They are not partial to really bright colors or fluorescent colors of gravel or backgrounds. For some reason their eyes do not seem to be able to handle a lot of really bright light so a small light source is better than a really bright one if you want the betta to come out and about a lot.
They love real plants and do appreciate a tall plant to sleep in so that they do not have to do a lot of swimming at night when they need to come to the surface to breathe.
My little guy has a part of a hamster tube in his tank and he loves to play swimming through it. Dave, a really good friend of mine and betta expert told me about how his bettas loved their hamster tubes and that was enough to get me talked into buying a piece of hamster tubing for each of mine. Now that Diablo is my only baby left, I still enjoy having a good laugh at him playing through the tubing. One thing about the tubing is you never have to worry about the betta getting caught in it with large holes on each end.
Qwin used to love the 3/4 circle tubing set that he had and it floated so he really played a lot in it. I have a lot of pictures of him in it and peeking out at me.
They do like to explore and swim around and through things but do remember for safety sake to use the Rule of Thumb. Every opening to everything you put in the tank should be tested for smoothness and your thumb should be able to go in and out of every hole in every decoration or your betta is at risk. you may think they could not possibly get into the tiniest of holes but believe me they will try. I have seen many bettas die due to getting caught in a piece of decor and not be able to get out to get to the surface to breathe. by the time they are found it is too late and they are gone. The smoothness of all decor needs to be tested with a nylon stocking. If it snags the stocking then you need to take a piece of fine sandpaper or an emery board to smooth it until the stocking will glide over it without snagging. Otherwise you are asking for a rip or tear in those lovely fins that will take a while to heal or possibly get an infection and cause a problem.
The important thing is that they have a warm and filtered environment. It needs a constant and stable temperature of about 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. I am a big fan of sponge filters with bettas as they are easily controlled to keep from throwing them around in a current but I also have used stronger filters with a baffle to control the flow to break it down to keep them safe. They do like an airstone though and my little guys all loved to play in bubbles but if you have a sponge filter it takes the place of filter and airstone too.
I hope this helps you and I suppose there will be others with other opinions but this is the way I have mine and have for years. They seem to like the way they live and are my spoiled little fellows.
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