Betta Fish Photography: Equipment To Capture Best Moments

betta fish photography
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Last Updated: July 28, 2022 by Flora Gibbins

Ask any photographer, and they’ll probably tell you that capturing a moving subject can be a pretty challenging endeavor. Unfortunately, the same is true for aquarium photography. 

Subjects like…

The flighty Siamese fighting fish, while photo-friendly, tend not to wait around to be captured on camera (or pose for photos).

We reveal tips and tricks in this article that’ll take the hassle out of your Betta fish photography, so stick around to learn how to get some awesome photos of these colorful fish.


betta fish swimming in aquarium

Taking the perfect shot of your Betta fish requires a high-quality camera and other equipment. Below, you’ll find a small list of equipment you’ll need for the shoot:

  • Camera (cellphone or traditional)
  • Temporary tank
  • Tripod (optional)
  • Mirror (for Betta flaring photos, optional)
  • Extra lighting

Now, let’s talk about the best kind of tanks to use, temporary tanks.

About Temporary Tanks

betta fish in a small aquarium

One of the most crucial aspects of capturing good photographs of your Betta fish (or other fish for that matter) is the tank in which it’s housed during the shoot. If you want your Betta to “hold still,” you’ll have to limit the amount of space it has to swim. 

You’ll need to transfer the betta fish into a smaller tank to do that.

However, before you break out your wallet and head over to the nearest fish store, you’ll be happy to know that a makeshift tank will do just fine. In other words, you can use any clean container made of glass. Remember, you’ll be returning the Betta to its original tank once the session is over.

betta in fish bowl

As to why you can’t just shoot your Betta fish in the main tank, the primary reason is that you’ll have difficulty getting your Betta to stay still. It won’t be ideal if you’re ready to get some shots and your Betta chooses that exact moment to retreat to one of the many hiding spots in its tank. 

In contrast, you won’t have to worry about a camera-shy fish when using a smaller tank. On a related note, minimizing visual clutter is another reason you should move your fish out of the main tank. Unless you want to capture your Betta fish in its element surrounded by live plants, substrate, and other tank mates, stick to capturing it against a plain background (like black).

Finally, make sure that you don’t keep your Betta in a temporary tank beyond the photoshoot duration for its well-being.

Using a Cellphone for Betta Fish Photography

fish photography using cellphone

Cellphone technology has advanced to the point where its built-in cameras can take amazing shots. Therefore, it’s not mandatory to use a camera when taking pics of your fish. 

However, you should be aware of the downsides of using a cellphone, the primary one being that you’re limited in the ways you can utilize features and add-ons to enhance your images.

person holding a smartphone with triple lens

For example, cellphones don’t have optical zoom. Instead, they use digital zooming technology. Digital zooming might not be a concern if you’re okay with keeping your Betta images small. However, photos taken with digital zooms rely on pixel technology and don’t scale well. In other words, you won’t be able to blow them up without ending up with some pixelation.

Camera Add-Ons

betta fish in a fish tank with decor

Whether you opt for a cellphone camera or a traditional one, you’ll need more to take nice shots of your Betta fish mid-swim. Below are some of the essential accessories and features your camera needs:

Macro Lens

man taking pictures of aquarium using camera with macro lens

Most pictures of Bettas tend to be close-ups, and only cameras with a macro lens can get the job done well. Macro lenses let you zoom in and focus on your Betta fish, allowing you to capture the glistening scales on its body and flowing fins in exquisite detail.

Shutter Speed

camera with fast shutter speed on top of wooden table

Even when you successfully limit the amount of space your Betta has to swim, the little guy will still move around pretty quickly in the temporary tank. So, you’ll need to take your shots using a camera with a fast shutter speed.

Unfortunately, shutter speed is a camera-only feature.

So you’ll need to rely on good lighting to capture your Betta beautifully if you’re using a cellphone.

How to Prepare the Set When Using a Temporary Tank

several cameras and equipment with laptop picture

Once you’ve chosen and gathered your equipment together, the next step would be to prepare your temporary “studio.” The following are some of the preparations you’ll need to make:

Condition the Water

betta in fish tank picture

When using a temporary tank to house your Betta fish, you’ll need to condition the tap water inside it overnight so the chlorine in the water doesn’t harm your Betta fish.

You can get a good water conditioner specifically meant for Betta fish at your local fish store. Some conditioners even help rejuvenate the Betta’s slime coat while removing chlorine and other chemicals used to purify the water for humans.

Inspect and Clean the Aquarium’s Surface

betta fish on aquarium surface

It’s a good idea to ensure there aren’t any scuffs or scratches on the glass. Also, you’ll want to give the temporary aquarium’s walls a thorough wipe-down so water droplets and other residue don’t spoil your Betta fish photos. A mixture of vinegar, water, and paper towels should suffice for cleaning materials.

betta fish tank setup top view image

Be careful not to contaminate the water when cleaning the tank surface. If you decide to use a glass cleaner, ensure that you stand a considerable distance from the aquarium when spraying your wiping cloth.

Transfer Your Betta Fish

betta fish in a temporary tank

With the water conditioned and the aquarium surface cleaned, all that’s left is for you to transfer your Betta fish from the aquarium to the temporary one. Be extremely careful when transferring as Betta fish fins and scales are pretty delicate, and you don’t want to stress your fish too much. We recommend using a fishnet if you have one.

Taking Test Shots

betta fish with live water plants

It’ll take time to capture an inspired photograph of your Betta fish. So, naturally, you’ll need to exercise patience. A big part of embodying that virtue is taking some test shots of your Betta.

During the process, your intent isn’t to get a perfect shot but examine what adjustments you’ll need to make to the set. So, look at your initial shots with a critical eye, paying attention to factors like the lighting. You’ll most likely notice that the lighting could use some adjustment.

taking pictures of betta fish

For example, if the pics turn out too dark, you’ll need to adjust the lights by moving them around to see what works. Primarily, these test shots will serve as a guide on the path to the final photos, revealing whether you’ll need to make adjustments to your camera’s settings or the set itself.

During this phase, you’ll want to watch your Betta fish and gauge how it reacts to the attention.

After all, your aim isn’t to stress your fish.

yellow halfmoon betta in aquarium

After you’ve made the necessary adjustments deduced from your test shots, you can start taking your final shots.

Capturing a Flaring Betta Fish

betta fish flaring on top aquarium

Of course, it’s up to you whether you capture a calm or flaring Betta fish. If you go with the latter type of photo, you’ll need a mirror, as showing your Betta its reflection will help to awaken its territorial instincts. However, try not to go overboard with the second takes, as flaring can be stressful for Bettas.

Taking Photos of a Betta Fish in the Main Aquarium

white betta fish swimming in aquarium

If you decided not to move your Betta to a temporary aquarium, you’ll need to do some extra lighting work. What makes photographing an empty temporary aquarium easy is that there aren’t many objects in the environment that cast shadows.

In contrast, the main tank may be full of live plants which cast shadows everywhere. Therefore, you’ll need extra lighting to illuminate the aquarium and banish the shadows to get around the issue. 

cleaning the surface of fish tank with colorful betta

However, your first step should be to clean the aquarium’s surface like you would if it was an empty temporary one. Afterward, the next step would be choosing an appropriate angle to shoot your Betta.

If your Betta aquarium has curved sides, you’ll want to avoid taking pictures through these sides. Otherwise, you risk distorting the images.

Troubleshooting Tips

fighting fish with reflection in fish tank

You’re likely to run into a few issues when taking pictures through a reflective surface. Commonly, you’ll struggle with reflections and refraction. So let’s discuss what to do about each issue.


camera lens with hood

If light tends to bounce off reflective surfaces, your Betta aquarium is a literal mirror. Therefore, you’ll need to figure out how to tame the reflections to get a good image.

Notably, you’ll have to keep the reflections away from your camera’s lens. The best way to do that is to use a lens hood. With a lens hood, it’s possible to press your camera against the aquarium glass and not pick up the reflections of objects behind you.

Note that lens hoods aren’t a cure-all for reflection issues. In other words, they won’t work for all aquariums.


refraction in photography image

If you take a pic of your Betta fish at an angle when using a lens hood, you’ll notice a ghostly outline around it. The culprit is the tank’s wall refracting light through the camera’s lens. Ensure you shoot your Betta fish straight on (perpendicular to the tank face) to fix the refraction issue.


What’s the best time to take a shot of a Betta fish?

It all depends on the type of shot you’re going for. While a flaring Betta fish makes for some compelling Betta fish photography, these fish are so photogenic that capturing them in their relaxed state will come out just as lovely, if not more so. Additionally, a good time to capture Bettas is when it’s feeding time, as they’ll be too preoccupied with eating to mind the camera.

How can I take good photos of my Betta using an iPhone?

Since you can’t use features like fast shutter speeds and macro lenses, you’ll need to make sure that your Betta fish is well lit and your shooting area is organized and uncluttered when using an iPhone.

What’s the best type of aquarium for great Betta fish photography?

For best results, use an aquarium that’s super clean, scratch-free, and oblong to avoid issues like distortion and glare.


You can capture some stunning photos of your Betta fish if you do things right. Your first order of business should be to transfer the fish to a smaller temporary tank to limit its movement during the shoot. It’ll also help if you use a high-quality camera with optical zooming if you intend to blow up the pictures.

Finally, ensure that your Betta is well-lit and use a plain background to minimize visual clutter in the final image.

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