Betta fish are common, cheap fish sold at pretty much every pet store where fish are carried, or even Walmart. People are often misinformed and don't know how to take care of them, hence their new pets are dying in short periods of time and having miserable lives. This guide is designed to make sure your buddy lives its life as long as it can, and to the fullest.
The first thing I want to cover is tank size. Betta fish should be kept in at least 2 gallon tanks at the bare minimum. It is recommended to have at least 2.5 gallons for a bit more comfortable lifestyle, and 5 gallons being the absolute best.
ONE THING I MUST WARN OF IS BETTAS BEING SUCKED INTO FILTERS. Betta fish sometimes may get their long, flowing fins caught in filters. So if you do get a tank, you may want to Google "how to make a homemade sponge filter." Sponge filters create basically no suction and cannot harm your fish.
Tanks recommended by myself:
The Hawkeye 5 gallon aquarium kit is the absolute cheapest 5 gallon kit you will find. Its spacious, comes with a hood, light, filter and cartridge.
The Tetra aquarium starter kit is a well-priced tank which is ideal for your betta. It comes with a hood, light, filter, cartridge, and fish food samples.
Now, along with your tank, you're going to need more components. Remember, betta fish are tropical. They require heaters. You need 5 watts per gallon, so a 5 gallon tank would require a 25 watt heater. You're going to need gravel, plants, food, dechlorinator, and a thermometer.
Heaters: Betta fish are tropical. They require warm water to survive. You must live either in the tropics, heat the room the fish is in to a tropical temperature, or have a heater. Tropical temperatures are between 72F and 82F.
Heaters I recommend:
The Hydor Theo has temperature markings on top of the knob. You know the temperature your aquarium is going to be tuned to, making it convenient.
The Fluval Edge heater is automatically set to 78F. Your fish will be nice and toasty with this simple heater. It also has a nice looking, sleek design.
Gravel is necessary for beneficial bacteria to colonize in. There are many different colors and styles to suit your needs. You can mix gravel to fit your personality. A good amount of gravel is about 1 pound per gallon.
Plants look nice, and may even play a part in keeping your tank clean. You can choose live or fake. Fake plants do nothing but provide hiding spots and give decoration. Live plants also absorb ammonia, nitrites and nitrates, keeping your fish tank cleaner and healthier. Good beginner plants are Java Ferns and Amazon Swords.
All living things use energy. Energy comes from food. There are many different kinds:
Flake: Floats on top of the water. Can cause issues in which fish swallows air.
Pellet: Sinking pieces of food. Usually preferred over flakes.
Frozen: Frozen food which must be thawed out before serving, such as frozen bloodworms.
Gelatin: Food which is literally gelatin containing food matter such as meat and vegetables. Basically a Jello like substance which sinks and the fish nibble at.
Personally, I believe Omega One and Hikari foods are the best because of their high protein content.
Dechlorinator: Liquid which removes harmful chlorine, chloramines, hard metals and other substances from the water which would otherwise be deadly towards the fish.
Thermometer: Obviously necessary to be able to tell what the temperature of the water is.
Now, of course your water has to be changed or else your fish would be taking a bath in ammonia. This would basically be the same as taking a bath in acid to them....
Water Changes -
If you have the proper setup as I spoke of; a filtered tank between 2.5 and 5 gallons, you should have to remove about 20% of the water weekly. This is a good estimate provided that you aren't overfeeding, or your tank isn't badly overstocked.
Betta fish are generally known to be aggressive and kill anything thats put in the tank with them. However, this isn't necessarily true. Betta fish can have a few tankmates.
Compatible tankmates I have had are ghost shrimp, african dwarf frogs and other betta fish. I've had two betta fish with two african dwarf frogs on seperate occasions. Only once has the betta nipped the african dwarf frog once, and has never done it again. On the second occasion, the betta actually gets along with the african dwarf frog and it looks like they're playing together. The betta will often lay next to where the african dwarf frog is and swim near him and venture around together. You can also try ghost shrimp, all though some people say that their betta had eaten their ghost shrimp.
Here are some ideas for a 5 gallon:
Lightly planted: One betta and one african dwarf frog.
Medium planted: One betta, one african dwarf frog and two ghost shrimp.
Heavily planted: One betta, one african dwarf frog and four ghost shrimp.
One thing: For african dwarf frogs and ghost shrimp, you MUST have a sponge filter. Ghost shrimp are too weak to fight off a filter's current. They will get sucked in. People have actually had shrimp live INSIDE their filter before if they were not killed. African dwarf frogs grow to be a little bigger than a quarter. If you look at them, you would understand how small their bones must be. A filter could easily crush their bones.
General betta tips:
Bettas HATE surface agitation. If you ARE using a power filter or HOB filter, you should really baffle it. To create a baffle, simply create a tube by cutting both ends off a plastic water battle. Then cut it lengthwise so it resembles a "C." Stretch one end under the bottom of your filter, and one end over the top. Water will be redirected off to the sides and cause MUCH less surface agitation. There is also a tutorial on here to do this if you cannot understand this.
Most people fast their betta, or go without feeding for one day a week, or once every two weeks. This helps them from being constipated. I recommend at the bare minimum, do it at LEAST once every month.
If you are considering ghost shrimp, make sure you have some plants. That way if your betta does become aggressive towards them, they have a better chance of survival by hiding.
To make your own cave, go to PetSmart and buy a tube of aquarium sealant or aquarium silicone. Cut a tube out of a water bottle, and cut that in half so you have a half-circle. Use the aquarium silicone to "glue" some gravel on so it creates a cave for your betta to hide in.
It is recommended to use a sponge filter. Said above, they create basically no suction and cannot tear fins and suck up tank inhabitants. If you do use one, it is recommended to use a gang valve or release valve to redirect some of the air if the filter causes too much surface agitation by bubbles.