Designing a special betta tank can be fun and rewarding. Your betta fish is special, so why shouldn’t he or she be showcased in a special home? Here are a few ideas to get your imagination going.
These are aquariums that mimic the natural environment of a wild betta fish. Granted, the modern betta is a far different creature than wild species. You also probably cannot find the specific aquatic plants found in Southeast Asia.
However, even if it’s not 100% accurate to a wild betta environment, you can still make a killer tank that looks great and makes a fun, interesting habitat for your special Siamese fighting fish.
Good plants to use include:
- Java moss (native to Southeast Asia)
- Java fern
- Anubius nana
- Water sprites
- Marimo moss balls
- Amazon sword plants.
Other decorations include:
- Rocks, as long as they have smooth edges so the betta cannot tear fins on them.
- Almond leaves
- Mariposa pods.
In the wild, the substrate is covered in decaying plant matter. I don’t encourage that in a tank, but you can use natural-colored gravel or aquarium soil. The latter is more expensive and requires you to do more water checks to make sure the levels are okay, but it does have a more natural look.
These are large tanks filled with female bettas. Unlike males, females can live together, most of the time. There will always be an exception to the rule.
When making a sorority tank, you need to have smaller backup tanks for any fish that just can’t handle living in a group. This is especially important if you have only a 20-gallon tank, which is the smallest tank that you can have for a sorority of four females.
You need to get as large of a tank as you can, so the females have enough personal space. They also need to have enough places to hide if the fish start fighting.
A larger tank means you can add other, smaller fish like danios to help distract the females from searching out each other to fight. They also look really cool.
Lisa Hudson, creator, and owner of a spectacular 125-gallon sorority tank, offers these tips to keep a successful sorority tank:
- Keep female bettas that are all the same size, because larger fish will inevitably pick on smaller fish.
- If possible, get sisters from the same spawn. This way, they have grown up with each other and are used to each other. You’ll need to contact a breeder for that.
- Sometimes, even the best breeders have trouble telling males from females, especially since some males have short fins, called plakats. Always have an extra tank available if one of your girls turns out to be a boy.
Since bettas are from Southeast Asia, you can celebrate their heritage with a Zen tank. This isn’t an entirely new idea, since pre-made Zen-themed tanks are available for sale all over the Internet. However, most of those for sale are far too small to keep a betta healthy and happy.
If you read our article on the right betta tank size (and good for you if you have), then you know that you need at least a 3-gallon tank to keep one betta happy. Five is better.
You don’t need much to make a Zen-themed aquarium for your betta. Besides all of the other aquarium equipment to keep a betta happy, you need:
- A Buddha statue is safe for an aquarium. Preferably, you want one with his arms folded, making a round figurine. You don’t want anything pointy that could hurt a betta.
- Fake plants that look like miniature bamboo trees. Some people use real bamboo, but it grows really fast and tends to outgrow the tank. There have been videos of “lucky bamboo” aquariums with bamboo plants growing out of the top, necessitating that there aren’t any lids on the tanks. I don’t recommend that. Bettas can jump. It is possible your betta could jump out of the tank and land on the floor and die, if you do not find him or her in time.
- Alternately, you could put a background of bamboo trees on the tank, then place any kind of plant you want to in the tank. The plants hide the aquarium equipment and provide a good hiding spot for your betta.
It’s another oldie but a goodie. Have your betta swim around an overgrown ruined city. This could be Atlantis or a modern city. Along with plenty of plants, you want to add little decorations that add to the sunken city effect, such as
- Aquarium-safe car ornaments. Some have holes in them to act as caves for your betta to hang out in. Some have a nice rust color to enhance the effect.
- There are aquarium ornaments of bridges, buildings, and historical landmarks. Pick a theme, like New York City, and stick with it. You can always add more stuff or take it out as you see fit.
- There are also aquarium zombie ornaments. They might make an amusing touch to your sunken city. Try to find one without any pointed ends.
- Find a good photo of a wrecked city online. Print it out and tape it to the back of the aquarium.
Decorating Tips for Betta Tanks
Place your substrate down first. You’ll need a couple of inches. In the space left over, only fill it a third of the way full with plants or decorations. Remember, your betta still needs room to swim.
Those decorations will, in time, get covered with algae. The more decorations you have, the more time you will have to spend scrubbing them off.
Always use decorations with smooth, rounded edges. When bettas are startled, they can slam against the decoration. Any decorations with sharp edges can tear fins or cause injuries.
Never place decorations or artificial plants directly from the packaging into the aquarium. They need to be cleaned first. This may take some hours or overnight soaking to do.
Some Things That Should Never Be Used in A Betta Tank
No matter how cool they look, do not even be tempted to place these items in a betta tank, or any aquarium:
- Shells. I had a bad experience back in the 1990s when I placed tiny shells into my far-too-small betta tank. They dissolved and, unbeknownst to me, changed the water’s chemistry, killing my red male veiltail. Well, that and he was in a cube too small for him. Don’t use anything that dissolves in water over time, like shells.
- Painted gravel or decorations. The paint eventually flakes off and kills the fish.
- Ceramic that is not safe to eat off of.
- Small plastic toys, since they also degrade in water over time and leech poisons into the water. Don’t even get painted plastic toy decorations from pet stores, since you are not sure if the paint has been sealed.
In Conclusion: Have Fun!
You can center your betta tank on what kind of bettas are in it or what decorative theme you want to use. Be sure to do your research, take your time and have fun.
About the author
Hi, I am Rena.
I grew up in a house surrounded by fish tanks.
I have spent my life caring for and writing about fish.
I have studied journalism and worked for online and print magazines.
You can find the articles I wrote here