Thinking of getting a Betta Fish? Here are the basics of what you will need and why.
Choosing the Tank Size
It is a common myth that Bettas can thrive in small amounts of water. While they may survive, they will not thrive. In the wild, Bettas live in rice paddies in Thailand and other parts of Asia. Although these rice paddies may dry up to just a few inches deep, they are a part of a large body of water that consists of a complete natural ecosystem. A 5-10 gallon tank is an ideal size to give a Betta Splenden plenty of space to swim and explore, contributing to their overall well being. However for a Betta Plakat who are generally more active due to much shorter fins, 10 gallons or more would be advised. If you are wanting to add more fish to the tank, a 10 gallon tank is the minimum size that you will need. In addition, the tank will need a tight fitting lid since Bettas have been known to jump out of their tanks. Lighting for a tank is not a requirement but it does make a nice addition to bring out the natural beauty of the Betta fish.
Decorations and Substrate
Who doesn't like to make their pet’s home look nice? Bettas thrive in a heavily planted natural environment. Les start with substrate, there are many different types of substrate to choose from. We have found all types of substrate to be suitable for Bettas. The most popular and probably the easiest to use is gravel. If you are wanting to use live plants in the tank, then a plant substrate will be more suitable because it has the required nutrients that will help the plants grow. This will require a little more care when cleaning the tank but the plants will thank you for your effort. Sand is another substrate that looks very attractive. We use this in several of our tanks. The use of sand substrate combined with decorative smooth rocks creates a very natural look. It does require more care when cleaning the tank but it provides a very natural look. Fish decorations are another way to make your tank look beautiful. There are many kinds of decorations on the market, but not all are suitable for a Betta fish. When choosing decorations, you first need to take into account the size of the tank. You don't want to fill it full of cute decorations, making the tank look pretty, only to end up leaving no swimming room for your fish. Be sure the decorations don't have rough edges and that any artificial plants are soft, so that the fish isn’t injured. Silk plants are the best as plastic one tend to be hard and rough. Bettas have very delicate fins that can be easily torn by rough surfaces, leading to infection and, if not treated, possible death.
Water Quality and Temperature
Once the decorations are in the new tank, water needs to be added. Tap water can be used, but water conditioner such as Prime must be added. This removes all the toxins from the water, making it safe for the Betta. Heaters are another necessary part to keep the climate consistent. There has been a widespread debate as to whether Betta fish even need a heater, but they are tropical fish and need a stable temperature of 78 - 82 F. For most people, that means a heater will be necessary to make sure the temperature is acceptable. If you live in a warm climate all year round and your home holds a steady temperature with the help of air conditioning, then you may not need a heater. However, you would need to monitor their environment closely if you choose not to use one under these conditions. For most of the year we do not need a heater however in the winter months, we add one to the tank since the temperatures are consistently a little colder and the temperature in the house fluctuates with the changing weather. This ensures that the Betta is in a stable environment and that the temperature remains steady.
Choosing a Filter and Tank Aeration
A filter must be chosen with care. There are many filters on the market, but few are truly suitable for Bettas, since they do not like fast flowing water and find it difficult to swim with their long fins. If the filter is too strong, it will push the fish around the tank. This will cause a great deal of stress for your fish. A strong filter flow can be reduced by adding a sponge or placing a plant in order to restrict the flow. Sponge filters are a very good option for Betta tanks. You can also use a DIY filter see our videos page for how to make one. Filters should always be cycled before adding fish to the tank. This process typically takes 3-5 weeks.
Bettas are carnivores. On the whole, they are not very picky eaters. Betta pellets are a very popular food and we recommend starting out with those. Bettas enjoy a variety of food including frozen bloodworm and brine shrimp to name but a few, these foods should be given at least 3-4 times a week. Frozen or live foods are better than freeze dried. The less processed food given to your Betta the better. Make sure not to overfeed your fish. Betta fish love to eat and will be constantly begging you for food!
Adding a Betta Fish to the Tank
If you are not using a filter (a filter is advised, not using one means a lot more care for the fish to keep it healthy) you should always set up your tank 24 hours before adding the Betta fish. This allows the temperature in the tank to stabilize before the new fish is introduced. If you are using a filter be sure the tank is cycled before adding the fish. Once you have chosen your Betta and brought it home, you should add it to the tank as soon as possible. Most Bettas are sold in little plastic cups that are full of dirty water. The cup can be used for acclimating your Betta as you can just float it in the top of the tank for 20- 30 minutes in order to adjust the water temperature in the cup to match the water temperature of the tank. Once the water is acclimated, take a net and gently transfer the fish to the new tank. Do not tip the fish into the water from the cup because you will be adding the ammonia and dirty water from the cup. This will not get your tank’s ecosystem off to a good start and may introduce contaminates into the water.
Betta fish are happy fish and always enjoy interacting with their human, whether by coming to greet you when you approach the tank, or lapping the tank near the top in the hope of getting food. Giving them the correct environment will provide them with a happy and healthy home, allowing them to live a long and fulfilled life. It is highly recommend that you use a filter in a betta fish tank however should you choose not to be aware that you will need to do a lot more water changes to keep your fish healthy and happy.
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