Baby Betta Fish Care Recommendations & Tips for Success

Like any baby animal, baby betta fish are more fragile than adult bettas and require slightly different care.

Being more challenging to raise, baby bettas are better suited for more experienced fish keepers.

Both baby and adult betta fish require similar environmental conditions. But like all young animals, betta fry and babies are fragile, making proper care even more critical. Providing appropriate housing and nutrition is crucial for your baby betta’s growth, health, and survival.

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Co-Housing Betta Fry vs. Individual Tank Setup for Juvenile Bettas

Care requirements for betta fish depend on age. This includes housing and tank recommendations.

Recommended Housing and Tank Size for Baby Bettas

If you breed bettas, you may co-house the fry in the breeding tank for a few weeks. This breeding tank should be at least 10 gallons big.

Once they are a few weeks of age, bettas should be moved to a larger grow-out tank, ideally 35 gallons in size.

When they start showing their colors, bettas must be housed individually to prevent aggression. However, you may separate your babies even sooner.

An advantage of separating bettas earlier is better growth rates.

better baby betta growth rate data

This is because betta fish excrete a hormone that suppresses the appetite of smaller or weaker bettas in the aquarium, which stunts their growth. 

Please note baby bettas from pet stores are usually at least 2 to 3 months of age. Thus, they need to be housed individually immediately. 

A single baby betta’s tank should be 2.5 to 5 gallons big.

See our post about what you need during the breeding process.

Considerations When Choosing a Tank for Your Baby Betta

A baby betta tank must be at least 2.5 gallons big.

But a very large tank can make your fish feel exposed and vulnerable. Thus, choose a tank between 2.5 to 5 gallons big.

Aquariums come in different dimensions. A longer tank is better than a tall one to allow ample space for swimming.

Baby Betta Fish Tank Setup

Setting up a baby betta tank is similar to setting up an adult tank.

Setting up your baby betta tank:

  1. Install the sponge filter and air pump: A sponge filter is best. Other filters are too strong and can injure or suck up your fish.
  2. Set up LED lighting
  3. Add multiple plants
  4. Add water (leave some space at the top): Treat tap water to remove chlorine.
  5. Use a test kit like this one to check water quality
  6. Turn on the filter and adjust the flow rate
  7. Submerge the heater and thermometer: Set the temperature range to 80-82° degrees Fahrenheit (28° C).
  8. Run a fishless cycle (takes about 4 to 8 weeks) and confirm the nitrogen cycle is complete by testing the water

Once your bettas are large enough, you may add substrate. However, the substrate should not be used with tiny fry since they can get trapped underneath it. 

See our guide describing tank set-up in 10 simple steps.

Tips for Creating the Perfect Baby Betta Tank

Consider getting a spare aquarium heater in case your other one breaks. An extra heater might be life-saving since even temporary tank temperature fluctuations are dangerous.

It may be difficult to safely incorporate your heater inside your baby betta’s small tank. Instead, you could put your baby betta’s tank inside a larger water-filled tank.

Then, place the heater in the larger tank to provide heat indirectly. This creates distance between the heater and your fish to prevent burns.

Water Quality is a Crucial Part of Baby Betta Care

Water quality significantly affects your fish’s health.

Betta fry are especially sensitive to poor water conditions. Therefore, maintaining appropriate water parameters is essential to your baby betta’s growth and survival. 

Baby Betta Water Requirements

Bettas require properly treated dechlorinated water. 

Recommended water parameters for all life stages of betta fish: 

Ideal Water Parameters for a Betta Fish Tank Include the following:

  • Temperature: 78-80° degrees Fahrenheit (25.5-27° C)
  • pH: 6.5-7.5
  • Ammonia and Nitrite: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: < 40 ppm
  • gH: 3-4 dGH (50-66.7 ppm)
  • kH: 3-5 dKH (53.6-89.4 ppm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 Gallons

One water parameter which differs for baby bettas is temperature.

Baby bettas need slightly warmer water than adults. The ideal temperature for baby bettas is 80-82° degrees Fahrenheit (28° C). 

Refer to our post for more information about ideal betta water parameters

How to Maintain Good Water Quality for Your Baby Bettas

Many factors affect water quality, such as tank size, frequency of water changes, and type of food. 

Strategies to promote good water quality:

  • Ensure your tank is not too small
  • Use a sponge filter
  • Perform regular water changes
  • Test the water regularly
  • Avoid messy foods like blood worms
  • Avoid overfeeding

How to Feed Betta Fry and Babies

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A complete and balanced diet is essential to your fish’s health. Proper nutrition is vital in baby fish while they are growing. 

Food Options for Young Betta Fish of Different Ages

Like adult bettas, baby bettas need protein in their diet. Baby bettas’ diet should have variety.

Because of their tiny mouths and digestive tracts, baby betta fry cannot eat the same types of foods as adults. 

The main options for betta food are formulated/commercial (e.g., dry pellets), live, freeze-dried, or frozen. Bettas grow best when fed a mixture of formulated and live food. 

Some examples of live foods include mosquito larvae, Daphnia, Tubifex worms, and baby brine shrimp.

Unfortunately, live and frozen foods are sometimes contaminated with infectious diseases like parasites.

This is why you must buy food from a reputable source. 

The risk of contamination is lower with commercially formulated and freeze-dried foods. However, food loses nutrients during the freeze-drying process.

Commercially formulated betta pellets provide more consistent nutrition than live food. But pellets cannot be fed to baby bettas until they reach a certain age.

Some baby bettas may not be willing to eat pellets. Therefore, you must monitor your fish to ensure it is eating and not losing weight. 

I generally recommend avoiding frozen foods since these are difficult to divide into small portions. Additionally, frozen foods create dirty water when they melt. 

For the first couple of days after hatching, betta fry get nutrition from their yolk sacs and do not need to be fed.

You will need to start feeding your baby betta as soon as it starts swimming freely.

During the first week after hatching, I recommend feeding infusoria (tiny aquatic organisms). Because infusoria is a liquid fry food, I recommend using a small eyedropper.

As your baby betta grows, you may slowly introduce larger foods. 

See our post to learn more about food options for betta fish.

How Many Times a Day Should You Feed Your Baby Betta?

Baby bettas need smaller, more frequent meals to accommodate their tinier digestive tracts while providing enough nutrients for growth.

They should be fed small meals 2 to 4 times per day until they are about 2 to 3 months old.

These meals should be about 6 to 8 hours apart to give your fish enough time to digest. 

Feeding Tips for Baby Bettas

Helpful tips for feeding your baby betta:

  • Blood worms are messy. Opt for Tubifex worms instead.
  • Crush pellets, so they are small enough for your baby betta to eat. This also prevents bloating and constipation from whole pellets.
  • Betta pellets are more nutritious and less messy than flakes.
  • Remove any uneaten food after 5 minutes to prevent overfeeding and water pollution.

Acclimating Your Baby Betta

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When introducing your baby betta to a new tank, you must first acclimate it to the new water temperature.

Whether you’re going from a grow-out tank or just got your baby betta from a pet store and are transferring from a cup to an individual tank, you must perform this step.

The temperature of the water your baby betta is currently in will not be the same as the temperature of the water in its new tank.

If you introduce your baby betta into a new tank without acclimating it, the temperature shock can cause stress, illness, or even death.  

How to Acclimate Your Baby Betta to a New Tank

Follow these steps to acclimate your baby betta before introducing it to a new tank:

Pet store bettas usually come in a plastic bag.

Float the bag in the new tank.

Alternatively, if you are transferring your betta from a grow-out tank, transfer it with some water from the grow-out tank into a floatable container. Then float the container in the new tank.

Wait until the water temperature in the container or bag is the same as the new aquarium water. 

Using a net, transfer your betta into its new tank without spilling any old water into the new tank.

What to Expect After Introducing Your Betta to a New Tank

Your baby betta might hide while adjusting to its new environment. Introducing a fish into a new tank is stressful. So it is crucial to monitor your betta for signs of illness. 

Baby Betta Health

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Baby bettas are delicate and require careful monitoring to keep them healthy.

Signs of a Healthy Baby Betta and Abnormal Symptoms to Watch For

A healthy baby betta should be pretty active.

It is natural for bettas to hide periodically between plants. But your betta should still swim easily around the tank throughout the day, surfacing occasionally.

A healthy fish should also have a consistently good appetite. 

Not all diseases, especially in mild cases, cause noticeable symptoms. But there are certain warning signs to look out for. 

Signs your baby betta may be sick:

  • Lethargy (hiding more, swimming less, labored breathing)
  • Decreased appetite
  • Clamped fins
  • Red or brown fins with jagged edges
  • Floating or sinking with a bloated belly
  • Droopy tail
  • Paleness
  • New spots or stripes on the body

What to Do If Your Baby Betta Looks Sick

If you see any of the symptoms described above, I recommend consulting a veterinarian as soon as possible. 

In my veterinary opinion, it is always better to be safe.

I always tell owners they know their pets best, which applies to fish, too.

So, if you have any concerns about your baby betta’s health, I recommend reaching out to your vet.

Many betta diseases require medication and may be life-threatening.

Because baby bettas are more fragile than adult bettas, early disease recognition and treatment are critical. 

Most veterinarians, including myself, agree most health issues in exotic pets, including betta fish, are due to improper care.

Thus, tank maintenance and proper nutrition are crucial to your baby betta’s well-being.

If you think your baby betta might be sick, a good first step is to test the water parameters and confirm the temperature.

Stress weakens the immune system, so it is also essential to eliminate any possible sources of stress in your betta’s environment. 

Examples of possible stressors:

  • Insufficient hiding places
  • Frequent water changes
  • Visible aggressive fish in nearby aquariums

Common Health Problems in Baby Betta Fish

Numerous diseases can affect betta fish.

The common health issues in baby bettas are the same ones affecting adult bettas. Some examples include fin rot, velvet, ich, and swim bladder issues. 

Selective breeding has led to the stunning variety of appearances of bettas. However, cross-breeding bettas increases the risk of health problems like cancer.

So it is essential to check your baby betta for birth defects like eye and spine abnormalities.  

Visit our post to see a more detailed list of common betta diseases.

Baby Betta Tank Maintenance

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Maintaining your fish tank is essential to sustain good water quality, significantly impacting your baby betta’s overall health.

Baby Bettas Require Regular Water Testing and Water Changes

Adult bettas typically require partial, weekly water changes.

But since baby betta fish eat more often, you may need to change the water more frequently.

Additionally, sorority tanks co-housing fry may require more frequent water changes.

Thus, I recommend changing 20 to 25% of the water twice a week and testing the parameters after each water change.

Depending on the test results, you may need to change the water more or less frequently. 

Helpful Hints for Maintaining Your Baby Betta Tank

Baby bettas may require more frequent water changes than adults.

But remember, water changes are stressful and should not be done more than necessary.

Do not change more than 25% of the water at once since drastic changes can make your fish sick.

Aquarium siphons come in different sizes.

Avoid large siphons, which can accidentally suck up your baby betta. Airline tubing works well as a siphon.

Baby Betta Care Takeaways

Raising baby betta fish is not easy.

But you can increase your chances of success by providing the appropriate environmental conditions and nutrition based on your baby betta’s age. 

Because baby bettas are fragile, it is vital to take the time to learn as much information about these fish as possible.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of conflicting and incorrect information online. So make sure you refer to expert and reliable sources such as your veterinarian.

As a child, I had two baby bettas. Unfortunately, only one of them survived to adulthood.

I wish I had known these tips about baby betta care back then. But I am hopeful this information will help you raise a happy and healthy betta fish.

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Dr. Amanda Takiguchi is a veterinarian working to promote client education through her writing. She primarily works with dogs and cats but also loves exotic species like betta fish! When she is not promoting animal welfare, Dr. Takiguchi loves to dance and spend time with her two dogs.

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