I am looking for help in identifying where I am going wrong in my Betta Fish care. I have gone through two Betta Fish over three weeks. Setup is pictured below, in a 1-gallon tank, with a water conditioner, tap water, filter, light, and the Betta food pellets. My daughter and I give the fish 3 pellets in the morning and three at night. That is a live plant in the tank, that is Betta friendly.

I've heard the lifespans for Betta Fish are supposed to be much longer than this, so I turn to the community to find out where I am going wrong with my care.

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    i am here to help so please ask questions during the time you cycle the fish tank,and tell your daughter to bee patient this will end well,cycling a tank is somthing you normaly do only one time per tank.most petshops is more interested in mony then in the well beeing of animals. Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 12:47
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    read the two answers to the question here pets.stackexchange.com/questions/16975/… one of the answers is made by me,there is allso a link to a usefull site to understand the nitrogen cyckle. Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 14:43

3 Answers 3


Fish are a complicated thing so I will go over specifics for betta fish.

  • Aquarium should be 5 gallons minimum.

  • Filter should contain activated carbon (absorbs contaminants), biomax (helps beneficial bacteria thrive), foam (traps debris). It should also be gentle, betta fish do not like heavy currents.

  • Small water heater - betta fish are tropical and thrive better with water temps of 76 - 82 °F (24.4 - 27.7 °C).

  • The 5 gallon aquarium should be cycled for 1 week minimum (and note that some people wait 1 month for large aquariums). To cycle is to have everything prepared in the tank, filter running, substrate ready, decorations, water conditioner placed, etc.

  • You will need a basic water testing kit that checks pH, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. If you get into bigger and more exotic fish (saltwater) you will want a wider range of tests. Saltwater fish are a whole new ball game in general. Test the water before introducing fish, if you don't want to buy a kit you can ask the pet store to test the water for you (they sometimes do it for free).

  • Feed VERY LITTLE, they don't need to eat much, like 3-6 tiny beta pellets a day (in 2 feedings). You can also offer brine shrimp and blood worms. Overfeeding will kill them, it causes a number of issues. Some places will say feed whatever he will eat in 5 minutes, not the case for betta fish.

  • Stress coat is a nice product to use when starting up a tank or just for bringing the fish home. Makes the transition much easier and helps treat your water.

  • Live plants are always a wonderful addition to any tank: they produce oxygen, absorb ammonia and carbon dioxide. It also gives him a safe place to hide, allowing him to feel secure.

With all this in mind, be sure to not clutter the tank with everything, he should have plenty of room to swim. If you feel that 5 gallons is not enough to accommodate the filter, heater, substrate and decor you will need to upgrade.

Pet stores keep their betta fish in poor conditions, since they are popular they tend to stock up and place them in glass jars assuming they won't be there for long. If the beta fish keep on dying I would try to wait for another shipment or go somewhere else, they are usually really hardy.

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    Good answer, but 3 small remarks: In my opinion 5 gallon is really the very bare minimum for a Betta. For other fishes, this is still to small and I would say the bare minimum is 12 gallon. It's also not needed to continuously filter over carbon, in the beginning this is useful or after you used medicines. And 3th remark: Cycling for 1 week is usually not enough. 3-4 weeks is better and test the water to confirm it's actually ok.
    – Diether
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 14:44
  • Can still test one week after cycling for a small 5 gallon, I do agree on 1 month for the large tanks. I based my answer for 1 Betta and no more, but yes it should be bigger for more fishes. :) Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 15:02

The red flag for me was "conditioner". I have had fish for 70 years and never needed, or used conditioner. I have seen fish quickly die at an auction when conditioner was added.

A gallon is good for a Betta; in the 60's I raised them and kept the males in one quart (0.946 liters) containers. Keep them warm, 70 to 90 °F (21 to 32 °C), don't overfeed. Just let the tap water sit a few days, maybe with a TINY sprinkle of food to get bacteria started. Then put in the fish. That should work, assuming your tap water is safe to drink.

I forgot the first rule: no soap or bleach near an aquarium, ever.


When you get a new fish tank it have to be cycled this means running the tank whitout any fish in it, this is to make the bacteria that breaks down the waste from the fish and food time to grow in the filter.

It is quite common that pet shops don't inform you the customer of this. And this do almost always end in dead fish.

https://www.fishlore.com/NitrogenCycle.htm this link will help you understand how this works and how to cycle the tank.

To cycle a fish tank fill the tank with water start the pump/filter and heater. Add a tiny bit of fish food, you now have to get a water test that shows amonia nitrite and nitrate I do use test strips they are easy to use.

Now you have to test the water every two to thre days, what is expected to happen is you will be able to see the amonia readings on the test rise but not the nitrite,

After several days the readings on the test will show both amonia and nitrite in the water you now add a litle more fish food.

Some days after this the test will show less amonia but higher level of nitrite.

now you simply take a water test every two to thre days until the amonia and nitrite level is close to zero when this happens you will be able to measure some nitrate in the water this is OK and your fish tank is now cycled and ready for the fish!.

When you have put the fish in the tank it is best to not feed it for a day and when you start feeding it start with very little food.

If you feed more then the fish eats in five minutes the amonia and nitrite might come back if this happens stop the feeding and change half of the water and test the water every day and cange some water if the readings is still high.

  • when it comes to size of a fish tank bigger is better as changes in temparature and changes in the water parameters will be slower and easier to manage. Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 15:41

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