Red Betta Fish Care Guide

How big do red betta fish get

Red Betta Fish Care Guide7 mins read

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Red betta fish care guide
Image from Pexels

The red betta fish, or Siamese Fighting Fish, is intricate and extraordinarily beautiful. Intelligent and occasionally challenging, it is very rewarding to keep.

Have you ever felt daunted by the idea of keeping a betta fish?

Don’t be! If you’re ready to take the plunge, we have all the facts here. We’ll also show you the difference between keeping a red female betta fish and a male.

Remember, once you have fallen in love with this freshwater fish species there is no going back. The male is more popular, but this guide will break down sorority tanks for your female red betta fish too. Read on for care, feeding, tank setup, sex difference, and more interesting facts about this stunning variety.

Breed Overview

OriginThe Red Betta Fish was first Domesticated in Thailand and originated from Southeast Asia.
LifespanThe betta Fish has a short lifespan of around 2-5 years.
SizeThey are quite small, around 6 -8 CN, (2.4-3.2 Inches), usually not reaching more than 3 inches.
ColourThe red betta Fish comes in brownish Red, Dark red, or Scarlet red Color Variations.
Tank SizeA tank of around 3 -5 gallons is ideal, however, you can go as small as 1 gallon per fish.
TemperamentBettas in General are aggressive towards males of the same species, but in general they are quite social.
Water TypeFreshwater
Water TemperatureWater temperatures between 24-28 degrees Celsius, or (75-82 Fahrenheit).
Water pHThey enjoy a neutral pH of 7.0 or higher.
Care LevelIntermediate to Advanced.

Species Information

Species information of red betta fish
They were initially bred as Fighting fish for gambling purposes, because of their aggression towards each other in confined spaces. Image from Wiki

The red betta fish is a species called the Betta Splendens, or Siamese Fighting Fish. Native to South East Asia, it originated in Thailand as a domesticated fish 1000 years ago.

Betta Fish have an extremely diverse and very colorful form and structure in general and they are low maintenance to keep. You’ll be pleased to know the red betta fish is no different!

Initially people bred them as Fighting fish for gambling purposes. As a result, they have lots of aggression towards each other in confined spaces.

Males are extremely aggressive towards each other and territorial. Thus, you should never keep two male red betta fish together. However, the red female betta fish is more tolerant should you give them enough space.

Color Variations Of The Red Betta Fish

Betta Fish, in general, come in many colors – Blue, Orange, Red, Gold, and rare colors like white and purple. They may have a solid body color, lighter fins, or marbled colors. Some may even have more than one color.

Even with just the red betta fish, you may be spoilt for choice!

Here are the main color options:

  • Brownish red
  • Dark Deep red
  • Super red
  • Scarlet red
  • Red Bi-Color
  • Marbled red

In some cases, betta fish may change colors. This can be due to age, illness or stress. It results in a more marbled coloration, but however pretty, you might need to check your water conditions. Take a look especially at tank temperatures if you do notice faded or marbled color changes.

What doesn’t change is your fish’s fin shapes. Both the male and the female red betta fish can have a variety of fin types, so read on for a guide to your options:

Finnage Types

Breeders have similarly developed different finnage and scale variations in these fish. Generally these apply to both sexes, although the red female betta fish often has less showy finnage. Some of the most common are below:

  • Veiltail – The Most Common Tail type that has extended length and caudal fin rays only split once.
  • Crowntail – Extended Fin rays and the tail resembles a crown.
  • Combtail – A less extended version of the Crown Tail.
  • Halfmoon – There is a “D” shaped Caudal fin with 180-degree edges on the tail that are more straight and defined.
  • Rosetail – The Finnage is so much that it overlaps and resembles a rose.
  • Feather Tail – Similar to the Rosetail with a rough appearance.
  • Plakat – The Tail and Fins are short, which you find mostly in wild bettas.
  • Elephant Ear – The Pectoral fins will be much larger than normal, and looks like elephant ears, usually white.
  • Spade Tail – The Tail, or Caudal Fin has a wider base and narrower point, resembling a spade.

Red Betta Fish Size

Red betta fish size
Most betta fish species except Giant species will grow to a length of around 6-8 cm (2.4 – 3.1 inches). Image From Flickr

Most betta fish species, except giant species, will grow to a length of around 6-8 cm (2.4 – 3.1 inches). There is much more to the Betta Fish Size in our guide, “How Big Do Betta Fish Get” if you need more detail.

However, most red betta fish will not reach over 3 inches in size.

General Care

Betta Fish, in general, are popular freshwater fish that have an elegant and sophisticated demeanor. With gorgeous vivid colors available, they are extremely eye-catching in any aquarium.

With proper information and care, even beginners can keep them. Generally, they are a fish species for a more knowledgeable beginner or experienced Aquarist. The red betta fish will require a more tropical climate, though they can survive in colder climates. They are more suited to pH-neutral water.

What should you feed your betta fish?

As they are carnivores, you will need to invest in good quality high protein foods. But before we dive in further, let’s start with setting up a proper Aquarium for your red betta fish.

1. Setting Up Your Tank

Setting up your red betta tank
There may be some debate, though a proper size tank for a Betta fish should be around 3-5 gallons. Image from PxFuel.

Choosing A Tank

You may have frequently seen betta fish living in small cups or bowls. These and other confined spaces within the tanks of pet traders especially common for the males.

This is generally to stop them fighting and save space. However, though they can survive in these small spaces, it is not ideal for them. They will live a longer and much happier life in a larger tank with a proper setup.

There may be some debate, but a proper size tank for a red betta fish should be around 3-5 gallons. Still, if you clean it regularly you can get away with a 1 Gallon tank for a single red betta fish.

Male betta fish are solitary and aggressive towards each other especially. They can cohabitate with some species of fish and invertebrates, but you must provide them with enough space and hiding places.

Unfortunately, this is a risk that you are taking. Compatibility with other fish will rely mostly on the temperament of the individual Betta Fish. This is especially with males, which are mostly chosen because they are much more visually appealing than female red betta fish.

Water Conditions

Betta Fish depend on more tropical climates usually ranging between 24 – 28 degrees Celsius (75 – 82 Degrees Fahrenheit), so you may need an Aquarium heater and thermometer. Though they can survive in much colder climates, it does tend to weaken their immune system. This, in turn, will make them more prone to disease.

Betta Fish do need a neutral pH of 7.0 or more, and they can tolerate low oxygen levels. However, this will also make them more susceptible to disease. Furthermore, an overcrowded sorority tank of red female betta fish will be more prone to disease too.

You will need to be careful in the selection of a mechanical filter. Betta fish enjoy still water rather than a current yet need a filter to keep water conditions at peak levels. You can likewise supplement with live Aquatic plants. These are an excellent natural form of water filtration and cleaning, as well as a source of oxygen.

Tank Set-Up And Decor

There’s a lot to choose from when setting up a tank for any fish! The red betta fish is no different. read on for a breakdown of the different things you must consider.

  • Substrate

I want to start off with the substrate of your tank as a basis which is quite important for betta Fish in terms of what you choose. According to the “Japanese fighting Fish Organization”, gravel will be your best choice in terms of tank maintenance, and sand is the next best option, though you will need to rake it regularly as it can become compact. Always avoid marble as it traps debris and you will need to move it around for cleaning.

  • Plants And Decor

Because the betta fish in general is such an inquisitive and intelligent fish species, it will require plenty of stimulation. This prevents it from becoming bored and depressed, which may lead to weakness and illness.

Firstly, be mindful that ornaments and synthetic plants with rough textures and sharp edges will easily damage their very delicate fins. Betta fish do spend plenty of time concealing themselves. So ornaments and plants that allow them to hide will be welcomed, and keep them feeling secure.

Here are a few types of decorations you can choose from:

  • Plastic Plants
  • Driftwood
  • Rocks
  • Caves
  • Castles
  • Other ornaments

Live Plants that they enjoy include:

  • Floating Plants, such as the Amazon Frognit, Red Root Floaters, and water Sprites.
  • You can float Indian Almond leaves in your tank, they help to reduce water hardness and have several other health benefits for Betta Fish.
  • Stationary Plants such as Anubias, Java ferns, Marimo Moss Balls, betta Bulbs, Amazon Sword Plants, and Vallisneria can be placed inside the tank.

2. Choosing A Healthy Red Betta Fish

Choosing a healthy red betta fish
Eyes on the Red betta Fish need to be a clear black color, with no white or pale discoloring.

When selecting where to purchase your red betta fish you may have three choices; a pet store, breeder, or online. You must choose a healthy red betta fish that was raised in a clean, and healthy environment.

Therefore, always make sure that you trust the source of your new Fish.

Wondering what you should be looking for? Here are some tips to help you select a healthy fish:

  • Size – You may want to opt for a younger or juvenile Betta fish that already has an established eating routine. Avoid older and baby betta Fish.
  • Color – For Red betta Fish the color needs to be a bright Vibrant red or a deep and dark almost brownish red. Juveniles may have stripes, however, stripes in adult betta fish usually indicate illness.
  • Fins – The Fins should not show any signs of wounds, spots, discoloration, or disease. They should be flowing and not ragged or clamped.
  • Gills – Also take a glance at their gills, both gills should open and close easily at the same time, with no prominent red markings around them.
  • Body – The Body should look healthy and streamlined. There should be no lumps, bumps scale sticking out, or white spots, and the belly should not be swollen. If there is a red female betta fish with a swollen belly, however, she may be pregnant.
  • Eyes – Eyes on the Red betta Fish need to be a clear black color, with no white or pale discoloring.

3. Choosing A Male Or Female Red Betta Fish

A small matter to consider before purchasing your Red Betta Fish – you most likely have your heart set on a male, as most people do. Males are much more attractive than the red female betta fish, however, they are also much more aggressive. So if you want to keep a single fish, a male will be perfect and also most appealing.

On the other hand, you could keep your male betta fish with other tank mates.

Are you wondering whether you could pair him with a female red betta fish? This is possible but can be extremely risky. Male betta fish are territorial, aggressive, and usually solitary fish. They may or may not attack other fish, even females, depending on the individual fish, and its mood.

The female red betta fish can also be aggressive, but not as much as males. They also tend to be more social. So if you want to keep other fish with your red betta fish, consider the female red betta fish and the option of a sorority tank.

Here are some differences between the male red and red female betta fish:

Male Rose Petal Red Betta

Male Rose Petal Red Betta
Males generally have much longer and thicker fins and caudal fins. Image from Flickr
  • Males have very vibrant and vivid colors.
  • Males have a much more elongated and elegant body and are flatter from side to side.
  • Males generally have much longer and thicker fins and caudal fins.
  • When males flare their “beard”, behind the gills it’s larger, and the flare is more flamboyant.
  • Males are extremely aggressive and should only be placed with a female for mating. They are aggressive towards other males and can be towards other fish species.
  • Males create bubble nests at the surface of the tank to protect eggs, with their saliva.

Female Halfmoon Red Betta

Female Halfmoon Red Betta
Females flare a much smaller “beard” and tilt their heads down rather. Image From Flickr
  • Females are not as colorful as males. They display vertical stripes on their body when they are ready to mate.
  • Females have wider and shorter, stout bodies.
  • Caudal and ventral fins of the female are noticeably shorter and less thick.
  • The female red betta fish flares a much smaller “beard” and tilts its head down rather.
  • Females may be aggressive toward a single female but can be kept with a group of females, so as not to bully a singled-out female.
  • Similarly, in some cases, females may also create a bubble nest at the surface of the tank. However, this is quite rare among female betta Fish.

4. Placing Your Betta Fish In Its New Tank

Placing your betta fish in its new tank
The best method to add a new fish to its new home is to leave the unopened bag floating in the new tank for 20 to 30 minutes for the fish to get used to the water temperatures and surroundings. Image From Flickr

Before adding your new red betta fish to your Aquarium, the aquarium needs to be fully settled and cycled for at least 5 days to a week. You can add some additional water conditioners to relieve stress.

Did you know that betta Fish have a protective slime coat? This gets rubbed off when they are netted and handled. Thus you need to be extremely careful as they are more fragile at this point.

The best method to add a new fish, either the male or the red female betta fish, to its new home is gradually. Try to leave the unopened bag floating in the new tank for 20 to 30 minutes.

This allows the fish to get used to the water temperatures and surroundings. Then you can remove a cup of water from the bag and replace it with water from the tank.

Do this every 15 minutes for around an hour. Lastly, you can release your fish into the water, and take care not to empty the contents of the bag. This could contain plenty of ammonia from waste, which then goes into the water.

Selecting Tank Mates

Selecting tank mates for Red Betta Fish, especially males, can be quite tricky.

As we mention, you can never house two males, a male, and a female red betta fish, or two female red betta fish together. You can try and house a group of red female betta fish together though.

What about tank mates of other species?

Most betta fish, even males, can get along with a few types of fish and invertebrates. Just ensure that you have enough tank space and hiding places for your Betta fish.

Unfortunately, it is a risk that you are taking. How your new Betta fish is going to interact with other fish will depend entirely on the temperament of the individual fish.

When selecting tank mates to start with, choose tropical and communal fish. Ideal choices tend to shoal, and are not territorial.

Is there anything you should avoid?

Stay clear of fish that have long flowing fins and that have very bright coloring. These features are inviting to betta fish to attack. Also, stay clear of predatory fish that may in turn nip at your Betta fish. This can damage its fins or erode its slime coat.

Here is a list of some good choices in tank mates to keep with your Betta Fish:

  • Tetras – They are peaceful and you can keep them in larger groups.
  • Loaches – Loaches are peaceful scavenger fish that feed off the bottom of the tank and can help to keep your tank clean. There are also many color variations available in this fish species. They are good for a sorority of red female betta fish, as they will stay out of your fish’s way.
  • Malaysian Trumpet Snails are ideal for Betta fish. They are nocturnal and burrow in the substrate during the day. This snail is hardworking when it comes to helping to keep your tank clean.
  • The Rasbora comes in quite a few colors that will enhance your tank. They are peaceful and fast, so your Betta can chase them for some much-deserved enrichment. Opt for a school of at least six Rasboras.
  • Corydoras – They are a type of catfish that are easygoing and also help to keep the tank clean. They are mainly bottom feeders and are great for a sorority of female red betta fish.

5. Tank Maintenance

Tank maintenance of red betta fish
When the water is at the right temperature and condition you can add it to your tank.

A dirty tank is unhealthy for any type of tropical or freshwater fish, and can easily cause them to become stressed or ill. To keep your Betta Fish healthy and happy weekly maintenance of the tank is best.

You can follow these steps for easy maintenance:

  • Remove at least 20 – 30 % of the water from your tank with a suction pipe from the bottom.
  • Fill a separate container with the same amount of water, roughly the same temperature as the water in your tank.
  • Add your water conditioner and test the pH and temperature of the water.
  • When the water is at the right temperature and condition you can add it to your tank.

You can also invest in a tank vacuum, which will come in quite handy for cleaning.

If you need to do a more thorough cleaning of your tank, these steps on WikiHow, will explain more in-depth about cleaning your Betta fish tank.

6. Feeding

Feeding to red betta fish
A proper diet for your Betta fish should consist mostly of proteins. Image from Flickr

Betta fish are mostly carnivorous and in nature will feed on small crustaceans, larvae of aquatic insects, and zooplankton.

You can feed your betta fish good quality pellets or flakes that you buy from a trusted pet store or breeder. You can also order them online.

How can you make your fish’s diet more interesting?

Betta Fish also enjoy live and frozen foods such as brine Shrimp, Bloodworms, and daphnia.

Keep in mind Betta fish have a short digestive tract which makes it difficult for them to digest most types of carbohydrates, which is usually included in most fish food as filler. A proper diet for your Betta fish should consist mostly of proteins.

How To Feed Your Betta Fish

Betta fish are quite greedy eaters and will easily overeat, which can lead to obesity, constipation, and swim bladder disease. It is advised to only feed your Betta fish once a day with an amount of food that it can finish within 3-5 minutes depending on the size and age of your Betta fish. However, female red betta fish may eat more when pregnant. Either way, you should remove all leftover foods.

Did you know that Betta fish can go for weeks without eating?

It is not uncommon for Betta fish to lose their appetite for a day or two. Sometimes it is also recommended for you to allow them a one-day fast every now and again. However, don’t let them go any longer than this.

Temperament And Personality

Temperament and personality in red betta fish
Betta Fish are aggressive in nature and can become extremely territorial over a certain space, rock, or plant in their tank. Image from Flickr

The Betta fish is known as the Siamese Fighter fish for good reason.

Betta fish were initially bred for Fighting as a form of Gambling, similar to dog fighting. However today they are kept as pets for their gorgeous colors and elegance, along with their quite complex and socially interactive behavioral patterns.

Research has even indicated that Betta fish are capable of associative learning. This means they will eventually start to respond to certain stimuli consistently.

Betta Fish are aggressive and can become extremely territorial over a certain space, rock, or plant in their tank. The females tend to be slightly less aggressive.

Another interesting fact about Betta fish is that they will attempt to leap out of their tank. Sometimes they are successful, thus you should always cover their tank.

Aggression In The Female Red Betta Fish

Although female red betta fish can be similarly aggressive as males, they are usually much less intense and frequent. if you keep the red female betta fish in groups, they eventually develop an order of dominance, called a “pecking order”. In the case where you house two females together, one will pick on the other weaker female. Likewise, you cannot keep males and females together.

The male betta fish becomes more placid during the bubble nesting phase when they want to start attracting a mate for breeding.

Common Health Issues

Common health issues in red betta fish
One of the biggest issues I have found with Betta fish is when they are fed poor quality flakes or pellets, containing carbohydrate fillers.

Betta fish need a clean tank, a good diet, and some Exercise to stay healthy and thriving. You can play chase with a stick for a short period for exercise, or they will sometimes chase after smaller fish.

One of the biggest issues with Betta fish is when they are fed poor quality flakes or pellets. These contain carbohydrate fillers and can cause digestive issues and swim bladder. They also tend to overeat.

The five most common Illnesses found in Betta Fish are:

  1. White Spot – White Spot or Ich is a Parasite caused by poor tank conditions.
  2. Velvet – Sometimes called Gold Dust, or Rust disease because in these cases the infected fish develop a dusty goldish brown color due to a parasite.
  3. Fin Rot – Fin rot is a Bacterial infection that starts in the fins and spreads to the body. The disease is mainly caused when you keep betta fish in communal tanks where other fish may nip at their fins.
  4. Dropsy – Dropsy is caused because of a compromised immune system, and will cause bloating, difficulty in breathing, and your Bettas scales to stick out.
  5. Physical Damage – Betta fish do have a slime coating to protect them. The fish can easily sustain fin damage by handling, or sharp and rough textured plants and decor in the tank.

Most of these conditions can easily be treated with antibiotics and medication from your veterinarian. If your Betta fish has White Spot, you may need to quarantine it from other fish for a while as it is a contagious parasite.

Breeding Betta Fish

Discover how to mate betta fish
As soon as the breeding tank is fully cycled, prepared with plants, and the humidity is right, you can add the FEMALE first.

Betta Fish are quite tricky to breed because they are so aggressive and territorial. However, it is possible to breed Betta fish at home, and it can be very rewarding.

Breeding Betta fish is quite a long process and if you are serious about this endeavor, you can read more in-depth about their breeding and mating habits in “How to Do Betta Fish Mate”, from our trusted source Your Aquarium Guide.

However, here are the basics for breeding Betta fish to give you an idea of where to start and what to expect.

You may have a single male Betta fish with its tank mates, or maybe a few female red betta fish. Keep males separate from females in their own tank with tank mates. Conversely, people keep females in what we call a sorority of at least four or more.

Additionally, you will therefore need a specifically dedicated breeding tank:

1. Breeding Tank For Betta Fish

The breeding tank can be around 10 gallons with no substrate and a water depth of no more than five inches. It needs to be kept in a quiet place that does not get too much direct light.

The breeding tank must be filled with plenty of plants and hiding places, especially floating plants such as Indian Almond leaves for the Male to Create Bubble nests for the eggs. You also want high humidity in the tank so it can be covered with plastic wrap to create humidity.

2. Conditioning Your Male And Female Betta

It is important to get your male and female Betta fish in a healthy and well-fed condition before mating. Feed them a protein-rich meaty diet with plenty of bloodworms, tubifex worms, and daphnia especially. You can feed them four times a day, but only in small quantities.

3. Choosing A Breeding Pair

We have gone through some of the different color variations, and types of finnage in both male and red female betta fish, so if you would like to breed for a specific color or finnage, it is wise to choose a male and female of the same species. Betta fish should be around 6 to 12 months before they can breed, but not older than 14 months.

4. Adding Your Betta Fish To The Breeding Tank

As soon as the breeding tank cycles fully, has plenty of plants, and the humidity is right, you can add the FEMALE first. Allow her to roam and inspect the tank. You can place the male, later on, in a divided section of the tank. You can also use the smaller dividers available pet stores as a barrier inside the tank.

They should inspect each other and become acquainted first. You will notice less aggressive swimming from both fish, the red female betta fish will form vertical stripes on her body, and randomly shed eggs, whereas the male will start creating a bubble nest. You can now with careful supervision remove the divider.

5. Mating

The Male may wrap around the female to help her push out the eggs which he will then fertilize. After all the eggs have been laid and fertilized the male will chase the female away and carefully place the eggs in the bubble nest that he has created at the surface of the tank to protect the eggs.

The male uses his saliva to create small bubbles in which he places each egg. The red female betta fish may also inspect the bubble nest beforehand to ensure that this is the right mate for her. Now you can remove the female from the breeding tank.

6. Egg And Hatchling Care

Believe it or not, the male essentially takes care of the eggs and the hatchlings (for a short time, around 3 to 6 weeks) until they become independent. Then, you must remove the male as he can become aggressive towards the older fry. You can now feed the Vinegar Eels and Micro worms. After around two months when they start showing more aggression, you must remove them and place them in separate tanks, or rehome them.

To Conclude

red betta fish
Betta fish do need a proper tank with plenty of plants and decorations to keep them stimulated. Image from WallpaperFlare

You may have seen betta fish in small bowls and pet stores and even advertised, and this is not a good practice. Betta fish do need a proper tank with plenty of plants and decorations to keep them stimulated. They have fragile flowing fins so opt for natural or silk plants rather than hard plastic, and safer decorations.

Betta fish should be interacted with as much as possible by you, and the tank needs to be placed in a spot where the fish can see you and get to know you. Both male and red female betta fish are very intelligent. They tend to get bored fast, and then become depressed and ill. A few tank mates may give them some enrichment, however, they should be selected with care.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I keep betta fish with other fish?
For the most part, it will depend entirely on the individual Betta fish, especially males. Male Betta fish can be kept with other species of fish that are peaceful and that are less attractive. It is ideally good enrichment for them to be housed with fish that Shoal and that are fast as they can chase them around for fun. Males and Females should never be housed together, and females should be housed in a group of four or more.
Are female betta fish less aggressive than males?
Female Betta Fish are also quite aggressive however not as intensely or frequently as males, so in a sense, they are slightly calmer. Males are usually chosen because of their more appealing colors and fins.
How big do red betta fish get?
Red Betta Fish, in captivity, will get up to between 6- 8 cm in size (2.4 to 3.1 inches). It is very rare to find Betta fish in general that grow much larger than 3 inches or 8 cm.
Do red betta fish change color during mating?
Red Betta Fish will have a much deeper and darker color when they are ready to mate, and you will notice vertical stripes on the female. This means that they are ready for mating.
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Tal Halperin

Tal is an avid fish keeper and has been raising ornamental fish for decades. As a little boy, he drove his father crazy to buy him an aquarium with all the necessary equipment. Now, after a career in the field, he has set up Your Aquarium Place to offer the most comprehensive guide to ornamental fish keeping available and share his passion for the different species he has looked after.