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FAQs on Betta Systems: Heat, Heating

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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, Lighting, Filtration, & 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,

Bettas are TROPICAL animals. Need warm (upper 70's, low 80's F. temperature constantly. You have to have a heater if you're not living in the tropics.

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

water clarity and cold spots; an issue in Betta tanks?   4/14/12
Dear WWM crew,
Hello! I have two questions that have been bugging me for a bit and I'm having trouble finding a clear answer. Thank you very much ahead of time for taking the time to read this message!
I'll start off by specifying my aquarium details (better too much info than not enough I hope!) :
I have a 10 gallon cycled, heated (80F)
<Warm for the snails>
and planted (giant Anubias, Anubias nana, java fern, Christmas moss and Cabombas) tank. The filter's an HOB with a sponge over the intake and another sponge over the outtake to reduce the current. Can you tell that this is going to be a Betta tank? :)
<Not yet>
I don't actually know the specific water parameters of my tank because my test kits are all expired and I'm waiting for the new ones to arrive in the mail (I can't wait! I ordered an oxygen test for fun!). But as of last week they were : pH -7.5, Ammonia -0ppm, Nitrites -0ppm, nitrates -15ppm. The tank is currently fishless but I have an apple snail, a Nerite, at least three varieties of pond snails (all about the size of a grain of kosher salt) and all sorts of tiny critters, mostly copepods, Planaria and these little bugs that jump on top of the water. They haven't overrun the tank, I think there's a very nice balance going on, I feel like I have a little freshwater ecosystem! I actually have a really nice time watching these little creatures going about their business.
Tank maintenance involves  20% water changes per week and I vacuum the gravel at the same time, along with monthly filter maintenance to keep the sponges and bacteria medium free of debris. I am only planning on getting a Betta after the apple snail passes, to avoid any problems with overcrowding or nipping. Proper feeding, maintenance and monitoring will follow.
Starting with my first question : I have a few pieces of driftwood in the tank, and they make a bit of a mess. There's always brown dirt from the wood in the substrate and it also floats in the water. I can never get the gravel perfectly clean and there's always debris floating in the water. It doesn't make the water cloudy; you have to be right up against the glass to notice it. My question is whether this can harm a Betta if it were to swim in it (i.e.. get in the eyes or scratch the fish) Is suspended debris a symptom of water quality issues?
<Not a problem>
My second possible issue is that I have a cold spot in the tank.
I can't seem to get it as warm as the rest of the surrounding water. Can this be a health issue for the Betta or will he simply avoid the area?
<Am curious as to how/why you think there is such an area>
 I keep the thermometer at the farthest point away from the heater and it reads at 80f, but spot is noticeably colder than the rest of the water. Can the fish become sick if it swims through that area?
<Not likely, no>
That's everything, thank you very much for your help and have a nice weekend!
<This volume, if circulated as you state, w/ the HOB filter, should be uniformly heated/warm. Bob Fenner>
Re: water clarity and cold spots; an issue in Betta tanks?    4/15/12

Thank you for the quick response. When I was referring to a cold spot, I meant that when I put a hand into the aquarium there is a spot that feels noticeably colder than the surrounding water.
<Mmm, very strange>
 It's underneath an arc of driftwood, which must mean that water is not being circulated around that spot, making it colder than the rest of the tank water. I was just curious whether this cold spot would be a danger to Bettas if they were to swim through it. :)Thanks again for your time.
<I'd try a thermometer... in this, other places in the tank... again, not a problem for the Betta. B>

Re: Sickly Wal-Mart Bought Fantail (RIP my beautiful Cleo)   3/3/12
Questions about Betta, heating

Hello Bob and WWM Crew
Unfortunately, my beautiful Cleo didn't make it.  I did ask my LFS and they reviewed my water quality journal and my issues, they said that Cleo was probably too sick to survive because of the treatment that she received while at Wal-Mart.
  I can only hope that this is true, but, regardless, I will not by another Goldfish until I am certain that the fish tank is completely cycled and ready for another.  We (my kids and I) are very sad about Cleo's passing and never want to deal with that again, so we're going to be much more careful.  My only regret is that I didn't know about your wonderful site before I got her.  A couple of quick questions, if you don't mind.  Since we are still cycling the tank, it is obviously still running.
Because of Cleo's Ich, there is still salt in the tank and I do still have a heater in there.  What is the optimal temperature that it needs to run at to eradicate the Ich and how long do I need to leave it running before introducing another fish?
<Mid to upper 80's F., a couple weeks>
 I am making certain to keep adding fish food so the Bio-Spira that I introduced won't die out and cause the tank to start the cycle over again.  My other question is this, I have a 5 gallon tank that I also added Bio-Spira too before I checked the water chemistry and added my Betta, Violet.  She seems to be doing very well and swimming around happily.  After reading for countless hours, I determined that the optimal water temp for her 80-82 degrees, and the most commonly recommended heater for small tanks is the Hydro Mini.  Unfortunately, the Mini is only heating her tank to about 76 degrees.  Will she thrive at these temperatures?
<Mmm, I'd look into a 25 or if you're house is cold, a fifty watt heater>>
 I have to assume not, so is there another heater that you can recommend for a 5 gallon tank?
<Eheim/Jager, Visitherm...>
 Thanks for all your help, guys.  I really appreciate you being there for all of us and can only help that you will continue to keep up the good work.
<Cheers, BobF>

Lethargic Betta, env.    2/15/11
I have a Betta in a 4-gallon bowl with a filter and heater (78 degrees), gravel and fake plants. I do about 50% water change every week; ammonia level and nitrate levels are good.
<Non detectable and under 20 ppm?>
I've only had him about a month and he was quite active until a couple days ago. He is now very lethargic, sits at the bottom of the bowl coming up for air every 10-15 minutes. He is still eating (Omega One Betta pellets and freeze dried blood worms). No signs of Ich or anything that I can see. I've just spent about 2 hours reading your site (love it!) but feel a bit confused. Add some salt?
Is he just "going through a phase"?
The only thing that has changed is the heater I had died, so I replaced it. He may have gone for a few days without his water being warmed. Is this enough to warrant his listlessness?
<Oh yes>
Thanks for any help!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Betta temperature  10/2/10
Bob or Neale,
We have a Betta that has become lethargic recently, and I know that is often an indication of being too cold. This is a fish that just spent the summer in warmer than normal water (85-87F) because we live in Phoenix and keep our AC at 84. (It's for cost reasons, but it does take several years of creeping the thermostat 2 degrees higher every year--sorry for the aside.)
My question is whether the Betta will acclimate to the higher than normal water temperature and feel sluggish now that the temperature is down around 80F?
<This will not cause any problems at all.>
I should note that I just moved him to larger quarters. He was in a way-too-small undergravel filter tank and was perky and flaring most of the summer. His color faded and he is no longer flaring or eating much for maybe the past week.
<Does sometimes take fish a few days to settle into a new home. But do also check everything is as it should be in terms of water quality and chemistry. There's no reason at all a smaller tank should stress a Betta.
The idea they come from ponds and therefore want to live in jam jars is silly; even in the wild, a small pond would contain hundreds if not thousands of gallons! Because domesticated Bettas have longer fins than
their wild ancestors, they do find swimming hard work, but that's a problem aggravated by strong water currents, not the size of their tank.>
I moved him into a larger planted tank--new setup with Flora Max substrate, two Microsorium pteropus and 3 bulbs Aponogeton (Betta bulbs) not yet emerged. New tank is 4 or 5 USG with hob filter set very slow to minimize currents, heater currently warming the water targeting about 84F, and 16 LED lamp for the plants and generates negligible heat.
<Sounds good.>
He seems interested and pleased with his new surroundings, into which I gently acclimated him before releasing. pH reading is at end of scale reading of 7.6, High pH is at end of scale reading of 7.4, so it should be pretty close to neutral pH. 0 NH3 Did not test for Nitrates or Nitrites since this is a new setup that has not yet generated ammonia. (Also imported were his Betta leaf couch which he mostly ignores but was moved mainly to carry some bacteria to jump-start cycling the tank.
<Indeed, but moving across filter media from one tank to the other would help far more. Even in the case of going from an undergravel filter to some other type of filter, you should be able to move the gravel across, and if you're clever, place some gravel inside the hang-on-the-back filter so it can "seed" the sponges or whatever.>
He is lazy, will come to the surface to breathe then drift slowly to the bottom until he decides to breathe again. He is not eating much. Since the behavior was occurring in the smaller tank, I'm assuming for now that it is not chemistry but that a temperature of 80F is too cold for this fish after acclimating to a warm summer season. The tank temps have been dropping despite our daytime temps still over 100F; the nighttime temps are cooling the tanks.
<Don't think temperature is the thing here. You're well within the comfort zone of Betta splendens. Would be eyeing water quality instead. No need to worry about feeding at this stage; indeed, remove uneaten food at once, to prevent exacerbating any ammonia and nitrite spikes.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Betta temperature  10/2/10

Thanks Neale,
The little guy passed away overnight. It looks to be one of those cases where you never really find out what the problem was. No real symptoms other than the lethargy. Bob F knows I'm very well aware of water quality.
The Betta would have moved into the larger tank sooner except it had been occupied as a Q tank until recently, and my display tank is still battling a nematode problem, so he couldn't move there either. Only idea I can come up with is there was a latent disease that emerged a few weeks ago when my AC went out for 2 days and his water temp got to the mid 90s Fahrenheit.
Air temp was over 100F in the house, so was no picnic for the humans either.
<Indeed, while Bettas are fine with water temperatures up to 30 C/86 F, above that they will get stressed. If water temperatures really are problematic for you, the two best options are either to move the aquarium
somewhere cooler, like a basement, or else to install a chiller or a fan above the tank that will help cool the water down. Chillers are expensive though, and fans increase evaporation only if the top of the tank is open, and Bettas being "jumpy" fish are liable to escape if kept that way. A third possibility is to look at fish specifically adapted to harsh temperature regimes. My favourite of these is the Desert Goby (Chlamydogobius eremius) able to live happily at up to 35 C/95 F and tolerant of short term exposure to temperatures as high as 41 C/105 F. Like many other desert fish, they also tolerate cold water, almost down to freezing. To say they're hardy fish is an understatement! They're also very pretty, very colourful, and very fun to watch. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Betta temperature, and  10/2/10
Alas, I have no basement, but fortunately the temperature spike we experienced was only due to a bad blower motor on the air conditioner, not a regular occurrence.
<Oh, I see.>
Desert goby looks like a fun option. I may try to locate some to keep in an unheated tank. They are not on the Arizona Fish and Game restricted species list, so it's only a question of finding some.
<Arizona does of course have some fantastic desert fish of its own, including various Pupfish species like the Devil's Hole pupfish, Cyprinodon diabolis. But I fear many of these are threatened with extinction in the wild, so may or may not be suitable choices for home aquaria. You might ask around the fish clubs or local universities to find out if there are captive populations available from which you might you take a few. The irony with desert fish generally is that as species they're usually very hardy and breed extremely rapidly, but their habitats are being taken away from them, and even the toughest fish can't cope with a bulldozer flattening their habitat or removal of local water courses that cause their ponds to dry up completely. That we have fish that live in deserts should be the sort of thing we celebrate as a sign of how amazing Nature can be'¦ and yet they're amongst the least familiar and least protected animals on the planet.>
I saw you have a goby article in the November issue TFH. I looking forward to reading it.
<Hope you enjoy it. The Desert Goby is featured in there, I think as my #1 Goby!>
Regarding the small planted tank, I added some Hydrocotyle sibthripoides, a crown tail Betta, and two Amano shrimp. All seem very happy in their new home. (If I tell Bob F that I did not buy the Betta in a cup of blue water, he will know where in phoenix I bought them.)
<Cheers indeed, Neale.>

Betta temperature and possible tank mates 6/7/10
Hi all,
I had a 5g. tank that I gave to my mom. Helped her set it up and she got herself a Betta. The tank is between 80 and 82 degrees. My thermometer shows "safe zone" is up to 80 degrees.
<Does depend on the species of fish. For some, like Neons and Corydoras, 22-24 C/72-75 F is optimal. For others, like Angelfish and Discus, 28-30 C/82-86 F suits them better.>
I read on a couple sites that 82 was too high for them.
<For Bettas? No. 28 C/82 F is fine.>
So I was having her float ice cubes.
<No real need.>
I finally remember this site because I wrote in a few times when I first set up my 40 gallon and I prefer the information this site gives out.
I see on this site that even up to 84 degrees is ok for a Betta.
<It is indeed.>
So I just want to double check that I am correct on what I have read on this site.
<It is.>
Also assuming it is, she is wanting to get tank mates for it.
<Don't. Bettas are best, and should only ever be, kept alone.>
She is thinking of neon tetras.
<These will be overheated in your aquarium, and even if they weren't, they'd nip the fins. Plus, a 5-gallon aquarium is too small for any fish other than a single Betta. At most, you could add a few Cherry Shrimps.>
Would this be an issue with 82 degree temperatures?
<Much too warm for Neons.>
And the L.Pet.S. said that 5 is ok for that tank.
<They're talking rubbish.>
but wouldn't that be too much for the 1 inch of fish per gallon?
<Below 10 gallons, the "inch per gallon" rule doesn't really work. Small tanks like your 5 gallon one are just too unstable for most fish, and there isn't the swimming space they need. Tell your mom that adding anything other than Cherry Shrimps is a really dumb idea.>
I was thinking more like 3 of them.
<See, Neons have to be kept in groups of at least 6 specimens. They're social. Keeping 3 would be mean, and in all likelihood they'd be stressed and/or aggressive. Have your mom read here:
If she wants to keep Neons, she needs to get an aquarium just for them, at least 10 gallons in size.>
Take care
<Cheers, Neale.>

Bettas and the Warmth they Need  - 10/15/06 Hello: <<Hi, John. Tom>> I bought a male Betta about three months ago and put him in his own 5 gallon tank with a small Visi-therm heater. <<Okay. Like the choice on the size of the tank, by the way.>> I got the heater online and it lasted two months then died. Visi-therm is one of the better ones if not the best or, so I heard. It had the automatic shut off and would shut off when the water reached the desired temperature. One day the heater decided to not shut off and I am glad that I looked at the temp reading on the side of the tank. I had to remove the heater. <<Your Betta's glad you kept an eye on the tank as well, I'm betting!>> We moved the Betta to the bedroom where it is warmer at night, and the temp in the tank is holding at 74. I tend to like to turn the heat way down at night to save on heating costs, though. <<You're singing my song, John.>> I am thinking of getting another heater for the Betta, but I am thinking that if a Visi-therm died, nothing else will last either and I may be buying pricy heaters every couple of months. <<Not necessarily.>> I wonder if what happened to the Visi-therm was just a fluke or if small heaters die like that a lot due to small components? Maybe Betta keeping is only for those in warm climates. <<I'm in Michigan, John, and 50 degrees sounds like a heat wave to us right now. I'm betting this was a fluke.>> Is there any other way to keep a small tank warm with some kind of thermal covering?? <<Your Betta needs temps in the 80-84 degree F. range, John. The only way that I know of to maintain that is with a heater. I realize you're probably feeling a little 'snake-bit' right now but I'd opt for another heater.>> One other question is that the Betta seems a bit "lonely" since his tank was moved away from the larger tank we have. He never sees the other fish since we put him in the bedroom. I wonder if it is safe to put a Corydoras catfish in with him for company. Every time I go in the bedroom he comes over at high speed like he is glad to see me, or maybe he just associates me with getting fed and I am just projecting feelings onto him. <<Fish don't get lonely, John, though many species are more 'comfortable' in a group of their own kind. In truth, he associates you with 'yummies' and is, otherwise, very content on his own. One reason that I wouldn't, personally, recommend one of the Corydoras types with your Betta is that I suggest the use of aquarium salt for Bettas and Corys are not very tolerant of salt. Additionally, the higher temperatures that Bettas prefer are a bit much for other fish, even Tropicals.>> Thank you!! <<No problem, John. And, don't be discouraged about the heater. I've got a small 25W Hydor for a 10-gallon tank that's served me quite well. Tom>>

One less chilly-killed Betta, thanks   1/13/06 Thank you for your information regarding these wall mount dishes. I had considered buying one for my daughter. Thanks to your information, I know not to. One less wall mount purchase. <Ahh! I thank you. Gratifying to realize one is helping others to preserve, further the health of their aquatic pets. Bob Fenner>

Heating a Small Betta Tank  - 01/09/2006 Hello Everyone, I have searched your awesome site as to what is the ideal water temp for my less than one-year-old male Betta's 2.5 gallon tank, with no luck. Blame my search skills I guess. The average indoor temp for this room is 70 F. Recently he's been lethargic, not charging around his tank as usual, but laying in the gravel or hiding. He is eating. Yesterday, after searching your site and piecing together what may be the trouble, I bought a Hydor Mini and a thermometer. The water temp was about 69 F, so I installed the heater. < Good Idea.> The aquarium heater insert says: "Always use a heater with a thermometer: If water temp should exceed 76 F, unplug the heater." The water had risen to 80 F so I unplugged it. < Bettas can easily handle 80-86 F.> Another bullet point says: "Do not use this heater for any use other than to increase the water temp by a few degrees in a 2 - 5 gallon tank." It seems to have raised the temp too high, right? He's fine (alive) and actually a little more active than before. He ate right away but isn't doing his "usual thing". What is the ideal water temp for a single male Betta in a 2.5 gallon tank? Is there an alternative to the Hydor Mini or would a larger tank be the best answer? Thanks so much, Elizabeth < Your Betta can handle 80 to 86 F. How much heater you need depends on how high you need to raise the water temp and hold it. The 69 F temp is way too cold for a Betta. Go for a quality brand 25 watt heater that you can set the temperature on 80 F and forget it.-Chuck>

Temperature for Bettas Hello Bob! <Hi there...you've got Jorie this morning> How do I go about maintaining the proper water temperature for my Betta? What is the proper temperature? Can you purchase a heated filter? Thanks in advance for any assistance you can offer. <The ideal Betta temperature is between 80 and 82 degrees F. I'm not sure what your Betta's setup is like, but if you've got at least a 2 gal. tank, you can purchase a 25watt heater to maintain this temperature. Keeping the temperature constant is the most important thing - you don't want large ups and downs between day and night time (or any other time, for that matter). I personally don't recommend keeping a Betta in anything less than a 2 gal. tank for that very reason. I myself keep two Bettas, each in a 3 gal. Eclipse tank, that fits the 25watt heater very nicely. Do be sure and get a thermometer in the tank along with the heater, so you can check for consistency. Good luck, Jorie>

Temperature for Bettas Jorie, Thanks for your response. <You are welcome.> My Betta is in less than one gallon of water. Where do I purchase a 25watt heater and a thermometer? Where do you attach the heater? If I place him in a 2 gallon tank will I need a heater? <The smallest submersible heater I am aware of is the 25watt, and you definitely would not want to use this in a tank less than 1 gal., as you would likely cook your friend! Here's a link to the Eclipse 3 gal. that I personally like very much: Eclipse 3 gal.  You can certainly shop around for a better price...sometimes PetSmart, PetCo, etc. have these on sale. I like this because everything is included, the filter, wet/dry filtration, light fixture, etc.  Here's a link to the size heater you want...this would be great for anything between 2-5 gallons (general rule of thumb is 25watts per 5 gallons of water). And, finally, here's a link to show you the type of thermometer I'm talking about...I personally like the ones with the suction cups: thermometer.  The thermometer you can find at any local fish store (LFS), the 25watt heater may prove a bit more challenging...I'd just call ahead, since some stores don't go below the 50watt size. I personally order lots of stuff from Drs. Foster and Smith (links I provided you), and I'm happy with their service, for what that is worth!> Pardon my naivety although I'm a new Betta owner and I want to do the best I can for him. <It's great that you are learning and growing in the hobby, Sandra...I myself started with one Betta, and now have 6 or so freshwater tanks...be warned, this hobby is very addicting! We are here to help, so any more questions you might have...Jorie>

Cold Betta fish Hi! <Hello...Jorie here tonight.> My roommate has a male beta fish. They love each other very much. Aleine (the fish) knows when Suzanna comes home and is always happy to see her, unless she's just changed his water, which she does every week and he hates it. (He pretty much ignores me all of the time--even when I'm feeding him.) <Bettas are really full of personality - I've got two, and in my humble opinion, they are perhaps one of the most "pet-like" of all my freshwater fish! Each one is truly unique...some are shy, some feisty...lots of fun...> I just bought a house and Suzanna and Aleine graciously moved into it with me. The problem is that the house is cold and drafty. It stays between 52 and 62 degrees F. Aleine is still eating, but he's not nearly as active as he used to be. <You've identified the problem....he's likely cold. This is not a good thing for a Betta, as it will leave him more susceptible for disease, etc. Also, large temp. fluctuations are exceptionally bad.> We've been looking for a warmer, brighter spot in the sun for him, but we haven't found one that's out of drafts yet. He lives in a simple fishbowl. <Got to be careful with doing this, because when the sun goes down, the temp. will drop. A non-stable temperature is even *worse* than just a cold temperature.> From reading your site, I realize the best thing for everybody would be a bigger tank with a heating device. Unfortunately, that's not financially feasible right now. (Nor is keeping the house at 70 or 80 degrees.) <You are correct. In reality, you could likely spend $50 or less to get your Betta friend a 2-3 gal. tank (complete with filtration), a 25watt heater and a suction-cup thermometer. Please do consider this as soon as you can afford it.> How can we safely get Aleine warmer? The people at the LFS suggested the following: 1. Putting a heating pad underneath his bowl. <You could experiment with this, but please be sure to at least spend a couple of dollars on a thermometer to put inside the tank...don't want to risk boiling your friend. In reality, if you are concerned with $$$, I think this would bump up your electric bill; you'd have to run the pad constantly, as stated before, large temperature fluctuations are very bad.> 2. Wrapping his bowl in towels. <I'm afraid this would leave the fish thinking it's eternally night time...you wouldn't be able to see your friend, either> 3. Putting a lamp above his bowl. <Exact opposite problem...the fish would think it is eternally day time!> We haven't done any of these things yet, because the people at the LFS seemed like they were just making stuff up. <Seems to me that all would work, but each has its own significant drawback(s)> I've been looking on your site, but I haven't found an answer yet. <I really think saving your pennies is the best option...do consider looking into a small couple gallon tank and a 25watt heater...any birthdays coming up?! You certainly don't need anything fancy, just something big enough to allow the small heater. I wouldn't use anything smaller than a 2 gal. tank for that heater, and it's the smallest submersible one I've come across.> Thanks so much for your time, Rain <You're welcome. Good luck to you, your roommate and your fish! Jorie> 

Temperature Fluctuations Affect Betta Hi there, <Howdy> My Betta splendens, who is over a year old, is not very well. I feel particularly responsible for this as recently I moved him from a 6 litre tank to a heated 2 litre container, I did a 90% water change when I moved him, ensured that the thermostat was off and then after a day turned it onto its lowest setting which is 20ºCelsius, I have since realized the water temperature has been fluctuating by between 2 and 3 degrees daily. <Yikes... C... too much> I normally also only change about 40% of the water in the 6 litre tank bi-monthly. this time however I did a much larger water change using only filtered water which is meant to remove chlorine and ammonia.  He seemed fine for the first few days but this morning his eyes look a tad 'pop-eyed' and his colouring, particularly around the bottom of his head and pectoral fins seems dull. He ate only a day ago, I tend to feed them all sorts of live feed, ranging from earthworms to blood worm, my fish will not take dead food.  I have also noticed a small fungal infection on his bottom fin, which has obviously been aggravated by the change in water conditions, how would you suggest I handle this? <Perhaps the assiduous use of an antibiotic mix like "BettaMax"> So far I have done a 10% water change and removed the thermostat from the small volume of water he is currently in, I have set up a 10 litre tank with a thermostat, currently set to 20º Celsius (the approximate room temperature) to move him to later on today. The water in this tank is a 50/50 combination of fresh water and settled water. My plan is to treat with a little salt or Epsom salts - I have added an Octazone treatment for dropsy to his current container (as his scales do seem raised and he has pop-eyes), and increase the water temperature slowly. Or not??? Is this a good idea? <Is one approach... again I would try the BettaMax or Spectrogram...> Please help!!! I'm going to be devastated if I lose this fish! Thanks, Isis <Bob Fenner>

Safely elevating bowl temperatures 7/19/05 Good morning. <So far> I want to treat a co-workers Betta fish that lives in a half-gallon bowl with no heat. I need to know how to raise the temp gradually from a low of 66 degrees to 80 degrees before starting treatment. <Actually... going this direction, one can raise it almost immediately... a day or so...> The fish is old (amazing) but has developed a white and bloody tail fin (small spot in the middle). I have a Betta fish in a heated 5 gallon tank and I cannot get this woman to upgrade. <Look at the U.S. "choice" for a president... human nature> Anyways, please help me- the fish is as active as he can be and eats heartily. Fed 3 times a week. Water changed once a week. Don't know parameters but sub-par. Am going to do complete water changes twice a week now and after treatment (also during treatment). <Ah, good> I wanted to add aquarium salt, frequent water changes and heat... but how to I safely raise the heat? <The company Hydor has a really neat low wattage "heating pad" type heater... I would seek one of these out> I want to resort to medication as a last response. <We are in agreement here> Thank you very much. Sue :) <Thank you for your concern, sharing. Bob Fenner>

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>

Bubbles, heaters and plants  9/7/05 Hi folks, I've visited your site several times now and really enjoy the advice you dispense.  I'm rather concerned about my Betta, Nox.  He lives in a 1.66 gallon tank with an undergravel filter, an air pump (with air stone) and live plants. <No heater?> I have three questions. First, I recently completed the water change after the first month.  I saved back some of the old water and vacuumed thoroughly before rinsing the plants and decorative stones, left the gravel alone.  Now the entire surface of the tank is covered in bubbles and this seems to be stressing Nox out.  What can I do about this? <Mmm, be more careful re saving more of the "old" water... setting out the "new" water for a week or more before using> Second this is a 1.66 gallon tank and I have not found any type of heater rated for use in such a small setting. <Look to "Hydor" products...>   I do have a hood lamp that I have been using, which seems to help out.  Where might I find such a heater in Eugene, OR? <Likely "mail order", from etailers/Net, catalog sales> Thirdly As I mentioned I have some live plants.  I have tried to raise aquatic plants before without much success, however these "ferns" are going crazy (I can't remember the proper name). <Likely Ceratopteris... plug this name in...>   They are budding constantly and I have had to prune them once already and grouped the cuttings in a new bunch.  I was wondering if this is normal and also if I should cycle out the older plants as they are a bit raggedy? <You could... you want to make sure and leave clear access to the surface... for your Betta's breathing> The cuttings are doing well so far. Thanks for your time, Pylaydia <Thank you for writing, sharing. Bob Fenner>

Siamese Fighting Fish Could you please tell me what temperature Siamese fighters live at and when introducing them to a tank with female fighters if any special measures should be taken. Thank you. <Hmm, as you note, these are "warm water fish"... tropicals. They appreciate water in the mid-70 degrees Fahrenheit to the low eighties... Hence the need for a thermostatic heater. As regards females, I would not keep these in with your males on a continuous basis... as there is too much aggression to be expected here, with the male likely keeping the female from swimming about or feeding. Bettas, Siamese Fighting Fish are best mixed male/female only during spawning.  Bob Fenner>

Temperature for a Betta Hi guys (and gals), <A gal for yah today!> First of all, I want to thank you and congratulate all of you for running such an informative site. <And thank you for the kind words!> I've been pouring over all the articles and FAQs for the last week or so before I buy a 29 gal tank soon. I've learned a lot so hopefully I'll be able to avoid a lot of beginner mistakes. <Ah, wonderful to hear!> I have two questions for you: 1) I recently, like 2 days ago, bought a male Betta and am currently keeping him in a 1-gallon glass fishbowl shaped like a, uh, fishbowl :-). <Hmm, sounds fishy....  Sorry, couldn't resist ;) > My problem is that since I live in Northern California, it gets pretty cold in my room this time of year during the day (when I'm at work). At night it's warm enough because I turn the heater on / build a fire. I know that a 1-gallon tank is too small for a heater, but do you have any suggestions as to keep the water temp up? It hovers around 64-65, and keeping my room warm throughout the day isn't really an option. I'd like to get it to mid 70s if I can. <Without using a heater, I'm not sure how to do this....> Is the temperature fluctuation even worse than a steady cold temp? <IMO, yes.  However, a steady cold temperature for too long could be quite bad, perhaps even fatal, for your tropical pal.> What is the smallest sized (read: cheapest) tank that I can have and still have a heater? <I'd try to aim for 3 gallons plus; you can find five-watt heaters at Wal-marts for small tanks, but I don't think I'd try to use a heater on a one-gallon bowl; the risk of overheating is just too great.> If I go with a slightly larger tank, i.e., 5 gallons, can I put some Japonica Shrimp in there to keep the algae down or would those just be appetizers for Hurley (the Betta)? <This sounds like a wonderful plan.  I'd like to comment - please be very cautious of incandescent lighting, if you choose to have a lit tank!  Incandescent bulbs produce a lot of heat, and can easily overheat a small tank, especially in the summer.  That's typically all that's available for smallish tanks (as far as tank kits go), unless you look at Eclipse/Regent type tanks.  Though, the Eclipse/Regent setups would be excellent for you and your finny friend, and his shrimpy roommates - complete with filtration and lighting, the 3-gallon and larger models of these tanks really are worth the extra cost, especially for beginners.  Worth looking into, at least.> I don't know how they are with crustaceans as tank mates, and I couldn't find it anywhere. <Heh, well, some Betta guys are wonderful with tankmates, and some are a terror - really, it could go either way.  For the most part, though, a few shrimp would likely be perfectly safe from him, even if he's quite aggressive.  Try to provide plenty of hiding spaces for them, and they should do quite well.> Oh, and like I said, I live in No. Cal. so the tap water (treated of course - told you I've been doing my homework *grin*) is pretty hard and has a high pH (mid 8s, according to test strips). <Heh, hailing from silicon valley myself, I hear yah on that!  mid-eights in the winter, mid-NINES in the summer.  Not fun.  Not at all.> Does the hardness and/or alkalinity of the water affect temperature retention? <Hmm.  My best answer, "no".  Or, at least, "not enough to say so".  I'm sure it does to some degree, but I'm also pretty sure it is insignificant.> 2) In the 29-gal tank I plan on acquiring soon, <Yay!  Sounds like fun!> I think I've finally decided what the inhabitants are going to be. I was going to cycle it with some (6ish) White Clouds <Consider a fishless cycle, if you can.  Otherwise, white clouds definitely are a tough fish!> and then slowly add 6-8 Green Tiger Barbs, 8 Harlequin (or Scissor Tail if I can find them) Rasboras and 2 Dwarf Gouramis. Do you see any problems with these fish? <I would skip the dwarf Gourami, for sure.  With the tiger barbs in the mix, they'd be nipped to shreds, I can assure you.> I know the Tiger Barbs are nippy, but everything I've read seems to say that they will be fine in a school that size. <Mm, to some extent, yes; but they *will* still nip anything in sight, especially slow-moving pretty Gourami fins.  The other fishes (Rasboras, white clouds) will be fine with the tigers.)> Also, do you have any recommendations for algae eating organisms? Shrimps? Otos? SAEs? <Personally, because I'm passionate about them, I'd go with shrimp.  For one, they are simply amazing, wonderful animals to watch, and some varieties that are now becoming available in the US are utterly gorgeous.  Shrimp also add very little to the bioload of a tank - er, that is to say, they don't poo a whole lot.  It is, of course, up to you/your tastes.> I plan on this a being lightly to medium planted tank. Are there any plants I should avoid? <Depends completely upon your setup.> I'd like to keep the plants as simple as possible, no laterite or CO2 injections or anything like that (for now...  :-) But hey, this is my first serious tank). <I'd stick with tough, low-light plants, like Anubias sp., Vallisneria sp., java fern (Microsorium pteropus), java moss (Vesicularia dubyana), Anacharis/elodea/Egeria....  for starters ;) > Like I said before, my tap water is high pH and pretty hard... <"Liquid rock".> I think I can lower it to mid 7s, which is OK, if at the upper limit, for my (soon to be) fish according to Fishbase. <Might try using peat moss to assist with this - I find it extremely effective in my tanks (down to 7-ish from 9-ish in the summer!).> Do you see any problems with my plans/stocking scheme? Any comments? <Just as above.> Any feedback is greatly appreciated. OK, I know this is more than two questions, but I got carried away. :-) <Heh, no problem, that's why we're here!> Thanks again, and keep up the good work!  -Tyler <Thanks much, we'll do our best.  -Sabrina>

Chilly Betta Hi Bob.  I've been searching the internet on information about Betta fish and new tanks and kept coming up with your name. Are you knowledgeable on the subject and can I ask you a question? If the answer is yes, here is the question/situation. We just got a male Betta on Friday, Dec.24th. We have a 2½ gallon mini bowl with lid, light, and under gravel filter with air pump. We treated tap water to dechlorinate and let the fish slowly adjust to the water over 4 ½ hours. We have the tank set up with the filter but as I was reading, realized the air flow is too strong. We bought a valve that slows the air circulation so he can swim okay, but I'm not sure about using this type of filter.  We bought a small sponge filter that suctions to the side and uses an air pump but haven't put it in yet. Question 1 is which if any of these filters is best? Second, the tank is too small for a heater. The current temp is 74 degrees but I had the light on all day to help warm it. Now I read we shouldn't keep a light on more than 6 or 8 hours. I would like the temp to be upper 70's but don't know what to do. Is the temp. okay? Even with a small heater, the tank is plastic and the pet shop said that wasn't safe. Third question is, he's not eating!!! I tried pellets, freeze dried blood worms, flakes, and freeze dried brine shrimp. NOTHING WORKS. I'm starting to get worried. What should I do?  Will he starve? I'm trying my best to make sure he survives and has a happy life but everything I read says something different. I already spent the money on this tank, so if there is a way to make it work I want to try, but in hindsight, it seems that the tank is too small. Also, I tested the ammonia, nitrites and Ph and all was okay so far.  How often should I do water changes? Do I need a gravel vacuum? Do I need to take the fish out to clean the tank? If I don't use the under gravel filter, should I remove the filter and some of the gravel? Right now gravel is about 2 -- 3 inches thick. Any help is much appreciated. I've only had the filter on for several hours, so is it okay to just turn it off if we decide to try the sponge filter or not use a filter at all. Thanks sooooo much. I'm trying not to be frantic. Kim Larrabee <Hi Kim, Don here. You are very close to having a perfect Betta setup. You are correct that the bowl is a little small. Or more correctly a hard shape to heat. A 2.5 to 5 gallon tank with a heater, lid and sponge filter is ideal for a single Betta. Make it a 10 and you could add a few Corys. I would remove the UGF and use the sponge filter along with a gravel vac. Reduce the amount of gravel to about a half inch or so. Any deeper just holds more waste. Temp should be held steady in the high 70's, to 80. Steady is the important part. Lights do not work for this reason. You need a heater and therefore a new tank. Read here on the first 30 days of having an aquarium. http://www.marineland.com/drtims_articles.asp Take note on Bio Filtration. This is the main advantage of a sponge filter. The gravel vac will remove solids. It will take about 6 weeks to get established. Continue to test for ammonia and nitrite and do partial water changes to correct any spikes. After both remain at zero without a water change start testing for nitrate. Set a water change schedule up to keep nitrates below 20ppm. For right now stop feeding your fish. Do a partial water change with a gravel vac to get all the waste and uneaten food out. This will decay and add ammonia to the water. Give him another two days or so to settle in before adding a TINY pinch of food once or twice a day. No more than he can eat in 30 seconds or so. Good luck. Don>

Heater for Betta I'm concerned that the temperature in my Betta tank is not warm enough. I do not have a heater and was wondering if a small light source would do the job. Thank you, Lindsey <Not really. It is very important the your Betta has a steady temperature in the high 70's. This is not possible using a light. The water would cool at night. This is one of the reasons I do not like keeping Bettas in bowls. The larger the volume of water, the easier it is to keep the temp steady and controlled. Even a small heater is too hot to be used in a small bowl. A 2.5 to 5 gallon tank with a small heater and sponge filter is ideal. Don>

Question about new Betta Hi. We just got our first fish, a Betta. He is in a 2.5 gallon mini bowl. There is a lot of misinformation out there about Bettas so I have a few questions I was hoping you could clear up. Most places said not to use a heater in such a small tank (and it's not glass), but the water temp was only about 70 without one. I found a 25 watt heater that sits inside and have monitored it very closely to not let the temp climb too quickly. It is now at about 78 degrees. Do you see any problem with keeping this in my tank? My Betta likes to swim between the heater and the suction cups that attaches it to the wall.  I'm nervous he will get stuck back there but right now he can move through with ease. Is that okay? Also, I couldn't find a sponge filter, but I removed the undergravel filter it came with and put in a small box filter. It hangs from the side with suction cups and we attached a valve to lessen the air flow through the pump. The water movement is light and doesn't bother the Betta at all. Should I stick to this kind of filter or try to keep looking for a sponge? The Betta seems happy now and finally ate after 2 ½ days. I also put some silk plants in there.  Are Bettas happier with more plants or more swimming space? Thanks for all your help. My husband thinks I'm nuts for getting stressed about this fish since most people just leave them in a bowl. I want him to stay alive. Kim   <Hi Kim, Don here. The problem with a heater in a bowl is that when it's on, it's fully on and putting out a lot of heat all at once. In most bowls you have to mount it right in the center and the fish can not get away from it. In a tank you can locate the heater to one side. A little buffer room until the temp equalizes. But if this is working for you, stick with it. Better than keeping him too cool. The advantage of a sponge is that you never replace it. This gives the beneficial bacteria a place to grow. When you replace the filter floss, you throw away the good germs. I would look online for a sponge. Don't go crazy with the silk plants. You don't want the fins getting caught in them. Good luck with him>   

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

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