What to do before getting a betta
As when getting any fish, you want to be prepared. First, research the betta (as you are likely doing by reading this page!). Learn what to expect of his behavior, what equipment you need, water requirements, and what diseases are common. Second, set up his or her tank. Rinse out the tank thouroughly, and rub it down with a wet washcloth. Soap is not needed and shouldn’t be used. Treat the water and let the tank run for 3-4 days before adding any fish. This applies even to one gallon tanks. Get your food before hand. Make sure the tank is in a safe area. Tanks too close to the window may get too cold or too hot. You don’t want the tank where it will be bumped into, where it is not fully supported, or where its hard to access it.
Picking out and purchasing a betta
Its important to try and pick out the healthiest betta you can. If you are buying from a breeder, ask around on fish forums to see who has bought from this breeder. Reputations are pretty important in the fish hobby, and if you’re a bad breeder, people will soon know.
If you are buying from a pet store, try and find a pet store that has the most space for their bettas. Some pet stores keep their bettas in mason jars, and the pet store that does this is likely to take better care of them than one that doesn’t. You may also see bettas in the tanks with other fish. This is a better place for the betta to be than in tiny cups, but make sure to look at the other fish in the tank to check for illness. Finally, don’t buy from a store that doesn’t keep their bettas in very clean water. If the water is murky, or even yellow, don’t buy there. It often means disease.
When looking at the actual betta itself, there are several things to look for. Torn fins, curled fins, laying at the bottom, and heavy breathing are all possible indicators of disease. The ideal betta will have blown a bubble nest, be flaring at his neighbors, dancing around in his water, and have finnage that he loves to spread.