Much like hamsters or gerbils, betta fish make excellent, relatively low-maintenance pets. Properly known as Siamese fighting fish, bettas are the brightly colored, fan-tailed fish you often see in those little cups at the pet store. These little guys often exhibit personalities well beyond their relatively small size.
Bettas tend to live between two to three years, though occasionally upwards of ten years, with those longer life spans a product of proper care and tank choice. While it’s popularly thought that bettas prefer to live in very small, shallow enclosures, the truth is that they are very athletic swimmers who will thrive with a bit of space to move around in. Because they need to live alone lest they attack a tank mate, there’s some balance here. Sure, a betta would love a 20 gallon (or even larger) tank in which to roam, but a tank of this size for a single tiny fish really isn’t practical.
When shopping for a betta tank, two gallons is often stated as the minimum, with five or more preferable. There are a great number of bowls and interesting containers out there allegedly designed for bettas that are quite a bit smaller. Sure, your betta can tolerate these, but they’ll tend to be sickly, with duller coloration.
Additionally, while a betta can, indeed, breathe air, this should be seen as a temporary solution. Oxygen-rich water environments provide the best home for bettas, which means if you opt for a smaller tank and skip the filter, you should be replacing 1/3 of the water every three days. Doing this adds oxygen back into the tank without shocking your betta with a massive temperature or pH swing. Speaking of temperature, a heater is really non-optional. Bettas prefer a temperature range of 76 to 82 degrees. They can tolerate extremes outside of this, but they won’t thrive in those conditions.
All that said, I’ve known bettas who lived happily in smaller tanks. If you’re on top of water changes and keeping their environment clean, you might be able to go a bit smaller. If nothing else, you could start small and upgrade later if your fish doesn’t seem thrilled with the life you’ve given them. While we’re on the subject, the bubble nests they make don’t necessarily mean they’re content. It means they’re getting ready to spawn. This is still a good sign, since it signifies that they aren’t stressed and are comfortable enough to nest.
While you’re shopping for a tank, you can also consider decorations, but even these need to be carefully selected for bettas. wikiHow has a good explanation of how to choose decorations, but the basic gist is that you should choose silk plants and smooth structures to keep their fins safe. You could also consider live plants, which will keep the water clean and full of oxygen.
As for food, the pre-made pellets are actually quite good, combining the three things these fish are most likely to eat — bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia. Whatever you opt for, make sure that it’s no less than 40 percent protein in very small pellets. Typically, you’ll feed two to three pellets twice per day. It’s very common that bettas will learn their meal times, or even “beg” for food if they see you come near the tank.
For this list, we’ve focused on tanks between two and six gallons that we didn’t feature in our first aquarium kit post. If you’re considering making a betta your pet, consider our list of the top ten cool betta fish tanks.
1. Fluval Edge Aquarium with LED Light — Six Gallon
Starting at the top in terms of size, this six gallon aquarium has a very cool modern look. The tank itself is sealed and situated as though its floating above any surface you place it upon. Though it’s on the pricy side, it’s a complete kit, including an LED lighting kit with 7600K white LEDs good enough for plants, as well as blue lights for nighttime. All the wiring runs through the column in the back so it’s nicely tucked away. If you opt for this one, you will have to buy the heater separately, but Fluval makes one especially for this tank. Add some silk plants and gravel and you’re ready to go.
Price: $143.99 (7 percent off MSRP)
2. Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit — Five Gallon
Fluval has claimed several spots on this list because they’re keyed into the mid-size tank market with above-average designs. The key advantage of this tank is that it provides five spacious gallons for your betta in a thin enclosure (only six inches wide) that won’t overwhelm even a small display area. Available in black and white, this includes a light system with 37 LEDs, as well as a pump and filter system that fits neatly in the compartment at the end. The pump is quite powerful, but for betta owners, the flow is adjustable, so you can dial it in to protect those sensitive fins. Again, the heater is sold separately, with the Hydor Submersible Glass Aquarium Heater making a good option.
Price: $78.89 (12 percent off MSRP)
3. EcoQube Aquarium — Two Gallon
With a focus on ultra-low maintenance, the makers of the EcoQube tell you directly that you should never have to change the water in this aquaponic solution. Using the power of the included basil plant seeds, the live plant acts as the tank’s filter, becoming a stronger water filtration system as the plant grows larger. All you’ll ever need to do is feed the fish and top off with filtered water when the level drops. Included in this kit is the special plant-based filter, remote control for the customizable LEDs, sand, a rock decoration, and the basil seeds and plant medium. You can also get the tank with no accessories and no wireless remote for $79.99, if you prefer. It’s on the smaller side, but with the novel filtration situation, could possibly be a cleaner, healthier environment.
4. Fluval Chi II Aquarium Set — Five Gallon
Somewhere between a fountain and a fish tank, this elegant piece offers five spacious gallons for a betta to explore. From any angle, your brightly-colored fish friend will be visible, making this a good choice for any room. Included in the kit is 17-LED lighting solution, pump, and filter media. It is billed as a “powerful” filter, but because the water cascades down from the top, the current shouldn’t overwhelm a betta. One odd thing to note is that it doesn’t come with a lid out of the box. You’ll want to grab the Chi cover if this is a concern. And, yes, a heater, as well.
5. Fluval View Oval Plastic Aquarium — Four Gallon
Our final Fluval pick, this is also the cheapest of them. The entire structure is made of plastic, which makes it light and easy to maintain. After removing the lid, you can lift out the entire filtration unit at the back for easy cleaning and maintenance. Once again, the oval shape is only nine inches deep, making for a space saving solution that doesn’t sacrifice much in the way of tank for your fish. The pump and filter are fully integrated, as is an 11-LED light bar under the hood. The plants-on-white image might be polarizing, but it adds a bit of decor and will help your betta stand out.
6. Tetra 29095 Cube Aquarium Kit — Three Gallon
Combining elements of the previous tanks on this list, this Tetra model is a nearly seamless fish-viewing platform. This is made of high-quality acrylic made to be as clear as glass without the weight. At ten inches square, it will fit on most surfaces and look good doing it. There’s a simple LED light fixture perched over the convenient feeding hole. The filter and pump combination is also included. The Tetra HT Heater is pre-set to 78 degrees and should do the job nicely. The price is right, but unfortunately does not include that baller Easter Island head decoration.
Price: $29.97 (40 percent off MSRP)
7. API Aquaview 360 Aquarium Kit — Six Gallon
Another tank that focuses on a wide viewing angle, this cylindrical option again packs a lot of tank into a small area, measuring only eleven inches in diameter. Unlike the others, this is entirely seamless thanks to the round design. The pump and filter are included, as is a novel LED lighting solution. Rather than a light rail, the bulb unit features a multi-color LED that you can change between seven colors: amber, aqua, blue, green, purple, red, and white. The depth helps mitigate the filter flow, so current shouldn’t be an issue in this tank. There’s enough room to sneak a heater cord in the back, but it might be necessary to retrofit the lid a bit to ensure that everything plays nicely. Two and three gallon sizes are available, as well, but I think you might as well go with the six here.
8. Biorb Halo Aquarium — Four Gallon
Available in four, eight, and sixteen gallon sizes, this biOrb presents a different take on the seamless, 360-degree fish tank. This is again an acrylic construction for superior strength and visibility and the five-stage filtration is integrated. The lid is magnetic to ensure a tight fit, though this may actually be something of a drawback once you add your heater. If you live in a particularly warm area or keep the space the tank will be in quite warm, it might be possible to skip the heater if you opt for this one. Like the Aquaview above, the LED scheme in this unit is multi-color, with sixteen colors and brightness controllable with a remote. This one also one-ups the Aquaview in that the shape hides the water line so all you see is the fish environment. In addition to this gray color, you can get it in white. It’s a bit pricey and not exactly perfect for all betta owners, but the novel approach and healthy tank sizes make it an interesting option.
9. Tetra Crescent Acrylic Aquarium Kit — Five Gallon
It really isn’t completely necessary to spend a lot on a crazy new fish tank design to get something cool-looking. This Tetra Crescent features a simple twist on the standard fish tank, modernizing it to complement a wide variety of spaces. Included in this simple and inexpensive kit is the tank, lid, pump with filter, and LED lighting system. It’s a standard pump, but includes a flow adjustment so you can set it just right for your betta. The three gallon size separates the light from the top, but the prices are pretty much the same, so the five gallon is the better buy. Don’t forget the heater, which should integrate seamlessly.
10. MarineLand Silhouette Square Glass Aquarium Kit — Three Gallon
Our final option is this very dramatic small tank. Looking nothing like any of the others on this list, this is a very popular desktop-style tank that would make a good home for any betta. The filter is integrated, and if you watch the video below, you’ll see that the simple addition of a betta hammock modifies the flow to make it exactly right. The LEDs have daylight and moonlight settings and are integrated into the flip-back top. Adding a heater will be no problem at all, making this a perfect and unique betta habitat.
Price: $47.99 (21 percent off MSRP)
If none of these options caught your eye, we have another post on the best fish tanks and aquariums for a variety of different types of fish.