Betta fish are the go-to pet for many people, both young and old, experienced and inexperienced. It's a common misconception that betta fish are very simply creatures that only need a small tank and some food to thrive. In reality, that's not the case, as betta fish have quite a few requirements that need to be met. Upon hearing this, you may be wondering: How much does a betta fish cost?
We've calculated that the initial cost of owning a betta fish is between $205 and $345, while the yearly costs after that are between $60 and $85. These numbers are rough estimates, though, and the exact amount that you pay can depend on a few different factors.
Betta Fish Cost Breakdown
There are quite a few different factors of betta fish ownership beyond the cost of the actual fish that will cost you money. Supplies such as the tank, tank accessories, food, and medical care all must be considered when calculating a betta fish's total cost. In the table below, we have broken down both the initial costs and the recurring yearly costs that you should expect to pay.
The column labeled "Initial Cost" is how much you'll have to pay during the first year of ownership, including the necessary initial supplies. The "Yearly Cost" column includes the prices of products that you'll need to buy throughout the duration of your betta fish's life. For detailed breakdowns of each category, either click on the name of the product or service, or simply scroll down past the table.
Product / Service
$10 - $15
$50 - $80
$30 - $50
$15 - $40
$10 - $30
$10 - $20
$30 - $50
$30 - $50
$30 - $40
$10 - $15
$205 - $345
$60 - $85
Cost Of Purchasing The Betta Fish Itself
The betta fish itself is only a very small percentage of the total cost of betta fish ownership. There isn't a specific price set for betta fish, so the actual costs may very. However, you shouldn't have to pay much for a healthy betta -- generally no more than $15
When it comes to betta fish purchasing, or any pet for that matter, cheaper usually doesn't mean better. There are many stores including Walmart and PetSmart that stock betta fish and offer them for extremely low prices. You shouldn't seek out these fish, though, as they're kept in terrible conditions and generally very unhealthy. Not only will these fish be unhealthy, but purchasing them supports this bad behavior by companies.
When purchasing a betta fish, you'll want to get it from a safer and more reputable store. Check out local small pet stores near you, as many actually care about the animals and keep them in good conditions. Additionally, you could purchase a betta fish from a breeder from a site like aquabid.com. Betta fish kept in better conditions are usually a bit more expensive, but are well worth the premium.
Betta Fish Tank & Accessories Costs
A betta fish has more requirements than simply being thrown into a small bowl with some rocks and food. They have needs that are rarely ever met by casual betta fish owners, but they must be met if you want your betta fish to live a full life. Fortunately, many of these required items only need to be purchased once and last a lifetime with proper maintenance.
Your betta fish's tank will likely be the most expensive thing that you purchase. The absolute minimum tank size that you can get for your betta fish is 5 gallons. Anything less than that could have negative effects on your betta as they love having plenty of room to swim around and hide. A quality tank such as this one will set you back a little less than $100, but it's well worth the investment.
One thing to note is that some tanks, including the one linked above, come with built-in filters and lights. Both of these items are necessary for your betta fish, so it's generally cheaper to buy a tank that has these features included. Doing so will bring down your initial costs immensely -- below what we've listed out in the table.
If your betta's tank doesn't come with a built-in filter, you'll need to purchase one. A filter helps to keep your betta's tank clean and also replicates a slow moving stream -- something that bettas are used to swimming in. Many owners opt to use external canister filters such as this one, and they do an excellent job keeping a tank clean and filtered. Note that bigger tanks will require bigger filters, so look at the limitations of a filter before purchasing it.
A filter is usually a one-time purchase unless the filter is faulty in some way. Regular maintenance and changing of the internal filter is required, but it's not much of an investment time-wise or money-wise.
Regardless, a sufficient betta tank filter will generally only cost around $30 - $50.
Betta fish need to live in a specific temperature in order to remain healthy. The optimal betta fish temperature is between 78°F and 80°F, and it can never drop below 74°F. In order to ensure that your betta fish never experiences a sub-optimal water temperature, you should attach a simple thermometer to the outside of their tank and monitor it. This is a cheap $10 investment that goes a long way.
Of course, a thermometer won't do anything if you don't keep an eye on it. However, you shouldn't have to worry too much if you have a nice high-quality heater.
Fixing a reliable and effective heater to your betta fish's tank is a great way to ensure that their tank's water never dips below 74°F. Fortunately, there are quite a few tank heaters available such as this one that are inexpensive, effective, and even have a digital temperature display.
Don't cheap out on a heater, though, as a failed heater in the winter could be a death sentence for your betta. Quality tank heaters sell for around $40.
Most tanks these days come with built-in lighting, so this may not be a necessary purchase. It is necessary, though, if your tank doesn't have lights. A simple light setup is all that you need to provide your betta with artificial day and night time to get them on a healthy schedule.
You can get lights at both high and low price points. Cheap lights will put out consistent light, but more expensive lights may have a day and night mode or even come with a timer. Lights on a timer are generally preferred, as they keep your betta on a consistent schedule without you having to worry about it. Getting good lights running will only cost about $20.
Plants are an excellent way to spice up your betta's tank. They provide a fun place to hide and play in, which can have quite a few health benefits. Cheap plants such as these Marimo Moss Balls are safe and add a unique flare to your betta's tank. If live plants seem intimidating, you can still use plastic plants. Some plastic plants are very realistic and also make for great hiding spots. Make sure that the plastic plants that you buy aren't jagged or sharp, as they can tear through a betta fish's tail easily.
Several small, fake plants can be purchased for around $20 to $30.
Live plants should live for a long time if properly cared for, but don't be surprised if you need to replace them rarely. Additionally, some plants will require substrate to root into and get nutrients from. Quality substrate lasts up to 1.5 years, so it shouldn't be a big expense.
Betta Fish Consumables Costs
Most of the supplies that you'll purchase for your betta fish only need to be purchased once. This is excellent, as it means that yearly costs of ownership are relatively low. However, there are a few things that you'll need to purchase regularly. It's best that you get the highest quality version of these supplies that you can.
In the wild, betta fish are quite carnivorous, eating a wide variety of different creatures. This makes betta fish require a decent amount of protein in their daily diet. Therefore, your betta fish should have a diet that fulfills this protein requirement. A healthy betta fish diet consists of a standard betta pellet and freeze-dried bloodworms.
A single container of each of these foods should last several months for a betta fish, so your yearly food spend shouldn't be much at all. Live food can also be fed, but it's generally a decent bit more expensive than standard betta food. Expect to have an annual spend on betta fish food around $40.
Fish simply can't be placed into any kind of water and adapt instantly. The reality is that fish are actually quite finicky when it comes to their water, and they can experience serious health problems if their water isn't conditioned properly. A quality water conditioner does two main things for a fish and their water. First of all, it works to remove chlorine, chloramine, and other chemicals from water that could be harmful to a fish. It also protects the fish by using an Aloe vera mixture to replace their slime coat which may get damaged through handling.
Unfortunately, betta fish aren't able to be kept in a tank with the same water. It's recommended that 25% (or a bit less) of their tank water be changed out every 2 weeks. This is done to remove toxic buildup and debris from the water that occurs naturally over time. This results in about $10 of water conditioner spend per year.
Although betta fish are small, they can still get sick and require medicine just like humans. There are several different kinds of medicine that exist to tackle different problems, so you'll need to do research on what's wrong with your betta before purchasing a medication. Fortunately, a wide array of medicines are available that all cost close to nothing such as medication for parasitic fish disease, bacterial infection, and fungal fish infection.
Medication is something that can play a decent part in your annual expenses. Most owners will find that their bettas are in perfect health and don't require any medication. However, your betta may come down with an illness, in which case they'll need the appropriate medication. This can cost anywhere from $5 to almost $100.
Are Betta Fish Cheap To Own?
Overall, betta fish are relatively cheap pets to own. They are absolutely more expensive to own than most people may think, but that's because they're not aware of what a betta fish needs. Good betta fish owners go above and beyond to meet their fish's needs and make their environment as close to "natural" as it can get. Doing so does require a bit more money initially, but your betta fish will live a much happier, healthier, and overall longer life if you do go the extra mile.
So, while your betta fish may cost you several hundred dollars throughout their lifetime, the cost isn't substantial given what a great pet they are. Betta fish are very low-maintenance, but they're still incredible creatures to watch and admire the beauty of. I've owned several betta fish in my life, and every single one has been such a joy to have.