, such as gravel or sand, etc.
The Best Fish Tanks for Betta Fish
A good quality tank setup is worth the investment because it will keep your betta healthy and save you time, energy, and funds in the long run. Plus, you can rest easy knowing your fish isn't swimming around in toxic water. Add some fun décor, and you can transform your fish tank into an aquatic oasis that you both will enjoy.