How Big a Tank Do Bettas Need?

Photo by Zara

It is a common myth that bettas thrive in small amounts of water. Some people even say that they prefer to be in a tiny bowl. Often you’ll hear;

Bettas naturally live in rice paddies the size of puddles. It’s common for them to live in less then an inch of water.

While it is true that bettas in the wild live in rice paddies in Thailand and other parts of Asia, the perception of this habitat is grossly underrated. While these rice paddies may dry up to just a few inches deep they are part of an overall very large body of water that consists of a complete ecosystem. It takes a good amount of work to recreate an ecosystem in a tank and its never as good as nature intended.

Remember too, that the bettas we keep in our homes come from generations of domestic stock and are very different from their wild cousins. The next time you hear that bettas should be kept in a small bowl, know that it is simply not true. The smallest acceptable tank size for Betta splendens is one gallon (3.8 liters) and this minimum is not recommended. About 2.5 gal (9.5 liters) and up is much better for your fish.

Aqueon Mini Bow 2.5 Gallon Desktop Aquarium Kit

It is your responsibility to keep your betta’s water free from ammonia and other toxins, which can be done by adding water conditioners and frequent water changes as well as tank cycling. You will need to monitor these ammonia levels. A one gallon tank will require more frequent water changes then a 5 gallon because toxins will concentrate more quickly. Keeping a slightly larger tank will allow you to do less frequent water changes under most circumstances.


Remember: Bettas can survive in a tiny store cup but they can not thrive there. Offer your pet a clean, stable environment where they can live a healthy and enriched life.
To your left is an example of an aquarium well suited for a betta.

Here’s what went into this particular tank:

There are endless possibilities for your betta tank. Once you meet the basic requirements, how you decorate it is up to you. Bettas are very social fish and love to interact with their humans but from time to time they enjoy hiding or napping. Offer your betta some place to get away from it all. It can be in the form of plants, a house or an overturned pot or coffee mug. Whatever it may be, your betta will appreciate a place to hide when he’s feeling unsocial. Bettas do not require live plants, you can use plastic or silk. When purchasing decorations it’s safest to buy aquarium quality goods. You may find things around the house that will look nice in the aquarium but first be sure it will not alter your water chemistry or hurt your fish.

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