Have you just come home with your first betta?


Did the pet store send you home with a bowl, a fish, some pretty stones and a smile?


Are you looking through our site and feeling your head spin?


First of all, I can certainly understand your shock - there's a lot of information here! The important thing is that you want to improve the life of your betta, and I promise that it can be done more simply than all of this information may make you believe.


One of the goals of Betta Late Than Never and this, our website, is to a be non-judgmental information source. As our name says, it's better to help your fish belatedly than to never do so at all.  If you unknowingly started out on the wrong path with your betta, you're not alone, and we're here to help! Please don't hesitate to CONTACT US!


The set-up that you currently have for your fish may even be serviceable - as our website covers all possible problems, the first step for you is to assess which of those problems you have, and then to correct them.


Assess and Discover Your Problems

The first step is to do a very basic assessment of your betta's current living conditions. This will give you a starting point for improving their life. For a very basic assessment, you will need the following tools:


  • Ammonia test kit
  • Glass thermometer
  • Ruler


Now you can begin your assessment as follows:

1. Test the Ammonia Level in your Betta's Water

Following the directions contained with the kit, test the following for ammonia:

  • The water in your betta's tank
  • Your tap water


PROBLEM: There is ammonia in your betta's water

If there is any amount of ammonia in your betta's water, you will need to address this immediately.


SOLUTION: Perform a water change and add a filter

  • If the level is high (>0.25PPM), you will need to first do a 50% water change to try to bring the level down
    • Remember to add your water conditioner!
  • At any level of ammonia, you will need to consider installing a filter in your tank to control this. 


PROBLEM: There is ammonia in your tap water

Ammonia, and other chemicals such as cholrine, are added to city water systems to kill bacteria and make the water safe to drink. 


SOLUTION: Unfortunately, there isn't one (aside from moving)

However, it is important to know  the state of your tap water, as this will determine how effective water changes are at removing ammonia.

  • Remember that the reading given by your ammonia test kit is the concentration of ammonia in the water
  • As long as the concentration of ammonia is lower in your tap water than in your aquarium, water changes using your tap water will lower the overall ammonia level in the aquarium


1 PPM ammonia in your tap water

2 PPM ammonia in your tank (yikes, your fish are dying!)

Perform a 50% water change

Ammonia in tank reduced to 1.5 PPM


2. Measure the Temperature of your Betta's Tank

Rinse your glass thermometer in tap water and submerge it in your betta's tank. Allow it to float for 30 mins, then note the temperature. Over the course of a day, note the temperature at a few different times (ie: morning, afternoon and evening)


PROBLEM: The temperature is less than 76 F

Since bettas are tropical fish, they require water at a temperature of at least 76 F, and in a range between 76F -82F. 


SOLUTION: Add an aquarium heater

  • You will need to consider adding a heater to your aquarium to obtain the proper temperature


PROBLEM: The temperature of my betta's tank fluctuates by more than a couple of degrees during the day.

Fluctuations in temperature are hard on your fish and should be avoided at all costs.


SOLUTION: Add an aquarium heater, move tank to a better location

  • A heater not only warms water to the desired temperature, but constantly monitors the temperature of the water to keep it at this point.
  • If the betta's tank receives sunlight or drafts, or is near a heater or air conditioner, this may cause adverse temperature fluctuations
    • The tank will need to be moved to a place where it is not affected by this things.
3. Determine the Volume of your Betta's Tank


Measure the length, width and height of your aquarium. Then, you can use one of the many aquarium volume calculators available online to determine the size of your aquarium.


PROBLEM: Your betta's tank or bowl is less than 2.5 gallons.

I consider 2.5-3 gallons to be the absolute minimum size for a betta. Not only do they need room to swim in, but tanks become more unstable - and actually harder to balance/manage - as they get smaller.


The smaller the volume of water, the more likely it is to suffer from:

  • Temperature swings
    • Think of how much more quickly a cup of coffee warms up in the microwave as compared to a bowl of soup
  • Rapid accumulation of waste
    • Remember that ammonia test results tell you the concentration of ammonia in the water
    • Think of adding pepper to your food - a small shake will hardly be noticeable in an entire pot of soup, but it will make a small bowl very spicy!


SOLUTION: Consider purchasing a larger home for your betta

While very important, of the three assessments that you've completed here, I consider tank size to be the least urgent. 

  • If you bring ammonia levels down to zero and the temperature up to what the betta needs in less than 2.5 gallons, you will certainly have a very healthy betta