How to Acclimate a Betta Fish? Detailed Guide + Checklist!

When you buy a betta fish from your local pet store, they are going to hand you your Betta fish in a cup or a small plastic bag.

Now, it is your job to acclimate your Betta fish into its new environment so that it can live a healthy new life with you.

Undoubtedly, acclimating betta (or any new fish) is a challenging job as there are many factors to take care of.

Below is a checklist of elements you need to consider before you bring in your new Betta fish.

Once we’ve discussed the elements that need to be taken care of, we will move on to how you can introduce your new fish to the environment you have built for it (or them):

Get the Right Tank Size for Betta

Tank size is one of the most crucial elements to get right to ensure your Betta fish’s health and development.

Each Betta fish requires at least 5 gallons of water to live adequately in a fish tank. If you have two bettas, you would need 10 gallons.

Anything less than 5 gallons can be bad for your betta health. Sure, they can survive, but they won’t be happy (and most likely remain stressed)

This is because the species is meant to survive in larger water bodies.

Smaller environments can make them lazy as there is less space to exercise and swim around.

You have to be very careful not to crowd Betta fish in a tank because it can be extremely stressful for them.

If you plan on breeding your Betta, 5 gallons or less tank can prove to be unfavorable for the fish to mate.

Hence, try your best to provide your Betta fish with a good amount of space of its own.

Also read: How to Setup a Betta Fish Tank? (The Right Way)

Where you Keep the Betta Fish Tank is Important

Betta fish can stress pretty easily, which is why you must please the fish tank in a safe and quiet location.

You must be careful not to place your Betta fish tank next door to anything noisy such as a loudspeaker or your TV while you play video games.

Loud noises can affect Betta fish health and behavior due to their fragile nature.

Other than this, Betta fish do not prefer to be in a place with too much light.

Ensure that your tank is in a place that has an adequate amount of lighting – which is not too bright or too dark.

Geeting the Water Quality Right Is Very Important

Before you acclimate your Betta fish to its new tank, you must ensure that the water quality is suitable for Betta fish.

You can’t keep your betta in any kind of water. Here is a detailed guide I wrote on the kind of water that is best for a betta.

If you picked up your Betta fish from a pet store, you might have noticed how some of them sell Betta fish water too.

API Betta Water Betta Fish Freshwater Aquarium Ready to Use Water, No Aquarium Water Conditioner Needed, 31-Ounce Bottle

The whole idea is to provide Betta fish with pH-balanced water free of chlorine and other harsh chemicals.

If you expose your fish to water that has not been treated, it may make them sick or cause death.

You must treat your fish tank water at least a day or two before bringing your new Betta fish.

You can use dichlorination drops to make the water suitable for your new Betta.

Do not (I repeat, do not) use distilled water for this purpose because it lacks nutrients that are beneficial for the fish.

Betta Need a Specific Temperature

The Betta species is generally found in Asian waters, so it is accustomed to warm temperatures.

Once you set up the tank for your Betta fish, you must control the water temperature to stay between 75-80 degrees F.

If you live in a place with warm weather, then keeping the tank outside may be able to give the Betta fish their ideal water temperature.

However, if you live in a colder climate, you might have to invest in a fish tank heater.

Several pet or fish supply stores sell electronic heaters to regulate your Betta fish tank’s water temperature.

Once you install the heater, you must keep a check on it because there is always a chance for it to stop working.

Set up a routine to hand-test the tank water to ensure that the heater is running smoothly.

Your Betta fish do not want to be in too cold or even too hot water – just the right temperature.

Get a Filter (if need be)

Cleaning and cycling a tank manually can be hard labor. Hence, it is wise to invest in a good filter for your fish tank.

Your betta can survive without a filter. But it’s still recommended to get a simple sponge filter to make sure the water remains clean

Fish stool and leftover food can make the water grimy pretty quickly, which is why it is important to filter out water to keep it super clean for your fish.

However, always invest in a filter that is adjustable because some filters produce extremely strong waves in the water, which may be uncomfortable for your Betta fish.

This is important – do not get a filter that makes strong waves. Bettas don’t want that.

If baby Betta fry is involved, the strong current and suction from the filter can suck the babies in, endangering their life.

Hence, an adjustable filter is best for every situation.

Choose Betta Tankmates Wisely

If you bring in a singular Betta fish, a 5-gallon tank is enough for it to be happy.

In another case, if you are bringing a male and a female Betta, you need to prepare two separate tanks for each.

When it comes to Betta fish, you cannot crowd male Bettas in one tank because the environment will turn competitively hostile.

At the same time, a group of three to four female Bettas can peacefully survive as a group.

This group is known as a sorority.

However, if you are planning to keep four female Betta fish, you need to give at least 20 gallons of water for them to be comfortable.

If you’re planning to keep your betta fish with other species of fish, such as Goldfish or tetra, introduce betta to their fish tank (i.e., have those fish in the tank and then add a betta to it).

When Betta is introduced to a tank that already has fish, it is less likely to be aggressive. If you add fish to a betta tank, Betta can consider them outsiders and a threat.

Also read: What Fish Can Live with Betta? 10 Good Options!

Tank Décor Makes Betta Happy

Betta fish enjoy entertainment in the form of plants and some decoration.

Live plants search as silk plants is a great choice for a Betta fish tank.

Whatever decor you are planning to place in the tank, always prewash it before adding it in.

This helps get rid of any bacteria or chemicals that might be on them.

Plants make Betta fish particularly happy because it gives them plenty of hiding places.

They like to play between the leaves as well as rest their fins on them.

Giving your Betta fish an environment with plants will help them adjust easily and make the acclimation process much easier.

Now that your fish tank is ready to acclimate your Betta fish, let’s move on to actual steps you can follow from the pet store to your tank:

Also read: 15 Best Toys for Your Betta Fish Tank

Step-to-Step Guide to Acclimate Your Betta Fish

  1. Try going to the nearest pet store because a long and bumpy car ride can be very stressful for your Betta fish. Stress is really bad for your Betta because it can become a difficult acclimation process and may even lead to some disease. Try to have as few stops as possible on your way back home.
  2. Transport your Betta fish carefully. Use a cardboard box, especially if the Betta fish is in a plastic bag, to stop it from moving around a lot.
  3. Once you are home, check the temperature and pH level of your tank. Compare it with the pH level and temperature of the plastic bag or cup your Betta fish is in.
  4. If the temperature and pH level of the plastic bag is different from the tank, try removing some of the water from the plastic bag and replace it gently with the tank water, a little at a time (with the help of a small cup). This will help in stabilizing the temperature and pH level of both containers.
  5. When you feel that both the plastic bag and tanks are in the same range, gently float the plastic bag on top of the water.
  6. Under any circumstance, do not dump or plop your fish into the water. This process needs to be done carefully and gently.
  7. Once you float the cup or plastic bag on top of the tank water, gently start to tilt it sideways so that the plastic bag or cup opening can meet the tank water surface. Do this in a very slow motion as rapid movements can shock your fish.
  8. Once the opening of the cup or plastic bag meets the water, gently let your Betta fish swim into the water. If the opening is big enough, it should not take your fish much time to enter the tank and swim about. At any point, do not force or nudge your fish to act quickly because it may be detrimental to its health.
  9. Let your Betta fish enjoy and familiarize itself with its new home.

The Bottom Line

Betta fish are extremely delicate fish to keep.

All factors communicatively may feel overwhelming, especially if you are new to keeping fish as pets.

However, you must realize that each and every step is essential in its own way.

As a responsible fish owner, you must follow the necessary steps to acclimate your Betta fish to its new home.

Any form of stress or shock can be really bad for your Betta’s health, which is why you must ensure that the acclimation process goes as smoothly as possible.

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