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FISH / new pets

A Set-up Guide for Your New Betta

Tips for home and health


Four things to know about your new bettas

  • Bettas can live up to 3 years
  • They grow up to 3 inches long
  • You should only have one male betta in your fish community
  • Because bettas gulp air from the surface of their tank, they don’t need to live in aerated aquariums

Your betta’s tank

Bettas can live in aquariums or in bowls. Set up their new home at least one day before they arrive.

If your betta will live in a bowl…

  • Make sure the bowl is at least one quart in volume.
  • Put only one betta in a bowl.
  • The temperature of the room where the bowl is placed must stay above 74 degrees Fahrenheit.

If your bettas will live in an aquarium…

Aquarium & stand

  • The minimum size of the aquarium will depend on how many bettas you have. For just a few fish, the tank should be a minimum of 20 gallons.
  • If you plan to have lots of bettas, follow this formula to determine whether the tank should be even larger: the aquarium should have 1 gallon of water for every inch of fully-grown fish.
  • The aquarium should be near a power source, in a low-traffic area, away from direct sunlight and drafts.
  • Water weighs about 10 pounds per gallon. Pick a very sturdy, stable base for your aquarium, then fill the tank with water.
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What to put in your betta’s tank

  • If you will be using an under-gravel filter, add that first.
  • Layer about 3 inches of gravel on the bottom of the tank. (That works out to 1½ pounds of gravel per gallon of water.) Rinse the gravel before putting it in the aquarium.
  • Fill the tank about halfway up with dechlorinated water.
  • Add a thermometer and other necessary equipment.
  • Time to decorate! Add fish furniture, plants, rocks and other objects. Rinse all décor before adding it to the tank.
  • Finish by filling the tank the rest of the way with dechlorinated water.
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  • An aquarium filter should be able to process all of the water in the tank three to five times an hour. (For example, the filter in a 20-gallon tank would need to push through at least 60 gallons of water each hour.) Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for choosing and setting up the filter.
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Heat & lights

  • Bettas are tropical fish and need to swim in extra-warm water between 74 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the specific temperature your bettas will need before you put them in your aquarium.
  • Choose an aquarium heater with 5 watts of power for each gallon of water in the aquarium. A large aquarium may need a heater at either end.
  • Wait 15 minutes after filling the tank before turning on the heater.
  • Place the heater close enough to the filter to distribute the warmed water.
  • Run the tank’s filter and the tank’s hood light for 24 hours, then check the water temperature and adjust the heater if necessary.
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Adding bettas to your aquarium

  • Bring your bettas home right away after you buy them.
  • Place them in your aquarium — inside their bag — for 15 minutes so they can get used to the new water temperature.
  • Next, use a net to transfer the bettas into your aquarium. Try not to bring too much of their old water with them.
  • Add only three bettas at a time to make sure the filter can handle all the new action in the neighborhood.
  • The chemical balance in your aquarium will change with every new fish you introduce, so check the tank’s pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels regularly.
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Help keep your bettas healthy

If your bettas display any of these symptoms of illness or distress, talk to a PetSmart store associate or a veterinarian familiar with fish health:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Fins clamped to the sides
  • Scraping body on rocks
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Inflamed or discolored skin or fins
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FREE water quality testing

PetSmart offers free aquarium water testing. Bring in a sample and we can test its quality within minutes.

General aquarium health and environmental guidelines

  • Fish and aquatic animals can transmit zoonotic disease to humans. Wash your hands with soap and water before and after interacting with your aquarium. Children, pregnant women, elderly people and people with immune-system problems should take extra care.
  • Keep fish away from food and areas where food is prepared.
  • Never release fish into the wild.

PETSMART CARES Pets purchased at PetSmart are part of our exclusive Vet Assured™ program, designed by PetSmart veterinarians to help improve the health and well-being of our pets. Our vendors meet a high standard in caring for pets and screening them for common illnesses. This program also includes specific standards for in-store pet care.

The PetSmart Promise: If your pet becomes ill during the initial 14-day period, or if you’re not satisfied for any reason, PetSmart will gladly replace the pet or refund the purchase price.