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FAQs on Betta Systems: Filtration  

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Related FAQs:  Betta Systems 1, Betta Systems 2, Betta Systems 3, Betta Systems 4, Betta Systems 5, Betta Systems 6, & Betta System: Bowls/Tanks, Heating, Lighting, & Water Quality, (See also: Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Nitrogen Cycling), Maintenance, & Bettas in General, Betta ID/Varieties, Betta Behavior, Betta Compatibility, Betta Selection Betta Feedings, Betta Reproduction, Betta Disease,

Temperature vacillation, chilling vie with poor water quality (i.e. a lack of filtration, otherwise maintenance as the number one factor limiting Betta health, quality and duration of life

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Betta Success
Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Sponge Filter and Fish     11/12/14
I have a 28 gallon tank. The gph of the filter is about 350,
it is a power filter. I ordered a sponge filter rated for 40 gallons for the 3 female guppies I own. I read on a web site I visited sponge filters were better for guppies. Is 40 gallon sponge filter too strong for the guppies?
<It is not too strong>
The water ph is 8. The ammonia, nitrates, nitrites appear to be where they ought to be, around 0.
<Ammonia and Nitrite NEED to be zero, zip, nada>
The tank contains 3 female guppies, 5 neon tetras, 2 ghost shrimp, and numerous tiny bladder snails. I had 3 ghost shrimp. However, the smallest of them was pecked at and ripped apart by my guppies today. (This shrimp was only about 1 inch long. A bit sad because I think it had been born in one of my tanks. But guppies do eat small aquatic creatures. I should have moved it into the 10 gallon tank with my Betta fish. My beta fish dose not seem interested in anything larger than Betta pellets and blood worms.
But then beta fish do eat shrimp too...) Will the sponge filter I ordered be enough for the neon tetras? Will the filter be too much for them? Thank you.
<Your filtration is fine. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sponge Filter and Fish   11/12/14

Thank you Bob! :)
<Welcome Cam>

Betta filter   7/10/13
I went through a good portion of the Betta part of your site and found a wealth of information (as usual).  You were so helpful with my salt tank many years ago that I have an 11 year old serpent star still going!  Can't keep much else cause he eats anything we try to put in.
Back to the Betta.  My setup is a 5 gallon tank with 2 led lights. One is white and on 12 hours a day, the other 12 hours is from a blue (moonlight) led that lights up about half the tank.  I have a Fluval m50 heater set to 80 and some aquarium gravel and silk plants.  Here is my concern.  I have a Nano501 canister filter. It says 79GPH.
Instead of using the spray bar for the return, I use a small diverter aimed slightly up and towards the back.  I have also read that putting a sponge prefilter over the intake will help slow it down.
<Better to not restrict the intake side of such drive mechanisms>
  I use a feeding ring which Blueberry knows holds his food.  I have seen him eat from it.
I guess my question is does this sound like an ok setup for a Betta?
<Yes it does>
The filter that came with the tank was an internal Whisper brand and heated to water too much and the waterfall seemed to turbulent.
Thanks for your help,
<Welcome... Donna is my sis' name as well. Bob Fenner>

Betta Aquarium Filter 9/19/12
<Hi Cam>
I have an aquarium that is 11-12 gallons.
<This is a decent size for a Betta.
See here for details on the Betta:
It has a filter that is 350gph for a 29 gallon aquarium.
What filter should I get If I want to put a Betta fish in this aquarium?
What gph should the filter be at?
<Bettas are suited to stagnant water, so if you use a normal filter like this, the Betta will be stressed from the current. Not many filters can be adjusted slow enough to use with a Betta. The best option for a Betta is to use a sponge filter. Sponge filters are air-driven, so you connect a small air pump using silicone tubing into the connection on the filter. The air is driven to the bottom of the filter through the tubing. The bubbles floating up pull water through the sponge, which should be rinsed in tank water you are about to discard during water changes. You'll be surprised how much dirt accumulates in the sponge, and the current is minimized. I use a sponge filter in all my tanks instead of airstones because in addition to the oxygenation from the surface agitation, you also get the bonus filtration.
Big box pet stores don't carry sponge filters, but local fish stores often do. Best bet is to call around and inquire. If you can't find any sponge filters, you can create one using a PVC pipe T-connector by dropping an airstone into the middle leg and stuffing filter floss into the other two ends.>
Thank you.
<Welcome. - Rick>
Re Betta Aquarium Filter 9/19/12
I have a 11-12 gallon tank.
I plan on getting a Betta fish.
I hear that they can get blown around by currents that are too strong.
I am getting a mini filter that can handle 5-20 gallon tanks. It has an adjustable valve for water current speed. It has a gph of up to 100.
Would 100 gph be to strong for a Betta in the size of tank I have?
If so what gph would you recommend for a tank of the size I have?
Any suggestions on filter brands or types?
Thank you.
<See the previous response. Sponge filter recommended. - Rick>

Bettas, filtr.  - 5/7/2012 <Why Darrel, why?>
Hello, I was wondering what the best filtration/water movement for a 10g planted Betta tank?
WWM: An air-powered sponge filter, no questions
I have an AC70, but think that may be too much for Betta. What about a powerhead with the foam filter on the intake? Would that be enough or should I just go ahead and use the AC70? Thanks Nate
WWM: Look at units like the Hydro I Sponge Filter and the Hagen Elite Double Sponge Filter of examples of models sold in the US, but pretty much any brand/design will work great. An air-powered box (corner) filter would be just as good, while an undergravel work nicely though these do tend not to be compatible with aquarium plants that are rooted into the gravel (they're fine with epiphytes and floating plants). I wouldn't use any filter that requires leaving a large opening in the hood, like a hang-on-the-back filter -- Bettas are very good at jumping out!
Cheers, Neale.
Re: Bettas - 5/7/2012
Thanks for the reply Neale!
WWM: Welcome.
What do you think about a sponge attached to a powerhead?
WWM: Not a great idea unless the powerhead was really small, e.g., 1-3 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour (i.e., for a 10 gallon tank, the powerhead would need to be 10-30 gallons/hour).
Or would that be too much flow for a Betta to handle?
WWM: Likely so, but feel free to experiment. If the Betta is being pushed around by the current, it'll be pretty obvious. Cheers, Neale.

Re:   1/25/12
I had forgotten why I stopped using the under gravel filters in my Betta tanks...  I remember that it was a local fish store that inspired me, as they keep their Bettas and Killies in super low tech little 2.5 gallon tanks like mine with huge clumps of java moss and ferns, and I copied them.
But then when I read on your site about sponge filters I thought wow, those sound even healthier than the undergravel, and they're less fuss and cheap and easy to put together.  So I made them...... But then I hated that darn little air pump so much I worried it would bug the fish too !!!
I recall now that's why I went to low tech.  I didn't know you could find quieter one's, I just thought they were all annoying!  And I couldn't imagine the fish being happy with the constant vibration and humming. 
<The fish don't seem to care much. Underwater in the wild is pretty noisy anyway. There are plenty of shy, nervous fish living and breeding in tanks with air-powered filters. Animals usually dislike change; they adapt to constant things, like noise, quite well.>
Today I returned the larger tank's noisy air pump and got a recommended quieter version for their bubble column, and bought a 4 way gang valve so everyone is now bubbling from one source(less humming) and the Bettas are filtered.  Best, you can adjust the air pressure per bubbler.  I remember one of my undergravels used to erupt occasionally because of too high pressure!!! 
I am hoping this will add even more quality and years to the Bettas' lives.
 Mine seem to last a long time anyway, and I clean the tanks regularly always using RO water to lightly rinse the gravel, but now the sponge will colonize healthy bacteria too and the plants will probably do better with currents too.
It was those little guys that inspired my interest in this hobby..... 
<Glad you're having fun with them. Internal canister filters are generally the quietest filters and if you choose the right model with an adjustable flow rate, you can even buy suitable ones for use with Bettas. Cheers, Neale.>

Betta in new cycled tank   8/2/10
I am Plamenka, I recently got into fish.
<Welcome aboard!>
My question is I moved my Betta from a 1 gallon 100 percent water change tank, that he was thriving very well in. Into a tank that was cycled a while back with one platy that lived in there up to yesterday. I moved platy to my 10 gal tank to be with others and free up 5 gal for Betta.
<A heated, filtered 5-gallon aquarium for a Betta is excellent.>
I added some of Betta's original water into the 4 gals already in their from the platy. Not sure if that was smart or okay?
<Probably not a big deal either way.>
It has a filter and a heater.
He seems to enjoy half the tank but when he gets close to the middle the filter pressure is so strong it pushes him all over the tank. what should I do? Get a less powerful filter? Remove it?
<Bettas do need gentle filters, ideally an air-powered box or sponge filter. Using an internal canister filter isn't a good idea. Wild Bettas come from ponds with nearly zero water current, and breeding fancy Bettas to create long fins has handicapped them severely. They are very poor swimmers.>
Or just hope he will get use to it?
<He may do, but don't bank on it.>
Desperate for answers. The Betta has only been added into this tank tonight. He has been with us a while and I do not want to do anything to jeopardize my
daughter's Betta she will freak and I will be very sad:(
I appreciate any advice you can give me.
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Betta Filter?   8/3/10
Thank you so much for your answers. I have not heard of any of these: an air-powered box or sponge filter. After reading your E-Mail late tonight. I immediately removed the canister filter. The only other filter I had on hand is an under the gravel type but it was originally for a 1 gallon tank.
Therefore it is very short in this 5 gal tank, and releases the bubbles under the water instead of on top.
<No good.>
I am not sure if that is considered filtering.
<That is so. Undergravel filters work by pulling water through the gravel.
The bubbles lift water. If the bubbles come out from an air stone above the gravel, then no water gets pulled through the gravel.>
Or if it is just moving the toxic (ammonia & nitrates) back into the water?? I went on-line and found some sponge filters but the local pet stores do not carry it. I can order it, it appears to be very inexpensive, but it will take time to get here. But elaborate if you could on what an air power box filter is?
<There are some nice pictures here:
Sometimes called "corner filters" rather than "box filters".>
I have an air-stone connected to an air pump. but I am not sure if that is what you are referring to. What are your feelings on an under ground filter?
<They're ideal for Betta tanks.>
Do they work in a 5 gal tank?
<If the filter plate -- the flat plastic part -- covers the entire bottom of the tank, yes, such a filter will work well.>
I may need to do a temporary thing until I can understand and locate the filters you are recommending.
<Sponge, box and undergravel filters are all viable options here.>
I am a little confused about moving up to a 5 gal tank. You have to concern yourself with filters and chemical levels PH etc.
<Not sure what you're worried about. The bigger the tank, the easier it is to look after.>
I have been told I should do only a 25% water change, and vacuum the rest.
In the tanks under 5 gal it is so simple to just dump the water and start fresh. What do you advise me to do in this 5 gal tank it sounds like I should be concerned with a Filter, and how much of a water change do you recommend and how often?
<25% weekly is fine.>
Even though I do not think this under gravel is filtering correctly.
<It is not filtering at all.>
I have to tell you my Betta is so much happier tonight and is making full use of the tank swimming all around. Please just give me more clarity on the filter. Once again I thank you kindly and appreciate your time. Betta does also!
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Acceptable current for Bettas 7/21/2009
Hello Guys and Girls,
I have enjoyed searching things on your site and have found many answers to my questions. However I have been trying to discover the acceptable amount of water current for my Betta. My set up is a 5 gallon tank with Eco complete and gravel substrate. I have a few true aquatic plants including a moneywort that he like to rest in near the surface. I do have a 25 watt heater and a compact fluorescent for the plants. Tankmates include 2 ghost shrimps and 2 freshwater Nerite snails.
<Sounds a terrific little aquarium!>
The filter is something I have never been satisfied with. I have tried to find the smallest hang on back filter. I currently have one rated for up to 10 gallons. You can imagine the current from it. I have modified the water outlet back into the tank with a strip of plastic to try to distribute the water more widely as it flows back into the tank. . He hangs out in the back and that is where he likes to stare at himself. He also seems comfortable in his moneywort and also resting on top of a fake piece of wood I have placed near the surface.
<I see.>
I turn off the filter when I feed him his frozen bloodworms (thawed of course) otherwise they get away from him. and sometimes I leave it off for a little while to give him a rest from it. Is this acceptable?
<Switching a filter off for a few minutes is harmless, but after some -- not really clear -- period of time lack of oxygen will mean filter bacteria start to die. Aquarists commonly say 20 minutes is the cut-off point where a filter starts to suffer, but whether there's any science behind that I cannot say.>
Or should I opt for the sponge filter I have read about?
<These, and bubble-up box filters, are ideal for small tanks including Betta systems; have used box-filters for small breeding tanks for many years, with great success.>
He seems to be thriving. His finnage has at least doubled in size in the few months I've had him.
<Then I wouldn't worry unduly.>
And one more question. I fed him some Hikari cichlid pellets a few times and now he won't eat his Betta pellets.
<No big deal; all Hikari foods are excellent, and whichever ones he consumes will contains lots of protein, vitamins and minerals.>
I would have to say though that the frozen bloodworms make up most of his diet. Should I not feed the cichlid pellets and try to get him to eat the other?
<Wouldn't worry in the least. If he's eating bloodworms, Hikari pellets, and perhaps some live daphnia or brine shrimps now and again, even cooked peas occasionally, he has a lovely, well-balanced diet.>
Thank you so much for your time and your dedication to responsible fish keeping!!!
<Glad to have helped. Keep up the good work with your Betta! It's a delight to hear from someone keeping a Betta under such good conditions. Cheers, Neale.>

Bettas, Filtration and Thank You's - 1/24/07 Happy hello from a freshly educated Betta keeper! <And a happy hello from me, JustinN again!> To JustinN and Bob F, I'd like to personally thank you both.   <On behalf of both of us, you're quite welcome.> You've answered questions for me in the past and your wisdom has saved two of my fish's lives.  Bob introduced me to the possibility of an infection I didn't even know existed and JustinN...what a palm-to-forehead moment!  Cycling!  The last time I had a tank I was 18... ten years ago.  I was shocked that I had forgotten something so fundamental. <No worries here, you remember now and that's the important part! Part of the human condition is to make mistakes, and from the mistakes, learn and grow. Chalk it up to education, my friend.> I vacillated painfully about what to do to correct my unforgivable fishy oversight, and ultimately settled on apologizing profusely to my four Bettas (separate tanks--!), performing a 50% water change, picking up some nitrogen booster stuff and praying to Poseidon.   <Hehe, a few frozen (then thawed!) blood worms or mysis shrimp will go a long way towards an apology here... *grin*> Now I've got my fingers crossed and my hands out of Kira's tank (being careful Bob, I promise). <Excellent> So I'm singing your praises to all my friends and looking for a WWM t-shirt.  Amazon--? ;-) <There is a link for such on our front page, on a link labeled "WetWebMedia Gear" -- I'll also provide the link here: http://www.cafepress.com/cp/store.aspx?s=wetwebmedia.0 > One last question for the moment.  Kira (the one with the crooked spine) is in a 2.5 gallon with a BioWheel.  I unplugged his filter this afternoon to treat him with bloodworm (freeze dried).  The filter tends to stir up the surface so much that he has a hard time chasing down the food.  His fins are huge and I worry for his bad posture. <Ok... Can this filter be throttled down? (Sorry, I have no personal experience with the Eclipse systems.) If so, this will likely help some all around.> 20 minutes later, I had a bubblenest. <Excellent!> The last thing I'm gonna do is drop my female in there.  I know precisely squat about breeding and won't risk fishy tuberculosis since I don't know if it's contagious (or if he has it). But will there be any ill effects if I turn the filter back on and obliterate his nest?  I was hugely flattered at this discovery after being convinced I'd made irreversible mistakes and I'm loathe to mess anything up now!! <Oh, no, no worries here my friend. The filtration is essential; if it can be throttled down to not agitate the surface as much, it may help some, but do aim to keep it running.> Thanks guys. Oh, JustinN, thank you so much for taking the time to correctly forward your reply.  I've requested that yahoo fix this silly reply-forward thing for years and they can't seem to figure themselves out.  I always come to the site to read through the FAQ's whenever I can. Your dedication to ensuring that your help is received speaks to an impressive commitment to your passion as an aquarist.   Pasada <You're gonna make me blush! Seriously though, this is just what I feel is my 'duty' here.. I like to help, feel beneficial, as well as I like to know that other people are receiving as accurate of a story as possible... If I wasn't doing it here, I'd probably be on some message board around the net doing it elsewhere! Likewise, you say you've been having issues with Yahoo's mail service... May I offer you a (free) invite to Google's provided mail service? I do believe you can arrange it to receive all your Yahoo email as well.. The choice is yours, just let me know, my friend! -JustinN>

Bettas, Filtration and Thank Yous - an outsiders follow-up - 1/25/07 Good morning! <Hello, Susan, JustinN with you today.> I also have an Eclipse 5 gallon Hex with a BioWheel for my Betta. I have slowed the current down by trimming every other spoke on the impeller. Trim a little bit at a time and test. I also have a slim piece of aquarium safe sponge inserted alongside the BioWheel and the outtake port. Also, if you place plants around the intake tube that will help. Finally, floating some plants near the outtake ports helps dissipate the surface flow. When it comes to feeding time I still shut down the pump so he can eat more easily. I Hope this helps. <Excellent suggestions here, Susan. We will post for all to see, and I will likewise forward this on to Pasada. Cheers! -JustinN>

New Betta Home 5/25/06 I am looking for a 5 gallon aquarium that I can add an underground  filter, a small heater, hood, and light.  I can not find anything around  here.  Can you recommend someone I can contact?  And, would the above be appropriate for him? Thank You, Jean B. <The system sounds fine for a Betta, although I'm not a fan of undergravel filters.  If you can find a tank with a powerfilter I think it would be better.  If the local pet shop/national retailer does not carry these in house they should be available through many online retailers such as Dr. Fosters Smith or Petsmart's'/Petco's web sites.> <Chris>

Betta tank  8/26/05 Hi. <Hello.> I just bought a Betta after my last one died around 2 years ago. <Welcome back to fish!> In the past I have kept them in a bowl (about 1 or 2 gallons) and I now own a 15 gallon tank that is sitting empty and I was wondering if I should move my Betta into there instead, or will that be to much room for 1 fish? <Too much room?  No, this 15 gallon tank would make an *excellent* home for him.  You could even add a few other small, peaceful fish, such as Corydoras catfish or platies.> Also I was wondering the price of a good filter and heating system. <Depends on where you are, partly.  In the US, a heater for this size tank might run $12 to $25, and a filter (I prefer to recommend a hang-on-back "power" filter) would run $10 to $30.  Lots of options.> And my last question is for now is there any place I could keep my fish bowl where it could keep warm?  <Only if you've got a particular spot in your house that stays a constant 75-78 degrees Fahrenheit.> It seems to drop around 70 during the night and then I have to warm it up again. <Best to move him into the larger tank and add a heater.  I can almost promise that he'd be delighted with the extra space!  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Betta Getting An Upgrade  9/19.5/05 I've attempted to maintain various kinds of fish off and on for many years with little luck. I always get so confused about all the details and my fish rarely survive too long. However, I bought a Betta (my third attempt at keeping a Betta fish) almost a year and a half ago. His name is Otogi Banashi (Japanese for "fairytale"). I call him 'Togi most of the time though. I am so happy that he has lived for so long already! He's healthy, active, curious, always eats his food, etc. I kept him in one of those itty bitty one liter bowls for about a month at first until I could afford something better. I changed the water in that little bowl every week. Then I got a two gallon acrylic bowl that is meant to look like a bubble gum machine. I thought it looked pretty groovy so I got it. 'Togi is still in this bowl and doing fine. Its a very simple set up with an undergravel filter. However, there is no gravel in this bowl. <Then is it really an "undergravel filter"?> I still use the decorative bubble gum-like round "rocks" that came with it. I change the water 100% every month with the same brand of bottled water. Since I got 'Togi, I've done all the reading I can on maintaining a Betta and it seems that much of what I do is wrong. Only, when I did attempt the "proper" form of fish maintenance with my other fish, they never lived. I am afraid to change anything. <Good! I don't want you to change a thing, yet> I've heard that gravel is the best thing to use in a tank. Is this true? I've gotten mixed answers concerning water changes and this whole tank cycle thing I read about still has me all confused. Is it bad that I change all the water instead of partial water changes? If I switch to a "proper" gravel set up, should I do only partial water changes then to maintain good bacteria? I'm only so concerned now because I am planning to get a different tank for 'Togi: a 2.5 gallon acrylic tank with only an undergravel filter. But I want to use real gravel this time and I don't want to do anything wrong. Can I still continue as I have with complete water changes and all that jazz or can you recommend something better? Am I just lucky that 'Togi has lived this long? After a year and a half of coincidental success, I'd still be awful bummed if my fish dies now. -Shelley <I think it's great that you are upgrading your Betta's home. A 2.5 gallon is a nice size for a single Betta. But I would not add the undergravel filter (UGF). Instead add a sponge filter. (And don't forget a heater.) Too much waste will end up under the UGF plate, very hard to clean. The sponge will provide a home for the bacteria, so the use of gravel is up to you. With a UGF the bulk of the bacteria will live in the gravel, so you need it. But it will take time, about a month, for the bacteria to become established no matter what type of filtration you use. So get everything set up and running, but do not move him right away. Continue with the same care you have given him. To understand cycling, or bio filtration, you really need to be able to test the water for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Simply put, when you feed the fish they will excrete ammonia. A bacteria grows that eats the ammonia and excretes nitrite. Another bacteria grows that eats the nitrite and excretes nitrate. Nitrate is removed during water changes. The first two are deadly and must be kept at zero. Nitrate is less harmful as long as it is kept below 20ppm. But without testing you can never know when the new tank is ready for fish. And since we do not have any fish in the tank, we must add an ammonia source to feed the bacteria. A small pinch of food every day will work. I use a raw shrimp. It will last a week or two without any other work on your part. If you don't have a test kit see if a LFS will test for you. If you can't get the tests done, then let everything run for 6 weeks, adding that pinch of food daily. Then a 50% water change and add your Betta. Now that your fish is in a cycled tank you can go to partial water changes. A gallon a week for a single Betta in a 2.5 would be fine. But without those tests, it's all a guess. Good luck. Don>

Still a Little Confused re Betta questions 9/21/05 I'm still a little confused. So its OK not to bother with gravel at all and a sponge filter is an acceptable replacement for biological/mechanical filtration. This part makes sense. But then I hear so many terrible stories about fish dying cause their tank cycle starts over. Wouldn't replacing the sponge filter cause the cycle to start over? And what if I decide not to do anything different at all? What exactly is transpiring in my Betta's aquarium now without the use of filtration and tank cycling? The new tank I am getting for him is only slightly larger but not in the form of a bowl like he is in now. It has an undergravel filter plate and water pump just like the bowl I have now. So if I decide to use gravel or a sponge filter then I have this bacteria stuff and tank cycle thing to worry about. Does that mean there is no bacteria growth like this in the current set up? Is it still a bad thing to use something like the current decorative gumballs I use now and just clean out the entire tank, water and all every three weeks? What if I set up his new tank with gravel and the UGF is able to function as such. . . Is it the presence of all that bacteria that makes it imperative to do only partial water changes so as not to mess up any sort of cycle or am I already messing up water cycles doing things the way I have been? I guess I just want to know if its possible and OK to maintain a sinology beta aquarium without using the tank cycle process. And also if the presence of gravel or a sponge filter would make it imperative that I use tank cycling. What if I had gravel and still cleaned out the entire tank gravel and all every three weeks? Would that have the same effect on the aquarium as it does now or is that something entirely different? Sorry I ask so many strange questions, I just really don't understand tank cycling and when or if it is required. -Shelley <OK. First read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm This is a paper written by Bob Fenner, the man who started and runs this site. It is chock full off all the info you will need. But it will make much more sense if you have a test kit and can watch it happen. The two bacteria I explained in the last email do not live swimming in the water. They need a surface to cling to that has a flow of water bringing them their food (ammonia for one, nitrite for the second). With a UGF that surface area will be the gravel, so you need to add gravel to get the best effect. With a sponge filter the sponge itself provide the surface area for the bacteria to grow on. So gravel is optional. The sponge will provide little particle filtration but very high bio filtration. (There is a great deal of surface area on and in a sponge.) Weekly water changes will remove the particles. A UGF hides the particles under the plate. It can get real nasty under there and is hard to clean without removing all the gravel. A sponge makes clean up much easier. Just rinse in old tank water when you do change. Never rinse with tap, the chlorine will kill the bacteria. In a well established tank the ammonia and nitrite level will always be zero. The bacteria will consume them as quickly as they are produced. Will your current setup provide enough surface area for the bacteria? I don't know. You need those tests to get the answer. But if you are cleaning the "gum balls" when you service the tank, you are also removing the bacteria. This will cause ammonia and nitrite levels to rise. Not good. But with faithful water changes a tough little Bette can handle it, for a time. But repeated exposure to these poisons will shorten his life. If you establish a good strong bacterial colony in the sponge, missing a water change will only cause the less dangerous nitrate to rise. Far safer for your fish and less work for you. A win situation. 100% water changes, meds, or any sharp change in your tank can stress the bacteria and cause a spike (recycle). But as long as you chill out and let them little buggers do their thing, all will be fine. So, get a test kit, read Bob's paper, reread my first email and email me back with any other questions or concerns. Your Betta will thank you. Don>   

Re: Additional questions about my first message - Bettas have almost constant fin and tail rot Hi everyone, I wrote a message Friday night; no, I'm not expecting an answer so soon! I just have been doing some more research on the internet this weekend and had some more questions. I asked about a Betta set-up with an Eheim system. Well, what I've found so far is that Eheim is for huge aquariums! T <wow... quite the contrary, my friend. Do look at their full product line... they have tiny internal canister/power filters, mini-externals, etc. Have you been to their home site?> that would be quite a lot of overkill for a Betta set-up!   <perhaps yes if the tank is really that small> Right now I'm leaning toward a 5 gallon tank with a heater (I already have the heater; a Visi Therm Deluxe, 25 watt) and partitions. (for my 2 Bettas). Would 2 partitions an inch or so away be better so there's no chance of them seeing each other? <may still be seen/stressful> Or will this just impede water flow, with or without a filter? <definitely will> The filter I'm leaning toward is a Duetto Multi Filter, with a flow rate of 14 GPH.   <somewhat weak> In my old Eclipse System 3, where I had the one Betta (who hated it) the flow rate was 35 GPH. I'm wondering if the flow rate of the Duetto is OK or will I end up taking it out?   <seems too small to me... what of just a good old-fashioned sponge filter (Tetra Brilliant series or Jungle dirt magnets)?> I know you can't really answer that; I just wanted your opinion on the Duetto filter. I just saw it online and not in person. Also, if I may ask Mr. Calfo a question: Do you know of any shops in the Pittsburgh area (I live in the northern suburbs) that are fish-only, with no dogs, cats, etc.,  for sale, or that come in for grooming or vet services? Are you permitted to recommend such a shop?   <sure... we have nothing to sell... no biases...a free-info/content site> My severe allergies to dogs, cats, birds, etc., do not permit me to visit pet shops. I live very close to a PetCo and PetSmart but just can't go. (Not that I'd really ask them anything!) <most shops do at least have birds or small animals. Hmmm... I'm wondering if Poseidon's in Greentree is animal free... they were last time I was there (a year ago!)> I do have on hand some BettaMax, Maracyn, and MarOxy, but I can't stock every med for " just in case" and I would hate it if I needed something fast. <agreed> I would put myself at risk of going to the ER if I went into these shops.  If something happens to the fish, hopefully the meds I have will hold them over until an online order comes. And I know that's not really in the best interest of the fish, so once these fish go to fish heaven maybe the best thing is not to get any more :-( unless I can find a fish-only shop. Thank you very much, once again, for listening! Deb <Deb... please also consider the fellowship and networking options (emergency phone calls to fellow aquarists) of the local aquarium society: pmas.org if you needed a medication or advice/support, you can e-mail the clubs mailing list as a member or find help fast otherwise. Do visit their website. Kind regards, Anthony>

Betta needs safe filter 10gal home hi Chuck or whomever is on today Pls answer this as soon as you can---I'm very grateful just a few ques before I get my 10 gal tank today---for my adolescent Betta splendens I'm hoping its a good size for him ---that he won't get spooked by all the space. I'm purchasing a 10 gal tank for my Betta---you suggested 50 watt heater...should I get a submersible? < Not needed. Just make sure it is a good quality name brand heater like Ebo-Jager or Marineland. Make sure that you let the heater sit in the water for awhile to let the temperature of the heater and the water equilibrate.> is it best to get the long tank or is standard just fine...re: depth of tank .  don't want to tire him out when swimming from bottom to top < The tank preference is totally up to you. With a few floating plants your Betta will be happy in any tank.> mostly concerned about filter....went to pet shop they recommend hanging filter w/carbon cartridges...would this be best I've read horror stories online Betta splendens fins or Betta himself drawn into the intake tubes of filter...do I need to make adjustments to  the tube or do I need a sponge filter  I'm hoping these filters aren't noisy and if they are should I get whisper one.   if the hang on carbon filter is best...do I need to put a live java fern to quell water turbulence or to protect Betta from water forces...bottom line I'm looking for effective filter with minimum water turbulence/noise for my finny friend.--hope this sounds like ideal setup for him-- < I would recommend the Marineland penguin series filter. The BioWheel contain all the bacteria you need to keep the fish waste under control and are easy to service. Get the model that will pump like 30 to 50 gallons per hour. To protect your Betta I would get a dark colored prefilter sponge to cover the intake tube. Another idea would be to cover the intake tube with a larger clear tube and cut slots in the side to allow water in but not at such a great force so that it will suck up your Bettas fins. Your Betta will appreciate floating plants too. While providing cover they will keep the surface of the water nice and calm. With this set up you Betta should last for years.-Chuck> PLEASE RESPOND ASAP MUCH APPRECIATED  as I'm getting a lift to pet shop this afternoon to buy tank/filter etc...by the way I'm also getting fluorescent lighting so tank wont overheat thank you again---Diane

Betta tank plant care
I have several questions and couldn't find answers on your website so I'm bugging you in person!  I got my Betta (Akagi) in June and he is a great office-mate - he flirts with everyone and shows off all the time.   I have him in a one gallon tank with a filter (hose goes into a tube that's attached to a filtration plate at the bottom).  I only have the filter on for a couple of hours a day, but I leave the light on the whole time I'm here (Mon thru Fri), and I do notice that he really flares out and shows off when I turn the filter off.  I have a plastic plant and a "Roman ruins" wall in the tank which he likes to hide behind, I have 1-inch sized glossy black landscape rocks (they're clean) in the bottom because they look more Oriental (goes with the Roman ruins, don't you think  ;-) ?!) and contrast with his beautiful teal/dark blue and maroon coloring.   I have tried two different aquatic plants but both died on me within a week or so.  The last one was a lily-pad-looking thing and rotted all over the place.  I clean the tank once a week with hot tap water and I keep a gallon jug of tap water treated with aquarium salt and Aqua Safe sitting in my office during the week so that the temp will be right when I change it.  I feed him three pellets of Betta Biogold twice a day (he doesn't get anything on the weekends).  I tried freeze-dried brine shrimp but he just spat them out and they made a mess in the tank.  My questions are these: 1)  Should I remove the filtration plate?  Should I not use the filter at all? < Your undergravel filter plate works by pulling the fish waste through the gravel where bacteria living on the gravel break the ammonia down to nitrites and then nitrates. If you rinse the gravel in hot water then you are killing off any bacteria and your undergravel filter, so it is probably not doing too much but aerating the water.> 2)  What kind of plants can I put in the tank that will put up with being removed from the tank every week for cleaning?  Which ones are ok with low light?  I'd much rather have real than plastic and Akagi prefers them too! < You can try floating plants like Naja grass, hornwort or even duckweed. Just make sure that they don't get too thick at the surface to where your Betta can't find a spot at the surface to breath or he will die. You also could try an Anubias plant, java fern, java moss or  tied to the rock.> 3)  Should I try other foods or just stick with the BioGold since Akagi gobbles them up so happily?  should I feed less?  How many days can he go without food (I'm thinking about those long weekends) < A varied diet is always a good idea. Unfortunately some fish get imprinted on a certain food and it is hard to get them to switch. You fish could go as long as a week without being fed. This is much better than having an inexperienced friend come over and feed them while you are away.> 4)  Should I take out the big black rocks and use something smaller?  Is cleaned and tumbled beach glass an acceptable alternative? thank you SO much in advance for your help, I just love this little guy so much I want to make sure he's healthy and happy! < If he seems ok with the existing aquascaping then I see no need to change it.-Chuck> Delia

Better Betta Barracks Hi there--<Hi back, Don here> we just bought new Betta fish and small tanks with waste absorbing beads <A low growl>. We rinsed the new (plastic) tanks, put the beads on the bottom and added the dechlorinated water. The water is very cloudy from the beads <Growl get's louder>, and we wonder if this will settle, and should we put the fish in it anyhow. Right now they are in measuring cups with the treated water <Screams!>. Thanks for any help you can give us. Don & Joanne <Not growling at you, but the people who sold you this set up. I'm assuming these small tanks have no heat or filtration. And that's bad. Bettas are tropical fish and must be given a steady temp in the high 70's. And although they can survive in water that would kill others, they will not thrive. The beads are ..... No, I'm wrong. That's what they absorb. Look at it this way. A filter is like a bathroom, the beads are like diapers. Pick one to use for life! IMO the best setup for a Betta is a 2.5 to 5 gallon tank with a cover, small heater and a sponge filter. Do not get an incandescent hood for a small tank. The light will cause large swings in temp that could kill, or at least weaken. Now that I got that off my chest, yes, the water will clear. And yes, I would move them from the cups ASAP. But I do fear you will have more problems very soon. It was wrong for the pet store to sell you the tank and fish at the same time. Always set everything up before bringing home the fish. And we haven't even touched water testing and cycling yet. Please do a search on this site for "FW Cycling". In the meantime, please plan on changing about 50% of the water in each tank at least once a week. Always dechlorinate and match temp.>

Fish Filter Issues, Pt. 2 Thanks so much for your help! The sponge is a great idea. <Not a problem!  Glad to help.> We have Daryl in hanging breeder tank in the regular tank. We added Maracyn. He ate supper and seems to be doing much better. <Nice chatting, Ryan>

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Betta Success
Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

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