Are Betta Fish Freshwater Or Saltwater

The Betta fish (Betta Splendens) originate in parts of Southeast Asia. They are also known as Siamese fighting fish because of their aggressive nature, and male bettas have beautiful flowing fins that come in many colors.

Bettas are very popular and can be found in pet stores all over the world.

Betta fish are freshwater labyrinth fish, not saltwater. They prefer soft water with a degree of hardness (dH) less than 25. Betta’s also prefer a neutral to slightly acidic fish tank water pH of around 6.5-7. Some people think they live in saltwater because they can tolerate salt better than other fish.

Some people think betta fish live in saltwater because they live in rice paddies, ponds, and slow-moving streams in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos, which may occasionally have some salt due to tidal flows or relentless monsoon rains that flood them for short periods.

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Labyrinth fish have an organ called the labyrinth organ, which enables them to breathe oxygen from the air and helps them survive in more difficult water conditions as wild bettas would often need to do.

People ask, “are betta fish freshwater or saltwater?” because there is a species of saltwater betta that is not related in the slightest to the freshwater betta fish. This saltwater fish is also known as the “Marine betta” or “Comet.”

Make sure to check out our Betta Fish Care Guide And Species Overview.

Are Betta Fish Freshwater Or Saltwa...
Can You Put Betta Fish in Saltwater

Even though betta fish can tolerate higher levels of saltwater than many other freshwater aquarium fish, bettas should not be kept in saltwater tanks. Bettas can survive for a while in salt water, but bettas live and thrive in freshwater.

The betta’s natural home is the freshwater river basins of Thailand, where bettas evolved to live and breed. In nature, bettas avoid predators by living in heavily vegetated areas, which they rarely encounter in a saltwater tank.

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Can I Add Aquarium Salt To A Betta Tank

Many betta owners like to add aquarium salt to their betta tanks. Although not necessary, this can be a positive step towards protecting against diseases such as betta white spot (Ich) and betta fin rot in low doses.

Aquarium salt can be bought in your local pet store and is a commonly used treatment against such illnesses, and in small amounts, betta fish can tolerate salt just fine. Just be sure to research the correct dosage before adding salt to the betta tank.

betta tank salt
Aquarium salt can be added to your betta tank but use aquarium safe salt with no chemical additives.

Salt does not evaporate like water, so you will never need to add more salt if you top off the fish tank with fresh water.

I use API Aquarium Salt which can be purchased online. Find The Best Price At Amazon Or Chewy For API Aquarium Salt

Betta Fish Water Requirements

Although I have mentioned that betta fish are quite a hardy fish species and can tolerate changes in water parameters outside of their usual range, it is important to note that bettas can “survive” these changes, not “thrive” in these changes. So what are the ideal betta fish water parameters?

You can find the ideal water parameters for betta fish in the table below.

ParameterSuggested Value
Prefered Water Hardness
dH (Degree of Hardness)
Soft (dH less than 25)
pH (Power of Hydrogen)Neutral to Slightly Acidic
(pH 6.5-7)
Preferred Water Temperature Range78° to 80° Fahrenheit, (25.5° – 26.7° Celsius)
Survivable Water Temperature Range72° – 86° Fahrenheit (22.2° – 30° Celsius)
Target Water Parameters For A Betta Tank

It is also important to note that the parameters above are preferable for betta fish, so for those that live in community tanks, you will need to find tank mates with similar needs before they can live in the same tank.

If you want more information on setting up a betta tank, you can read: Setting Up A Betta Tank (The Right Way!)

Tank Temperature

A common question that I hear is, “Do betta fish need a heater?” Betta fish are tropical fish requiring warm water, and when the betta tank water conditions remain within the ranges above, your betta will thrive. Betta fish will not mind too much if the parameters should fall outside of these ranges to a small degree.

Raising or lowering the temperature of the betta tank water by just a degree or two will be fine, providing this temperature remains stable. Betta fish are quite tolerant as long as the conditions they live in remain consistent.

Using a heater is the best way to keep your betta tank water temperature stable and at the optimal conditions.


Betta fish also prefer slow-moving water, similar to what they experience in their natural habitat, so you will not need a strong filter system.

betta tank filter
A filter will be beneficial to your betta tank, but as betta fish prefer slow currents, use an adjustable flow filter with a weaker flow rate.

You will need to change your betta fish tank water every week. However, if you are cycling the betta tank with live plants or adding an aquarium heater, the betta fish may not mind living in unclean betta fish conditions for slightly longer periods of time.

I have an article on cleaning a betta tank and how often you need to change your betta tank water.


It is wise to add live plants to your betta tank if possible.

Plants in a betta tank are beautiful but will also benefit your betta fish. They make the betta fish’s home more appealing and comfortable by adding natural beauty, providing a food source, somewhere to hide, and they will serve as an oxygenating plant.

Although you can buy a good selection of aquarium plants at your local pet store, there is now an enormous selection available online that are well packed for shipping and arrive in excellent condition.

Check out the massive variety of aquarium plants available on Amazon (affiliate link)


Keeping bettas can be very rewarding, and with a bit of knowledge, they are not difficult fish to look after.

As betta fish owners and betta keepers, we should make sure we understand betta fish water requirements, betta tank temperature, and all other betta care basics before we take one home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Jon O'Connell

I have kept both marine and freshwater fish and set up almost 100 aquariums. Although I am no longer doing it professionally, I hope I can help others to enjoy keeping happy, healthy fish by sharing my many years of experience.

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