Bettas are tropical fish that enjoy a lot of popularity in the aquarium industry. This fame stems from the fact that they are pretty hardy. Bettas are native to Thailand and live in conditions harsher than most fish. But, this does not mean they can survive under any condition.
Most pet store owners will tell you that Bettas can live well in room temperatures. Unfortunately, this information is entirely false. While Bettas can get by if you keep them at room temperature, they will not thrive. To help them grow and stay healthy, they need a warm water temperature.
If there are temperature changes, it will stress your Betta. The Betta will be cold and not move around the tank or the bowl as much, making them sick.
The key to keeping your Betta healthy is to invest in a decent tank setup and a heater. This will go a long way and keep your Betta healthy.
We recommend a tank of at least 2.5 gallons, a filter, and a heater as a prerequisite for Betta caretakers.
To know more about Bettas, types of Bettas, and how to care for them, take a look at this guide.
The short answer to whether Bettas need a heater is: yes, they do. Bettas are sensitive to changes in temperature around them as they live in tropical climates. In a home setting or a cityscape, that temperature might fluctuate. To ensure that this does not make your Betta fall sick or be lethargic, you should invest in a sound heating system.
Having these add ons to your tank will ensure longevity for your fish.
Let us take an in-depth look at why a heater is so necessary for a Betta tank.
Do Betta Fish Need A Heater? – Detailed Answer
As mentioned earlier, Bettas prefer a warmer climate. It is evident, as they come from South-East Asia, that their water temperature is never cold. If the temperature goes below 68 degrees F, the Betta will feel unsettled. As a result, they fall sick.
The ideal room temperature is between 68 to 72 degrees F. You should always maintain this water temperature regardless of the external changes in the room. But, this is not enough. Though 68 degrees F is warm, it is not warm enough for a Betta fish tank.
The room temperature is bound to fluctuate with changes outside. For example, at night, your room might get colder, especially during winters. So, it is not advisable to depend on your room temperature.
Keep in mind that Bettas, like all fish in captivity, depend on you to keep them healthy. We recommend looking at this helpful guide to select the best heater for your Bettas..
How Important Is A Heater For Bettas?
So far, we have established that not having a sound heating system for your fish can cause discomfort to them.
One of the main reasons why providing proper heating can be a problem is that Bettas are usually kept in bowls or small tanks. This does not allow for enough space to set up a heater. Bettas are so popular because you can fit them anywhere. A small bowl without a filter or a heater is how most Bettas are kept in the household. The space crunch plus lack of proper water temperature prove fatal to Bettas. If you cannot get a heater or give your Betta a bigger space, you should prepare yourself to put in the extra effort to keep the fish healthy, even in filthy conditions.
It is unlikely that your Betta will thrive if you do not care for them well.
So, heaters for a Betta tank are a must.
How Do I Choose a Heater for my Betta?
Heaters are inexpensive, especially those needed for smaller tanks such as for Bettas. However, there are some heaters which may suit your needs better than the others.
There are many small-sized heaters available too for small Betta tanks.
You can consider many different heaters, such as fully or partially submersible heaters, adjustable, and pre-set heaters. Let us understand first what these are to make the right choice while selecting a heater for your fish.
Fully and Partially Submersible Heaters
These types of heaters are the best, as you can ‘submerge’ these into your water tank. They are better at saving space. If you have a small space and cannot make extra space for a heater, these heaters are your best bet. You can insert the fully submersible heater entirely inside the water. The partially submersible heater needs to have a part of the heater above the water level. We recommend getting a fully submersible heater (even though they cost a little more than the partially submersible ones) as they will heat the water throughout the tank.
Hang-on-tank heaters are the traditional heaters that you can stick or hang on your tank to heat the water. They use a suction cup or some other mechanism to fasten themselves on the tank. For a small tank, you can rely on these hang-on-tank heaters to keep your fish warm.
In the case of adjustable heaters, you have complete control of the temperature you would like to set for your tank. There are two varieties of adjustable heaters that aquarists use. The first one has certain marks so you can choose the number yourself. The second variety has a knob that you can turn around to set the temperatures to two settings: plus and minus. The adjustable heaters have a light that blinks on when the heater is heating the water. You are free to adjust the set point of the temperature. To measure the temperature, you will need to use a thermometer and once the heat reaches the desired degree, turn the knob again to switch the heater off.
As their name suggests, preset heaters come with preset settings. They are very limited in their use, as you will not be able to change the temperature. They come with a fixed temperature, and you can only perform two functions on them: on and off. So, these heaters can prove to be an inconvenience if you wish to change the water temperature. That being said, these are the cheapest options available. If you cannot afford the other heaters, then this one will do. If you have only a couple of Bettas in a bowl, you will be better off using the preset heaters.
Heaters also come in different shapes and sizes. Nowadays, the old designs, including an external suction cup, are no longer in use. Instead, some heaters are flat in shape or length or rectangular. There are specific Betta fish heaters too, which are round so they can fit at the bottom of your fishbowl!
These heaters are made in a way that allows them to be placed under your substrate. So you don’t even have to find a hiding place!
Also, no matter what heater you buy, it will not come with a thermometer to check the temperature. You will have to get a thermometer and use it in line with your heater. Thermometers are pretty cheap and will ensure that you are not overheating and under-heating the tank.
Some great heaters that you can easily purchase off of Amazon are listed below:
Cobalt Aquatics 31000 Neo-Therm Heater
My best recommendation is this new age heater comes with an in-built thermometer. It is the best submersible heater for its price. It also has a wide range of temperatures to set from 66 degrees to 96 degrees F. It will give a red light indicating that the water is sufficiently heated! It is also shatterproof and very compact, making it perfect for a small Betta tank.
In-Line External Heater Aquarium Heater
This heater is essentially a pump and is set up externally. You can buy the heater in the wattage of your choice. This is a small heater, and you can use it for a small to a medium-sized Betta tank. Get it here on Amazon.
If you are a first-timer buying a heater for your Betta, this detailed guide will help you make the best choice.
What’s The Ideal Temperature For Bettas?
The ideal temperature for your Betta fish is between 75 to 80 degrees F.
If the temperature fluctuates above or below these ranges, your fish will not stay healthy for long. So try to keep your temperature at a constant 78 to 80 degrees F to maintain the best health of your Bettas.
What Will Happen If Your Betta Gets Too Cold or Too Hot?
No fish does well in extreme temperature changes. Even the hardiest fishes struggle to adapt if the temperature of their habitat gets too cold or too hot. Bettas are the same. Bettas are used to warm living conditions, but that does not mean they can tolerate hot water. The same goes for very cold water.
If your Betta gets too cold, then it is because the tank temperature has dropped below 74 or 70 degrees F.
The first sign of a Betta feeling distressed is that it appears sluggish and lethargic. This is because the Betta is trying to slow its metabolism to generate enough heat to eat and survive in the tank. The Betta might completely stop eating as it gets weaker. (Sometimes, the fish not eating can also be due to other reasons. Check this guide on what to do if your fish stops eating altogether.)
You might also spot your Betta lying on the side. This means that it is trying to conserve energy, and this is never a good thing.
Due to this weakness, you will notice a loss of coloration on the Betta. Even the scales of the fish might appear pale and dull. This is because the Betta will tend to stay where it can get the most heat possible. Due to the lack of heat, the fish will be more vulnerable to infections or bacteria that might attack them.
Common illnesses will soon manifest in your fish, such as bacterial, fungal, fin rot, dropsy, etc.
As an aquarist, you must look for constant signs among your fish of any possible ailments. Then, get them treated as soon as possible by a professional.
If the situation is reversed and your Bettas get too hot, that will be a problem too. Most fish can only stay healthy at the same temperature around them. If your heater is overheating the tank, or if your tank is in a place where it gets pretty hot, then it is a bad thing for your Betta. The first sign of heat-induced illness that you will notice is that your fish swim strangely or erratically. This is because the extra heat around them will give them more energy and cause stress by making them hyperactive. The same result will follow; their immune system will weaken and be prone to diseases.
To prevent your tank from overheating, consider putting a fan over the water to cool it or reduce the water temperature.
As we have seen so far, Bettas are sensitive to water temperature fluctuations. If you want your Betta to thrive in the tank, keep your temperature between 78 to 80 degrees. Invest in a bigger tank if you can, and monitor the temperature and the fish for any irregularities. The secret to good fish rearing is to be attentive and notice signs of distress amongst the fish. One of the surest ways to ensure that your Betta stays in optimum condition is to give them proper heat. You can only do this through a sound heating system. Do your research to make sure that you are choosing the right heater for your Betta tank. Taking these precautions will help you care for these gentle creatures well.