Fighting Fish, also called Bettas, are a very popular pet as they are beautiful, relaxing to watch, and extremely easy to keep.
They come in a variety of colours such as yellow, beige, pink, purple, blue, red, black, greenish shades and combinations.

Here are some instructions on buying and keeping a betta:

Go to the local pet shop or aquarium store. A good store should have a variety of bettas to chose from. Check out all the fish, and pick out a few you like.
The fish you take home should:
  • Be moving around in his cup slightly, but not struggling.
  • Not have any white spots anywhere on the body or fins. This could be a fish disease called Ick.
  • Not have any fin deterioration

While in the store there are other supplies you will need:
  1. A fish bowl or small tank.
    Tip: "Betta-hexes" or "Aqua Babies" are a bit to small to house a happy fish. You want to be able to add a plant without crowding. ½ to 2 gallons is sufficient.
  2. A plastic plant.
    Tip: Bettas like to have a place to play and hide. Real plants are more work, more expensive and most require a supplemented iron source to survive. These supplements can harm some fish despite what the label tells you.
  3. A water conditioner.
    Tip: The conditioner you choose should remove chlorine. Some also reduce stress and stimulate the fish's slime coat. It doesn't really matter if it's solid or liquid.
  4. Gravel, glass beads or marbles.
    Tip: Buy enough to cover the bottom of the bowl/tank by about an inch or more. Choose a colour that compliments your fish.
  5. Betta Food.
    Tip: Betta like freeze dried red grubs, which are considered their staple. They prefer these over flaked food. They like freeze dried tubifex worms also. A small package of red grubs should be enough to last you a long time.

So now you've got your fish home.
First, set him somewhere safe for now.

Setting up your tank:
  1. Make sure your hands are clean.
    Wash them and rinse copiously with water.
  2. Rinse the tank, gravel and plant thoroughly with water. Tap water is fine. For the gravel you may want to use a strainer. DO NOT clean them with soap.
  3. Are you using bottled, filtered or tap water?
    If you're using tap water it's a good idea, but not essential, to have the water for the fish sit out for a few days prior to buying the fish to let it settle.
    Otherwise, your water is fine.
    Make sure the water is room temperature. DO NOT use hot water to warm it up, as hot water is calcified which is not good for the fish.
    Pour the water into the tank and add the conditioner according to the directions. Mix it up a bit.
  4. Dump the gravel in and "plant" the plant. Make it all look the way you want, so you don't have to stick your hands in more than you need to. The water should be about 2 inches from the top of the tank, as these fish can jump.
  5. Get your fish. Place the entire bag or cup he is in the tank and allow it to float around (without tipping over) for about 15 minutes. This equilibrates the water temperatures and allows him to get a look at his new home. Then release him gently.
  6. Allow him to adjust to his new home.
    Don't bug him, he's stressed from being moved about. Feed him about an hour or 2 after introducing to his house. It is ideal to leave him alone, i.e. no tapping on tank or experimenting to see just what he will and won't attack, for 2 or 3 days so he has time to de-stress from the move and adjust to being able to swim.

So now you have a happy little fighting fish. But how do you keep him happy?


Feed him 2 or 3 times a day. Feed him enough food so that it takes him about 3 minutes to eat it all. Use your judgement.
You may wish to try feeding him different fish foods to see what he likes. In general they like floating bits. Make sure you keep feeding him red grubs at least once a day.
Don't put people food in the tank. They will eat some of it, but it's not healthy for them.

Tank Maintenance:

It is a good idea to change half the tank's water every 7 to 10 days. Make sure to use the water conditioner each time. This keeps the water from becomming stagnant or building up in wastes from the fish. If you do this often you will have to do a full clean up less often.
A full clean-up is when you take the fish out (you can just scoop him into a cup) and rinse everything thoroughly and scrub off any grime. DO NOT use soap. You should not have an algae problem if you clean-up every 2-4 weeks.
Tip: the water from your tank is great for flowers and house plants. It contains natural fertilizers.

Environmental Enrichment:

The plant you bought should be enough for your Betta, but some are picky. If he seems nervous or sluggish try taking the plant out for a week and see how he reacts. Or maybe he needs a more closed hiding place, like a little house or rock tunnel. If you have enough space try buying him one.
If he's sluggish it may be because he's cold. Test the water with your finger or a thermometer. The warmer he is the more active he'll be. Move his tank to a warmer spot. You should not need to add a heater unless your house is particularly cold.
Bettas do NOT need friends. They are an independent dweller, and are not lonely. If you buy another fish, the Betta will may attack it. Even a snail to keep the tank clean is sometimes a problem. The Betta may eat the snails antennae. If your fish seems somehow unhappy and you can't figure out why, take a small sample of the water he lives in to an aquarium store. Many will test your water for you, to help you diagnose the problem.

Sick Fish: Your Betta may be sick if you notice:
  • A sudden change in behavior which no apparent cause.
  • White spots on the fish.
  • Deterioration of the fins or lack of use.
  • Unusual swimming. The most common is upside-down swimming which is a tell-tale sign something is up.

These problems are often easily corrected by simple medications. Go to the pet store and ask for help. If a product is suggested to you make sure you read the package and compare it to the other products that do the same thing. Not everyone who works in a pet shop is an expert.


If the fish jumps out:
Put him back in the tank. Hopefully he is still alive. Bettas have a special organ to allow them to breathe atmospheric air. My betta did this once, and even got stuck to some pH paper. But he's fine now.