Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs on Betta Systems 6

Related Articles: Betta Systems, Improved (Better?) Products for Bettas! Anabantoids/Gouramis & Relatives, Betta splendens/Siamese Fighting Fish, Betta Diseases, Improved (Better?) Products for Bettas!,

Related FAQs: Betta Systems 1, Betta Systems 2, Betta Systems 3, Betta Systems 4, Betta Systems 5, & Betta System: Bowls/Tanks, Heating, 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,

"What you doin'? Dying.... Oh, me too." <LOL, Bob, your humor's a little dark, no? --Sara M.>

New Print and eBook on Amazon

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Is coral stones harmful to beta fish if I boil it...its a 60L tank?     9/16/19
Hi i rescued one green tiger barb and he wasn't happy. He now has 7 barbs and loving company. I'm moving them to 60L tank. Tried sand but too cloudy..washed multiple times! I've purchased what looks like tiny wee pours golden stones but realised it's for saltwater. Will it harm barbs if I boil it first? In ratio to tank, it's not a great amount of gravel. Will they b ok with that?
Thanks Sharon
<Hello Sharon. Products designed for use in marine fish tanks are not always safe in freshwater tanks. If they are made of a calcareous material, such as limestone, they will harden the water and raise the pH. So short answer: nope, leave these out of your Betta's aquarium! Cheers, Neale.>

Better, difficult water parameters (Betta splendens)      8/22/19
I have a male betta in 5 gallons, filtered, WC every other day.
<Mmm; I'd do water changes just once a week>
My tap water has a PH of 8.5 and KH of 4. GH is 8-9.
<Got you>
I can drop the PH by mixing with water from another tank that has organics, or mix with RO (current strategy) as aerating overnight does nothing to drop the ph.
<Ah no; boiling might, but... I would not do this>
Regardless of the method, when the PH drops to 7.8 or 8, the KH has dropped to 2.5. I’ve tried the SeaChem products to buffer by bracketing and if the KH is at 4 or 5, the Ph is once again at least 8.5.
Can my Bettas live comfortably in an 7.8-8 range PH with a KH of 2.5. ?
Is the PH or the KH the bigger problem?
<A bit of both at extremes... put more clearly (hopefully), you have to have/want "some" KH (or GH), and a pH that is neither too high, nor low... The values you mention are fine for "modern" Betta splendens (cultured; let's say versus some species that might be closer generations-wise to wild-collected)>
These tanks are not cycled, I just do water changes every day with a drop of Prime. I have sponge filters cycling in a bucket, but not finished yet.
<Ahh; I would cycle them, move the media when it is ready, go to the weekly partial (half) water changes. All will be well otherwise (given the water quality parameters mentioned here)>
Thank you so much,
Amy Larson
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Better, difficult water parameters /Neale      8/23/19

I have a male betta in 5 gallons, filtered, WC every other day. My tap water has a pH of 8.5 and KH of 4. GH is 8-9.
<As you probably realise, pH is a bit high for this species. But that would seem to be a result of your water chemistry, though your carbonate hardness doesn't seem especially high.>
I can drop the pH by mixing with water from another tank that has organics, or mix with RO (current strategy) as aerating overnight does nothing to drop the pH.
<Indeed not. If there's a source of alkalinity in the aquarium, such as seashells or lime-containing gravel, or the water itself has some buffering capacity, any direct pH changes will be temporary.>
Regardless of the method, when the pH drops to 7.8 or 8, the KH has dropped to 2.5.
<Correct. Do you remember at school the old "acid plus alkali equals salt plus water" idea? This is more or less applicable here. When you add acid to a hard water aquarium, that acid is neutralised by the alkalinity in the water. Normally, this alkalinity is, in part or in whole, the carbonate hardness. So the acid reacts with the carbonate, and both are combined to form a soluble salt of some kind. The acid has therefore lowered the carbonate hardness. The carbonate hardness will continue to react with acid so long as acid is present, which is why carbonate hardness is a good indicator of buffering capacity -- it inhibits pH changes.>
I’ve tried the SeaChem products to buffer by bracketing and if the KH is at 4 or 5, the pH is once again at least 8.5.
<The basic rule is don't EVER try and change pH directly. It's pointless. At best it's a hit-and-miss approach; at worst you just fill your tank up with competing chemicals that produce unstable water chemistry that stresses your fish.>
Can my Bettas live comfortably in an 7.8-8 range pH with a KH of 2.5. ?
<It is not ideal, but tolerable if all else is positive.>
Is the pH or the KH the bigger problem?
<A-ha! You're on the right track now. When you decide to change water chemistry, you adjust hardness, whether KH, GH, or both. If you want soft, acidic conditions, your aim is to lower the hardness, because it's hardness (not pH) that matters to fish. If you have hard water, the question you ask yourself is where do you get demineralised water from? RO water or rainwater are the two standard options -- not domestic water softeners though! If you have "liquid rock" hard water with a high pH, a 50/50 mix with RO or rainwater will produce something that'll be fine for most community fish, including Bettas. The pH, while interesting, will be unimportant, so long as it's stable.>
These tanks are not cycled, I just do water changes every day with a drop of Prime. I have sponge filters cycling in a bucket, but not finished yet.
Thank you so much,
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Just to say Thanks!      10/23/18
I contacted you all months ago as a newbie aquarium hobbyist with a couple questions, but I had many more that I could find answers to on your site.
I just wanted to thank you all for keeping this site and also for giving me specific answers to my questions.
My tank is up and running beautifully, with very little maintenance. I have a sand bottom (play sand that I rinsed about 20 times). You can see the pic with everything in it (I went with two aerators), but my numbers are always perfect - I tried not to overpopulate with fish, and, by using the info on your site I can go for two weeks and only have to do a partial change. No algae, no scum. Just (what appears to be.) happy fish! .and shrimp, and the one Pleco (had a pair but one I gave away - didn't want offspring and they appeared to be "getting it on" inside the cholla!).
Thanks, Neale and Bob and the rest of you guys and gals!
BTW, my Betta's name is . Boris. As in, Boris Bettanov. J (Anyone ever watch Moose and Squirrel?)
<Oh yes; and thank you for your upbeat note Barbara. BobF>

Betta and fake "jellyfish"     9/24/18
I have one Betta in a 10 gallon and he is not very feisty. He was feisty in the store as they place them beside other male Bettas to better show them off. In the tank alone he is moving slow with a whatever attitude. I was thinking of getting Nerite snails as a "dither" but they die off in droves and have to be replaced at about $3 per snail. Would getting one of those "fake jellyfish" that move with the current, made of thin plastic be a thing a Betta would see as a "dither" that would be a one time thing to buy? Thank you
<Hi Judy. Can't think why your Nerites are dying, but will observe that most if not all species come from flowing water habitats, and will die if kept in overstocked tanks with low oxygen levels. A few species are brackish water specialists (Batman Snail and Spiny Nerites for example) and they won't last long in soft water, and perhaps not indefinitely in hard water either. So far as the fake Jellyfish goes, most fish ignore these. While they might be alarmed at first, they quickly treat them as inanimate objects much the same as air-powered ornaments or plastic plants. Will stress though that Bettas don't need friends. They've been bred for fighting across the last couple hundred years, and more recently, as fancy looking pets. Even in the wild the males are strongly territorial. They have absolutely no need for company, and indeed, may be stressed by other fish -- except, of course, for female Bettas during breeding. Cheers,

There is no way to do a safe divided tank for Bettas is there?     9/13/18
<Hey Jude>
I have a 10 gallon tank with one male Betta. He looks kinda small in there.
There is all this info on the net about divided tanks, but they seem not to be long term things even though people seem to claim that they are.
<Can be long or short term; medium even>
We have Lexam <likely Lexan> here, it is 1/8th thick and a Plexiglas type thing, but people say that silicone doesn't adhere well against glass.
<Actually, well enough inside a tank... not for adhering a plexi tank together though>
Glass that fits the tank perfectly can't be drilled it seems or it will shatter and if not the fish could really see each other leading to stress, plus needing another filter for the other side. Someone said plastic egg crate material with screen around it, but if it ever fell down in the tank, the Bettas would have at it to the death. So does anyone do this type of thing to a ten gallon for two Bettas or is it just better to get an extra tank? Thank you
<I'm all for innovation here... One can stand up a "hurricane lamp cover", w/ one inside and one out, situate a piece of glass or plexi diagonally that will fit close enough to keep each other on a side... There are commercial tank dividers that work well enough... Try Googling; here's one on Amazon:
Bob Fenner>

Aging Betta to new environment?      9/3/18
Good evening, Crew!
<Good morrow Kara!>
I have a question about whether or not moving an aging Betta to a new environment is a good thing to do.
Flash, the Betta, (male) has been with us for just over 2 years. We purchased him (rescued from one of those wretched cups) to be the centerpiece fish of a planted 60 gallon aquarium. The tank is densely
planted, furnished with sprawling branchy driftwood, and large chunks of granite. Current tank specs: Ammonia: 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 20, Ph 7.6. Temp 77F.
His tankmates are peaceful, but are rather more boisterous than he seems to be comfortable with now: A pearl Gourami and his harem of 3, 4 active but old smallish, but active (letting them "age out") schools of harlequin rasboras, black neon tetras, white cloud minnows, and Glowlight tetras, with several Corydoras and Kuhli loaches at the bottom, with many years to go.
<Sounds/reads as very nice indeed>
Flash still has a tenuous position as "boss" of the tank, but I think he is getting tired of it. He spends more and more time hiding behind the Vallisneria in the corner, when he is not flaring at everyone at feeding
time so that he still gets the first bite. He is still in the pink of health, although obviously getting old. He's slowing down and no longer patrols the tank as he used to. I may be anthropomorphizing, but to my
mind, he deserves and needs a quiet, cozy cottage on a cul-de-sac for his remaining time.
<I understand; in fact, am feeling about the same way m'self>
I want to/feel I should move him, but don't know if it would shock him too much at his age. (My other 3 community tanks have resident Bettas already, so that's out.) The only other possible home I have for him is a 5.5 gallon lightly planted tank that currently houses a trio of African Dwarf frogs.
Current specs: Ammonia: 0 Nitrites:0 Nitrate:5 Ph:7.4 Temp 80. I don't worry about the tank specs for him so much as the shock of going from a 60 gallon world full of fish to a 5.5 gallon world with creatures he has never seen before. Would that be too much of a change?
<Actually; I'm quite confident that this change would be greatly beneficial for your Betta. A smaller, bit warmer world will be easier to navigate (and rule), and the frogs will be good company>
Should I leave him where he is? Could he adapt at his age?
<I would move this fish; and yes>
He is getting less respect and deference from the mates in the 60 gallon, I don't want him to eventually be cowed into a corner to die, but I fear such a drastic change might harm him, too. What do you think? Old fishy psychology is not exactly my area of expertise...
Thanks in advance,
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
Re: Aging Betta to new environment?        9/7/18

Good evening!
<Hey Kara; good morrow to you>
I appreciate the quick response, and was tickled to death to have a response from THE Mr. Fenner, himself, no less! (squeee!)
I just wanted to thank you for your good advice and give you an update!
"Flash" the Betta has practically been reborn since moving him from the 60 gallon to that tiny little 5.5 gallon tank-o-froggies. Here, I was, so worried that such a radical change at his advancing age would stress him to death!
<Very good; and, as expected>
He was plenty mystified by the frogs, at first, although the general venue seemed to please him well. He took the abrupt plunking into the new tank in his stride, poking at every leaf and blade, and measuring the tank perimeter straightaway. He really likes the Frogbit overhead.
<Oh yes; more like their natural habitat>
He has since become accustomed to his eccentric room mates, although I must admit to a hearty chuckle or two at his expense in the meantime. I wish I had thought to take a video of him on this one occasion- picture this, if you will: Flash is creeping slowly along on his belly, trailing millimeters behind a very untidy 3-way Amplexus of silly frogs as it bumbled around the tank. When that wad-o-froggies stopped still for a moment, Flash flared at them, and seemed totally perplexed as to why his magnificent display failed to impress. He came waggling up to my laughing face, then resumed trailing them, nervously glancing forward and back. Funny!
<I'll say!>
Flash has now constructed 2 different bubble nests, on each end of the tank, is very interactive, and has really has become his old self again.
Thanks again for your kind reply to my little dilemma!
<Glad to assist you>
Sincerely, and with great admiration for your knowledge of all things fishy,
<I washed Betta bowls for a few years; B. splendens has always been a fave.
Cheers, BobF>

Betta in HUGE tank for a week; heater concern       4/29/18
<Hi there>
Just wondering if it is ok to leave a Betta alone in a 38 gallon for a week, while waiting for a heater that was ordered? The heater may take a week to come. My spouse says it is ok to use a 100W heater that we already
have for the 5 gallon and just turn it down.
<Actually... as it's thermostatic... I'd just leave it set for high seventies, low eighties F>
I told him that if that heater goes out of control it would kill the Betta easy.
<You should be able to see... via a thermometer, whether the temperature is going up too far... will take several hours to do so>
Is it actually ok to put a heater that powerful in a 5 gallon, or stick with the 25W one that I ordered and keep him alone in the huge tank for now?
<Five watts per gallon is about right. I'd use the 25 Watt in the 5 gallon>
The 38 gallon is tall so I hope that he is ok with a long trip to the surface this week just to get O2.
<Should be fine>
He is at the bottom now flaring so he seems ok for now. Thank you
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Betta in HUGE tank for a week; heater concern      4/30/18

My concern was if we went away for a week, could the 100W thermometer malfunction in the five gallon and heat the water enough to kill the Betta?
<Not a modern decent heater; no. IF it is set at a reasonable temp. it should be fine. B>
I have heard of that happening. Thank you

Re: Low pH and tank size; Betta sys.     6/22/17
Re: 10 gallon tank with filter vs. 1 gallon tank with no filter Thank You! - Interesting scenario: We just returned from the fish center at Petco. The woman at the fish center seemed to be knowledgeable and told us it would be much better for our Betta if we kept him in a 1 gallon tank with no filter and just do water changes every week.

She said the fish would be less stressed and live much longer. We currently have our Betta in a 10 gallon tank with a filter. Is this woman correct?
<Please try/use the search tool (on all pages), WWM is not a chat room, but an information resource.
READ here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/betta_splendens.htm
Or see my book on Betta care on Amazon....>

Fish Tank Temperature in Hot Weather. Betta splendens       6/15/17
We have a Betta in a 10 gallon tank.
In summer the tank warms up into the 80's.
How can we keep it cooler?

<Mmm; DO keep the light/s off during the day... as these contribute to heat. IF you can leave the water down a few inches (to prevent the Betta jumping out), leave the lid off the tank; otherwise fashion a plastic screen (like screen door material) to accomplish the same. IF the temp. is only a few degrees too hot, consider having a fan blow air across the water surface (evaporative cooling will lower it a few degrees F.). IF the temp. is WAY too high, consider floating a frozen ice bag (of about a cup or two volume) in the tank...>
What is the max temp for a Betta?
<The mid 80's F. are not too much. The upper 80's F. are problematical>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Persistently high water pH; Betta sys.      11/16/16
<Hi Elaine.>
I have been struggling to keep Betta alive, with limited success. My second died last week. I have a 5-gallon, filtered, heated tank. Chemical readings at zero ammonia, zero nitrite and about 5 ppm nitrate. Temperature maintained at about 78 (little fluctuation).
<Good so far...>
I foolishly used water that had been through our water softener and suspect that may have killed the last fish – not sure. The other possible reason is that our water pH is just too high for Betta. I tried to do more water testing. When our well was drilled, it tested general hardness at 29. (It was also tested at that time, and again a few years ago, for chemical and bacteria harmful to humans – it was fine for us, but not sure about fish because I can't find those lab reports. Only way to get a lab test is mail it to the closest lab a few hundred miles away and pay a substantial amount – if I have to, I will.) We now have a pH meter calibrated and get pH reading of 8.7, as did nearest aquarium store.
<8.7? I wish I could maintain that for my little reef tank ;) OK there are various ways to bring down pH, used by people who want to keep things like discus and other "softer water" species. Check WWM for info on that. It seems like you are using "liquid rock" well water like a lot of mountain areas get. A good rule of thumb is that if you drink it, then it's ok for general aquarium use. Any way you look at it, I am in agreement that the pH is the problem. Side note- check into your tank decor, it's not impossible that you have something in there that is messing with the water, although I doubt it.
Down to brass tacks here. Your tank water has most likely fluctuated dramatically in a short time. A very small tank will swing dangerously with what seems to be a minimal change. Maintaining a steady temperature like you do is an excellent practice and challenge due to this. One more reason to have the biggest tank you can. I recommend taking a second look, and taking measurements of space available, trying to upgrading to a 10g if you possibly can do so. A larger tank may not have a much larger footprint that you'd expect...a couple inches. Betta are not especially picky about pH but they do need it *stable* above all. Drip acclimate them over an hour or so when introducing them. Your goal is for close to neutral pH. Try to find out what the readings are in the store the fish has been living in. Moving it from a 7.2 tank to an 8.0 tank is a death sentence. Also, as standard practice, if your LFS is lacking, be a little pushy if you have to. Then order online. There are far too many excellent retailers who can ship you a healthy fish for a reasonable price especially compared to the cost of shipping out water for testing, etc.. And they will be more communicative.>
Even with 50% - or 75% - distilled water, we're not having any luck bringing it down, not sure why. I didn't tell the aquarium store - because the guy is obnoxious and insisted that we’d kill a Betta by mixing in distilled water - but the water he tested was 50% distilled which had sat for 36 hours, and it was still 8.7. Is there a way to bring down the pH which is safe for Betta? Should I give up on Betta and try a species that can tolerate our high pH? I'm limited to a small 5-gallon tank because there is no place for a larger tank where our 3 large cats won't go fishing – and they are Maine Coons quite capable of removing tank lids. So I'm not sure what species are feasible – and I would prefer another Betta. But, I do not want to kill another one. Perhaps buy jugs of drinking water and use it in the aquarium?
<Water "softeners" as we call them may involve salt, so there's that. Back to the stability thing though. Controlling the water with additives and such is not as good long term as adjusting the *fish* to what will be its conditions. Long story short (too late!) I'd personally probably just buy bottled spring water (not distilled), dechlorinate it simply by leaving it open overnight, and have this set up, heated and ready to go before introducing a new fish.
Please check out http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/bettasysart.htm and please use the site's built-in search, there's a lot of stuff about these nifty fish so always read these articles first. The F.A.Q.s are obviously very involved and can be a bit daunting, but a simple CTRL-F for your issue will help point you to what you need. Best, Earl C. >
Re: Persistently high water pH     11/16/16

Many thanks. I'd tried site research first but your email was more useful. I'll check on larger tank but I only have just over 2 inches to spare on width and 3 inches in height. It's tight now. The pH readings were from the well, not the aquarium. I just checked aquarium and it was over 9, but I'd doctored it with ammonia to keep cycle going and that probably skewed it. I'll check when it cycles back to zero ammonia in the morning. With fish in, not big jolts of ammonia, ammonia stays at zero. I had already removed some aquarium gravel to a bowl with 8.7 pH water to see if it affects it. So, I'll check on larger tank and bottled spring water, finish testing on gravel from tank. - and keep close eye on aquarium pH. I've found an online seller here in Texas who sounds promising when I get issue resolved. Our well is through limestone (former sea reef) and dolomite with large reservoir in dolomite - yes it would do well for reef tank!
<Sounds good. Probably worthwhile to call the seller and ask about your concerns as well. Ideally they are keeping their Bettas in similar water to what you have, knock on wood. Your game plan seems solid. Let us know how it goes! -Earl C.>
Re: Persistently high water pH (RMF, Plus back to Earl)      11/16/16

I’m so sorry to take so much of your time with my high pH questions. I can’t get a larger tank, but I can use spring water instead of our very high pH tap water - problem solved, right? WRONG. The aquarium water itself tests about 9.3 or 9.4 - significantly higher than the 8.5 tap mixed with 50% distilled.
<Please.... Simply READ here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2oquality.htm
and the linked files above. You might well want to consider an RO device for your fishes/aquarium and potable uses...
Bob Fenner>
So I started trying to figure out if I had a problem with something in the tank. Most likely culprit seemed the gravel, even though it was intended for an aquarium. I put some gravel from the aquarium into a small bowl of distilled water and the pH went up from 7.0 to above 7.5 (still under 8.0). Ok, I think. That’s an issue although I still don’t understand the 9.4 aquarium water; I’ll just have to remove all the gravel. Then, the light bulb went on in my head this morning. The water in the tank is such a high pH because I was using 100% tap water until very recently and only 25% water changes since I made the change to add 50% distilled water to the changes. That water in the aquarium is still over 50% tap, I think - I’ll need to do a 100% change. Also, as I know from my cat water bowls, our faucets, etc, our water leaves deposits. Almost every thing in that tank has been in there since July (more than 4 months) so there’s a good chance the water left deposits on it, further raising the pH. I cleaned a handful of gravel from the aquarium very well in distilled water - a soak and 3 or 4 rinses in distilled water. Aha! It doesn’t affect the pH of the distilled water if it has been well rinsed. So, rinse the gravel and everything else in the aquarium as well as 100% water change. But . . . I have all that wonderful bacteria I took weeks to get established which is doing a great job of converting ammonia and nitrites. I don’t want to lose that good bacteria. I know your site says to usually rinse items from the aquarium in the water removed from the aquarium to preserve the bacteria - but that water is pH 9.4 or higher. Here’s my thought: I have a very large foam filter in the aquarium, about 4.5 inches in diameter and the same height. It has to be full of good bacteria by now. If I rinse everything EXCEPT the filter in spring water, rinse the filter in the water removed from the aquarium and squeeze it out most of the way, then return it to the fresh water, I hope that will leave me enough good bacteria while removing enough of the high pH water and its deposits. Does that sound workable? I don’t want to start over on building the bacteria colonies, but I need to remove the high pH water and its deposits as much as feasible. Elaine
Re: Persistently high water pH     11/17/16

Sorry to have bothered you.
<Not a bother; and have sent your ongoing corr. to Earl for his further input. Stay tuned. BobF>
I actually had “simply read" the entire page you sent by your link before I sent my first message to you because I had researched pH on your site to see if I could avoid bothering you at all I know that you are busy with people with ill fish and your site is a real blessing. From reading that page you linked, it really sounded like I should give up on Betta and find some other species for my tank due to our water. I stated that in my first email and asked for advice on feasible species, even though I would prefer a Betta. The response from Earl C. - first email below - seemed to indicate a Betta might be possible with spring water and careful monitoring. So I was trying to set that up. Really, I do read the material on your site before emailing and I do read any links I am sent. I guess I’ll keep fumbling along and do my best not to kill any more fish. I do not need an RO unit for potable water. Our water creates no health risks for humans. Most of my family lives to past 90 drinking the well water from these limestone hills. Perhaps I need one in order to keep one little fish. I’ll look at cost. Elaine
Supplementing RO Water   11/18/16

I'm sure the answer to this is probably on your site somewhere, but my internet is out till who knows when (joy of rural life) and I've spent the last 2 hours squinting at a 4-inch iPhone screen trying to research. I'm giving up and writing - sorry. After a long and useful exchange with you about my well water problems, I convinced a local aquarium store to sell me RO water at 25 cents a gallon if I bring in containers.
<A good deal... much cheaper than elsewhere.>
I asked them about necessary additives to keep a Betta healthy and they told me that they never add anything for any of their fish.
<Mmm; I would NOT keep any aquatic life in straight RO>
Since these are the same folks who were convinced I'd kill a Betta by mixing ANY distilled water with my well water because I'd mess up the electrolytes, I think they have a misunderstanding about RO and DI water.
Either that or this water isn't really RO - but that certainly looked like a very large RO unit. Can you advise me? I have seen SeaChem products recommended, such as SeaChem Replenish. Elaine
<This is an excellent choice. I'd add, mix, and use. Bob Fenner>

My Betta.... I'm worried     4/24/16
So I just changed my fish`s water, put him in and I noticed that he started opening and closing his mouth repeatedly and flapping his gill opening, is he going to be okay? I did the water changing process correctly
<Define "correctly" please. Step by step. Also if you have any other tank to safely put him in, that would be a good idea until you know what the problem is exactly. I'd start with asking if you aged and dechlorinated the water you used and how much water you changed out. Give me a rundown one step at a time, please. -Earl>

Re: My Betta.... I'm worried   4/25/16
<Ok. Firstly, how is he this morning now that several hours have passed?>
Ok, I first took our dipper (we always put him in it when we change his water) and cleaned it out with only cool water. I then filled it up halfway. My dad said to put in 1 drop of the water cure liquid. I did that.
Next I found our fish net, washed it out with hot water for about 15 sec.
Next I stirred the treated water with the net I then carefully got flash out of his tank. He is my only fish in my house. I took his dipper and put him by the sink (in the water, of course) next I took his tank into the bathtub, poured the water out, along with his gravels in the bottom of the tank.
<A word about water treatment stuff in a bottle/dechlorinator...it takes some time to work and is better left as a backup or emergency solution. What you really need to do is get a container that you know is absolutely clean (you can get a 2 or 5 gallon bucket at Lowes or whichever hardware store, use a bottled water jug, whatever, as long as it's NEVER been used for any other purpose other than storing drinkable water. Preferably with a lid. Keep it filled at all times then stash it someplace where it will not be contaminated but can age. Tapwater has chlorine, chloramine, stuff that will "gas out" within a day but is harmful to the fish. Do your water changes using this aged tapwater and fill it back up as needed to keep it filled for next time. Change about 1/4 or 1/3 of the water in the aquarium using this once a week rather than one huge change. You don't want to dump the whole thing out if you can avoid it. "Partial" water changes!
If you are going to do a major cleaning of the entire tank including gravel, etc. do it only rarely and simply put enough water in a clean bowl (like say a mixing bowl or like I did as a kid, a Kool-Aid plastic pitcher) in other words, leave the fish in water it's been living in, no need to switch it into entirely new water.
But here is the problem and why the details are important! :) You are using a filter with one filter pad, and you have gravel. Both of these things are your biological filters and are how the tank is "cycled" and habitable. When you clean or remove them, you are essentially putting a fish into totally new, fresh tapwater, which is dangerous. Usually you want to just partially change smaller amounts of water more often. But never change (or kill off the helpful bacteria in) both the gravel AND the filtration pad at the same time. Do one or the other but never both. So to sum up, use aged water stored for the purpose, change it often but in smaller amounts, and don't destroy the bio-filtration in the tank. I would just swap out the filter pad as needed independently of water changes. Just change small amounts, and if you must do a total-tank cleaning, just toss a bunch of the water in the tank into a separate holding area with the aged filter pad, clean the tank, put the old water (with the fish) back in, fill up with the new water from your stash, and put the old pad into the filter.
PLEASE read about cycling tanks, water changes, and also freshwater Bettas on Wet Web Media, all this is covered extensively on the site. There are also many books about Betta care, probably even in the local library.
Knowledge is power. I went over this just now to help walk you through the specific process and time urgency but read up next time first...it's a must. Also as a suggestion, if you have had Bettas for 3 years, it might be time to upgrade to planted tanks, since you clearly have a long-term interest and well...planted is the next step into a larger world esp. for fish like a Betta. :) Search the WWM site, it's got a built-on Google section to boot. Good luck. -Earl>
I put the gravels under the faucet, turned the water on. With the water on, I made my hand into a claw shape and started running my fingers through the gravels. I saw discolored water and fish poo coming out of the gravels.
Once I saw that no more discolored water rinsing away, I put all the gravels back in the tank. (The gravels are for fish tanks, not for driveways.) I took his submarine toy and took a clean washcloth, got it wet and washed the yellow-Orange gunk off. I did the same to his whisperer filterer. I took out those old filter and threw it away I took a new filter and put it in cool tap water. Then I rinsed it. I filled up the usual tank with 77 degree water then put 3 drops of treatment in. I carried the tank back to my room and put it on its shelf. Then I took the dipper containing
the fish and set it by the tank. Flash swam into the net. I plopped him in the water as quick as I could. That was the water changing process. I changed all the water in the tank. He isn't doing it as much now. I gave him food and he swam up to it, but he wouldn't eat it. I know I did the process right because I saw my dad do it a lot of times. The tank is about 3 years old. This is my second Betta. I will show you a pic of him in his tank today, and my old one in the same tank. The new fish is pink, the old one is blue. Thanks for listening to me
Re: My Betta.... I'm worried   4/25/16

He is a pretty fish, isn't he? My family is used to having fish. When I was 5, we had a whole aquarium of different tropical fish, so we aren't new to fishkeeping
<Yep, take good care of him and he will be a cool little pet for years.>

Tanks that are too tall for a Betta       11/23/15
<Hey Jude>
Just wondering if there is a point where a tank is just to tall for a Betta. I saw a used 16 gallon for sale, but it is 19 inches tall. Is that too tall?
<Mmm; I do think so... sixteen inches of depth is about my limit... and larger volumes (than a few gallons) make it hard to feed a Betta splendens male... too much food goes uneaten>
I also heard of someone who had a 55 gallon with just plants and he got a Betta and put him in there. Thanks
<Yes; can be done... but, have to train the fish to take food/s at a particular spot, and be very careful re
tankmate choices. Alternatively folks can arrange some sort of device w/in these larger tanks to house the Betta.
Bob Fenner>

Do you guys still answer questions? Betta... sys., rdg.      8/11/14
IF you do, please help me! Lol!
Hello, my name is Carissa. Who ever said fish keeping was easy was wrong! I had a 5 gallon tank with a lone Betta that was cycled, and I decided to upgrade to a 10 gallon planted tank. I took the filter media out of the 5 gallon tank and cut it and added it to the new filter for the ten gallon.
within 7 days of that, I had diatoms! but only in certain areas in the tank, never an even coating. It has been a month now and I have read so much mixed information from credible sites and other fish keepers that I am now unsure of how to handle it.
<Best to keep an open mind; question all you read... seek to understand/grasp the underlying science (if any)>

I have read that..
Adding fast growing plants will take the nutrients from the diatoms. (but diatoms aren't algae so wouldn't they not need nutrients?)
<Diatoms are an algae group (Division)... Do need and remove nutrients>
Keep your lights on longer/ shorter/ turn them off ( I have yet to see a person state this helped at all)
<For viewing pleasure, best to have on just when you're there. For growing plants et al... more>
Don't clean off the diatoms in the tank, i.e. take the plants out and rinse them off so the diatoms don't fall into the tank and their relocation will revive them (I cant keep uprooting my live plants, but I cant have their leaves smothered with light-blocking brown powder)
Nerite snails eat diatoms (my Nerites snails don't seem too crazy about it lol)
So will my usual 80% weekly water change and wipe downs make the diatoms burn out?
<I'd change no more than a quarter (25%) unless storing pre-treated water for the week. New tapwater not to be trusted>
I don't think its my water because I have had tanks in the past and I don't remember having this issue?
<There are other causes; and solutions. You've read on WWM re algae, control? >
Thanks so much
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

An interesting idea for a Betta or a death trap?     12/10/13
I do not know if anyone at WWM is allowed to comment on anything that is advertised, but I guess this is a "Betta aquaponics tank" or something. https://backtotheroots.com/shop/aquafarm . It is a three gallon tank for a Betta and I am wondering if it is another death trap fad or something that works. I don't see a filter or heater. Thank you
<Ah yes... with the addition of the filter and heater... this could be made to work... as could any chemically inert or non-toxic water-holding container. Bob Fenner>

web site issue
I have been researching a Betta splendens biotope and reading various related articles and FAQs.  I get the screen shot error when going to the following link:
<Ahh, please put in this instead:
Somehow the suffix has been lost. Thank you for your note. Will fix. Bob Fenner>
if there us a better email address to send this type of thing to please let me know.

Small Tank Residents-  Betta sys et al.  8/30/12
That (Partial water changes during fishless cycle) is good advice for the 2 gallon,  I will do some partial water
changes.  I was originally going to put a Betta in there.  I have a tiny heater but it's warm enough now without it.
<Two gallons is still a little cramped for a Betta. Should have filtration.
Housing a Betta in a container without filtration can be done, but it requires a lot of frequent and diligent maintenance to keep the resident healthy.
For experienced fishkeepers only, in my opinion.>
But I am still concerned that it may be too small for any fish.  So I've been looking around for other ideas.  I might concentrate on growing a nice plant and getting some shrimp.
<Your shrimp idea is a good one, and a small planted tank with colorful shrimp can be just as entertaining as a small planted tank with fish. Since small volumes are less stable than large volumes, the plants will help keep the nitrogen compounds in check.
In terms of fish, your choices are indeed limited, but not zero. The Least killifish (Heterandria formosa) is a perfect candidate for that size tank.
This fish is not a killifish at all, but a livebearer. In fact, it is the smallest livebearer in North America.  Some species in the Aphyosemion and Fundulopanchax genera of true killifish would also work well, but finding any of the fishes I mentioned requires networking instead of a trip to the store and some research to see if they are a good match for your tap water
chemistry.  Good luck! - Rick>
Re: Small Tank Residents- 8/30/12    9/5/12

Wonderful, thanks.  I will research that fish.  My 2 gallon tank is the Fluval Spec Desktop that came with a pump/filter/light.  Watching the goldfish suffer in there makes me leery of putting another fish in there but then again - it was probably too warm and lots of ammonia in there.  I've learned a lot in 10 days thanks to these great websites and help from experts like you.
<Welcome. Let us know how it turns out. - Rick>

Re: Thanks for everything, final Betta set up   3/20/12
Hello Bob and the WWM crew!!  I just wanted to say thanks again for everything.  You were a tremendous help and the information that I've found on this website remains invaluable.  You don't have to send a response to this, I just wanted to send you a picture of the final set-up for my beautiful female Betta, Violet.  She is thrilled with her new five gallon tank and it has completely cycled with no issues.  She's doing really well, has gained quite a bit of size and I can't thank you enough for it.  It's a shame that you can't really see her colors (I have a lousy camera) but, she is a beautiful shade of blue with red tones on the insides of her fins and on her belly.  Our water quality is holding at Ammonia - 0, Nitrites - 0, Nitrates - 10, pH - 7.6.  Keep up the amazing work guys, without your website, I might have kept Violet alive, but she would not be flourishing
as she is right now.     
<Ahh, thank you for sharing Jess. BobF>

Betta fin rot and his general tank setup 1/15/12
Hi Neale
Sorry, more questions! Thanks for all your help so far.
We have a male Betta called Pedro (don't ask me, that was Mrs. K's doing) in a filtered 19 litre, kept at 27C. Is this temp too high?
<It's fine. If anything, you could even take it up to 28 C.>
There's too much conflicting information out there for us to decide.
Today we noticed his fins were getting a bit ragged, with white bits at the edge of the rags, and suspect fin rot. We added 1tbsp of API aquarium salt to the gallon, as recommended on WWM, and did a 25% water change.
<Hang on a second'¦ where is salt recommended for treating fin damage? I would not recommend salt for that! Let's be clear -- salt has little/no beneficial effect. If you think about, marine fish can get Finrot, and they're in seawater. What salt can do is help reduce osmotic stress, or at least, that's what old school fishkeepers often suggest. I think that's hokum, but it probably doesn't do any harm in the short term.
Long term, you don't want to use salt -- these are, after all, soft water fish by nature. Instead, if the fins are merely ragged but not infected, good water quality, good diet, regular water changes, and perhaps the use of a preventative like Stress Coat or Melafix will be all you need. If the fins are infected, i.e., you can see dead white tissue and/or exposed fin rays, then review water quality and medicate with a reliable anti-Finrot medication, such as (in the UK) eSHa 2000.>
He is almost exclusively fed on a diet of various wet frozen foods, a piece about the size of his eye per day.
<I see.>
We suspect that the fin rot is due an ammonium spike, which also caused a bacterial bloom. This occurred as the Canadian pond weed that we put in went into meltdown. Cold water plant, as I eventually found out.
<Yes. Can live in tropical tanks, but needs extremely high lighting to keep up with its elevated metabolic rate.>
Thank you to a certain large chain of pet shops for selling me a cold water plant for a Betta! Anyway, I did frequent water changes and got all the decaying plant matter out. The bloom has since died down and the water is crystal clear again. Water testing 3 days ago showed pH 7, ammonia 0ppm, nitrite 0ppm, nitrate 0ppm. Typical water quality on a weekly water change shows the same figures.
How long should we keep the salt treatment up for?
<Wouldn't be doing this at all.>
Given the test results are indicating to me that the tank is back to normal should we revert back to the old water change schedule (15%, once per week) or keep up the regular ones (every couple of days)? Are more frequent water changes aiming to remove e.g. fungus spores or is it to keep water quality pristine for the sick fish?
<Water changes don't remove bacteria or fungus in any meaningful way. Both, after all, are living in the filter where they do good work. You see, the problems we call Finrot and Fungus are where bacterial and fungi move from consuming decaying organic matter in the filter (which is good) to doing the same thing on the bodies of damaged or stressed fish (which is bad).>
We do have some plants in the tank and there seems to be a lot of conflicting advice regarding salt tolerance. Can you shed any light on this?
<Salt will be tolerated by hard water plants, but soft water plants dislike it. But really, you shouldn't be using salt at all.>
The plants are java moss (introduced this week, bought), Limophila sessiliflora (introduced this week, prunings from another tank), Eleocharis parvula (established) and Vallisneria sp. (introduced this week, bought). We're not too green fingered on the aquarium front so it's largely been trial and error up till now but we'd rather not kill off any more after little Pedro having to suffer the consequences. Lesson learned. Dead plants = sick fish.
<Ah, now, do read my new article on WWM, here:
There are quite a few reliable plants, but much depends on picking those species and understanding their non-negotiable needs.>
On the subject of plants we're trying to get this tank as heavily planted as possible because we've had massive problems with Cyanobacteria. At the time the light schedule was 12.5 hours per day. This has recently been cut back to 10 hours. Again there seems to be quite a bit of conflicting opinion on algae control, with some saying that light is the limiting factor and others nutrients. Given the small nutrient input and plenty of plants I was surprised we had a problem but it had choked the plants out. We pulled them all out except the Eleocharis, which was doing fine, and that was when the fateful pond weed went in. Is there anything else we can do if cutting the lighting back doesn't work or is that about it short of building a scrubber? It would be nice to do but would take up too much space.
<Do also read:
Plus the linked FAQs and articles.>
Thanks for your time and any comments will be appreciated, both on the treatment for the fin rot and on the general setup.
Gordon and Denise
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Betta fin rot and his general tank setup 1/15/12

Hi Neale
Thanks again.
<No problem.>
The advice about the salt was on the Betta diseases FAQs
http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/BetDisInfeF.htm titled "Betta Fin Rot 8/26/07".

<That's a reply from a crew member of the past. What he says is something that's quite often mentioned in older books and articles about Bettas.
There is a nugget of science behind the idea, because sodium chloride does reduce the toxicity of nitrite and nitrate, so may, possibly, improve the health of Bettas maintained in small, unfiltered aquaria. But what we don't know is how far salt stresses their salt/water balance processes (osmoregulation) and because of that, in the long term, salt may solve one problem but cause another -- such as dropsy. You will find few if any modern fishkeeping writers suggesting the use of salt as anything other than a short-term medication, and none of the trusted health books written by vets promotes the use of salt in the old school way either. In any event, salt doesn't cure any sort of Finrot or Fungus, so it's of precisely zero value when you're dealing with those sorts of sicknesses. I suspect the confusion came about originally because fishkeepers found that when they used salt, fish like Guppies and Mollies didn't develop Finrot or Fungus. We now know that's because those fish need hard water, and salt and be used to compensate for that in soft water. So fish that were disease-prone in soft water became hardier in salted water, and their own immune systems may well have fixed any minor infections. But early on in the hobby, and we're talking about the 1920s and 30s here, that connection wasn't obvious, so instead it was thought the salt "cured" the fish.>
Didn't know that marines got Finrot.
<Yes. Finrot is merely an Aeromonas or Pseudomonas infection that occurs when these usually harmless bacteria are able to feed on fish without an effective immune system. This is the link between stress and disease. Healthy fish fight off these bacteria ALL time, literally 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. But poor diet, the wrong temperature, poor water quality, social behaviour problems like aggression -- all these cause stress and thereby lower the effectiveness of the immune system. No different to humans.>
I'm sticking to FW until I'm very, very experienced before even thinking about marine, but yeah that makes perfect sense. I'd tend agree with you on the osmotic stress. If a species has evolved in response to an environment with a low level of ions in the water it stands to reason that it will be comfortable there.
<That's what vets believe, too. By all means use salt or Epsom salt as medications in the short-term. They're harmless used this way, and salt is, for example, much safer than commercial Whitespot medication. In a new aquarium, salt might even be useful for softening the edge of nitrite while the tank is cycling. But long term, i.e., more than for a couple months, it's a bad idea.>
That's interesting on the bacteria/fungus working with you when things are good and against when things are bad. It's strange to think that the organisms we rely on day to day are now eating the fish's tail.
<Oh gosh yes. Think about it, the bacteria are mindless. For them, there's no difference between fish faeces sucked into the filter and dead skin cells on a living fish. It's all organic matter. So far as the bacteria are concerned, it's stuff that Mother Nature wants broken down into the smaller chemicals the filter bacteria can further process into ammonia, then nitrite and finally nitrate. Normally, the fish's immune system fends off these bacteria before they get into healthy tissue. But if the fish is seriously wounded or somehow stressed, the immune system can't stop these otherwise good bacteria getting into the healthy tissue. Those bacteria multiply, spread, and as they do so, caused havoc, in particular clogging up blood vessels ands thereby causing nearby tissues to die from oxygen starvation. The bacteria then feed on those dead cells, multiply some more, and the infection spreads. If the infection isn't stopped, the bacteria eventually reach the organs or cause blood poisoning. That's when the fish dies.>
We'll keep up with the stress coat, (we added some today, forgot to mention that), change the salt out of the water, and observe for any worsening of the tail damage, if so medicate accordingly.
<There's a great value medication called eSHa 2000 widely sold in the UK; it's safe and very effective. Costs about 4-5 a bottle, but you use so little, this small bottle will last years. I'd suggest buying some today.
There are other brands, like the Interpet one, but in terms of value, effectiveness and safety to my fish, it's the eSHa one I like best.>
Thanks for the links. We'll have a good look through them.
Gordon and Denise
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Betta fin rot and his general tank setup 1/15/12

Hi Neale
Thanks for all the advice. I've been phoning around LFS with no success with regards to the ESHA 2000, the only ones we could get today would be treatments by Love Fish
<Not used this.>
or Interpet,
<Can work well; don't forget to remove carbon.>
however wanted to check with you before we bought either of these in case we wasted more money or even worse did more harm than good. We could order ESHA 2000 online but obviously we wouldn't get it today, so was just wondering what would be the course of action you'd suggest?
<Either; waiting a day or two won't do harm if the fins aren't too badly eroded. But if they're red and really ragged, act quickly.>
We've done a 50% water change on Pedro and will keep up regular chances and add Stress Coat regularly.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Betta fin rot and his general tank setup 1/16/12

Hi Neale
No further questions, you'll be relieved to hear. Cheers for the advice and a bottle of eSHa 2000 is winging it's way to us.
<Ah, good.>
We'd rather use that as it's recommended by someone whose opinion we trust, the fish isn't yet ravaged and the medication will break down in the water rather than have to be carboned out after treatment.
We only have a small internal filter with a sponge block as a medium, so carbon would have been problematic.
<Perhaps. In reality, few, if any modern medicines need to be removed with carbon -- at least, if you're only keeping community fish rather than invertebrates.>
I have to say it's amazing how complicated and interesting Betta splendens has become considering I bought Pedro on the advice from my LFS that he could be kept in a 8 litre unheated, unfiltered aquarium and be fed a flake every three days. That he would survive in a pint glass and actually liked confined spaces and dirty water.
LFS even tried to sell me one of those little plastic tanks that look like they hold about a half a litre. It was also recommended to actually split that small tank and put another male in the other side. I can imagine how stressed those fish would have been, aside from the really obvious, constantly being able to see an aggressor and constantly displaying to fend him off. Reason from LFS: "They display more like that".
<Well'¦ true enough, but as you say, hardly a nice way for them to live.>
We both have, however, learned a lot and discovered a fascinating fish with loads of personality. Its interesting to read other people's accounts of keeping this species as well. They seem so quirky and individualistic. Even if my general interest in the hobby declined I think would still keep a Betta.
For the record I was also told at the same LFS that our 60 litre tank would take 6 phantom tetras, 3-4 clown loaches, a Hong Kong Pleco, 6 black widow tetras, and 4-5 honey gouramis. I did NOT follow that advice.
Needless to say I don't buy from there anymore, which is a shame because I'd rather support an independent retailer.
<Quite so. It's a shame really because they're harming their business. People who buy fish that then die, aren't likely to stay in the hobby for long. It's in the retailer's interest to have knowledgeable staff who can educate their customers up to at least some sort of basic standard.>
The 8 litre tank has been put into service as a daphnia culture tank, since I can't actually see any other use for it. It was inherited and I have no idea what unfortunate creature was kept in there.
<Indeed. You could try a freshwater reef tank here, if you can supply good lighting and filtration. A few plants (Java moss is great for small tanks) and then add a few small snails, some small shrimps (bumblebee shrimps are great, but cherry shrimps could work) and then let the thing become an ecosystem. Add some pond water if you can, or a bag of live daphnia. Over time, you'll find this brings in all sorts of tiny animals that end up living and breeding there.>
So, thanks for everything. It's comforting to know in these early stages that we've got folks that we can to turn to for reassurance and advice who are trustworthy.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
Gordon and Denise
<Cheers, Neale.>

Betta question 12/21/11
<Hello Shanna,>
I recently had a Betta die from what I assume was dropsy ( he looked like a pine-cone).
<Sadly all too common. Bettas don't live for long when kept in tiny tanks.
They need heat and space just like any other tropical fish.>
He was in a 1.5 gallon round tank with an tube with a stone that blows bubbles in the centre.
<Too small, and apparently no heater. Death was inevitable. They really don't live like this.>
I have another male Betta fish in the exact same set up about a foot away.
Since the other fish died, he just sits in his little cave. He does come out for food (pellets). Do you think he is just stressed?
<Or lucky to be alive.>
I do not have a heater and will be purchasing one this week but I want to get a new tank set up since I think this might be too small for him.
What is the ideal tank set up?
<Ah! The beginner of wisdom! You are asking the right questions. It's really not very much, but there are a few things. The first is a bigger tank. 5 gallons would be a good start, and would provide space for decorations too, making his environment much more stimulating. Secondly, a heater. Bettas absolutely must be kept at a stead 25 C/77 F, and unless you live in tropical Southeast Asia, it's very unlikely room temperature would be this warm. Angle-poise lamps and ambient central heating just aren't enough. Finally, a filter. A plain vanilla air-powered box, corner or sponge filter is more than adequate for this.>
I really don't want to have to cycle a tank for a week.
<Fortunately, Bettas are quite forgiving of the cycling process. So long as you change 20-25% of the water every day or two, you can cycle the filter with the Betta in place.>
So what would you suggest? Or should I just get another fish to put in the other tank, maybe he is just lonely?
<Definitely not lonely. Bettas are territorial and aggressive. They view all other fish as either a threat, a meal, a rival, or a potential mate.
Even female Bettas will be attacked if they don't spawn with the male. It's a common mistake people make to add a female thinking it'll provide company, and then look on, horrified, when the male kills her. These are not "nice" fish in terms of friendliness, and the artificially bred varieties you buy in pet shops are even less sociable than their wild relatives!>
I also wanted to know if I am suppose to do a full water change once a week or like 50%.
<If there's no filter, then daily water changes are best. When Bettas are kept in jars in HEATED fish rooms, the water in those jars is essentially changed completely every day. If you have a filter though, you need only change 25% once a week. As I mentioned above, you'd need to do more frequent water changes during the 4-6 weeks it takes for the filter to cycle, but afterwards, 25% every week is fine.>
I do use tap water with a conditioner then I put him in. Should I be waiting to put him in? Also if you suggest a new set up what would the water change be like? Anything else I should be adding to the tank? Thanks so much in advance!
<Just set up the new tank, take the gravel from old tank and put into the new tank (if only for the first few weeks -- the gravel will help "seed" the biological filter), pour in the water from the old tank, and then fill up with new, dechlorinated water. Move the Betta to his new home, and off you go. He should be fine, provided you do daily water changes for the first 4 weeks at least, or until your nitrite test kit shows a steady zero level of nitrite (nitrite goes up from zero to a peak around two weeks after setting up, then drops down to zero.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re Dead Betta; mystery rocks? 10/28/11
Hello again:
I was wondering if toxins in the water in a fish tank will always cause the ph or alkalinity to change?
<Depends on the toxin. If you mean ammonia, then that'll cause the pH to rise (but has no effect on alkalinity). If you mean nitrate, then that dissociates into nitric acid, and that will lower the pH, and by
neutralising alkalinity, will cause alkalinity do drop. If you mean a poison that isn't either a weak acid or weak base, then it shouldn't affect pH -- though the decay of dead organisms will produce ammonia and that in turn produces nitrate. "Toxin" by itself doesn't mean much; water is a toxin if you drink too much, as is salt, sugar, and every conceivable drug or medication you've ever taken. Something becomes toxic in a given context.>
I am the one who had the black Crowntail Betta that died. I put the "art store" stones in there and found out later that the stones have a film of wax on them to give them a matte finish.
<Not a very clever thing to do. Don't put anything in an aquarium not clearly stated to be aquarium-safe. Some folks do use flowerpots and rocks collected at beaches, but even then, that's at your own risk.>
I did an experiment where I put half of the stones I had in the five gallon, in a 2 gallon jar, filled it up, and the next day I used a test strip for the water. Everything came out the same as a tank that I have that is perfectly healthy soft water tank. The Betta did have about four of these stones in there with no effect, but maybe the larger number did him in. Just wondering?? I also notice that a lot of people have those
glass stones in their tanks Thank you!!
<Some glass stones are sold for use in aquaria. They look nice when clean, I suppose, if you like that sort of thing; your Betta won't be that keen on them though because they're reflective. Once covered in algae and bacteria they look like any other kind of stone. Don't see the point to them myself, and do wish Betta keepers would concentrate on the basics -- 5 gallon tank, heater, filter, hood -- and not worry so much about sticking baubles in their Betta's home! Yet the market for this kind of stuff is vast, from cartoon characters to wildly overpriced bits of smoothed glass and rock. A clump of Indian Fern (water sprite) would do much more good, providing shade and better water quality, and cost a fraction of the price.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Betta, sys. 10/27/11
Hello Crew,
So I bought this beta, is it alright if I keep him in this unheated, unfiltered vase? Nah, I'm just joking, but I'm sure you get far too many inquiries along those lines... Anyways, I have a 5 gallon little eclipse tank that just emptied up (Previously had 11 Cory fry that I raised, and I felt they were big enough, and had developed their '"armor" so I threw them in with my other Corys) so now I have this empty tank. Today I saw a neat little beta in the typical cup housing, but he seemed in pretty fair condition so I took him home and put him into my established tank, with a fresh water change. I also added a heater so the tank is currently at 82 degrees Fahrenheit. I would like to do a small little planted tank for him,
including shrimp (My lfs has some shrimp labeled "Singapore shrimp," which are pretty neat, would these work out with the beta?
Also, the only light on it is the standard in hood lamp that comes with these things, so any plants that are suggested with this set up (No co2, not a strong light, etc.)
<See WWM re>
The substrate is currently sand, so this is also may be a factor for the plants. I have seen some beautiful tanks, much better looking then tons and tons of large, overstocked, bare bottom, freshwater, and even saltier tanks, with only a Betta and some plants in it. Thanks for any suggestions to set this little guy up in style.
<Again; reading on WWM>
Thank you very much.
<Welcome. BobF>

What do Betta's need for care? 9/14/11
I am not finding much from the internet
<Much here!
Essentially an aquarium at least 5 gallons in size; a tropical fish tank heater; a small filter; and a hood to stop them jumping out. Everything else is optional, but not these things. Do bear in mind the stories about
Bettas living in hoof-prints filled with rainwater are rubbish, and while breeders can keep them in jars, they change almost all the water daily and keep the jars in a heated fish room that provides both warmth and humidity (Bettas are very sensitive to cold air and dry air). Don't expect any fish to be a cheap pet, and if can't afford to get the basic equipment, or don't have the space, then please don't try and keep them at all. Far too many fish die prematurely because of this. Fish clubs exist in most major cities, especially in the US, and they will often provide guidance, even free equipment, to people starting out in the hobby. Cheers, Neale.>
So is it possible to keep a Betta in a vase.

<Not reliably nor humanely, no.>
My family kept Betta's in vase and they survived for a long time.
<Some smoke cigarettes and don't get cancer; doesn't make smoking safe.
Most Bettas kept in vases have short, nasty lives. Is keeping Bettas in a jar or vase animal cruelty? I'd argue it is, especially if the pet owner knows what that Betta needs to do well. Given good conditions a Betta can live for 2-4 years in a properly maintained tropical aquarium. For everyone who says their Betta lived a year in a jar of water, there are a hundred Bettas that die within weeks. We get a LOT of messages each month from people with sick or dead Bettas, and there's a common thread running
through them all: poor living conditions, specifically, bowls and vases. Ask yourself why you're trying to keep an animal in conditions any vet will tell you won't be humane or healthy. If you want an animal companion, find one that will work in the space and budget you have at your disposal.
Cheers, Neale.>
I don't understand why you are using sarcasm with a reader. 9/14/11

<It's exasperation, Courtney. You wouldn't believe how many people hear advice about not keeping a Betta or Goldfish in a bowl; ignore it completely; buy their Betta or Goldfish; and then when it dies in a few weeks, they'd go buy another. You may not be one of those people -- and I truly hope not. But I can't tell that for sure, so I'm being as forceful as possible. Unlike the guys in the pet store, I'm not selling you anything and I have nothing to gain from helping you out. My own goal here is to encourage you to keep your pet fish properly.>
I am simply providing you with information that I know. Once again I am personally a first time pet owner.
<And I'm not. I'm very experienced, and I care deeply about animal welfare, hence my firmness.
Cheers, Neale.>

My Betta, Gabriel, env. 9/12/11
I'm slightly worried and very curious about my Betta. I've had him for a little under a month, and he seems healthy enough. My only concerns are that he doesn't eat much, and he buries himself under his rocks.
I have him in a small, lighted bowl.
<... w/o a heater or filter?>
The bowl is large enough that he can swim around and enjoy himself, and the temperature stays constant at about 60 Fahrenheit.
<... No... too cold... stop: Read:
The rocks in his bowl are the glass pebbles, about the size of a silver dollar.
<... worthless>
He only buries himself when, as I can only assume, he's sleepy or under stress. I just don't want him getting stuck and hurting, or killing himself. My other concern is about his feeding habits. I feed him Betta Bio-Gold pellets. The instructions say to feed him 2-3 pellets twice a day.
I found that to be way too much and reduced it to 3 every other day. He still won't eat much and acts lethargic. Please help!!!!!!
<... read. Bob Fenner>

Betta Pond? 7/11/11
Greetings WWM Crew.
<Hello to you, too!>
I hope I didn't just miss a similar question on your site, but several searches yielded no near matches (as determined after reading the results).
And let me apologize in advance for the length of my missive, I know you want plenty of information to work from, and I seem to have gone with a more is more philosophy.
The only fish I have ever really had is a beautiful veiltail Betta (*Betta splendens*) that has lived with us for almost 3 years now with no problems.
However this also makes me less than an amateur.
My Father-in-law recently built a beautiful rock-pond with a fountain in his garden. At our last visit I realized, as I tried to scratch my skin off, that it had become a mosquito breeding ground. This thought made me curious about fish for the pond, so I started trying to research options.
I am told the mosquito problem has now been fixed (chemically, I believe), but that my father-in-law still thinks fish would be a nice addition and that he would like me to set it up for him. We live less than 2hr away and will be spending the summer with them anyway, so I should have some time to plan it out and get it started.
<Fish can consume mosquito larvae, but their usefulness does vary from one situation to the next.>
The information I have on the pond is as follows: -Approximately 175-200 gallons (guesstimate) -Approximately 9"-12" deep (because of the many rocks on the bottom and on the sides) -The pond is in a garden with a tall chain fence around it to keep the deer and other animals from getting in and eating the flowers and veggies -Water plants, including potted water lilies, are already growing and doing well in it
<All sounds good.>
I also know that I need to check the water's pH, nitrates, and nitrite levels before I really move forward, but since the mosquito problem has been taken care of chemically, do I need to separately check those chemical levels? If so, how do I go about doing that? Are there any other tests I need to do for a tiny pond that wouldn't be mentioned in aquarium guides?
<Well, tropical fish are broadly divided into hard water species and soft water species. Livebearers for example need hard water and tend to be sickly in soft or acidic water. Conversely, while Tetras may tolerate hard water, most are better kept in soft water. Bettas fall somewhere between the two extremes. They prefer soft water, but the farmed specimens are fairly adaptable and will do perfectly in moderately hard, slightly basic water; let's say 2-15 degrees dH, pH 6.5-7.5.>
I am open to any suggestions you may have about a good starting fish or combo for the situation, but I would also like some specific information on requirements for a Betta pond.
<Nothing much different to Betta systems generally, with two extra cautions. Firstly, temperature. Bettas need consistently warm conditions, at least 24 C/75 F. So outside of the tropicals, you can't keep a Betta outdoors all year; indeed, here in England for example, you probably wouldn't do well with them outdoors even in summer. The Paradisefish (Macropodus opercularis) is a subtropical species and therefore somewhat more tolerant, but it won't tolerate colder water than, say, 18 C/64 F.>
I can't seem to find any more information online other than that Betta ponds are possible and sometimes do very well. I realize that keeping a Betta inside is very different from a pond and that any Bettas in the pond would have to be brought inside should it get too cold, especially since the pond is so very shallow. However, since that would be the case with most fish, it seems that Bettas would be easier to do this with since they do not require a filter and my in-laws don't have an aquarium (though it could be arranged if needed).
<Ponds with plants can "filter" themselves if the plants are numerous and the fish few.>
I worry that the pond is too small for most other fish, is this the case?
Specifically, what about Siamese Algae Eaters (*Crossocheilus siamensis*)?
Ideally I would put a few of those in the pond. Could I do both SAEs and Bettas? I have seen them in aquariums together. If I was to put Bettas in it, because of the many excellent hiding places in the rocks and plants, would it be ok to put a male in with a few females (not for breeding, just to look nice)? How many would be appropriate?
Thank you so much for your help.
<Actually, without data on water temperature, I wouldn't recommend either.
If you live in the subtropics or warm temperate (i.e., about as far north as, say, Southern France in Europe or the Carolinas in the US) you would probably find Gambusia affinis a better bet, though this fish is aggressive and nippy and cannot be mixed with anything beyond its own kind. It will tolerate down to 12 C/54 F. In the subtropics, Ameca splendens might be a good alternative, tolerant down to about 15 C /59 F for short periods. Both of these need at least moderately hard, neutral water and won't do well in acidic conditions. In soft water the Paradisefish is the obvious choice, but it will need subtropical not temperate conditions. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Betta Pond? 7/12/11
Thank you so much for your very quick reply. You are right (of course), I checked the average temperatures for the area and during the summer the days would be warm enough but the nights would get too cold for Bettas.
The main reason I had been leaning toward Bettas was because I had assumed that this pond is too shallow for any pond fish to survive in over the winter (I have heard 4ft is minimum) is that the case? If it is possible for fish to live in the pond year-round that would be preferable.
<Ponds need to be at least 4 ft deep because ice forms in shallower ponds to such a degree that fish will likely freeze to death. This isn't negotiable. So if the pond is less than this deep, and frost occurs sufficiently often for ice to form on a pond, then fish can't be kept in this pond.>
My in-laws live in the valley in Southern Oregon, so the summers get plenty hot during the day (sometimes over 100 F), but do cool off quite a bit at night (50s-60s F). The coldest winter months have average lows of 31-33 F and average highs of 45-47 F.
<Lethally cold for subtropical fish. Coldwater fish such as Goldfish may survive given a sufficiently deep pond and adequate water volume (at least a few hundred gallons).>
Are there any fish that would thrive in these conditions year-round, such as Shubunkin (Carassius auratus)? Or should we limit the pond life to plants and naturally appearing tadpoles at this point?
<I would indeed agree that fish aren't an option here.>
Thanks again.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Brown Growth on Apple (Mystery) Snail, and Betta sys. 12/17/10
<Hello Haley,>
I woke up this morning to find that my blue apple (mystery) snail was floating around and hanging outside his shell.
At first I thought he was dead, but after closer examining him he is just fine. The problem is that he has this circular large brown round spot that is not allowing him to completely close his trapdoor (it's closed basically, but the edges are not). I'm wondering if he has some sort of disease or other problem? Maybe mantle detachment? I don't think so though, he is sticking to the wall and is able to retract just fine.
<No, he's in a very bad way.>
He lives with a Betta,
<In a coldwater tank? Then the Betta will die pretty soon, unless you happen to live in the tropics and the water keeps at a steady 25 C/77 F or more.>
a plant, and a really tiny snail that came with the plant (which was floating either too, but now went off somewhere). I have removed the snail from the tank because I was afraid he was dying or had a disease. Still sort of worried that he is suffering mantle detachment though.
<Nope. Almost certainly been killed by the poor conditions in your aquarium.>
I have this tank 1.77 gallons with filter (w/o the pink gravel and the fake plant, replaced with white gravel, fish decoration items, and real plant):
<A useless product and a waste of money.>
I feed my Betta 4-6 pellets a day, twice a day. I figured snail would eat fish food and the plant if it got hungry. Maybe I should add some other foods too? I put freeze dried blood worms in there every couple of days too.
Brown spot looks like this (though my snail is blue on snail and actual shell):
<Copyright image not shown here, and irrelevant anyway. Do please read here:
Apple Snails need very specific conditions, and generally don't live long when improperly kept. AppleSnail.net is a great site for more details.
Cheers, Neale.>
Apple Snail brown spot problem fixed, I hope
I think the problem was that it was not getting enough calcium. So it is probably a operculum problem.
I happened upon these pictures:
These pictures look exactly like the brown spot that I was talking about.
So I broke up some pieces of cuttle bone and stuck them in the tank to add calcium. I also put the snail back in. Hopefully, he will be able to recover now.
<Your research sounds well worthwhile. But do review the big picture. A cuttlebone will not compensate for poor environmental conditions. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Apple Snail brown spot problem fixed, I hope
Well actually my tank is at the right temperature, not a cold water tank as you mentioned.
<Good to hear. There was no mention of a heater in your question, and the "Marina Cool 7 Goldfish Aquarium Kit" doesn't include a heater. Some people think that an unheated aquarium will be warm enough for their Betta if their home is centrally heated or they place the tank under an angle-poise lamp. They are wrong. So let's just clarify. You have a heater? If the answer is yes, then that's fine. If the answer is no, then you need one, and without a heater, your Betta WILL die unless your ambient air temperature happens to be 25-30 C/77-82 F, e.g., you live in a hot, humid jungle in South America. Nowhere in Europe or the continental United States, except perhaps Hawaii, will be hot enough for a Betta in an unheated aquarium. You would be saddened to know just how many people don't understand this, and because of it, millions of poor Bettas are chilled to death every year. I get messages from such folks about once every 2-3 days here, and it breaks my heart, because I quite like Bettas. I just wish people wouldn't keep them in unheated tanks.>
So besides the calcium, I'm not sure what poor conditions you are talking about.
<Apple Snails and Bettas need completely different conditions. They aren't compatible, at least, not for long. Apple Snails come from the subtropics, e.g., Florida, and they experience a slightly cool winter and a hot summer.
During the winter they become somewhat inactive, and in summer they become dormant completely, resting in the mud. In practise keeping Apple Snails in aquaria is hard, and the vast majority, 99% of them, don't live for more than a year. You need to keep them around 18-22 C/64-72 F most of the time, towards the cool end for a month or two in winter, so they can rest a bit.
Getting them to aestivate during the summer is tricky, but do-able if you place them in wet moss or something similar and keep them in a container that allows air in but keeps the snail from crawling out. They should be kept this way for a few weeks. In aquaria they sometimes get away without the aestivation, but the winter cooling really does help. Otherwise Apple Snails simply burn out. In any case, Apple Snails really need about 5 US gallons, together with a heater and a simple air-powered filter. They must be able to breathe air as well, so make sure there's space between the waterline and the hood. Water chemistry should be towards the hard and basic, otherwise the shell becomes pitted -- probably what you've observed.
In other words, 10+ degrees dH, pH 7.5 is just about perfect. Food should be biased towards plant-based foods, for example algae wafers, cooked peas, spinach, etc. Weekly offerings of lancefish chunks or small unshelled shrimps would be good sources of protein and calcium.>
The tank is big enough
<It's really not. 2.5 gallons is worthless. You don't have to believe me, but I've been doing this a lot longer than you, and I've got the books, the magazine articles, and the PhD to prove I know what I'm talking about. If I got a dollar for every message about sick Bettas in tanks smaller than 5 gallons, I'd be a very rich man by now. The folks who ignore advice from experienced fishkeepers are the ones who end up with dead animals. Your move.>
and if you're talking about the filter I fixed it up to be less powerful and stressful on the Betta.
<Good stuff. Air-powered sponge and box filters are ideal for Bettas. But at the same time, the flow of water needs to be sufficient to ensure zero ammonia and zero nitrite -- I assume you have at least a nitrite (not a nitrate) test kit. Do please understand that most sick snails, fish etc. are killed by their owners, and not by diseases that creep in through the window one dark and stormy night. I'm glad you're reading about your pets and making efforts to optimise their living conditions. But the data you sent me was limited, and it isn't obvious you've covered the basics like heating and water chemistry. Read about these, and act accordingly. I'm not psychic so I can't read your mind, and all I can do is hope to point out the possible problems and their best remedies. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Apple Snail brown spot problem fixed, I hope 12/17/10
I'm guessing the temperatures are the main problem for why these two don't work together?
<Pretty much, yes. Apple Snails have a poor track record in tropical aquaria. Most don't live longer than a year, though they can live 4-5 years and reach the size of a tennis ball. Occasional specimens do thrive, but most don't.>
Snail should be colder during the winter (64 F about)?
And they need mud and moss in summer (basically along the lines of hermit crabs, I know not an exact comparison but best I can think of)?
<Certainly worth trying. Do read the AppleSnail.net for more on this.>
There should be space to breathe for snails in winter too or only for a while in the summer?
<Both the Betta and the Apple Snail need a breathing space at the top of the tank, and in both cases *all year around*. Cheers, Neale.>

Plastic plants 8/12/10
I was just curious if plastic plants are bad to have in Betta fish tanks?
<Soft ones designed for fish tanks are fine.>
I have heard that plastic plants can injure the Beta's delicate fins.
<Certainly some of a cheaper ones with sharp or serrated edges aren't ideal. I'd always recommend live floating Indian Fern over plastic plants for a variety of reasons, but if you must use plastic, good quality ones are fine.>
Is it ok to just have a few plastic plants and some silk?
Or should I ban the plastic all together?
<No need.>
Thank you for your time. I really enjoy your website. Sincerely, Michael
<Glad to have helped and entertained! 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.>

PetSmart Bettas 6/1/10
<Hello Marcia. Melinda here tonight.>
I have to ask this. Recently I was walking through the local PetSmart and noticed a HUGE display of male Bettas. They were housed in individual cups with no more than 8 oz. of water per fish.
<This is standard for the pet fish industry. Ideally, the water in these cups is changed daily. What individual companies/stores do is up to them, so you should probably inquire with management at that store.>
The cups had lids and were stacked. It dawned on me that there was no reasonable way to get to all the cups to feed these guys.
<I cannot speak for that company's policy on feeding fish, and I would suggest you ask the manager on duty next time you're in the store what their policy is. In any case, I can state that fish do not have to be fed every day, and in fact, can go up to two weeks without food. Obviously, not ideal, but then, neither is keeping them in little cups. If a store chooses not to clean those cups daily, then it is really better that the fish eat less, so that he produces less waste. On the other hand, it sounds like they would only have to un-stack the cups in order to feed the fish.>
I am horrified if my suspicion is correct. Please tell me it isn't.
<I cannot say. The person to ask would be someone at the store.>
Are the Bettas in stores like this considered "disposable?"
<I purchased my own Betta from a PetSmart. I have had him for about two years, and in no way consider him disposable. I really don't care what the store thinks; it is my action and my effort that matter to my particular fish. As for what the store thinks, I would guess that the store sees a Betta, sold for five or six bucks, as a stepping stone to a container, decor, and food sold with him -- I have even seen something called "Betta Water" -- all in all, a pretty lucrative business.>
I am wondering if it is the industry standard in this type of store just to order these fish, unpack them from the packing crate and leave them without care until they are sold or die?
<Again, if you are concerned, the person to ask is someone in management at your local fish store.>
Marcia Rasmussen
<--Melinda><<Well done Melissa... fair-minded, even-handed. BobF>>

2.5 gallon tank, Betta sys. 4/3/10
dear, crew I just bought an Aqueon minibow 2.5 gallon fish tank. it came with a filter and a powerful light. I'm going to put my pet Betta in the tank.
how do I maintain my tank?
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/betta_splendens.htm
and the linked files above. Scott V.>

Betta Question... sys. mostly 4/2/10
<Hello, Robin! Melinda with you here tonight!>
I'm new to aquarium keeping but have done my research and have a solid understanding of Betta needs and I understand the need for a cycled tank. However, I have questions still about cycling in my Betta's situation.
I adopted/rescued him about three weeks ago because family friends that had him weren't interested in upgrading his environment after I told them that his existing habitat was not sufficient. He's been living in one of those awful plastic 'houses' with the lid that contains some gravel and a small plastic plant for several months, perhaps close to a year. The people that had him previously seemed to be doing regular weekly water changes and were using Nutrafin Betta conditioner and feeding Aqua Culture pellet food. He had never been sick but I noticed was becoming lethargic and not eating and his water felt cold to the touch. So, I came to his rescue with the plan of getting him a larger environment.
<I'm glad you spotted this, and then chose to act! May not mean much to some, but means the world to others (this Betta, for instance!).>
I'm on a budget but found a 10 gallon aquarium on Craig's List that has a Top Fin 10 filter that takes Tetra bio bags and a 50w heater.
<The things that can be done on a budget... sorry, but I continually tell people, "You can do this cheaply... for at least the price of that fancy death trap you call a Betta bowl!">
I got rid of the existing gravel...I know it's useful for cycling but I don't know what may have gone on in the tank so I dumped it.
<It would have only been useful, anyway, if it had been kept in running system. Bacteria die when the gravel dries.>
I washed the plants, small decorations, and tank with hot water, added new gravel, a new plant, new bio bag, and used Seachem Prime to treat the water.
I bought a new thermometer which is on the inside of the tank and registering about 78. The heater has plus and minus sides and a central place on its dial and when I have it dead center, my water registers at about 80, but feels too warm to me, so I adjusted a bit and it now feels more like luke warm (correct me if the truly warm through and through is ok).
<80 is fine for him. I keep my Betta tank at about 81.>
Bartholomew Betta (I felt he needed a better name than his former 'Blue Boy'....poor thing) is still in his Betta closet habitat.
I've had my water tested at PetCo and it was good except for a bit of an elevated PH (don't have a number).
<What does this mean? Why no numbers? Make them give you numbers! Have you been adding food to cycle the tank? If not, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate will always be zero. Please read here on fishless cycling:
A couple of days ago, I then found my kitty standing over Bartholomew's overturned house after she apparently worked hard to get at him, and he was lying on the gravel, still moist and obviously upset.
<Oh, my goodness. That must have been horrifying for him! It may make you feel somewhat better (at least, is good for a laugh!) that one of my cats, Andrew, likes to drink out of my indoor pond, and I worry about my catfish, who is two-and-a-half feet long, grabbing him, thinking it's me with a tasty squid dinner! I don't think it will ever happen, is just a good example of "if the tables were turned...."!>
(I was home all morning and had checked him earlier so he could not have been without his water for any real length of time...my cat had no contact with him because the lid stayed on).
I freaked, grabbed a cup and dipped water from the 10 gallon tank into his plastic house and he began swimming around and flaring and seemed ok.
<Bettas are air-breathers; though they don't exactly like to be 'out of water,' can be more resilient than others!>
I moved him into the bathroom and let him calm down, gave him a pellet of food later because he had not been fully fed yet, he gobbled it, and he made me some bubbles later that day. He's not shown any signs of harm.
Because I had to add more water to the 10 gallon to replace what I took out (I added some Prime), I had the water tested again, this time at PetSmart.
<Again; numbers on Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate?>
It was good except for a slightly elevated phi, which the associate said is due to the water in my city.
<Have you had your tap water tested? You'll need to find out base levels of KH and pH in order to determine if you need to add anything to this water... fish waste can acidify water, thereby dropping pH, but you're giving no numbers, so...>
So, my Betta friend is cold I'm sure, and while he was doing ok under a light in my bedroom, he's not safe there because of my kitty and he needs to get into a tank.
I will eventually want to add some Cory cats for mates,
<Okay. Please add many, rather, than some... some of the warmer-water cories would be good for this guy in a 10 gallon... just take time to read on WWM re: Cories using our Google search tool and choose your catfish!
You'll want to add 5 or, even better, 6>
and possibly an ADF or two,
<Please research on WWM... often better kept alone.>
but am in no hurry and I obviously want a stable tank before I do that.
<That's great!>
But, I keep hearing and reading mixed info on Bettas in an uncycled aquarium.
<Well, I'll tell you the truth, it could be a problem. But, you haven't explained HOW you're cycling this tank, or provided numbers, so... I'm not sure!>
I've also read that Seachem's Stability is one of the few bacteria starter products that actually works.
<I have used this product. I can't say much for it. I prefer Dr. Tim's One and Only. It actually works, in my opinion, whereas I didn't see much change with the Seachem product. I have added fish to a tank immediately after using this product; though I didn't multiple numbers, and it worked great. No Ammonia or Nitrite detected at all.>
So, because I don't want to make him stay in his small and unheated house, is it possible to safely and humanely transfer him to an uncycled tank and get it cycling and stable for him, as well as any future mates?
<I would transfer him, and buy test kits. Test Ammonia and Nitrite daily.
Do big water changes. His bioload is so small that it may not take much and the tank will cycle without these parameters raising to dangerous levels. Go ahead and do daily water changes, just to be sure, but keep testing. In four weeks or so, you should see Nitrate, which is the end of the cycle. After you see that, wait until there is 0 Ammonia and Nitrite, and then do a water change and add the Cories... slowly!>
My goal with this tank is to simply have healthy happy fish/frogs.
<I'm thinking fish is possible; frogs aren't... can be aggravated by fish, and as I say above, are best kept by themselves. Please read here:
and the linked files above.>
I live in a very small condo and will not upgrade to a larger tank so I just want to maintain a thriving 10 gallon with the appropriate number of inhabitants who are compatible.
<This is fine; I have seen very lovely small tanks! The fact that you are doing your research, and saving less fortunate fish, already makes you a wonderful hobbyist!>
Even if I decide that Bartholomew is best off by himself, I'm happy to provide a healthy 10 gallon environment just for him. So, I'm not in a hurry to add to my tank and I understand the wisdom of cycling for any additions. What's not clear is how well a Betta can tolerate the cycling process, or, if a single Betta is even enough to get that going.
<Is enough for cycling to happen. He can tolerate it, as long as you test frequently and perform adequate water changes to keep Ammonia, Nitrite low.
However, think of this way: the amount of bacteria that grows is equal to the amount of "food," or Ammonia, that is produced. So, you're not going to grow an adequate biological filter for seven fish when you use one fish to cycle the tank. You're going to grow a biological filter to handle the waste of one fish. Thus the reason for stocking slowly. Once established, nitrifying bacteria really do multiply quite quickly. You've just got to get a viable colony started, which is why you watch your levels, keep these (toxic) levels very low, so as not to strain your fish (trust me, it can't be any worse than what is in the bowl!) and then, once you have Nitrate, and no Ammonia or Nitrite, go ahead and two Cories at a time.>
He's waited a long time to find a human that loves him like a family member and is willing to give him the life he deserves.
<I agree. In fact, you don't want to see the state of my house because I do so heartily agree! Honestly, I feel it would be wise to accept donations at the door for visiting our "aquarium!">
I am appalled at the treatment of Betta fish and the last thing I want to do after rescuing one is kill or otherwise harm and injure him by screwing up a transition to another tank. But, as I said, I'm concerned that he needs to get out of that box he's in.
<You are right.>
Thank you,
<You're welcome!>
Robin....and Bartholomew Betta
P.S. I plan to switch to a more wholesome pellet and get him some frozen bloodworms and brine shrimp. I'm willing to get him off freeze dried food altogether is there is a more natural alternative.
<Yes, I feed a combination of dried pellets and wet-frozen foods, such as bloodworms and Spirulina. My Betta literally jumps for a bloodworm when he sees it coming on a spoon! Bloodworms don't have much nutritional benefit, but they're wet, which aids with digestion, and it's fun to watch him jump for his treat. I'd avoid freeze-dried food. I feed Hikari Micro-Wafers for a dried food, because they're smaller than most Betta foods, and I've found my Betta has a small mouth! Either way, a good-quality pellet, plus-wet frozen meaty and vegetable foods would be a good choice. San Francisco Bay Brand makes a frozen food called Freshwater Frenzy. It's wet-frozen and includes lots of different foods, so you could just thaw a portion of a cube, and it would last a good few days in the fridge. A pack would probably last you six months! Please do write back if you have any questions after reading.

Swim bladder problem? Betta, env. 4/1/10
<Hello. Melinda here.>
my Betta, Dave, is around 3 years old (give or take a few months).
<Is fairly old for a Betta.>
He seems to have problems with his swim bladder.
<Well, if you'll take time to search this term on WWM, you'll find that this is usually a term used for a variety of symptoms for issues usually related to environmental circumstances.>
Some days he`s normal and some days he starts floating and is off balance, when he does this, he normally goes under his hide-away to keep himself completely submerged.
<This is really dangerous for labyrinth fishes; they can get trapped and drown. While it sounds strange, the accounts that I have heard of drowned Bettas are numerous. The fact that your Betta is ill doesn't make this better. I'd remove it.>
He gets 2 pellet foods a day at separate feedings (as advised by an experienced Betta keeping friend because, as she says, "the stomach is only about the size of the eye"), one in the morning and one at night. So I`m sure I`m not over-feeding.
<I'm sure you're not overfeeding. However, these dry pellets have been proven to cause constipation in fish, if fed as an only food. Do try and mix in wet-frozen foods, soaked in a freshwater vitamin, if possible. In my experience, it really does aid with digestive health and prevent bloating.>
He`s kept in a gallon bowl,
<Oh... please read on WWM re: Bettas. That your fish has lived this long in this bowl is an anomaly. I'm not kidding. Most fish in his situation would have died one month to a few months after being purchased. Obviously, he is an older fish, which means he's a really tough guy -- has lived through toxic levels of Ammonia, cold temperatures, and other horrible things that come along with living in a bowl -- but his old age is surely weakening him, and these may not be conditions he can live with any longer.>
but I dropped the water level to help him when he gets an unbalanced spell (I`ve read you should do that).
<Here? Personally, I give no advice to people who keep Bettas in bowls except for "Give him a 5 gallon system with a heater and a filter!">
It has the characteristics of Swim bladder Disorder,
<Again, not a real disease, but a name for a group of symptoms. Your Betta is old; you're also keeping him in a way which doesn't work for any fish. The symptoms you see are likely a combination of these two problems.>
so I also skip a feeding or 2 when he gets one of those spells and that seems to help.
<I would feed a variety and attempt to provide a better home for him. Bettas can live four years or so if cared for properly; this guy may pull through.>
Its been going on for a little while now, and I`m getting more and more concerned.
<I understand.>
What should I do?
<Stated above.>
Is there a cure?
<Do you know your water parameters -- Temperature? Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate levels? Can you feed a variety of foods, both wet-frozen and dried? These are likely the "cure," though you have obtained an extremely hardy specimen who has managed to last this long. You can make changes, and hope that he lives to the end of his days in a natural fashion, or choose not to, and he may not last much longer.>
Is it just old age setting in?
<Maybe... maybe not.>
Am I not feeding right?
<I do not believe that you are. I am a strong supporter of varied foods, and feeding wet-frozen alongside dried. I've just had too much success with feeding this way to not believe in it.>
He`s my first fish, I really hope there`s something I can do to help him.
<Please read here:
and any of the linked files above related to feeding, systems, etc. I think you can help him, or if these problems are a combination of old age and environment, at least learn some things here. I hope this information has been of help.

Re: Swim-bladder problem? Betta env. 4/2/10
He`s lived in that bowl the whole time I`ve had him, I`m concerned about moving him to a larger tank because it might stress him too much (he`s also a lady`s man, I keep a female in the bowl next to him, and if she`s moved, he just sinks to the bottom and droops around. And I don`t have any room left in my room for a 5 gallon with another bowl next to it). And while I respect your and the crews experience, I have to disagree with the bowl thing, all of my Bettas live in about a gallon each (a huge improvement over the tiny cups they`re bought in) they like their homes, and most of my 6 Bettas are around 1-2 years, with no problems. Maybe its because I keep the house temperature around 75 degrees...
<Most people who keep Bettas in bowls disagree with me, or anyone else who tries to inform them, about "the bowl thing." People care about their pets, and they don't want to believe they could be hurting them through a lack of care. If you'll read on WWM where I linked you in the previous e-mail, you'll see that Bettas need warmer water than you're providing, and that temperature fluctuation in tiny bowls can be frequent and drastic, meaning that the fish is undergoing serious changes in temperature, just from afternoon to evening, etc. I've expressed how I feel about bowls, and you have access to tons of information on WWM re: bowls and Bettas. What you do with the information is up to you.>
I`ll see what I can do about heating though, but its hard to find one for a small aquarium and I`m already in a bind having to save up 35 bucks for something else...I need a job, but I have to find one first (I just found out I can at my age).
I`m nervous about taking out the hide-away too, cause that`s been there since I got him and he`s a shy fish, needing a good place to hide. He`s a smart one though, he`s been going under and staying, then coming up after a short time and going back under and he can maneuver in it pretty quickly too. Its not on of those complex ones, it`s just a turtle with a cave.
Kind of shaped like a coral bridge with a turtle on top. I attached a picture to help you get an idea. Its an earlier picture. He could get trapped if he sat still, but he`s done it so many times I don`t think its too much of an issue. I`ll take it out though if you think its necessary
<Stated in previous e-mail. Again, what you do with information you are given and that you come upon is up to you.>
...I`ll get other foods too if necessary, like I said, I`m limited on money...
<Again, I can only tell you what I know to be true, both from my own experience and research. Bettas who eat a diet of wet-frozen foods, such as bloodworms, daphnia, brine shrimp, and Spirulina algae, as well as a good-quality pellet as a staple, just tend to have fewer issues with bloat or constipation.>
I`m willing to do anything necessary, but I`m just scared to cause stress and money is an issue.
<Well, I made plenty of suggestions. Again, this fish may just be nearing the end of his life. On the other hand, the symptoms you describe are almost always related to water quality issues, cold temperatures, and improper feeding. Please do take the time to read on WWM where I linked you in the previous e-mails. I think that once you read one query after another about a sick Betta in non-optimal conditions, you may begin to understand what effect environment has on fish health -- not just for this Betta, but for your other Bettas, as well. Please write back if you have further questions.
Re: Swim-bladder problem? Betta env. 4/2/10
I`ll get varieties of food, but I don`t want to stress him with a big move.
<Would not stress him. He would likely benefit from heated, clean water offered by a larger, heated filtered system.>
I`ll take out the hide-away if it gets to be an issue.
<How would you know until it was too late?>
I`ll do what I can about heating.
<Very well.>
I see where your coming from, and true, the bigger the better for the fish and heat definitely is more comfortable, but my fish are happy and healthy (with the exception of Dave).
<I fear you will begin to find problems with the others, as well. However, I can see that I cannot change your mind here.>
I`m doing something right, the fish are getting to good ages with practically zero problems, if I could afford huge tanks with tons of equipment, I`d get huge tanks with tons of equipment.
<The ten-gallon tank in which you could keep two or even three Bettas with a divider is not huge by any standards, or expensive. Again, I'm not trying to argue with you, but you did write to me for advice, and I'd like
to help you help your fish. Please do read on WWM re: Bettas.>
Its an advancement over the fate of the party favor fish, that`s for sure.
I`m not criticizing anyone here, I`m just saying that both ways are good.
<If you say so.>
Anyway, thanks for the help, I`m glad to know it could be just an easy cure problem.
Keep up the good work over there!

Snail and Java Fern... sel., sys., Betta.... sys... 3/8/2010
I have two questions. I have a Red Ramshorn Snail I bought about five hours ago.
<Planorbis spp.; these are coldwater snails that don't last long in tropical tanks.>
At first, he was coming out of his shell a little bit. I put him in my four gallon tank with my Betta and now he doesn't come out. My Betta hasn't touched him as I've been monitoring the tank.
<These two life forms aren't really compatible. Bettas need to be kept at 28 C/82 F, or they eventually die. The snail will soon suffer if kept this warm, and won't last more than a few months.>
First time I put him in I accidentally dropped him but he landed on my plant, so I don't think he got hurt?
His shell seems to be fine. He is defecating at the moment. What's wrong with the little man?
<Little snail, surely...?>
Also, my Java Fern looks like it has a white cottony- growth all over the leaves and the roots. I was told to just wash it but I can't get it all off.
<Likely fungus, a sign of organic decay in aquaria with poor water quality and not enough water movement or filtration.>
It's not dying as there are other little plants growing on it.
<Actually, one thing Java ferns do when unhappy is to produce plantlets at the tip of the leaves while the big leaves rot away. Java ferns need at least some proper lighting, and won't live in tanks without lighting. Aim for about 0.5 to 1 watt per gallon.>
I thought it may of been the oxygen shell that was in my tank as the growths first started on the plants roots. I threw out the oxygen shell.
<These are the white lumps in the shape of a scallop shell, right? Useless products. No substitute for filtration.>
Is the plants problem connected to the snail problem?
<Review the environment. Both may be suffering for the same reasons.>
How can I solve both? Any information will be greatly appreciated. Also, my tank is not filtered or have a heater.
<You're keeping a Betta in a tank without a heater? Who told you that was a good idea? They lied to you. Read here:
Bettas are tropical fish. The word "tropical" means they come from somewhere hot and sunny. A centrally heated home in the temperate zone won't be hot enough. You MUST have a heater AND a simple, air-powered
filter for this aquarium.>
It's just plain freshwater with water conditioner.
<Tap water with water conditioner is fine, but don't use water from a domestic water softener.>
I also replace 10% of the water every few days with new, conditioned water.
<No substitute for filtration.>
Thanks :)
<Cheers, Neale.>
re: Snail and Java Fern ' 3/8/2010
Thanks for the response :)
<Happy to help.>
I got the Betta as a present from somebody in a brandy glass. I knew that this is an improper home for him so I got him the larger tank as soon as I could. It is a round bowl as that is all I could afford unfortunately.
<Won't live long. A few weeks if the house is warm, much less if the house is cold. But not for anything like the two years or so they should live for.>
I haven't been able to find any filtration, pumps, heaters or lights that can fit or a suitable for my tank.
<Are available. A 25 watt heater should be fine for a 5 gallon tank. A small air pump and internal sponge filter will be adequate for filtration.>
I've searched many pet shops, aquarium specialists, I've asked people and I've looked on many websites including eBay but I've had no luck.
I plan to get a rectangular tank and all these things as soon as I can but I don't know how long this is going to take as I am a full time student, not working and living on my own.
<I see.>
So is there anything apart from all the above mentioned that I can do?
<Not really, no. Regular water changes will help offset water quality problems, but even with clean water, the cold will eventually kill the Betta.>
Also, my snail has moved as its fairly far away from where I originally put him (from on top a leaf on the plant to close to a rock, he's also the right way up, foot touching the ground). My Betta seems curious, he stares at the snail and sleeps right next to him. He doesn't flare up at him or look agitated or aggressive, he just simply stays next to him. Would this be a good indication that my Betta is OK with the snail?
<Cheers, Neale.>

Betta... Kept properly. Yay! -- 2/23/10
Dear Crew,
I have a two-year-old male Betta in a heated, filtered, well-planted, 10-gallon aquarium.
<Sounds nice!>
There is nothing wrong with him.
<Ah, case closed.>
<Thanks for writing, Carla. We get so many messages about sick fish, it's easy to assume no-one manages to keep their fish alive for more than a week! So the occasional happy fish message is just the tonic we need. I hope others read and take note. Cheers, Neale.>

Fish tank noise, Betta sys. 11/6/09
We have a little Betta who we love.
<Good stuff.>
He lived in a Betta Cube for several months, but now he seems not to be doing too well (tail rot which I am treating) & we bought him a Marineland Eclipse tank (3gal). We set it up, and find that it makes this constant humming noise that it really annoying to humans and quite loud.
<To be really honest, tanks smaller than 5 gallons are typically "toys" rather than serious aquaria, and I can't recommend them. The Finrot you are dealing with is directly related to poor water quality, of that there's no
doubt. The so-called Betta Cubes are practically death traps, and shouldn't be used, and even a 3-gallon tank is a marginal habitat, at best. They're difficult to heat and difficult to filter, and because they contain so
little water, there's no leeway for error. I have no idea why they're sold, or for that matter, why people buy them. A 5-gallon tank is, in my expert opinion (!) the minimum for safe, reliable Betta maintenance.>
I imagine, if you are a fish, it may be devastating.
<Certainly fish are sensitive to vibrations in the water.>
Is it ok for us to move our fish there, or should we get another tank?
<I'd take the thing back if it's new, and get a refund. Much better to buy a plain vanilla 5-gallon glass tank, or even a 10-gallon tank if you'd like to add some shrimps and plants and maybe some carefully choose tankmates like Kuhli Loaches or a school of Corydoras habrosus. Do see here:
Equip the tank with an air-powered sponge filter, a heater, and you're all set. Some floating plants are welcomed by Bettas for a variety of reasons, and Indian Fern would be a good choice here. In that case, choose a system with some nice bright lights, upwards of 1 watt per gallon.>
What should we do? We change the water 2x week on the Cube, but we thought he would be happier in a nice tank.
<That's the theory, anyway. Unfortunately, like many things in life, quality varies. A little research and a willingness to spend a sensible amount of money, perhaps on good basic kit rather than something cleverly
marketed can be wise.>
Please help.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Laboured breathing, Betta... the usual, poor env., no reading ahead of writing... -- 10/26/09
I have a Betta which is likely one and a half to two years old - maybe more.. This is his fourth home. He has become increasingly listless. I have kept his water clean.
<... how? And is it tropical? Thermally controlled?>
My question is - he is near the bottom, upright, but seems to be breathing heavily. It may be that he is old and has reached the end of his days. I want to make him as comfortable as possible.
Should I put a air stone in?
<Mmm, no... are aerial respirators>
It could create a bit of current that might make him more uncomfortable. Will he "drown" if he can't get up to the top?
<Will go to the top if needs to>
Thank you for your advice.
<Thank you for following directions. Read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Betta systems -- 08/11/09
hi and thank you for asking my question,
<Happy to help.>
i am getting a Betta soon, and i am wondering, how long should i cycle my new tank?
<Well, there's no perfect answer to this. However, normally it takes 3-6 weeks for new aquaria to cycle. I'd recommend setting up the aquarium, and every second day, add a pinch of flake food. Leave the food to decay, so it produces ammonia, kick-starting the cycling process. Once a week, change 25-50% of the water. After 4 weeks, you'll probably be through the worst of the cycling process, and can add a Betta. This time, do 25% water changes each weekend.>
Also, how big of a tank do i need
<5 gallons is the safe minimum, and an 8-10 gallon tank ideal.>
and do i need a filter and heater??
<Yes and yes. While some people say you can keep Bettas in bowls without heaters or filters, they are wrong. Bettas need clean water, meaning 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite. Since they are tropical fish, the temperature must be at least 25 degrees C (77 degrees F) at all times. Put a lamp over a Betta aquarium, for example, won't warm the water up enough, and obviously when switched off, the water will go cold. Moreover, an aquarium heater is much cheaper to run! So buy yourself a 5-10 gallon aquarium, a 25-75 watt heater, and a simple filter such as an air-powered sponge filter to keep the water clean. Bettas can jump, so make sure your tank has a hood. Lights aren't essential, but if you want live plants, you'll need some. The best plants for a Betta system are floating plants, particularly Indian Fern (Ceratopteris).>
Thank you very much,
<My pleasure.>
D. Gulla
<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.>

Betta aeration requirements (or lack thereof) -- 07/01/09
Dear WWM crew,
hi there! I realize you guys spend a lot of time answering questions that have already been answered, so if I missed an article or FAQ that has already dealt with my question I apologize wholeheartedly. I realize you guys do this on a volunteer basis so I'm immensely grateful any possibly repeated advice you give me. Before I start there's quite a bit of back information that I'd like to share so you have a really good picture of what's happening and why the most likely oxymoron-esque question of Betta tank aeration
<Not necessary... Betta spp. are at least facultative aerial respirators; can/do go to the surface to gulp air...>
is of such concern to me. so I also apologize for the length of my message and feel free to skip over some bits to the question part of my message which I've underlined and bolded.
<This encoding didn't come through>
I recently lost a Betta (Davey Jones) to an unidentified illness that I can only compare to a combination of Columnaris and a parasitic infection. I only had him for about 2 months, cause of death being the above illness and what appeared to be subsequent gill damage since he gasped and yawned almost non-stop the day before he died. He was sick the entire time I had him, although symptoms were very mild at first (a tiny grey patch and listlessness which I thought would disappear with suitable living quarters and good food)
and I only started medicating 3-4 weeks after the symptoms became worse. I did courses of Maracyn I and II, Furanace, clout, Cupramine and Paraguard
<Good gosh!>
all of which only reduced symptoms for a day or two. I just want to say before I go any further that I know you should never medicate a fish unless you know what they have, I really dislike medicating tanks and I always gave him a week's rest before starting a new medication after researching its uses and asking several fishkeeping sites for advice (including the wonderful WWM crew!).
As you can imagine, after all that I completely disinfected the tank, plants and filter with a 1:10 bleach solution (9 parts water to 1 part bleach). the tank, filter and supplies were soaked in the mix for 10 minutes and rinsed until the bleach smell disappeared and then air-dried. The plants were subjected to a 1:20 bleach soak and rinse. I replaced the filter media, inserts and gravel. Right now I'm in the throes of a full-swing fishless tank cycling (ammonia is 0 and nitrites are off the scale), and I must say that I'm immensely pleased because it's only been 2 1/2 weeks thanks to Seachem stability, a bottled bacteria product that gave me a bacterial bloom in less than a day and nitrite readings after three days. I'm adding about 20 drops per day to keep ammonia at about 1.5ppm.
<Mmm, I'd keep at 0.5 ppm maximum... too high a concentration is toxic even to bacteria, not useful>
The water's a bit yellow, the plants are becoming a little covered with brown algae and the gravel's got quite a collection of mulm, but I've been told many times not to touch the aquarium until the cycling's done, and even then, to never vacuum more than a third of the mulm off the gravel during each water change. Once the cycle's over, I'm going to do a large water change (80%) and remove the algae from the plant leaves, but other than that leave the filter and inserts alone for about another 2-3 weeks so the bacteria can adapt to a single Betta (because I'm a bit skeptical that a Betta can produce 1ppm of ammonia each day, but you never know). So I'm basically letting the whole set-up steep and become full of little critters and hopefully become a healthy ecosystem that my next Betta will thrive in.
<Sounds good>
Tank specifics:
details: 5.5g, cycling, heated (80F), Tetra whisper HOB filter with a sponge insert on the intake to encourage bacterial growth (and protect delicate Betta fins) and a baffle made out of a plastic bottle on the outtake to reduce current strength, a 5000k lamp set on a timer (7h to 19h) for the plants. I'm thinking of reducing lighting hours because 12 hours seems a bit excessive and the plants that I have are low light plants
water additives: Hagen Nutrafin water conditioner (I tend to double the dose out of my distrust of my calculating abilities),
Seachem flourish and excel plant foods which are added weekly and tetra plant food for leafy plants which I add monthly
<You are disciplined>
decorations: live plants: duck weed, 2 Anubias nanas, 1 Anubias barteri, 5 bunches of java fern, java moss and a Cladophora ball and various pieces of driftwood for cover.
<Wow, nice>
The gravel's a bit on the thin side, only about 2-3cm high, but none of my plants can be buried in the substrate, plus I want to maximize the amount of water I can add to my self-admittedly small tank
uninvited guests: brown algae, copepods, Planaria and about 5 pond snail hatchlings, the snail eggs are hiding in a Cladophora ball which I've banished to a separate container until I figure out what to do.(anti-snail chemicals being out of the question)
<Look to baiting...>
I'm actually quite pleased about the snails since they stay small, they're eating stray bits of algae and whatever else they're finding and so far don't seem to be interested in the plants which to have damaged areas but I'm chalking that up to the bleaching. I'm keeping them because I have no choice but to respect that they can disregard >3.3ppm nitrite levels and fluctuating ammonia
Maintenance: thanks to WWM I know that until now I was doing way too many water changes and while I'll need to actually wait until I get a new Betta to figure out when water changes are needed, I'm planning on bi-weekly 20-25% water changes and daily tiny water changes to remove incidental uneaten food. Filter maintenance will be limited to replacing worn out sponges (in stages of course) and clearing out the intake tube which is irritatingly prone to clogging
feeding: 1 feeding daily three days out of the week, 2 feedings the other three days and a fast on the last day of the week. feedings will consist of alternating between 4 types of prepared foods (Hikari micro pellets, micro-wafers, bio-gold pellets and Nutrafin top fin pellets) and three types of frozen foods (daphnia, brine shrimp and bloodworms) over the week.
<I want to be reincarnated as your Betta splendens>
I'll feed around 4 pieces of each food since most of them are very small except for the bio-gold pellets which will be fed at the rate of 3 pellets. In case it's not clear, I don't feed each type of food daily, rather the fish will get one to two of each type each day depending on whether it's a once or twice feeding day. This feeding regimen was applied to Davey and despite his illness, he appeared very healthy until the last 2-3 weeks. (i.e. his colour faded, he seemed to be losing weight, he wasn't growing and his fins deteriorated)
So, after all that (again, very long winded; I hope you're not asleep yet!)
<Mmm, just got up>
I'm at a bit of a crossroads with regards to aeration. I realize you guys say that Anabantoids don't need any extra aeration and many other books and sites say the same thing. Normally I'd stop at that and say that the HOB provides sufficient oxygen, but the baffle does reduce surface agitation so that's the first issue. Granted it pulls the low-oxygen water through the filter and it swirls around when it exits the filter and hits the baffle, but there's only mild rippling on the sides of the baffle, no actual breaking of the water's surface.
<No worries>
My second concern is that Columnaris thrives in stagnant, warm, fresh water (I don't add any salt to my water) which is what Davey might have had so I'm worried that by not providing enough oxygen, while it won't harm a Betta, it might encourage Columnaris or other anaerobic pathogens.
<Mmm, not to worry re this bacteria... Your system has sufficient circulation, your listed care is fine>
I do have a pump and airstone, and this might be an overly-sensitive observation, but when it's on and in the water, I can hear the vibration in the water and I'm worried that the constant noise and vibration will stress the fish out. This is an issue because I read that loud music and basses (like a subwoofer; I don't have one, but I digress) near a tank can cause stress in fish.
<Can be an issue>
So I was wondering if the filter does provide enough aeration despite the baffle, or maybe during the day the plants provide enough oxygen and lowered nighttime oxygen levels can be handled until morning.
<The filter does/will definitely supply enough O2 and water movement here>
Thanks again for putting up with the painful detail and length and any information you can give me will be greatly appreciated!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Betta aeration requirements (or lack thereof) no need to read; just a thanks 7/1/09

dear Bob Fenner,
<Ms. Emilie>
Thanks so much for the response! Apologies for the missing underlining, I originally had paragraphs and indentation to make the message easier to navigate, but you still ended up having to read the whole thing.
<No worries>
But at any rate, thanks for the very concise response and assuming you weren't being sarcastic, I'm very happy my feeding regimen rates so highly with you!
<Heeee! I twas not joshing>
Again, thanks for the information, you sounded exasperated, so I hope my ignorance didn't dismay you!
gratefully, Emilie
<Exasperation s/b my middle name. Cheers. Bob E. Fenner>

Betta System Questions: Water Quality and Maintenance 6/30/2009
<Hi Lisa.>
I have to keep changing the water in my Betta fish tank about every 4 or 5 days.
<Not uncommon with a Betta system, particularly the typical Betta tanks that are really too small for them.>
It gets a scum or film on the top of the water starting the first day after I change it.
<Hmm... what else is in the tank? (Gravel, etc) and what and how often are you feeding?>
This just recently started and am not sure what to do.
<Do keep up with the regular water changes. You can also read here as well as the linked files on the top of the page.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/betta_splendens.htm >
Any suggestions?
<My pleasure.>

Tank Questions... Betta sys. 6/21/09
Dear Wet Web Crew,
I recently had to replace my 5 gallon tank and decided on a 10 gallon, but ended up purchasing a hexagonal tank.
<Is this for a Betta? I assume so, since you wouldn't really keep anything else in a 5 gallon tank!>
In order to fill it completely, it will be deep from bottom to top.
<Hmm... the bad thing about hexagonal tanks -- and why I consider them overpriced for what they are -- is that when keeping fish, it's the ratio of surface area to volume that matters. Five or even 10 gallons of water doesn't mean much if the surface area is rather small. That said, because Bettas are air-breathing fish, this is much less of a problem than it is with other tropical fish, or with goldfish.>
I know I need to leave a decent amount of space for him to get air and in case of jumping (though I've never had one jump).
<A space 2.5 cm/1 inch should be ample.>
My question is this... how deep is TOO deep? Is there such thing as TOO deep?
<Not really; wild Bettas live in water much deeper than even the biggest aquarium. However, in the wild they rarely stray far from vegetation, so provided the "deep" tank has floating plants or tangles of tall live/plastic plants where it can rest out of the water current, it's fine.
Yes, in theory, a Betta can drown if it can't gulp air. And yes, the long, heavy, and essentially useless fins on "fancy" Bettas mean they can't swim properly. So for both those reasons we tend to keep them in shallow tanks with gentle (ideally air-powered) filtration. But in a bigger tank, they're just fine provided there are plants near the surface and places to rest out of the water current.>
Below is a link to an example of the new tank. So far, I have left a hands-length of space between the water line and the top of the tank. Can I fill it up more, or should I leave it alone?
<Cheers, Neale.>

New Tank Setup 6-09-2009
my Betta died shortly after the move...

Hi there. Thanks so much for all your advice with my sick Betta. He passed away but he was pretty old and I think the move was too much for him. The fungus was starting to go away but I guess it was just his time. Now, can I put one of my other fish in his tank? What do I need to do to prepare it?
<Sorry to hear that, I hate it when my favorite fish pass away. For the new tank I would recommend breaking it down and giving it a good cleaning in hot water. I would then set it up empty for a few days with medication just to be on the safe side. Then you can easily add a new Betta after a few days, without worry. You are welcome! Merritt A.>

Small tank, Betta, Corydoras sys. 5/12/09
Hi, I wrote in a few days ago about a sick fish and Neale told me that my tank is simply too small (3 gallons- 1 molly, 2 platies, 1 albino Cory).
Since them I have found a home for them and have been doing research on what kind of fish I could put in such a small tank. My research has come up with a beta.
<Yes, you can -- just about -- squeeze a Betta (rhymes with "better", not "beater") into a 3 gallon tank. But I wouldn't recommend it; chances of success are far greater in a tank at least 5 gallons in size. I cannot
stress enough how difficult it is to maintain any fish in such a small volume of water.>
However, my concern is that these other fish which have been in my tank since January have been sickly or the water has been off and so there has been lots of Melafix in that tank (the antibiotic I have been using which apparently is just as good as antiseptic). I've had what may or may not be fin rot, something that may be parasites or dropsy right now (swollen belly, white stringy poo_, I'm not really sure and probably much more disease in the tank than I would like to know about.
<Finrot and Fungus are latent in all tanks, since the bacteria and fungi involved are harmless, even beneficial, when fish are healthy. It's only when the fish get weakened -- often because the environment is wrong --
that these bacteria and fungi become dangerous. Ergo, keep your fish happy, and Finrot and Fungus are never a problem!>
So my questions are: is this tank truly suitable for a beta?
<Marginal. I wouldn't bother.>
I went through a lot of trouble with these other fish, I want a fish that I can enjoy. It's 3 gallons, filter, BioWheel, heater, and lots of hiding spaces.
<Seriously, three gallons is a bucket. You would do so much better keeping a Betta in 5 gallons or more; for 3 gallons, I'd keep Cherry Shrimps or Crystal Red Shrimps. They're pretty, they're inexpensive, and they're fun to watch. Kept properly, Cherry Shrimps breed readily, and it's fun to watch them at all different sizes.>
Secondly, should I clean the tank before I put the beta in?
<Certainly give it a clean, but there's no need to sterilise it, and certainly no need to throw away live filter media.>
If so, with what? Throw the gravel out? Just throw out the water and rinse the gravel to get rid of the old poo that might be buried under there? And for how long should I let the tank cycle, if at all?
<If the aquarium has been empty for more than a few days, chances are the bacteria have died back to a very low level. Not zero, but low. So you will want to cycle for at least 2-3 weeks before adding another fish. Shrimps produce less ammonia, so if you add just a three Cherry Shrimps immediately, and three a week later, you should be fine.>
I know it seems like I can just look these answers up and I have but there has been a lot of conflicting information and some suggestion that I clean my tank with BLEACH! My BioWheel has NOTHING on it, looks just as new as it did when I got it back in January (4 months ago). Could it be from all the Melafix?
And is there ANY WAY I can keep my albino Cory? I really like him and would be saddest to see him go.
<Sure, in a bigger tank. Since these are schooling fish, make the Cory happy by keeping six in a tank 15-20 gallons or larger. Keeping a singleton is cruel.>
Thank you
<Cheers, Neale.>

My Betta is Listless and White
Another Sick Betta: Lots of Reading Needed. Betta Sys\Environment: 5/5/2009

<Hi Lynda>
This is my first Betta and I've had Jonah for one week.
He's in a 1 gallon plastic tank with gravel and a plastic plant.
<Not the best environment for a Betta, despite what the stores tell you.
Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/betsysfaqs.htm
I had been feeding him the flakes and he seemed fine;
<Another sore spot, They do need a varied diet. Please read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/betfdgfaqs.htm >
however, he was never very active and hung out near the gravel.
After six days the water became cloudy and I changed the entire tank.
<Ammonia poisoning most likely, Read about nutrient cycling here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm >
<Also, did you dechlorinate the new water before adding it to the tank?>
The following morning Jonah appeared listless, staying on the bottom and not moving.
He's also looks as though he's covered in white stuff.
<hmm.... Probably mucus from environmental causes: Read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/bettadiseases.htm >
I went to the pet shop and they gave me something for the PH level and a liquid for relieving stress.
<Likely useless>
I also heated the water by putting the tank on a heating pad and added a 7 watt light on top.
He still hasn't moved and hasn't eaten.
What can I do to make him better? Is it hopeless?
<Please read the above linked pages. There is a lot of information posted on properly caring for Bettas.>
Thank you.
<My pleasure>
Re: Another Sick Betta: Lots of Reading Needed. Betta Sys\Environment: 5/6/2009

<Hi Lynda>
Thank you. I've spent time reading the pages you sent and now I don't even know where to begin to try to save Jonah. He is still on the bottom and not moving, and he doesn't look so white. His fins don't look so great. They look thin and much shorter.
<Buy yourself a test kit for ammonia>
I did change some of the water - Brita filtered, (It sat for more than a day.), added aquarium salt, and conditioner.
<Aquarium salt is pretty much useless.>
I think I'll need to get different housing. And here I thought having a Betta was going to be easy and no trouble.
<It is still a living creature and does need proper care.>
How long should it take for him to get better?
<Impossible to say at this point.>
Is there any medication to help him? Is there anything else I can do.
<No medication, do get a test kit and check his water. Do keep up with regular water changes.>
I feel so bad because I ruined his life. He might have been better off in the pet shop.
<Don't beat yourself up too hard. many Bettas die in transit or in the pet shop. Plus, the perpetuation of the "myth of the Betta in the cup." Keep reading and learning>
Thanks. I appreciate your sending me all that information.
<My pleasure>

Link Exchange Please, no 5/6/09
HI My name is Paul and I have recently started an online store selling some amazing fish tanks.
I would like to say that I love wet web media and it is a great resource for all pet fish information, and I have added a link to your site from my site at http://aquariumsbowls.com/information.php?info_id=9 Let me know if you would like this changed in any way/ anchor text or description.
I would really appreciate if you could return the favor and link to mine.
The Title(anchor text): Fish tanks
The site is: http://www.aquariumsbowls.com
Description: Unique Fish tanks and aquariums for marine, tropical and Bettas.
Thanks very much for your time!
Paul Sutherland
<Paul, I/we elect not to link or help you promote these items... It is my decided opinion that what you show/list is not of use to "home hobbyists"... Bare bowls for Bettas, sans heater, filter... won't work for the "average" person to keep Siamese Fighting Fish alive, well, for long... and the small, tall cylinders you show are poor for similar reasons... lacking much needed surface area and volume to house much of anything, least the animals shown in the "ads"... I strongly suggest you revisit, think long and hard re what you are up to here... And either change your product assortment, or add at least some commentary re what will be required if one tries to keep life in these ornamental containers. Bob Fenner>

Betta Question, hlth., env. 4/5/09
Hello. I have a 3 gallon eclipse tank and a Betta that I've had for 3 months now and just last week I noticed HIS FINS are FUSED together. He cant fan them out and this is the second Betta that this has happened to.
The other time it happened I had my Betta in a small unfiltered tank - but I've upgraded to this 3 gallon - and he was doing fine until a week ago.
I've started adding Melafix
<Not warranted... I would NOT use this product period>
to his tank but its not working. I do NOT have a heater in my tank.
I do have 2 little sucker fishes
<Mmm, what species? Please see WWM re CAEs, the genus Gyrinocheilus... these could be problematical as well>
in my tank that I've had for about 2 weeks and they are doing just fine. I just don't know what I'm doing wrong to make my Bettas tail's fuse together -Candice
<Need heat... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bettasysart.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Adopted Betta 3/31/09
Hi guys!
<Hello Erika,>
Alright last week I adopted a Betta from my school. We had been doing behavior experiments on them by seeing how they would react to different drawings, a mirror, the whole bit. We also observed their predation tactics by feeding them mosquito larvae that the professor had bred himself. When I got him, the water he was in was pretty disgusting, but I gave him clean, dechlorinated water, as soon as I brought him back ( did the change over slowly by introducing a bit of water into his bag, etc). Originally he was staying in a little Betta tank because I didn't have anywhere else for him (no heater, etc. terrible I know).
<Yes, terrible. They're tropical fish, and like any tropical fish need filtered, heated water.>
But the plan was that he'd only have to stay in those conditions for 3 more weeks until I finish school and then he'd get a bigger aquarium with a heater. Right from the beginning he seemed very listless.
<I bet.>
He would prop himself up on the little castle I had put in for him and just lie there all day. So after a week I decided, well clearly he's not happy, I'll move him into the bigger aquarium now.
The aquarium I moved him into was holding my goldfish (who I brought home). It's a 5 gallon aquarium with gravel, some ;larger rocks, live plants, etc, lots to keep a fish happy.
<Lots, except space. You can't keep Goldfish in a 5 gallon tank. Goldfish get really big, 20 cm/8 inches, easily. Minimum sensible size for two is 30 gallons, and a 20 gallon tank would barely be adequate for a singleton.>
I even placed the heater in with him so that the water would warm up progressively with him in it.
<Make sure it doesn't get too warm for the Goldfish.>
He now has a nice big aquarium with warm water and he's still doesn't seem happy.
<Oh? As ever: check water quality and water chemistry. Bettas need zero ammonia and nitrite levels, like any other fish. Water chemistry isn't critical except to say it should be stable. A common mistake is to use water from a domestic water softener, or worse, distilled water. Don't do either of these things! Plain vanilla tap water is usually fine, provided you use dechlorinator.>
He hides all day between the wall and the heater and although he's been eating the past couple of days, today he doesn't seem interested. I also think he might be slightly discolored (seems to be somewhat whitish over his red).
<May be incipient Finrot; review the symptoms, and act accordingly.>
What else can I do?
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/goldfish101art.htm >
<Cheers, Neale.>

Female Bettas & Brackish Water 3-28-09
I currently have 4 female Bettas living together in a tank. I have sand substrate and a turtle filter/rock water fall. I also have river rock and slate in my tank. I am looking to get a mudskipper and have recently found out that they are a brackish water fish. Is there any way that I can find a happy medium between the two?
<Hello! Sorry to tell you but Bettas can only handle a little amount of aquarium salt and to have a full brackish tank, a Betta would not survive long. This is largely due to the difference between aquarium salt and the salt used for saltwater tanks. It would be better to setup a brackish water tank for your mudskipper and keep the Betta in his own freshwater home. You are welcome! Merritt A.>

Torgo the Betta update, sys., reading 3-4-09 Hello crew! <Elspeth> This weekend I managed to scrape together sufficient funds to buy Torgo a 6 US Gallon tank with a nice BioWheel filter (with adjustable flow so it's nice and gentle) and a heater. I have it cycling and it is staying around 77 degrees Fahrenheit. In the meantime, I am continuing to change 25% of Torgo's water with a turkey baster every day and am giving him a ~100% water change once a week-- all with unfiltered, treated (dechlorinated) water. One question: There are so many products out there that say they will harden my water (it is oh, so soft at my house). <Really? How soft is soft? Not water that is "run" through a residential water softener I hope/trust... if so, I'd "go outside", use the tap from a spigot, warm up and use it instead> What is your favorite product/method to add some minerals to your water? <Just exposure to natural carbonate material...> Thanks for all your help and patience! -Elspeth <Read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwhardnessfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Torgo the Betta update - 03/06/09 Oh my gosh! I got a reply from Bob, himself! Hello again crew! <Hi!> I think you'll be happy to know that don't treat our water and the hardness is the same from the tap as it is from the hose: 4dKH and 17.9ppm I used the API Aquarium Pharmaceuticals KH/GH test. From what I've read around, Bettas like "moderate hardness" and I don't think that my water qualifies. <Bettas will adapt to a wide range of conditions, and in the wild, will be living in fairly soft water, as is common for most (though certainly not all) Southeast Asian fish. However, it is true to say that soft water aquaria can be less difficult to maintain than hard water aquaria, so by default, it's usually best to aim for neutral, moderately hard water conditions if you have the option. This won't harm soft water fish at all, but will resist pH changes much better than soft water will.> Soft water certainly gives a lovely lather in the shower, but I'm not so sure Torgo will like it. <It's unlikely to be an issue provided you can ensure pH stays stable; that's usually the problem with soft water aquaria.> On the FAQs I read that adding baking soda may be useful. How much per gallon would you recommend? <I wouldn't recommend adding just baking soda by itself. Instead, I'd use some Rift Valley salt mix, which you can either buy ready made or mix yourself very inexpensively. A classic Rift Valley mix, per 5 gallons (20 litres) is as follows: 1 teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) 1 tablespoon Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) 1 teaspoon marine salt mix (sodium chloride + trace elements) Since you're not keeping a hard water fish as such, I'd actually start by using one-quarter the amount, stir well, test the water, and see what your water chemistry test kits say. It should be adequate, but if not, perhaps use one-half the amount.> I also read that someone was adding a chunk o' coral to his freshwater tank-- which was ok by Neale-- since his water needed to be hard and alkaline. <Crushed coral, as opposed to a dead coral, can be used to buffer the water, but only within certain limits. Firstly, water has to be flowing past the crushed coral, so you have to put the coral inside the filter, often an undergravel or canister filter. Secondly, it's difficult to predict how quickly and how effectively crushed coral will work, which is why it's usually used in large amounts (so it's quick) and in systems where a high pH/hardness is required (so there's no danger of "overdosing"). A Malawi cichlid aquarium is the classic situation. Thirdly, crushed coral has to be regularly cleaned or replaced, else it loses its efficacy. In short, in a small Betta tank, sticking a head of coral in the aquarium is not going to create precise, manageable conditions of the sort you're after. I'd also add that the trade in dead corals is generally considered unsustainable and is illegal in some areas, e.g., Europe, so unless you have access to dead corals from (unsuccessful!) marine fishkeepers, I can't in all honesty recommend anyone use them. Faux corals are just as good looking, don't affect water chemistry, and are not expensive.> Would this be a possible solution, or is it likely to make the water too hard for a Betta? <Wouldn't use coral in this system.> (and how would it go for tetras? My sister has a tank of cute little neon and cardinal tetras over at her place, so I'm curious.) I guess it would depend on the size of the coral chunk, eh? <Repeat after me: corals do not belong in a freshwater aquarium. If you want corals, either get faux ones, or set up a marine aquarium and keep live ones! There's really no ethically or practically acceptable use for dead coral skeletons in freshwater tanks.> Ultimately, I think I should look into having a soft water tank after Torgo goes to that big fish tank (or rice field) in the sky, in a few years (since Bettas have fairly short lifespans). If I've got soft water, I may as well use it to my advantage, right? (your Soft Water Aquarium page gave me some food for thought.) <This is consistently my advice: Learn your water conditions, and choose fish that enjoy them. In soft water areas your challenge is pH stability, so that invariably means using as big a tank as you can afford, and to tend towards understocking it to prevent excessive amounts of decay.> Thank you for your patience and advice! Sincerely, -Elspeth <Cheers, Neale.>

Betta observations -- 2/21/09 Hello Crew! I know you hear it a lot, but it bears repeating; you guys run an amazing site!! Thank you for providing aquarists of all levels with the information they and their fish (sometimes desperately) need. :) <Appreciate the kind words.> I attend an art school in Seattle and we have a studio Betta named Torgo. We keep him on a small bookshelf in an ~1Gal tank at room temperature and well away from our charcoal and paint! Every morning (Monday through Friday) he gets a few bloodworms and a 25% water change (using a turkey baster to suck up the dirty water at the bottom). There is no aeration or filtration (partially due to lack of a budget and also I noticed that the water movement has torn fins on my own past Bettas). His substrate is glass marbles and has two silk plants, one is fairly tall and a few of its leaves poke out of the water, the other is very low to the ground. Changing them up and moving them around seems to keep him happy and active -- any time I change out a plant, he explores the new addition at length and appears to play in the leaves. Currently he enjoys lounging on top of the tall silk plant and watching us go about our day. When I walk by he immediately swims to the front of his tank, probably hoping for a treat. I test his pH daily before and after every water change. I try to keep it around 7.5 these days. <Hmm... this fish can't be kept at room temperature, so he WILL get ill. There's a reason we call "tropical fish" "tropical fish", because they're from the tropics. Last time I checked, Washington State wasn't in the tropics, and room temperature, presumably around an average of 18 C (68 F) will be far too cold. Please, this fish needs a filter and a heater, and there's really no way around either of these things.> My observation (which you probably already knew about, but I felt proud of myself for figuring it out..) has to do with bubble nests and pH levels. About a month or two ago, Torgo began making bubble nests (we got him as a wee baby) and I was very pleased! Then a few weeks ago he suddenly was much less active (Torgo is generally very energetic and likes to greet every human being within sight), mildly disinterested in food and stopped making his bubble nests altogether! I had run out of pH test strips, but kept assuming that our tap water (filtered through a Brita pitcher!) always stayed around 7, but when he acted unTorgoish, I realized it was time to get more strips! <OK. Do use dechlorinator on the tap water. Drinking water isn't the same thing as aquarium water.> Inside if his tank, after adding about 6 drops of pH up to each 8oz cup of water (I transfer water in plastic cups), the pH was just below 7. Suspicious, I checked the filtered tap water. It had a pH of 6. Ah ha! More pH up was needed. Torgo's pH is now kept between 7.5 and 8. He is building his nests again and is chipper as ever! <Why are you adjusting the pH? You certainly shouldn't be adjusting pH if you don't know what the hardness level of the aquarium is. Fish don't "feel" pH and mostly couldn't care less. What they care about is hardness. Less experienced aquarists talk about (I'd argue, fixate on) pH because it's easy to understand. But it's really a proxy for hardness, with high hardness tending to be associated with a basic pH, and low hardness with an acidic pH. But these are approximations at best. Fish care about STABLE pH levels, and that means the hardness, specifically carbonate hardness, should be adequate. If the pH is dropping between water changes, your aquarium has insufficient carbonate hardness. Usually this is because you're either in a soft water area or, worse, using water from a domestic water softener. I cannot stress too strongly how much you shouldn't use water from a domestic water softener.> Well, that was lengthy, but it gave a good picture of Torgo's setup, right? :) <Well, yes. But I'll reserve judgment on whether it's what an ideal set-up just yet.> In summary: if your Betta stops making nests, check his tank's pH levels. As I said before, this may be common knowledge to you guys, but I feel a little proud of myself -- and, actually, maybe you should be a little proud, too! *I couldn't have troubleshooter this little hiccup without having read your site!* *One very important thing I have learned from you guys is this: if your fish acts a little off, check your water quality first. * *Funky water is the source of most fishy woes (if they have an infection, poor water quality may have been what weakened your fish in the first place!).* <It's almost certainly nothing to do with the pH. Fish react positively to good conditions, and negatively to poor conditions. Or put another way, if immediately after a water change, and the water gets warmer, loses its ammonia, and gets more oxygen, the fish will perk up. What I think you're seeing is that your fish is happy after a water change, and miserable within a day or two afterwards.> Well, I'm going to go work on my painting project aimed at raising awareness about the impact humans are having on coral reef populations in Pacific waters! <Great!> (Got any suggestions?) <Please understand that Bettas are tropical fish and need everything tropical fish require. A heated tank around 5 gallons would be my minimum recommendation, together with a simple filter, e.g., an air-powered sponge filter or an undergravel filter. I honestly can't recommend what you're doing now, and feel the pH changes and the variation in behaviour have a lot to do with fluctuations in water conditions.> Swim long and prosper, -Elspeth <Qapla' -- Neale> Neale, please tell me that's not Klingon you're speaking here!! Hahaha... laughing too hard, Sara M. Indeed it is. But since I'd been so hard on this seemingly well meaning human being, I thought I'd be nice at the end. Call it my soft (if slightly geeky) side. Cheers, Neale
Re: Betta observations (Brita filters, pros/cons) 2/23/09
Hi Neale, <Elspeth,> Thanks for the feedback/mild (and well deserved) scolding. <Always up for a good scolding.> I am going to go get a *full* water testing kit (one that will also measure the hardness of my water) soon after sending this email. <Very good. The three kits everyone needs are nitrite, pH, and carbonate hardness. They'll let you measure everything that matters the most.> Something I think I forgot to mention: I always use a dechlorinator after using the Brita pitcher, and I use the Brita pitcher because the tap water of my school has a lot of rust and other questionable chemicals in it. <Brita filters are mostly carbon as I recall, albeit very expensively packaged carbon. So they do a good job of removing of organic materials but have little/no effect on inorganic materials. The manufacturers maintain it removes some chlorine but explicitly states that it doesn't remove all the chlorine, and they don't remove chloramine at all, so your use of dechlorinator is wise. Brita also state that their filters reduce carbonate hardness (what they call "temporary hardness") and this is the stuff that buffers against pH changes. For most aquarium fish, a level of 4-6 degrees KH is about right, towards the higher end of things like livebearers and Goldfish especially. Reducing the carbonate hardness would serve no practical purpose in your system, and indeed would make it more prone to pH changes. All things considered, I'd strongly suggest not using Brita-filtered water. Dechlorinated tap water is perfectly acceptable for almost all tropical fish. I notice reading over the Brita web site (I do my research!) they recommend against using Brita-filtered water in a tropical aquarium without consulting an expert first. Well, I'm an expert, and I'm recommending you not to use it!> After I sent the previous email, I clicked around WWM, reading up more on Bettas-- a fish which I had (embarrassingly) assumed that I knew all about since I had an apparently healthy guy. (Here I am, yapping away about how much I know when I really had no idea what I was talking about... I feel silly!) <Well, you know now!> Anyway, the next day, I went out and got Torgo more food items since variety is, indeed, the spice of life. I plan to get him some live foods once I get him set up in a proper tank. <Cool.> Along with the aforementioned *full* water test kit I plan to get a 5G tank with a sponge filter and a heater. <He'll be much happier. Add a few cherry shrimps and some floating plants, and you'll have a lovely little underwater world.> I also have a 10G which will become available at the end of March and I think it's got his name on it! (Once he moves into that one, he's just going to live with me at my house, I think. With warm, potable tap water). <Most any tap water is safe for fish. Dechlorinator handles most problems you're likely to come across: copper, chlorine, chloramine. Beyond those, there's nothing else to worry about. There's a lot of hype about the "badness" of tap water, but it's actually just fine and dandy. Spend less on Brita and a bit more on things like heating and filtration, and your fish will be much happier.> Thank you for the reality check! humbly yours, -Elspeth <Happy to help, Neale.>

I have a question about my Betta. Beh./sys./fdg./hlth. 02/08/09 Hi, <Ave,> About a week and a half ago I bought my first Betta. He is in a 2 gal tank with an under gravel filter, and a small heater. When I first got my Betta, I noticed he was extremely sluggish, and that he would not eat his food. I looked it up on line and decided to buy a heater ( thinking that the temperature might be a problem). I have had the heater in for 4 days now (the temperature is kept at 79°F), but he still rarely ever eats. <Ah, if kept "cold" (i.e., below 25 C/77 F) for more than a few days, the damage may already be done...> I also bought frozen blood worms, thinking that the problem may be he just didn't like pellets. However, this didn't help either. In the past couple of days I have noticed that his face seems to be losing color. He is a bright red crown tail Betta with very bright violet dots on his body and streaks throughout his tail, however over the past few days his face is increasingly becoming white. When I first bought him I noticed a few dark spots on his body but thought nothing of. I have tried everything I could think of, and do not know what else to do. The water was treated with Top fin Beta Water Conditioner, and the aerator was ran for about 2 hours before he was introduced to the tank. I am extremely concerned about him. Earlier today I decided to put a mirror up to the tank to see if he would even react to his reflection; he didn't. He just laid at the bottom of his tank, nose down, like he usually does. I rarely see him swim. Please help me, I don't know what the problem is. Thank you, Mercedez (Texas) P.S. He is the only fish in the tank. I was also wondering if it would be a good idea to get a snail to help with the left over food. <There shouldn't be any leftover food. Mercedez, it's almost certain there is an environmental issue here. Very small tanks -- in the case of Bettas, anything less than 5 gallons -- are difficult to maintain. While you sometimes here of them kept in pots and jars, what you don't appreciate is that the water in these containers is changed at least daily. Moreover, the room they're kept in is a super-warm hot-house specially designed for keeping tropical fish, so that chilling isn't a problem. Do a water test: test for ammonia and/or nitrite, and then get back to me. Without that piece of information, I can't say anything specific, though the odds are that the fish is exposed to high levels of ammonia. Certainly don't add any food! Read on WWM about cycling aquaria and maintaining good water quality. I cannot stress this point strongly enough: Bettas aren't novelties, they're animals, and like any animal have a very specific list of requirements. Among them is heat, clean water (i.e., zero ammonia and zero nitrite), and enough space that pH remains stable between water changes. Always remember to use dechlorinator, and never use water from a domestic water softener. Cheers, Neale.>

Very confused about what our new Betta fish needs for optimum life 12/30/08 Hi there -- "Santa" brought us a Betta for Christmas and I am now taking a crash course in fish care. After reading yours and several other sites, as well as visiting our local aquarium store and Petco, I am in deeply confused. Mr. Betty is now in an approximately 3.5 gallon tank with shiny rocks at the bottom, three live plants (no idea what kind), an under-the-rocks heater, and a charcoal filter that looks like it should be attached to an air pump. We're treating the water with API Stress Coat. My questions are: 1. What kind of heater should we have? Our current heater keeps the tank at about 80 degrees or so, with the overhead light on pretty much constantly. <This is fine> Last night we left the light off and the temp slipped about 3 degrees. <Acceptable> Can you recommend specific brands and/or types of heaters as both the Petco and aquarium store folks thus far seem to not know that Bettas are different from other fish ("you don't need a heater for these fish!") <Mmm, do need tropical temperatures... Hydor is one brand, manufacturer of small wattage heaters one can find around, on line if not at stores> 2. Rocks or gravel? <The latter is preferable... more beneficial bacteria habitat, and less gaps for food and wastes to fall into> It seems like my plants need to be "planted" in some sort of more permanent soil-like material. And then there is something I read about a beneficial bacterial bed forming under the gravel ... Again, can you please recommend a specific brand of gravel we should have, if gravel is what we should be doing. And, how does one keep that gravel clean, or should I worry about that?. <Develop a routine of regular maintenance... including the use of a small size gravel siphon. Weekly partial water changes.> 3. I know the water needs to be filtered, but with what? Wouldn't an air pump and bubbles be stressful for the Betta? <Not too stressful> What is a passive filter? Again, please recommend specific brands of filters as this part is really confusing to me. <A small hang on powerfilter might be better for your use here... There are many brands, makes... See the term in your search tool, or look on the big website (e.g. Doctors Foster and Smith, Custom Aquatic...)> 4. After day three in the new tank with the plants, rocks, filter, and light that is on just about all day, the tank is looking a bit cloudy. I am confused about whether this is a good thing (tank getting established) or a bad thing (too much food -- likely as the kiddos have been both feeding which is something I put a stop to tonight). <Not good... in that the system is cycling, perhaps some by products that you don't want...> Do I leave it be or do a partial water change (which I already have -- about 1 gallon or so)? Turn the light off? <I would leave the light on a regular cycle... Do change out a good part of the water if it "smells" bad> 5. We are all so desperately in love with our new little guy, Mr. Betty, and want to do what is best for him. Any other recommendations? <Mmm, yes... for you to read. Start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/betta_splendens.htm and the linked files above> Thank you so much in advance for any help you can give us. SWCaryn <Welcome. Bob Fenner> <I've modified your stated name and we don't publish addresses unless specifically requested to, nor do we "hold onto them"... Hence, please include previous correspondence (if pertinent) when writing back. BobF> Wait! YIKES! I don't think I want my name and address on your website, do I? I'm a newbie to this whole sending-questions-for-posting-on-websites-thing too!! I don't remember how other people were signing their questions. My email address is XXXX. Maybe I should sign this question with "SWCaryn." Well, could I ask yet another favor and have you pick whichever way I should sign my name -- whatever most people do is good with me.

Re: very confused about what our new Betta fish needs for optimum life 12/31/08 thank you so very, very much! We've taken your recommendations to the Petco and are now fully stocked and ready to go. Spent $100 on a $3 fish ... the things we do for love of our children (and I suppose fish too). Caryn <Hello Caryn. It is universally true with pet animals that their initial price of ownership bears little to no relationship to how much they cost to maintain. Goldfish and Bettas are both good examples of this, with many pet owners assuming that because they cost a few pennies, maintenance will be low cost as well. Broadly speaking, $100 is probably the average "starting price" for a small aquarium once you factor in a 20 gallon tank, a heater, an adequate filter, and some decorative materials. Smaller, cheaper tanks are usually money down the drain, so I rarely recommend people buy them: what's the point of a $30 3-gallon aquarium if it can't actually house any fish for any length of time? May as well get a glass vase and keep some cut flowers! In any case, now you have a good aquarium for your Betta, as your skills develop you may decide to expand your hobby. While Bettas make poor tankmates for community fish, there's nothing to stop you mixing them with things like Cherry Shrimps or Nerite Snails. If the tank is 10 gallons in size or more, then certain fish could be added, among the best tankmates being Kuhli Loaches, assuming the tank has a lid to stop these brightly coloured eel-like fish from wriggling out! Do read this month's CA Magazine: we have a couple of articles of value. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_3/betta.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_3/stocking.htm Cheers, Neale.>

"Betta Gift" Questions 12/5/08 For a late Christmas present I'm giving one of my friends a purple Betta fish in a bowl. Though I am keeping it until the 31st to see if the fish will make it. I used seed gravel from the aquarium shops tanks, to help with cycling- set up the bowl and everything the night i brought it all home. <Dismal... Betta bowls are death traps... won't live for long. Save your money and buy something else, maybe a pot plant. If you can't/won't buy an aquarium with a heater and a filter, of volume 5 gallons or more, then don't keep Bettas. All you're doing is buying something in the certain knowledge it will suffer and die.> Its 68 in the house and my step mom doesn't tolerate warmer temps ( Has MS) <Too cold; needs 25 C (77 F) minimum. These are called "tropical fish" for a reason -- they come from the tropics. If they came from coldwater environments we would call them "coldwater fish". But we don't. That's a clue! Needs a heater, or it will gradually lose condition, starve, get sick, die.> The bowl it is in is about a 1/2 gallon in size, and I don't think any heater will heat it safely. <Betta bowls are useless purchases, end of story, no further discussion.> Should I upgrade to a bigger bowl, the bowl the fish was in one even smaller then now- (The friend of mine lives in a group home and the people there will only let her have a small bowl) <She should not, cannot keep fish then. That's all there is to it. Buying a bigger bowl is essentially asking what colour coffin the poor Betta would like to be fitted up for. Bowls cannot work for pet Bettas. What you likely don't understand is that Betta breeders using bowls replace the water daily and keep the bowls in heated (hot-house) fish rooms so the water is automatically kept at the necessary 25-30 C (77-86 F). If you aren't prepared to keep the room that hot, and can't replace the water (completely) every single day, then a Betta bowl IS NOT VIABLE. For most aquarists, there is absolutely no point wasting your money on these bowls. The vast majority of Bettas kept this way die within weeks.> What about a heat pad, like the kind that make your hands warm? <Not adequate.> I've tried feeding the Betta floating pellets but the Betta shunned eating this morning, its fins are clamped slightly and it spends a lot of time on the bottom, slightly moving every now and then like its stalking things. <He is dying. You are keeping this fish in inappropriate fish, killing it by inches. I'm sorry there's no nice way of putting this, and In do respect the fact you are trying to provide someone with a thoughtful gift. But what you are doing is killing this fish, and there's no way to candy coat it.> It comes up for air like normal though and seems to be more active at night then during the day. Right now there are no plants in with the Betta, just water and gravel, which was more then before. I skipped plants as I do not have a light source for them, all my fake plants are too big for bowls. I know Bettas like plants however. <Gravel, plants of secondary importance here. Water volume, heater and filtration are the issues that matter.> What should do? <Take the fish back. You are not keeping it the correct way, and if you insist on keeping it thus, it will be dead, soon. A basic 5 gallon tank with a heater and filter is what you need; anything less WILL NOT WORK.> thanks. <Cheers, Neale.>

Betta set-up and filtration 11/28/08 Hello, there. As someone new to the fish-keeping community, I would like congratulate you all on such a great site. I'm glad I've found you guys so early on, as I've got some really good advice from here - a tank of healthy fish at home can attest to that. <Thanks for the kind words.> Flattery aside, I have a question about Betta fish. I'm about to purchase a small tank in which to keep a Betta, and, being a conscientious keeper, I would like to make it the happiest and healthiest fish I can. I've decided on a 9 US gallon / 7.5 UK gallon (35L) tank with a 50w heater. <Should be just dandy, provided the ONLY fish in the system. Few, if any, other fish work well in such small systems.> The model is an Arcadia Arc (16" x 11") which comes with an Arc Classica 7w power filter, which, according to the blurb, cycles around 380L (100 US gallons) an hour. This seems to be a little strong for this fish, which I've read prefers a rather low-flow filter. Chuck there recommended in an FAQ a Marineland Penguin model that cycles 30 to 50 gallons an hour. However, I can only find the 100B model, which, again, cycles 100 gallons an hour. Are very low-flow filters available? <With Bettas, it's invariably best to go with air-powered filters. Cheap and easy to maintain, and they provide just enough water movement. Betta splendens comes from still water habitats such as rice paddies. Even before we messed around with it, it wasn't adapted to fast currents. After centuries of breeding we've given the thing ridiculously long fins that massively increase drag, so the thing can barely move now.> What do you think the ideal filtration solution is for this fish in a tank this size? <I'd get a bubble-up box filter (about 8 cm cubed) and fill it with filter floss and some ceramic noodles or even pea gravel. Connect to a small air pump. Problem solved.> Also, would the filtration needs change if somewhere along the line I wanted to introduce a couple of small catfish? <You're not going to do this, so forget about it. No catfish traded will work in a tank this small. Even mini species like Corydoras hastatus will need 10 Imperial gallons or more.> On a different matter, as a Londoner, the water comes out of the tap or faucet very hard with about 20ppm of nitrate and a pH of 8.0. I would like to make sure that these parameters will be fine for the fish, and if they're not, would do you think can be done about it from the outset? <Not a problem. Your Betta will thrive in "London tap", or Liquid Rock as its known to the hobby...> Many thanks in advance, Neil <There's a couple great articles in this month's Conscientious Aquarist right up your street, so do have a read. One's on Bettas, the other on stocking small tanks. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/CAHomepage.htm Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Betta set-up and filtration 12/01/08
Excellent! Thank you for the prompt reply and for preventing me making a big mistake with the catfish. I had heard that Bettas can work with other placid fish, but missed the part where that would have to be in a much larger aquarium. Just the Betta and the bubble-up box it is. Thanks again Neil <Sounds great. By all means add some Cherry Shrimps and novelty snails such as Nerites if you want a little more activity. Enjoy your fish! Cheers, Neale.>

Setting up new Betta tank 11/19/08
Hello, Crew!
You've been a great resource and I need your help one more time.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
I am setting up a 10 gallon tank at work and plan to get a Betta(s).
<A perfect size for these wonderful fish.>
Someone who had dealt with Bettas before told me that I can get two-three females in addition to the male.
<In theory yes, but in practise, only worth doing if you have another tank you can remove the male to if necessary. Make no mistake: once the male is guarding his nest, he will view any other fish, including female Bettas, as threats. He can/will kill them. Sexually mature males will also harass females that are not "ripe" with eggs, ready to spawn. To be honest, I wouldn't do this. If you want a busy tank, then choose tankmates suitable for this size tank. Cherry shrimps for example. Kuhli loaches are also great with Bettas.>
But, reading about how territorial and aggressive Bettas can be, I have my doubts. Please let me know if there is such thing as big happy Betta family.
<No. Males form their own "families" with the eggs and fry prior the fry becoming free swimming. Otherwise, these fish definitely territorial loners.>
I put about 3 gallons of tap water and one gallon of an established tank's water (from home) and will let it sit until after Thanksgiving, and then plan to add fish. So the 10 gallon tank is about half full ~ should I add more water from the old tank?
<Water carries no filter bacteria, or virtually none anyway. So do what you want with it, it'll have NO affect on cycling the tank (i.e., maturing the filter). If you have an established tank, then take MEDIA from the filter in the established tank and put in the new tank's filter.>
The temperature stays pretty much around 70F and no drifts here - do you think I still need a heater?
<Yes, far too cold. Bettas need 26-28 C (79-82 F). Vast numbers of Bettas die from being kept in unheated tanks. Here's the rule: Do you live in tropical Southeast Asia? If the answer is "yes", then by all means keep your Betta in an unheated tank. If the answer is "No", then you need a heater.>
Is the filter necessary for this size tank?
I do have gravel, decorations and silk plants already and plan to get live plants as well, so there should be enough hiding places.
Thank you for your help.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Betta 11/13/08 I am new to the Betta fish thing. I have been reading lots of good tips and info on your site - its a great site by the way. Anyhow I know I can Google this stuff but I wanted to get a real opinion from a trust worthy person. I have my Betta in a 1 gal. oval tank, 1 fake plant and blue rocks at the bottom....He was the most gorgeous male at Petco; a teal green Delta Tail and when I first got him he always had his fins fanned out and swam around all pretty...but now after having him a month or so "Spark" (is his name) is making bubbles like normal at the top of his tank, but his fins are pointed straight out and look stiff, he has a hard time turning cause they're stiff and he just lays at the bottom of his tank? :( My question(s) is:? What is a good set size tank & set up for a Betta?? What is going on with his fins?? His fins are still long but he CANT fan them out anymore. Thanks, Candice <Candice, the bottom line with Bettas is that -- despite what the retailer might suggest -- they are really just regular fish. They need an aquarium with a heater and a filter. The bigger the aquarium, the easier it becomes to keep them healthy -- and I don't mean slightly easier, I mean dramatically easier! So, bottom line, I'd recommend the following: a 5 to 10-gallon tank, a heater, and a simple filter. Air-powered sponge and box filters are best, since Bettas don't want a huge amount of water current, just good water quality. But a small internal canister filter (like an Eheim Aquaball) set to its lowest flow setting would be a reliable and low maintenance alternative. I'd avoid hang-on-the-back filters because Bettas are prone to jumping, so anything that involves leaving the top of the tank open is just asking for trouble. You don't need a light or fancy hood though, a simple piece of glass cut to size will do the trick great. If you want a light, then by all means get a hood with a light installed. Decorate the tank with a bit of plain gravel at the bottom (the darker the substrate, the better the colours on your fish will be) and add a few plastic plants and ornaments. Avoid coloured gravel: fish tend to react badly to unnatural colours, and frequently adjust their colours to try and "blend in". If you want tankmates, stick with snails and shrimps, not more fish. Keep the tank at around 25-28 degrees C (that's about 77 to 82 F). Do weekly water changes of around 25%. Follow this advice and your Betta should stay healthy. Normally when Bettas sit at the bottom of the tank it's because they're too cold or the water quality is poor. If things don't change, the fish will eventually get sick, displaying the symptoms of diseases like Finrot and Fungus. Cheers, Neale.>

Female Betta Tank 11-03-08 Hi! I've been reading the Betta-related questions, but did not see the answer to my question (sorry if I missed it). I just introduced four female Bettas together and I guess they're establishing pecking order (I've only had male Bettas before and never had them in the same tank). How long should I wait before I start pulling fish out? As far as I can tell, there is one always-submissive one but the other three are working it out. The tank is ten gallons, heated, but is divided into two sections by a plastic, flow-through divider - eight gallons for the females and two gallons for the male with plants and hiding spaces on both sides. Speaking of the male, is it okay that he can see the females? He spends about 1/4 of the time displaying and charging the divider - I finally put some cloth in between the male and female side so the females could focus on establishing order and not trying to get to the male at the same time. Was that a smart move? Should I move the Betta back to his 2.5 gallon tank even though the only heater I can afford does not keep the temperature steady in that small of a tank? Thanks for reading this long email! <Glad you have found the site. Female Betta tanks are slightly difficult to keep. This is mainly due to females from a different spawn will continue to fight more than females from the same spawn. A pecking order will be established with the females and some fin nipping will continue. But, since you have the male next to them competition could occur and delay your females from ever getting along. It would be best to take the male out of the other side of the tank. And it was smart of you to put that cloth in between the male and the females. About the heater with the male's tank, how cold does it get in your home at night? If the temperature stays above 74 degrees Fahrenheit he should be fine. If you are determined to keep your male and females in the same tank, you could easily make a divider that does not allow the male to see the females. But that is extra work on your part. Have any more questions don't be afraid to email! Merritt A.>

Betta Bungles 9/5/08 Hi WWM, <Hello,> I'm a very new and very anxious Betta owner. I actually have only had my Betta, from the local pet store for four days and am a bit worried about him. When I got him, he was kept in this little glass jar next to countless other male Bettas. <The standard way they are sold. But do understand that they cannot easily be kept this way, and arguably shouldn't be kept this way at all. Like ALL fish, they need clean water. If you keep a Betta in a bowl or jar, you have to replace most of that water at least once a day. On top of that you need to make sure that the old water matches the new water in terms of pH, hardness, and temperature. Finally, the water needs to be warm (around 25 degrees Celsius) and unless you have a room kept at that temperature (which would be pretty darn hot!) the bowl will need an electric heater. Consequently, for virtually all aquarists, and definitely all inexperienced aquarists, Bettas are best kept in regular tanks with filters and heaters. The tank needn't be huge, 18 litres/5 gallons being ample for a single Betta, and leaving space enough for a few snails or shrimps.> He is a red and blue mix and very eccentric. I only have the little bowl for him right now, but am picking up a one gallon bowl as soon as possible, I can't support a full tank as I live in a college dorm. <I hate saying this, but you can't keep this fish. A one-gallon bowl is too small for the reasons outlined above. You won't be able to keep him warm enough, and maintaining good water quality will be next to impossible. Please understand that a Betta is a fish, not a pet rock, and has requirements for health. If you ignore them, the animal will suffer and eventually die. There's no two ways about this.> Seraphim has been very lethargic, hanging out at the bottom of his bowl only coming up for air, and only just began eating two days ago. <Likely too cold. Bettas are tropical fish, and need tropical heat. That means 25 C (about 77 F). It is extremely unlikely a dorm room will be maintained this 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. As the fish is cold, its metabolism is slow, so all its processes, such as feeding and behaviour and immune response will be slower than they should be. Eventually, it will sicken and die. It can't extract essential nutrition properly from its food, and its immune system can't combat opportunistic infections.> Today, I noticed that he has been listing to one side and white splotches have grown on his chin and behind the gills. <Here we go... this is almost certainly Fungus and/or Finrot. These are opportunistic infections caused by microbes that ordinarily do no harm (and actually much good) in healthy tanks. A combination of poor water quality and low temperature will depress the fish's immune system and damage tissues, opening them up to infections from outside. These microbes can then take advantage of the lack of immune response to feed on the tissues in the fish. Death inevitably follows without treatment and improvement in living conditions.> In addition, his tail is always clumped, almost twisted. Rarely are his fins spread out, although I suspect that it may be due to the cramped spaces. <He's too weak.> Even more alarming, he banged his head repeatedly against the side of the seashell I placed in with him so he could play with it. <With the exception of the (apparently very smart) Mormyridae, fish don't appear to play. So try and think like a fish, not a person! What fish need is healthy living conditions first, and then a complex environment with hiding places, swimming space, and structures to explore for food. But right now, these are secondary to water quality.> I made sure it had been cleaned with hot water and it has been dry for close to two months before that, in an airtight environment. <All fine and dandy, but not enough.> I switch his water 25% and 75% on alternate days, making sure to used the water conditioner to rid the room temperature tap water of chlorine. <Not good enough. Have you check the ammonia level in the bowl? I bet it's pretty high.> His bowl sits right under my lamp at night when I do work and it heats the water up that way. <Nope, doesn't work. The heat from a lamp only warms the surface, and without circulation, the bottom stays cold. Moreover, this is an incredibly expensive way to (try to) warm up the tank, wasting money. Repeat after me: tropical fish come from the tropics, tropical fish come from the tropics.> Is there anything I should know before I go to the local Petco tomorrow? <An aquarium with a heater and a filter. Period, end of debate.> I have read that Maracyn I and II are helpful against fungal infections. <Yes they are. But these only fix the infection; they don't stop it happening again. You MUST improve the environment.> I also hope to be able to pick up Aquarisol, aquarium salt, BettaMax and a thermometer along with the bowl. <The thermometer is certainly useful. The "BettaMax" is useless and salt is irrelevant if you fix the living conditions. No idea what "Aquarisol" is, and consequently is almost certainly not relevant here. You need the following: A 5 gallon tank. A heater. A filter. You can add other stuff to the shopping list if you want. But those things are essential. Leave even one of them off and THIS FISH WILL DIE. Because Bettas like to jump, I'd recommend a tank with a lid, but that's about the only optional item. Please understand that you are WASTING money buying remedies and junk like BettaMax if you don't fix the environment. The companies that make stuff like BettaMax depend on the fact that there are lots of people who think it's better to spend $5 every few weeks on their magic potions instead of $20 up front to buy a decent aquarium. I have no objections to people wasting money because they fall for fancy marketing (my house is full of stuff I don't actually need!) but there's an animal's welfare at stake here. So we need to be serious. This fish is already sick, almost certainly because the environment, from a Betta's perspective, stinks. That's the ball game here, not the magic potions and powders. Yes, you will need to treat with Maracyn to fix the infection on its head, but you also need to put the poor creature in a proper aquarium. If you can't do that, get something that doesn't need this level of care, like a cactus. It's really as simple as that.> Anxiously waiting, J. <Done my best to help! Cheers, Neale.>

My new Betta fish, sys. mostly 9/1/08 Hi!! <Hello,> I just moved out of my house for the first time, (I'm a university student) and I was missing my cat so I decided to buy a Betta fish less then a week ago. <OK> I just moved from a small town to a large city and the pet store I got my fish from treats their fish way better then any other place I've ever been. In fact I picked my fish out not based on color (as I originally had intended) but because he was so active and seemed so healthy. The fish at the pet stores in my home town are so lethargic and boring. I only wanted a Betta fish because they were pretty. Needless to say I have fallen in love with my Ulmo's personality. <Well, I do like the name, being a bit of a Tolkien fan.> Even so I never knew until I went onto you site that Betta fish should have more living space!! <Indeed so. The more the better, but something like 20-30 litres is fine, and will leave a little space for fun critters such as cherry shrimps and snails.> Ulmo is really active, energetic and he seems to recognize me. <Quite probably. Fish intelligence is substantially higher than the general public assumes. Many tropical fish have been widely used for all types of animal behaviour experiments because of their combination of small size and complex behaviour.> I have a live plant in his tank that he loves to play with (he even gets stuck in it sometimes) He has a large bubble nest in the corner of one tank and he flares when I show him a mirror. (I don't like to do it that often as it takes him awhile to calm down) <As you observe, a little stimulation is a good thing, but giving him some down time is important too.> His tank however is only 2L (1/2 a gallon --I'm Canadian) and I don't have a heater. (which was kinda stupid of me Duh! my fish comes from Thailand --its tropical) <Ah yes, they do indeed need warmth, and a lot of it. You're aiming for 25 C, and in particular a pocket of warm muggy air on top of the tank. If the air is cold, they tend to get sick more easily.> Anyway I just moved Ulmo's tank from the window, put a lamp over his tank (for the plant) and turned up the heat in my room. <Do be careful: an uncovered tank is an accident waiting to happen. Bettas are notoriously good at jumping.> Will he be ok for the next couple of weeks until I get some cash to buy him a larger tank and a heater? <In the very short term, you might be fine. Here in England I have my heaters turned down for summer simply because the alternation of warm days and cool nights is good for the fish and encourages many species to breed. But the smaller the tank, the more rapid this change, and in half a litre of water that's going to cool down almost as fast as a hot cup of tea! Conversely, it could warm up horribly quickly in direct sunlight. So avoid draughts (which would chill the thing) and direct sunlight (which would boil it). But once daytime temperatures get below 18 C, the poor little Betta will feel his immune and digestive systems packing up, and that's the slippery slope to death.> It's September right now and the climate where I am is fairly mild still. <OK. Well, I suspect you have a shopping list already worked out. Do look about in thrift stores and the like; you can get some bargains on used equipment. Sometimes aquarium shops sell old stuff too, for example ex-display tanks and filters. Definitely worth exploring.> Thanks for your input!! <Most welcome, Neale.> Tip for anyone reading this: research your fish before you buy!! <Our family motto.>

Betta heating and summary 7/27/08 I read all your page on Betta tank setup and the 6 FAQ's. Here is my summary and a few questions. <Okay> Still struggling with the heater issue. The only one I see recommended has no temperature control. <I do see this... and did think the 7.5 watt Hydor product was thermostatic...> This means that if you don't keep an eye on it you can cook your fish. Am I wrong? Any other alternatives? <Yes... one of the "regular" clip on units of 25 watts... sold by Hydor (their Theo brand) and many others... offered by DrsFosterSmith.com and Marine and Reef et al .coms> Looking at a 3 gallon tank. There was another recommendation but the link was lost (it was on Drs Foster Smith). Hydor heater http://www.marinedepot.com/ps_viewitem~idproduct~HD10401~productid~HD10401~c hannelid~FROOG~ <http://www.marinedepot.com/ps_viewitem~idproduct~HD10401~productid~HD10401~ channelid~FROOG~&tab~4.html> &tab~4.html OVERVIEW We want a VERY simple, 1 Betta fish, as small as humane. Need filtration, 3 gallon minimum. It sounds like a good setup is Eclipse 3 gallon but the turbulence can be a problem solved with plastic plants. <Yes> Will check Marineland as well at Wal-Mart. CYCLING Bio Spira for cycling fast. If I can't find that, can I just put food in for a month to avoid cycling with a fish? <Without> Sponge filter is good for biological filtration. Not sure what that is but the eclipse comes with a BioWheel. <This wheel is more than adequate> AQUASCAPING With a good filter is gravel necessary given that the fish are not typically on the bottom? <The gravel is better... cuts down on reflection... aids in biofiltration> Any best size of gravel (e.g. in marine tanks smaller is better for bacteria). <Most any made for freshwater aquarium use is okay> Any depth is OK or is it like SW where depth matters so you have aerobic and anaerobic bacteria? <An inch or so... I prefer something not too light colored...> Don't need bubbling since filter will accomplish aeration. <Correct> Silk plants for aquaria are better because they don't cut the fish's fins. <Yes... this or natural/live> They like caves <Mmm, not really> WATER CONDITIONING (sorry-missed this on your site) <A good dechloraminator is all this is needed, or just letting new water set out for a week or more before use> Have been babysitting a beta and switched to using tap water with Amquel. Got an algae bloom. It sounded like using Amquel chronically wasn't a good idea in one post? <Better to use NovAqua or such instead> I assume it's the tap water since when we had a SW fish tank using RO water took this problem away. There was a caution against using store bought RO water somewhere on your site. What's best? <The tap almost always... dechloraminated> I assume 20% water change weekly is optimal with this setup? <About right, yes> LIGHTING Lighting is still unclear. They don't need much. The eclipse fluorescents should be diffused with plants. How many hours a day is OK? <8-12...> BEHAVIOR On your behavior section it focused on pathological behavior. Is there any cool healthy behavior (other than fighting with each other) we can foster? I heard that they make some kinds of bubbles if they are in low flow. <Mmm, too large a topic to discuss here... much, subtle that can/does go on with Betta husbandry> ADVICE ON PARTICULAR BRANDS OF PRODUCTS I've been burned by ignorant LFS. Where's the best online advice for particular brands? Went to Drs. Foster smith <Excellent> and looked under Marineland and got this HUGE canister filter. Need stuff for a small tank. Don't see any alternative to the Eclipse. websites for Betta-lovers: http://www.ibcbettas.com/ <A worthy source> http://www.bettacave.com/ <Don't know> http://www.bcbetta.com/ > <http://www.siamsbestbettas.com> http://www.siamsbestbettas.com/ <These seem okay> Have I missed anything? <Mmm... no... not on cursory review> Allyson C. Rosen, Ph.D., ABPP-CN <Bob Fenner... friends of Marty Rosen... and wondering if you are familiar with Donn E. Rosen, the ichthyologist>

Re: Betta heating and summary-more info 07/28/2008 I read and they say a 1 gallon container is sufficient for this fish. What is the basis for everyone on your site saying it must be 3 gallons? http://www.ibcbettas.org/faq.htm <Experience, and the fact most people who keep Bettas are not hardcore Betta breeders prepared to change 90% of the water in each jar per day. Those water changes have to match closely the temperature and water chemistry of the outgoing water otherwise the fish will be harmed. So while experts might manage, a lot of people will find this very hard work. For the average, casual fishkeeper, there is absolutely no discussion that the bigger the container, the easier maintaining the Betta in a healthy condition will be. Period. I just don't see any point to keeping Bettas in such tiny containers anyway. If you want something that fits into a 1 gallon jar, get some cut flowers.> On their main site they have "How to Entertain your Betta Fish" as a free download. <Of dubious value, though very cute. In a decent sized tank with water movement, space to explore, plants, and suitable tankmates, there is ample stimulation for any fish. The idea that we need toys or games for fish kept in tiny tanks is a tacit admission that keeping them in such tiny tanks isn't very nice.> Another good site http://www.bettatalk.com/betta_care.htm <I'm just not wild about the idea of selling/keeping any animal as suitable for tiny aquaria. It panders to our worst tendencies. For every one fishkeeping who keeps a Betta in a jar the proper way, doing daily water changes and checking water quality and chemistry all the time, there are dozens if not hundreds of people who don't. We get some many reports here about sick Bettas in unheated tanks, or Bettas that show no interest in food, or are sick from Finrot or whatever. Too many people empathize with animals so poorly that they think of them as little more than toys, and don't consider their needs as living organisms. Witness the ghastly trade in "Betta Bags" and other ornaments containing bubbles of water and a Betta, sold as novelties to unthinking shoppers. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Betta heating and summary-more info 07/28/2008 OK one last funny post. This is an absolute RIOT!!! You should definitely link to this woman's site. She truly loves fish. Thanks guys. http://www.bettatalk.com/evacuating_with_bettas.htm <Cute. Luckily I don't live on a fault, though we did have a mild earthquake out here in Berkhamsted a few years ago. I just thought it was a truck driving past, until I realised there was no sound. Very odd experience. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Betta heating and summary-more info -- 07/28/08 Very well put, Neale. Thanks. I think I have the heater resolved and now I need to find a filter for a small tank. The eclipse system is my backup but I hear it's too high flow. <Yes, with fancy Bettas, too strong a current is undesirable. I'd heartily recommend a simple air-powered sponge or box filter with Bettas for this reason. Cheap and incredibly efficient with small fish.> It would help if you post examples of good Betta setups (with specific equipment) that we could clone. They have this with tank of the month on ReefCentral. Wading through all these FAQ's is very long and repetitive for those of us who want to do things right. It must be worse so for you who have to read and post it. <Hmm... not a bad idea at all. Certainly my idea of a perfect Betta tank would use a 25-50 W heater, a 20 cm x 20 x 45 (or 60) cm tank, a simple glass lid to stop the fish jumping out, and an air-powered box filter. Such a tank could be placed on an east-facing windowsill so that the aquatic plants and algae growth thick without the tank massively overheating, and you could easily add the shrimps and snails of your choice.> Many thanks again, Allyson <My pleasure, Neale.>

Question About Fighting Fish -- 07/21/08 I've had a Siamese fighting fish for almost a year, his name is Silvermoon. He's been a very pleasant, surprisingly peaceful and an amusing fish thus far, however in the past few days I've noticed he's become less interested in his food. <Check temperature, water quality.> The last two days, I fed him but he didn't eat it for a long time, I walked away and by the time I returned the food was gone. Today, however he just doesn't seem to want to eat and I am concerned. The temperature is 24 degrees (Celsius) and the water was recently cleaned, I put a little bit of the old water as per usual although not as much as before as it was getting dirty frequently, and I put the proper medications in the tap water. <What filter are you using? Bettas do not do well in unfiltered tanks (unless you are changing 50-90% daily). Regardless of their size and activity level, like all fish they need zero ammonia in the water. Using your ammonia test kit and check the water. If you have anything other than zero ammonia, that's your problem. Review filtration and how you are maintaining the filter in terms of cleaning the media.> I don't understand why he isn't eating, even when he swims to the top sometimes he doesn't even try and eat it. I feed him bloodworms mostly, and the occasional pellet, usually he eats them quickly. I feed him twice a day, one in the morning and one at night everyday. What am I doing wrong? What should I do? Regards, Stefan <Most folks "fail" with Bettas because they keep them in too-small, unfiltered aquaria. Poor water will kill Bettas just as fast as anything else. So invariably that's the thing I'd recommend you check first. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Question About Fighting Fish
The water is pretty clean, I just cleaned it today and cleaned it a few days ago as well. <If the tank in not filtered, you need to be changing some (50%) of the water daily.> I check the ph level and it is normal according to chart I was provided in the fish store. <Ok.> The tank I have is probably too small, and I do not use a filter. I used to, but with my old fighting fish it tended to suck him in because of the tank size. <Obviously the wrong sort of filter. An air-powered sponge filter works just dandy with Bettas, providing both gentle current (which they like) and good water quality (which they need). Here in the UK, a basic sponge filter plus a small air pump would cost well under £20. Given the cost of the ceramic castle and the bright purple gravel, I'm guessing you're not averse to spending money on your pets, which is good!> I assume that means I need a much bigger tank yes? I'm going to sort that out as soon as possible and put him in my bigger tank with a filter and heater, it will take me a few days however to complete the tank. <Bettas simply do better in at least reasonably big tanks; something 8-10 gallons would be ample. A small heater and air powered sponge filter would complete the set-up nicely. No need to buy a ready-made kit; buying the "parts" individually can work out less expensive.> If I do it by the weekend, do you think Silvermoon will be okay until then? <Yep, if you lay off the food and keep the water clean.> Is there anything I can do in the meantime to make sure he doesn't expire, like frequent water changes? <Hole in one! I can see we understand each other...> He was swimming a lot when I cleaned his tank, but now he's hiding in the castle...there is a castle inside the tank that has 2 holes in it to swim in and out of, he tends to go in the very bottom hole and hide in there more than usual. <Wouldn't read TOO much into this, though when fish are stressed they do tend to find the safest place and lurk there.> I have attached some photographs to help provide better insight. 1 and 3 are of Silvermoon and his appearance, 2 is of the whole tank to give you an idea of the size and the castle and stuff and 4 is of the temperature. <Looks a nice little set-up, though I'd suggest not using purple gravel next time -- fish feel more comfy, and show better colours, when the substrate is dark. Black is great, plain gravel just as good. As for ornaments, they couldn't care less, and castles are just fine!> I hope this helps save Silvermoon, SG <Every confidence in your understanding of the situation, and what you need to do to help. Good luck, Neale.>

Betta Doesn't Like His Cave - 7/2/08 Hello <Hello Helen!> thanks for taking my question. <Thanks for your appreciation!> I am a new beta mom, and have a happy little guy (so far) he is in a 1 gallon tank that has an air pump and lamp. (Bernie's Betta Cove) <1 gallon is a passable home for a Betta, and much better than a bowl or cup, but he'd really love a nice 2 or 5 gallon aquarium. A filter of some sort would be good, and a heater is a must with these fish, unless the ambient room temperature is high- 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit.> I've read that betas like having a cave to hide in, so I gave my finned friend a porcelain tea cup (no sharp edges, and water proof) sitting sideways. He has totally ignored it. Is it because it is white and is too bright? I put some gravel in it so he can see he can go in it, but after 1 week, he has not even tried to go in it. The cup is big enough to accommodate him w/ his fins flared, so I am at a loss as to why he is not interested. <Not a natural cave- and a bit shallow, so he'll feel like a cornered animal.> Shall I just remove it to give him back his space? <I would> Should I try a silk plant instead? <Some silk plants- or live ones- might be appreciated. Just stay away from any that have places his fins could get caught or torn> (I only run the air pump for 1 hr a day, and also keep it at a fairly low flow, so as not to make the water too turbulent) <Air bubbling really isn't necessary, as surface exchange of gas will provide plenty of oxygen. This is especially true if you were to add a small filter, set to a low current, which would gently circulate top and bottom water. In addition to opercular gills, Betta spp. are Anabantoid fish, which means they have a very small lung in the forehead region- this allows them to both make the bubble nests we are familiar with, as well as get at least some of their oxygen needs directly from the air in potentially hypoxic situations.> thanks for your thoughts <No trouble. Enjoy your new friend, if you haven't give the Betta habitat articles, FAQ on wetwebmedia.com a read.> Helen <Benjamin>

Re: moving Betta 6/1/08 Hello again, my question I was trying to ask from before was how would I put my Betta into his new ten gallon tank without stressing or killing him. Should I put some of his water from his small 5 liter tank that I hospitalized him in? <No.> I don't want to shock him at all. When I did put him in this hospital tank he was stressed out very much so. <Likely being trapped in a 5-litre tank did that.> What should I do to safely introduce him into his new tank. <Variation of the drip method, ideally. Place the fish in a bucket containing "old" water. Over 30-60 minutes add small portions of water from the new tank into the bucket. Then use a net to move the fish from the bucket to the new aquarium.> What should be done so he doesn't go into shock. <Minimise temperature and water chemistry differences; ensure water quality in new tank is optimal and the filter mature.> I already have a heater, filter and conditioned water. Thanks a lot for your help. <Cheers, Neale.>

I just got <sic> 4 betas, Reading, using WWM 5/4/08 Hello, <Hi> I just saved 4 beta fish from being flushed and need some help. They were in pretty bad shape when I got them, in small plastic bowls soo dirty you couldn't see through them. I bought 4 - 2 gallon tanks with air filters that have what looks like a rock at the end of a hose. Is this an ok filter system for them? <Can't discern what this is from your description. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bettasysart.htm these systems are heated?> I let the tanks run 48 hours <... not cycled?> before moving them into it and put them in small bags with their original water and let them float as well slowly adding water before I put them into the tanks. I followed every step that each site I looked up recommended. They were sick when I got them, which was easy to spot, and I just wanted to see if you could give me any help before I go any further. <Help yourself... Read> Fish 1 - Is absolutely beautiful with the largest fins I've ever seen on a beta. Could this mean he is older than the others? <Possibly> He just lies listlessly on the bottom of the tank and when he does swim to the top for air he swims straight up to the top but he seems to be struggling. After a minute or so he just sinks back down to the bottom. He shows no visible signs of sickness, and I treated him with a small dose of general cure following the directions, but no change. His water, as all the other tanks, is at 78 degrees. (I am trying to find small heaters for their tanks). Turning on the light helps raise the temp, but I've read the light is bad for sick betas. His ph is 7.0, as all the others are, and any time I do a 25% water change I let the water sit for at least 24 hours. <Good. I would treat it for sanitizer as well, or store it for a week or more... as is presented on WWM> I'm not sure about ammonia or nitrate levels, as I just figured that out after reading your website and will go get testers for them. He eats only a little every few days. <Tropical? If not heated, these fish will languish... > Fish 2 - Is fun, hungry and playful but shows signs of velvet. I also treated him with general cure, but so far, no change. His tank is the same as all the others. His color is red and I'm not sure what to do. Fish 3 - I the worst of all. His fins are clamped and he gets scared and jumps when you even go near the tank. He eats a little, but is in bad shape. He has silver spots on his head and belly, and am not sure if he is supposed to be this way or not, as I haven't had him that long. He seems to be very dull in color as well, and hangs close to the top of the tank. Fish 4 - also shows signs of velvet but seems to be in good health and spirit. He eats well, but his water is cloudier than all the others, although it is cared for the same way. His levels are the same. I can't tell if his one eye is larger than the other but it seems to be. I'm not sure because its hard to get a good look at him, he is pretty active. If he did have pop-eye, could that cause the water to become cloudy? I know this is alot, <No such word> but I just want to give them a good home, and help them get better. Please help if you can. Thank you so much, Maureen <Please read where you're referred. Bob Fenner>
Re: I just got <sic> 4 betas, Reading, using WWM 5/4/08
I'm sorry, my previous email had a typo in it. Here is the corrected version, to save you some editing time. I saw this email on your daily FAQ's today. I think what Maureen means is that her two gallon tanks came with an air pump, and the "rock at the end of a hose" is an airstone attached to some airline tubing, which means there is no filter. It sounds to me like there is also no heater, but box stores like PetCo and PetSmart sell heaters for those little tanks for between $5 and $10. She can also find affordable HOB or in tank filters there as well. I hope this helps. Jackie <Thank you for this input Jackie. BobF>

New Betta tank sprouting hair algae 4/9/08 Hello, I love your site! I have already learned a lot. It was referred to me by a friend who has used your site and has learned a lot as well. <Ahh!> That being said I have a question regarding a new Betta tank. I had two Bettas in one gallon aquariums with the light on top. I'd consistently change the water once every week or so and they have flourished very nicely. (I only use reverse osmosis water and I add salt crystals). <Mmm, better for your Betta... to use about half tap/mains water mixed with the RO... and leave out the salt> About 2-3 weeks ago I decided to buy a 20 gallon stand alone aquarium and I put a divider in the middle so each of my guys would have 10 gallons! <Nice!> This was graduation day not only for my Bettas but for me as well! <Congrats!> I filled it up with 20 gals of reverse osmosis water, (yes you should have seen me hauling all of those gallons of water out of Wal-Mart!), I added the salt crystals, put in river rocks and the divider and added my fish. All has been well and my Bettas seen more than happy! But surprisingly, even though these fish were now in so much water I began noticing a quick build up of slime on the top mixed with the bubbles that Bettas like to make. This didn't look too nice so I went to the aquarium store and I bought a small hang-on filter which I attached to one side. <Good> Because I have the divider, and I know Bettas don't require a lot of water circulation, I have simply moved the filter back and forth. (this is proving to be a little tedious as the water always looks a little nasty on the top of the side that is not circulating). <Mmm, perhaps another filter for the other side... or maybe the intake or return to the one can be remoted to the other side... to provide more thorough circulation?> I'm thinking I may have to start all over as the filter does not seem to be cleaning or circulating the top adequately. <Well... too early to tell, judge really... there are other means of aiding maintenance, avoiding algal proliferation> I incorporated some natural plants that I bought from my local aquarium store which may be contributing to the problem. <Mmm, au contraire... give them time> My main problem is this: the day before yesterday I noticed that the side of the aquarium which has the most circulation is suddenly sprouting hair algae all over. On the glass, the tops of the river rocks and even the live plants look fuzzy as if they are growing hair algae as well. What's funny is there is no hair algae on the other side of the aquarium with the lesser circulation. <Interesting. Am wondering if there might be other factor/s at play... perhaps more light... from the sun...> This morning I also noticed what look like cobweb strings floating in the water or strands of long hair. Not floating on the top but in the body of the water attached at the side and moving around with the movement of the water. In the three years that I've had Bettas and have kept them in 1 gallon aquariums with no moving water I have never seen algae sprout up or had this problem. Because I am new with an actual aquarium I'm lost as to what I should do. What could be the cause of this and what should I do? Help! Charity <Let's see... if it were me/mine... I'd consider "going the biological route" a bit further with your set-up/maintenance. Perhaps the addition of some just-sexually reproducing snails... or even Otocinclus... and patience. Do please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm and the linked files above... up to the point you consider that you understand your options... and write back for further input if I/we may be of additional assistance. Bob Fenner>

Cycling without a filter? FW, Betta... sys. 3/17/08 Dear Crew, <Hello,> I bought a male Betta about 4 days ago. I got him a 5 gallon tank, some gravel, plants, Amquel for the water and OmegaOne Betta pellets. <Fine.> No filter and no heater. <Unacceptable.> The local aquatic shop told me not to change the water for about a month so that it would establish a cycle. <Not only garbage advice, but also dangerous: the bacteria are not in the water but in the filter, and not changing the water only allows the ammonia to build up to toxic levels.> Then I should bring in a water sample so they could determine that the ammonia and nitrite levels had spiked and declined. Then after that, I should do a 10% water change weekly to keep up the cycle. <In a tank without a filter, you need to be doing daily water changes of at least 25%. Seriously. No-one in their right mind keeps fish this way. Get a filter of some sort. Even a plain vanilla sponge filter with an air pump will do the trick for a tank this size. Otherwise, your Betta has a very short lifespan ahead of it.> He said that Betta are "tough" and that mine would survive the ordeal just fine. <Horse hooey. Wild Bettas are indeed quite tough animals, but fancy Bettas are not. It's like saying a pampered Persian cat would thrive on the plains of the Serengeti.> I'm purchasing a 25 watt heater tomorrow and I gave him some aquarium salt today. <Aquarium salt...? Who told you to add this stuff. It's not a brackish water fish and doesn't need salt. It needs a FILTER and a HEATER. Please, read a book about Bettas and then make sensible purchases. Your retailer has marked you as what we in the trade call a "sucker" and is selling you any old thing. Please don't let him do this! Be an educated shopper!> The shop guy said that the salt and raising the temp would help my Betta's immune system and help him get through the cycle. <Double garbage. Think about this scientifically. Does your medic tell you to eat a box of salt when you're ill? Does he tell you to turn the heating up in your house? No. What your fish needs is a constant temperature (25C/77F) and good quality FRESHWATER conditions.> He maintained that I do not need a for a 5 gallon tank. Does this all seem right? <No it does not.> I don't want to hurt my Betta or cause him to get sick. <Probably too late. If he's sitting in an unfiltered, unheated bowl he is about as happy as you would be skinny dipping in a garbage dump in Siberia.> Please advise. <Read. Books. Now.> Also, what do you think about using Aquarisol as a parasite preventative? <Again, think about this using your science education. Does your doctor tell you to consume anti-parasite medications just to stay healthy? No. A healthy diet, clean water, exercise are among the things you do to "prevent" sickness. Likewise for your fish. Keep the water clean by using a filter and running regular water changes. Provide a nice varied diet with a mix of different things through the week, not the same food day-in, day-out. Keep the temperature constant using a heater. All basic stuff. Nothing fancy.> Sincerely, Heidi <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Cycling without a filter? -03/17/08 Dear Neale, <Heidi,> Thank you for your prompt reply. I certainly didn't intend to do the wrong things for my Betta and was hoping that a store that specializes in fish would give me the right advice. <Wishful thinking, unfortunately.> Obviously I was mistaken. I will certainly purchase a heater and a sponge filter promptly and will get some Betta books. <Don't need "some". Just one will do, and I'd recommend a nice little all-around aquarium book so you have all the facts at your fingertips.> I do want to be a responsible, informed owner, not a sucker. <Indeed!> Should I do a water change now before introducing a heater and a filter? <Water changes are always good, so if in doubt, do 'em.> If so, how much? <25-50%.> Also, after introducing a filter, how often and how much water should I change? <25-50%.> At this point, should I clean the gravel, plants, etc and start fresh? Or will the used gravel help with the nitrogen cycle? <It'll help somewhat. Give everything a good clean in water taken from the aquarium.> Do I need to introduce the heat gradually? <No, the heater should raise the temperature quite slowly, especially if you buy the correct wattage for the tank you have. Don't switch the heater on right away though: they can crack if they start getting hot before the glass has reached ambient water temperature first. Not common, but happens.> I'm obviously just learning about all this...but in general, it seems like I would clean the filter weekly, change a percentage of the water weekly, and vacuum the gravel. <Pretty much. I don't clean the sand/gravel that often, and normal just "suck up" the detritus with the siphon as I'm taking water out. But each to their own on this.> I know that the temperature of the new water has to be the same as the old, what is the best way to accomplish that if there is a heater in the tank? <Slightly cool water added to the tank causes no problems, so don't get paranoid. If you like, let the new water reach room temperature before adding to the aquarium (easier if you have two buckets, one for the new water to sit in, and then another to take old water out when you're ready).> Is there ever a time to completely wash everything, plants, gravel, tank, etc? <As and when. Most folks find they need to "deep clean" their tanks every year or two, but some are more house-proud, others less so. In theory, water changes and the filter should remove almost all of the dirt between them.> Finally, is it good to introduce a live plant such as a java fern? <Makes no odds either way. If you have a light over the tank, then by all means add a plant suitable to the wattage of that light. Otherwise, it's just one more thing to worry about. The fish don't care if plants are real or plastic.> If so, at what point can I put it in the tank without messing up any cycling? <Has no effect.> Until I have read all those books to properly inform me, I'm really wishing that you could just give me a list of what do to, in order, from this point on. <I'm $250 an hour! But seriously, Bob has a nice article on Betta Basics. Read it! Any questions after that, get in touch.> Is that too much to ask or seems like too much hand-holding? <Holding hands is nice, but knowing better yourself is best! Read and learn.> I really appreciate your time and advice. <happy to help.> Sincerely, Heidi <Cheers, Neale.>

Betta's Water Level 3/3/08 Dear WWM, Greetings; I have a Betta for almost three years now. I have him in a 6.6 bookshelf aquarium tank. I noticed that lately he has been having a hard time reaching the top; so I lowered his water level; he seems to be doing better. I also keep the filter and air pump running at a lower force too. My question is, since Bettas originally lived in rice patties isn't it wise to have the water level as low as possible? Or can you tell me how high should the water be? I am concerned because of his age. Thanks in advance for your help. Jean <Wild Bettas live in rivers and lakes, albeit among the vegetation, and no aquarium is going to be too deep for them. The problem for aquarists is that fancy Bettas have been bred to have very long fins; while pretty, they make it difficult for them to swim. Lowering the water level reduces the amount of water in the tank, and this makes the aquarium less stable in terms of temperature and water quality. In other words, the less water in the tank, the less healthy the environment. So while the fish might be better able to swim to the top, it's also more likely to get sick from environmental issues. My recommendation would be to keep the water at its normal level, but add some tall or floating plastic plants so that the Betta has somewhere to rest. Cheers, Neale.>

Severe Betta Neglect 2-14-08 Hello Crew, <Hello, Merritt here!> I'm ashamed to be writing because I've completely neglected the well-being of my Betta while keeping two healthy reef aquariums. <At least you are trying to fix the Betta now> My Betta appeared to have cataracts... now, after a long look, my Betta is also bloated and obviously suffering from constipation. Epsom salt doses will begin immediately. <The Epsom salt will help with the Betta being bloated and the constipation> The Betta will be taken off of "Betta pellets" (temporarily) and fed every-other-day sparingly) with adult brine shrimp. <Adult brine shrimp are not very nutritious unless you are feeding the adult shrimp a vitamin rich diet. I would only feed the brine shrimp for a short while and then continue with the pellets. You could also mix up the Betta's diet with some Mysid shrimp, mine love them!> The Betta is in a 3 gallon planted tank, kept at 78+ degrees and gets water changes every couple weeks with RO/DI. <Sounds great! But change the water more frequently, at least until the Betta gets better> The Betta can see the pellets at this point but it seems the "cataracts" may hinder that in the future. <Those "cataracts" will clear up when the other ailments are taken care of> I've included a few pictures that will hopefully help the WWM crew with diagnosis. <Please resend the pictures, they were not attached to the email. I would like to see your Betta> Thank you! <You're welcome! Please don't forget sending the pictures! Merritt A.>

Preparing for a Betta, sys. 2/4/08 Hey WWM crew! Thank you so much for all the help you've already given me. I search all over when asking fish questions, and yet I almost always find the answers here. <Ah, good> You folks helped a lot with what ended up being a failed attempt at starting a 20 gallon aquarium in a place with really hard water (KH ~180ppm, GH ~200ppm, pH ~8.2). I've moved somewhere new with more moderate water (KH ~80ppm, GH ~25ppm), and I'd like to try using my old 2.5gal quarantine tank for a Betta. <Okay> Mostly I just want to check in and see if my setup would be suitable, and if I would have any trouble fighting with the local water to make it work. I've tried measuring the pH of some water I let stand for 24hours and found the low range pH test gave me 7.2, while the high range test gave me 7.8 (I'm planning to get a different pH test kit when I get a chance). <This will work> As for the equipment the 2.5gal rectangular tank has a thick layer of Eco-Complete gravel (I'm planning on adding a small plant later if possible). I have a 25W heater (since its often under 50 degrees in my house this time of year). <Brrrrrr!> I have yet to test how stable this keeps the temperature. <Should be fine> I was also wondering about the use a filter on this tank. I have a Whisper 3i filter rated for 1-3 gallons (powered by bubbling the water through). Would it be best not to use it, use it, or get a different filter? <This will likely do> Finally the gravel and the tank were in contact with some fish that had ich about 2 years ago. Should I be concerned? <No> I read on your site that if heated to 78F the cysts will break out, and failing to find a host fish in 3 to 4 days will die. Would this be an effective means of ensuring the ich is gone, or should I also medicate the water? <I would simply rinse this gravel and use it> Thanks again! Mouse, <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Betta... sys. 1/14/08 Hi- <Hello.> I have a female Betta fish that is currently living in my heated tank (around 76º) with other fish- would it be possible to transfer it to a bowl environment that is not heated? <No. Bettas need filtration and heat, neither of which are present in a bowl.> It's not doing too well because my other female Betta fish is chasing it around constantly, and I thought that maybe it might help to separate them. <How big is this tank? It's certainly a fair comment that when kept in tanks 40 litres/10 gallons or smaller Bettas tend to be aggressive towards one another. Adding floating plants may help. Bettas operate on a "line of sight" sort of way, so if they can't see one another, they don't go looking for fights. Because Bettas stay close to the surface, ornaments on the bottom of the tank don't help much, if at all, because the Bettas don't like to be down there all the time. But floating plants (even plastic ones) offer lots more potential.> I've seen other Betta fish living in bowls often, but I'm not sure if the change in temperatures would be too much for it in terms of shock. <I've seen cooked cats (seriously) but this doesn't mean I recommend people eat them. Lots of people keep fish in a bad way, and simply because you see them do it, doesn't mean you should follow suit. Keeping Bettas in bowls is not really fair on them, and doesn't do anything to improve their health or quality of life. At best they die slowly, at worst they die quickly. They are much happier kept in heated, filtered aquaria. Even a small tank (40 litres/10 gallons or less) is viable for male Bettas when kept on their own.> Thanks for the advice, Liz <Cheers, Neale.>

With a very heavy heart... Betta loss, sys. 1/3/08 Hi Everyone, It is with heavy heart that I write this news. My beautiful, glorious female blue and aqua Betta of 2.5 years drowned in the wee hours this morning. Upon springing Domino from her captive single cup home, she was introduced to a glorious 7 gallon tank, heated, filtered and kept absolutely spotless. A Plecostomus on board does his job well and was a fixture of hers for quite a while as she poked around him as if to say 'swim with me'! My tank has live plants and gravel, one small castle that the Plec. lives in and a big plastic rock that Domino used frequently to freely swim in and out of. As Domino grew she used the larger holes and I didn't think about the smaller ones. To my sadness this morning I could easily tell what had happened. She went in the rock through a large hole and tried to swim out a small hole. Her head and front fins were wedged out so she could not swim forward or backward. Please heed my warning to avoid sadness in your tank. Do not put decorations with holes into tanks, no matter how safe they "look". Domino's death was 100% avoidable had I just remembered that fact. Sincerely, Elizabeth <Hello Elizabeth. Your story is very sad, and I do hope others read and act accordingly. I've seen the same thing myself, with a Corydoras getting stuck in a seashell-type ornament. Obligate air-breathing fish like Bettas and Corydoras are at risk from drowning if they get stuck. As you say, such fish are best kept in tanks with very carefully selected ornaments. Cheers, Neale.>

Betta... sys.... reading 12/11/07 I have had my fish misty for almost a year now and recently I've been having some problems. First off I had first put him in a small Betta container and eventually got a 1g tank. <I see this...> I thought it was bare so I put 2 water snails in the tank and suddenly it became more and more until I had way too many. Then suddenly I found my fish on day with a puff eye so I put him in a large juice pitcher and got rid of the snail thank. It was there that I found he was not really eating. He was still acting happy just not eating anymore. I went to the store to buy a new tank and decided to ask them about it. They gave me Betta fix remedy, so I put the amount in and moments later he was eating again. So that was good and now he seems to be eating normal now but his eye is still puffy. I read online something about blood vessels and red marks on the tail but he has had those since I got him and his eye was fine then. What could it be? <All the changes, a lack of heat...> I also notice he had more of a puffier tummy this last month I though noting of it but now it worries me I could just be paranoid but I don't know what it is can u maybe help me? Misty also has a 5 gallon tank now and he seem to be happy swimming through the pillars in the statue I got him an resting behind the plants at times it this a good tank for him? <Is it heated? Is it cycled? Have you read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bettasysart.htm and the linked files above? What do your water quality tests show you re nitrogenous wastes? Bob Fenner>

Betta and ADF, sys., RO water use, 11/25/2007 Hello All, Thanks in advance for the advice. Normally I am asking marine questions, but I have a few probably very silly questions about a Betta tank. I have a six week old, cycled, 3 gallon Eclipse tank with a male Betta and one African Dwarf Frog. Parameters are Ammonia/Nitrite: 0, Nitrate: less than 20, pH: 6.0, and nearly zero on DH and GH. The tank has live plants and a one inch gravel bottom. So, the first question: I use RO/DI water instead of using a conditioner on tap water. Is this okay or are my DH and GH readings too low from filtering out too much? <Always mix some tap water with the RO water; by itself, RO water isn't acceptable for most fish. Aim for between 5-10 degrees dH. For a Betta, there's absolutely no advantage to using RO water anyway, since these fish are very adaptable and provided extremes are avoided couldn't care less about water chemistry. Moderate hardness and neutral pH is probably the ideal.> I had assumed the RO/DI was better, plus it is convenient since we have the unit set up for the salt water tank, but now I am wondering. <Very soft water causes problems with acidification and lack of stability.> Second question: When I come into work in the morning, the tank is usually around 77 degrees F. With the light on during the day, the temperature usually creeps up to about 80 or 81. Is this too much fluctuation over a 24 hour period? <It's fine for a Betta. Certainly "within the margin of error" for what a wild Betta would be exposed to.> Should I try and bump the heater up to keep is closer to 80 at night? <No point if the fish is otherwise fine.> Of course then it would still fluctuate up to 83 or 84 in the day then. Third question: I have read your FAQs on ADF, but was still unsure about a few things. I have only one, are they social and should be kept in multiples? <I think they are better termed "sociable" rather than "social". They don't form schools as such, but provided they aren't overcrowded you can keep several in a tank and not have problems. A gallon of water per frog is often recommended, and seems about right.> I feed about 2 bloodworms (still need to get other "meaty" stuff, frog is new) every 2 to 4 days. Should this be sufficient? <Depends on the size of the frog, the quality of the bloodworms being used, water temperature, and so on. Provided the belly is gently convex but not bulging, you're fine. I'd be feeding this half a dozen bloodworms every day and seeing how things go from there. If they get portly on this, skip a day or two per week. If they look thin, I'd feed slightly more food, perhaps across two meals per day. There's no hard-and-fast rule to how much to feed any animal; to some extent you need to observe and react accordingly. Provided you don't give the frogs so much they look like bowling balls with legs, then the issue isn't overfeeding per se, but water quality.> I know it is hard to say without seeing the frog, but does that sound like a reasonable amount of food? <A bit too little, too me.> Any other advice is always appreciated! Thanks! Michele <Cheers, Neale.>

Deceased Beta, Getting a New one... env. 11/5/07 Hi! <Hello> My family recently owned a purple beta named Cuebert (I don't know what kind of beta he is) who lived in a bowl with a plant on it. (Sorry, I don't know what type it is either, but it used to have white flowers.) <Not terribly important, but I have to say these vases make terrible Betta homes.> I found him at the top of his bowl floating like he was standing on his back fin. While I was looking up diseases, I left him to get some peace. When I checked back on him, poor old Cubie was lying on the bottom, not breathing. <Sorry> His color was a little gray, but it had been that way for a while. Was this a sign of some long-term disease? We had him for 3-4 years, so it might have been old age. <I would say definitely old age, anything beyond a couple years is quite unusual.> He was never extremely active, never made a bubble nest, or jumped. Was there something we were doing wrong? <Not necessarily, but they do need heated, filtered tanks to really thrive.> If we were to get another beta, where would we get them? <Most fish or pet supply shops carry them and most come from the same breeders, so where ever you can find a healthy looking specimen.> Some are half-dead at the time of purchase! :( <All too common.> (One last question, sorry this is so long!) Do beta fish need tops on their "houses"? There are a few I saw hat have none. <They can jump so it is a good idea.> Thanks so much!!! -Laura <For your next Betta I suggest upgrading his home to a small filtered and heated tank, where he can really thrive. Most people consider those vases a death sentence to the fish, although your did quite well.> <Chris>

GH/KH concern with new Betta -- 10/28/07 Hello :), I have a 6 gallon tank in my office with a heater (80 degree water), an internal filter stuffed with filter floss (for low current), a few Java Ferns, an Anubias, and some Val.s. <Nice> I mixed 3/4 R/O water with 1/4 Spring water, and I have had a PH level of 7.2 for a week now. (Without the mixture of water, the PH of my tap water was pretty high at above 8. <Wow. Liquid rock> Even the Spring water with the lowest PH reading I found, 7.0, jumped to over 8 in my filtered tank.) My GH and KH readings are at about 53.7ppm (if I'm understanding the API test kit.) Some of the articles on the internet seem to indicate that these GH/KH levels are fine, and others would seem to suggest a raising of the GH. <Mmmm> I understand that there are products like Kent R/O right and GH Botanica plus from your website. But I know that Bettas like somewhat soft water, and I'd rather not affect my PH if I don't have to, so I'm wondering if I can leave this alone, or if that would be harmful to my new friend over time? Thank you, Patricia P.S. I will be cycling with Bio-Spira, and Thanks for keeping up such a great website! <Thank you... and I think you are fine here with the calcium and general hardness... for the plants, Betta... I would not change your stated protocol for mixing water. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: GH/KH concern with new Betta -- 10/30/2007 Hello, Thank you so much for your quick response :). It's a scary moment, when you think after weeks of research, you may have actually made things worse for your fish! Thank you for sharing so much of your time with those of us who need it :) Thanks again :), Patricia <Am very pleased to help you, others to improve their experience, the lives to the life in their care. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Moving Betta Fish to a Bigger Tank/Fin rot 10/21/07 Hello, <Hello!> I got a Betta fish about a month ago- my college had an event and they gave away Bettas for free. The bowl he came in seemed "too small" so I got him a larger (half gallon) bowl, which he's been living in since then. However, reading on your site (I know, I should have done my research *first* but I assumed that since people in my dorm in previous years had Bettas in those little bowls that it was okay for them) I got him a 2.5 gallon tank with a heater and filter (it's a charcoal filter type, rather than a sponge...is that okay?) and some largish cloth plants. <Carbon isn't really useful in this aquarium. You're going to need to change 50% of the water weekly (at least) and doing that will remove the dissolved organic wastes through dilution. Since carbon is used to remove those wastes, the carbon is rendered obsolete. Carbon also removes medications: you cannot use fish medicine in an aquarium with carbon. So, replace the carbon with *biological* filter media instead. Sponge would be ideal, but ceramic hoops or filter wool will work too.> My question is, from what I've seen you're supposed to cycle the tank before putting the fish in, but that can take up to 6 weeks. <Yes.> But it seems like even an uncycled heated and larger tank would be better for Kappa (my Betta) than his small cold bowl. <Correct.> Is it safe to put him in now, and just change the water often (I'm thinking every 3 days with a 50% change- in his old bowl I was doing 100% changes every 3 days), or is it better to wait for the new tank to cycle? <Your plan sounds ideal. Move the fish, do water changes regularly, and test the nitrite levels periodically to check things are OK. When fish are exposed to high ammonia and nitrite levels, they are prone to fungus and Finrot, so you want to keep them as low as possible, preferably zero.> Also, I put the plastic plant and the gravel from his old bowl in, with new gravel and a couple larger fabric plants- will that help the tank cycle faster? <Marginally, if at all.> (I don't know if there was anything beneficial on them, in order to get the waste off the gravel I'd been swishing it in tap water when I did his water changes, and rinsing off the plant <Arggghh! Never wash anything under the tap you want bacteria to live on. Always wash biologically active filter media in a bucket or bowl of water taken from the aquarium.> I did notice some sort of stringy whitish stuff on the plant though, is that good or bad growth?) <Likely algae (if green) or bacteria (if grey/white). Either way, harmless though perhaps unsightly.> I don't have any tests for ammonia/nitrates/nitrites yet, but I am getting some as soon as I can find them (the store I went to was out of a lot of stuff). <Get the simple combination dip-sticks. They're cheap (here around £10 for 25 tests) and you can slice them down the middle to make twice as many tests. Each dip-stick has nitrite, ammonia, nitrate, pH and hardness (at least) making them extremely useful for quickly judging the conditions in the tank.> I'm especially concerned about leaving Kappa in the old bowl because he's had a chronic case of fin rot since about a week after I got him. At first he lost about a quarter inch of the 'webbing' on his tail, and I got him some aquarium salt and tetracycline gel-food medicine. <The salt detoxifies nitrite, which is useful when a tank is immature. I'm not convinced Tetracycline food is beneficial, given it is an antibiotic for internal infections, and Finrot is an external infection. I think you need to add a Finrot medication to the water.> The medicine said to give him 5 drops per serving (2x a day) but I could never get him to eat more than 2 drops (the brand was "aquarium products gel-Tek tetracycline", for what it's worth). It seemed to stop the fin rot, and it started growing back but as soon as the medication period (3 days) ended, within a day the tail had rotted back to about where it was the first time. <Curing the symptoms -- Finrot -- while not fixing the cause -- poor water quality -- locks you into a cycle where every time you cure the fish, it gets sick again soon after.> I tried the tetracycline again and this time he'd hardly eat it (I think he just doesn't like it, he loves the Hikari pellets and frozen bloodworms that are his normal food). The rot didn't really get any better, so I stopped for a couple of days then switched to Jungle Fungus buddies (which said they also treat fin rot). That has helped more, but by this time his tail is about half the length it used to be. <Oh.> Anyway, the tail has been stable for a couple of days but after I switched Kappa into the 2.5 tank, and he swam around for an hour or so, the webbing that had been regrowing has fallen out again. Will the better conditions help him (he's still on the Jungle medication), or do I need to do something else to get this cleared up? <I think at the moment you're "running to stand still" because high levels of ammonia and nitrite in the aquarium are putting immense stress on the fish.> (I've been trying to find Maracyn (2) since that seems to be highly recommended on your site, but I can't find it in either of the pet stores here.) Other than that he seems healthy and active- he was very curious about everything in the new tank and comes over to me every time I get near. Also, pretty much every time I changed his bowl water, he would make a bubble nest, so he couldn't have been too unhappy...? <In other words: when water quality improves, he's happy; when water gets bad again, he stops being happy.> Sorry this is so long, but I wanted to give as much detail as possible. Thanks for your time, --Kyra <Do water tests, replace carbon with true biological filter media, ensure ammonia and nitrite settle down to zero levels. Don't overfeed, and do regular water changes. Keep treating the Finrot. Once the water is good, you'll see the Finrot won't come back. Do read the articles here at WWM about Bettas. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Moving Betta Fish to a Bigger Tank/Fin rot 10/22/07 Dear Neale, Thanks so much for your help and the quick response. I'll be looking for a new filter and ammonia/nitrite/nitrate tests for Kappa's tank. You guys run an amazing site, and I'm sure I'll be referencing it a lot in the future. Thanks again, --Kyra <Kyra, thanks for the kind words, which I'll be sure and pass on to the Crew. Good luck with your Betta! Neale>

My new Betta, sys. 10/19/07 Hi there, I've read through all of your information on Betta, but I want to be sure that I'm providing my little Squishy with the best. I've only had my little guy for three days, and he looks great. His colors look more vibrant than they did when I bought him, he eats well, (maybe too well, after reading some material I've found that I feed him too often, two times a day, 2 pellets, 2 freeze dried bloodworms, but I'll cut down now) he's building bubble nests <A good sign> (at first I was worried that there was something wrong with the water, research proved me wrong) swims around happily, and reacts when I interact with him. Anyways, I was wondering how often I should change his water, there are sooo many different opinions as to how often, and I want to make sure I do it right. I was also wondering if he is in too small a container. The container is described as a "large" Betta keeper. But all these posts make me feel as though I'm neglecting my Squishy. Thank you, Caryn <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bettasysart.htm and the linked files above... Best to do such partial change-outs weekly, with pre-stored water... Bob Fenner>

2 questions concerning my Betta... sys., comp. 10/1/07 Hi there, I recently upgraded my Betta's tank size to a 5 1/2 gallon tank from a 1/2 tank. Also I have added two albino Cory catfish as companions. <Nice!> My 1st question is about the filter, I'm not sure if it's good for him or needed, or if he likes it. Since most of the time he's been really happy with out one in his small tank before this one. What should I do about the filtration? <Perhaps a small hang on or in-tank power filter type...> My 2nd questions is about his companions. I'm starting to think giving him companions in the 1st place was a bad idea. I don't know if he likes them, he seems to avoid them and doesn't like them getting close to him. He doesn't fight them or anything he just swims away quickly. Should I remove them from the tank and let him have his peace again in the tank, or just wait it out till he gets to know them better? Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Joe <I think the Corydoras Cats will be fine companions here... Bob Fenner>

Lethargic Betta, Env. 9/28/07 Could you please advise me regarding my Siamese fighting fish. I have had him for two weeks and have been looking after his water as advised by the pet shop owner. He seems ok - his fins are fine and he swims around and is eating one pellet twice a day. He comes to the top when he hears my voice. Often though I find him sitting at the bottom of the bowl. I thought he was sleeping or resting, but am wondering if he is ill. There are no other symptoms. Thank you for any help you can give. Pam <Is this tank heated? If not he is probably cold, and being a cold blooded animal will be less active.> <Chris>

New Betta-Kudos to Marineland 9/16/07 Dear WWW Crew, <<Hello, Mitzi. Tom here this afternoon.>> I seem to be sharing experiences with you all lately and this one seems important. <<All gets passed along, Mitzi, so what do you have for us?>> Every time I pass the pet aisle at Wal Mart I'm heartsick at the pretty little Bettas floating listless in their 5 oz plastic cups. <<One of many reasons why I pass Wal-Mart entirely, Mitzi, but let's not get started on that one. ;) >> There's 4 teeny slits in the tight fitting lid for air and that's it. I think of my happy fish at home with lots of room, fresh water and good care and feel so sorry for those Bettas. It makes me angry at our society that is allowing it to continue. <<In this instance, society 'votes' with its dollars, Mitzi. Stores don't stay in business unless they're patronized and Wal-Mart doesn't lack for people willing to spend their money there. Your indignation, however, is completely understandable and I won't detract from that in the least.>> I've been reading your sight so much the past month or 2 and "Betta" kept crossing my line of vision in different FAQ's. I was engrossed learning about these fishes I'd never really known about before. I never knew they could actually live happily in less than a 10 gal. <<A ten-gallon tank is about optimum for Bettas but they'll do well in somewhat smaller environments.>> At Wal Mart this morning I couldn't take it anymore and bought a beautiful blue & purple Betta male. I found a Marineland 5 gallon hex aquarium that I was really impressed with. I still feel badly that it's too small but it beats the heck out of what he was in at the store. <<Nothing wrong with a five-gallon tank for Bettas, Mitzi.>> I want to let people know what a nice thing Marineland has done with this little 5 gal tank. The entire filter setup is in the hood along with the light. It has a charcoal filter and even a tiny little bio-wheel, for only $30.00! I thought it was a wonderful idea to have sitting next to all these Betta cups. I've always loved Marineland products, the Emperor & Penguin series bio-wheels are what I use exclusively. I feel like this company really has a handle on fish and this sealed the deal as far as my respect for them. <<Marineland's a fine company and, to give the Devil his due, it sounds as though Wal-Mart may have lifted itself out of the dirt by marketing these tanks, as well.>> I also got a "2-15 gallon" Tetra submersible heater (for $6.00) that has kept his temperature right at 80 degrees all day. The ph of the water in the cup was only 6 and mine is about 8 so acclimation took 4 hours but he's doing absolutely wonderful. He's ate and already comes up to the front to see us. I also used gravel & filter media from my cycled tanks to kick start bacteria, by the way. <<Sounds like you've done a wonderful job with your new pet, Mitzi!>> The moral of the story is that any one of your readers can "rescue one of those Bettas" for under $40.00 with tax. About the price of a tank of gas. It won't save them all and it won't solve the problem in the big picture, but it will give that *one* fish a happy life. It made me feel a lot better than just walking by and feeling sick for doing nothing. <<I'm happy for you in that and commend you for caring enough to act on your feelings.>> I'd have never garnered the interest in Bettas if not for the WWM website and crew. I've read all of Bob's Betta articles. I think "Robert" would be a good name for this little fish. Lol <<I think 'Robert' would be a fine name, as well. Given your reasons/passion for 'saving' this little fish, I think Bob would be pleased, too.>><An honour. RMF> Sincerely, Mitzi PS I'm running out of room for fish tanks. But I was thinking.....if I put the couch & TV on the front porch and made my family sit out there I'd have LOTS more room for fish inside. <<I think my wife had exactly the same idea a while back when she suggested moving all of my stuff out to the front yard. I know she's wanted a large, saltwater tank but I didn't know she wanted one THAT big. Do you think I missed something? :) Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Mitzi. I hope others will follow your thoughtful lead. My best to you. Tom>>

Re: New Betta-Kudos to Marineland Pt 2 -- 09/19/07 As a PS I went out yesterday and bought 3 more of these little 5 g Marineland Betta tanks & heaters and had a blast setting them up & decorating yesterday. I had to go to 2 Wal-Mart's because I bought out the 1st one. They take up so little space and it's only a 20 oz cup of water to do a water change! (I do the "daily small water changes" on my tanks). It doesn't get any easier than that. I don't understand why only Bettas are sold in those awful little cups and kept in tiny bowls, they're not the only kind of air breathing fish yet the others aren't housed in such an inhumane way. <The cups aren't as bad as the tiny little sealed pouches some companies ship them in. But in any case, they're shipped like this because 1) they can be and 2) male Bettas can't be mixed in the same bag. Most freshwater fish are shipped in big bags with many of the same kind in one bag. You can't do that with male Bettas. Though, I don't know why the female betas are shipped in cups/pouches.> I suppose because of their aggressive nature with other fish. <It's a common misconception that Bettas are as aggressive with other fish as they are with each other. You can actually put a male Betta in a community tank. Problems could arrive if it's a small tank with passive surface dwelling fish, but otherwise they tend to mind their own business.> I know patronizing Wal-Mart keeps them in business, I wrestled with that. But PetSmart & PetCo & many other places sell them that way, too. <IMO, Wal-Mart should not be selling fish. I went in there once to find a large goldfish floating dead in a tank with several other fish. There were a couple of girls (employees) standing around looking at and giggling, each saying "there's no way I'm touching that." I grabbed a paper towel from behind them, lifted up the barrier and pulled the fish out and threw it away. I looked at them and explained that you can't leave a dead fish in a small tank like that or else everything will die. One of them just shrugged, thanked me and said they just weren't "that brave." Give me a break!! Ugh. But anyway, there are so many other reasons not to shop at Wal-Mart, but if you want that rant you'll have to email me personally. :)> I've got almost every kind of pet/livestock (over 50 individual critters total if you want numbers-sigh) and I literally HAVE to patronize these places in order to buy food & supplies for them. So that's 4 Bettas that will get a good home. The only problem I'm running into is not enough plugs ins but my husband's going to wire some into the walls this week :-) These places are going to sell these fish whether I buy mine or not, that's just a fact of life. <Umm... if we're still talking about Wal-Mart, then you might be wrong. Wal-Mart is very careful to protect its profits. If people didn't buy live fish there, it would start losing money on maintenance costs. They'll stop selling live fish as soon as it stops being profitable.> All I can do is all I can do. And it *does matter to these 4 fish. And it matters to the other fish because of all the people I've talked to about it in my travels in gathering up things to decorate tanks with. I ADORE these little fish, they're so beautiful. And compared to all the other critters and bigger tanks I've got they're soooo easy to take care of properly. I could do 10 Betta tanks with my hands tied around my back and drink my coffee at the same time before I even start in on the sheep & llama lol Don't feel you have to print this, I just wanted to follow-up. "Robert" the Betta is doing wonderful, I'd swear his ragged fins are already healing, he swims around constantly. Judging by the way my Oscar is eye-balling him I suspect he thinks it's his lunch. Thank you for this wonderful sight. If not for this website I'd have never became interested in these little Bettas or known how to care for them. <glad you found us> Tom, you'd better get your wife that SW tank in a big hurry or you might find yourself sleeping in a tent in the back yard lol <Haha... I'll tell Tom you said that.> Mitzi <Best, Sara M.>

My beta is sad! RMF as well... Reading 9/13/07 I just got my crown tail beta 2 days ago. I have a little bow (it's less than a gallon), <... heated, filtered?> but is bigger than the tiny cup that I purchased it with. The first couple of hours my beta was so happy, he was swimming around, checking every rock, every plant. <Cycled?> Then I gave him 3 pellets (I bought the same food that they where feeding the betas in the pets store) and after a couple of hours I saw him staying on the top, not moving, does not react at all. Just takes a little breath and stays. On the morning I went to check on him, he was still standing up there. I wanted to make him happy and what is better than breakfast. I was thinking if he eats, means he is ok. I gave him another 4 pallets. Now I know, that was mistake, I gave him too much food. My poor little guy? is it possible to die? How can I make it better? <Read...> I also use bottled spring water, is that ok? <Mmm, not likely, no... Water chemistry?> Do I need to test the water? <Yes> How often do I need to change it since the bow is so small? Please help, I just want him to be ok. Daniela <Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bettasysart.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

New Betta Owner Needs Help With Tank Setup - 9/3/07 Dear WWM Crew, I have been reading over the material on the site and am a bit overwhelmed by all the conflicting information I have read on Betta habitats. <Oh dear.> I went and purchased a male and a female Betta at a local PetSmart, and also two one gallon tanks with undergravel filters, airstones, and hoods with small lights. <They tend to be kept apart -- the males do not "play nice" with females in small aquaria. In the wild, the females enter and leave the male's territory at their leisure. In the aquarium, they don't have this option. Result: spousal abuse, dead female.> I have been changing tanks with Poland Spring water, as our town water had Coliform contamination last year, and as it is still being chemically treated with stuff I don't think is safe, I neither use it, nor will I give it my cat, or the fish. <Er, probably overkill. A mature aquarium will be filled with all sorts of bacteria, but the "good" bacteria predominate, cleaning the water remarkably effectively. Assuming you treat your water with a decent dechlorinator (one that removes chlorine AND chloramine) the water should be perfectly safe for fish. Coliform bacteria aren't much of a risk to humans in good health (i.e., who aren't immunocompromised). Every time you wipe your backside after defecating, you're exposed to them. So I wouldn't worry too much. Compared to the measurable dangers like, say, getting in a motor car or having a fat/calorie-rich diet, the risk of contracting a life threatening sickness from Coliform bacteria is very small. And certainly NOT a threat to your fish!> My problem is that I have been changing the tanks every 7 days, removing 1/3 water, saving 2/3, and removing the fish with tank water to container, then rinsing undergravel plate in hot water, rinsing gravel, then tank (acrylic small 1 gallon) and then putting all back together, gravel plate, airstone, then gravel and filling with combo of old water and 1/3 new with small amount of conditioning salt added by diluting it in 1 cup new water then adding it to empty tank, then fish. <Who told you to do all this stuff? Had they ever kept a live fish in their entire lives? OK, in a tank with an undergravel filter (which is what you seem to have here) you should NEVER, EVER clean the gravel with hot water. The gravel is where the bacteria live, and you want them to be HAPPY. What you're doing is killing them. Very bad. So, leave them alone! Change 50% of the water weekly, but otherwise leave the tank alone. Once in a while stir the gravel with a stick, and siphon out any detritus if you want. But never let the gravel get dry or washed in anything other than aquarium water. EVER. And there's no need to use salt. The ONLY thing you should be adding to the water is dechlorinator. Salt doesn't remove chlorine, kill bacteria, or do any of the myriad things people think it does. It's just salt.> Now I read that I need heaters and bio-filters in big tanks! <Yes, you need a heater, unless your home is maintained at a constant 25 C. These are TROPICAL fish, and when kept at less than 25 C, they die. Period.> Help!!! I am in tiny apartment with cat and have no room for bigger tanks as yet and small budget-have disabled family member who lives with me whose monthly meds run over $1200 per month, what can I do to make these little guys lives better? <Well, you could save some money by not using mineral water, for a start... A 5-10 gallon tank surely wouldn't take up much more space than a 1 gallon tank, and would be orders of magnitude easier to keep (not to mention a nicer home for your fish).> They are growing bigger and are active, but don't want to stress them by cold temps, warm in day but down to 68-70 at night and too chilly now that fall is here. <Too cold.> By the way, people at petshop said to just keep them in a bowl, that they survive in mud puddles, so temp and ph, etc, is no issue. <Garbage. Bettas do not live in mud puddles. How would a fish get into one, and why would it want to be in one? Bettas live in ditches, streams, lakes, and so on. Usually among vegetation. Yes, they breathe air, but this isn't because they live in mud but because the water they live in gets very warm, and consequently contains less oxygen than otherwise. It's a back-up system for them, helping them to stay active in conditions other fish find stressful.> I test pH every 3 days is 6.8-7.0, but will get nitrate, ammonia, nitrite, kit now also. <You don't *need* all of these. The "big three" in my opinion are nitrite, pH, and general hardness (dH, rather than carbonate hardness, KH). And a thermometer, of course. Your water board may tell you what the hardness and pH of your water supply is, in which case you can "wing it" and rely on the 50% water changes to prevent any untoward pH changes in the aquarium. Bettas will adapt to a wide range of water chemistry values, but like all fish, they don't like sudden changes. So really, if you do that, then the nitrite kit is the only one you need. It's the cat's Pyjamas for tracking water quality, and more useful than either ammonia or nitrate for a variety of reasons.> Any ideas on tanks/heaters on very tight budget? Thanks, CJ <Well, I've told you what you need (and need to do). But a fish is just like any other animal -- at some point, expense is unavoidable. Hope this helps, Neale>

Re: New Betta Owner Needs Help With Tank Setup - 9/3/07 Hi WWM Crew, <Hello CJ,> Thanks for the swift reply. No, I don't have them in the same tank, 2 separate 1-1/2 gallon tanks w/undergravel filters & airstones, and thermometers on the tanks the ones that are stick-on strips with temp. range of 64-86. They are in warm part of house, no windows, drafts, nearby but house is cooler in fall so will have to get heaters right away. <Agreed; while they tolerate a certain amount of temperature variation, the night-time temperature shouldn't drop below much below 22C. In the wild, while air temperature may drop well below that, the water temperature won't, because water is thermally very stable (it tends to lose/gain heat very slowly). The tiny conditions in an aquarium don't replicate this, so fish tanks lose/gain heat much more slowly than anything most fish are adapted to. This is why we need aquarium heaters. By all means switch it down to a low setting in summer, and let your fish enjoy a natural variation in temperature (I do this every summer) but otherwise aim for variation no greater than 22-26C or thereabouts.> I wasn't concerned about the Coliform, it was over a year ago, but the state mandated the town over chlorinate and add other chemicals to our town water, and it smells like a Clorox bottle when you turn on the tap. <It's probably fine. Add a good dechlorinator that removes chloramine as well as chlorine. If in doubt, telephone your water board or check their web site. Your water can't be any less "natural" than the water offered in London (famously been through 7 people on average before you drink it!) and fish do fine here.> Also they had a contamination incident with paint thinner, so given their track record on water safety, we buy bottled for the past few years. I am concerned about giving it to fish, pets or humans so we buy bottled by the case. <Well, this is your choice. But if you're asking me, "is the water safe for my fish", the answer is almost certainly yes, provided you treat with a decent dechlorinator. Money saved here (on something at best optional rather than vital) could be spent on essential things like heaters, filters, bigger tanks, etc in due course.> As far as rinsing the gravel filter plate and gravel, bad info from pet store folks. <I assumed as much.> I didn't mean to infer that Bettas could live well in mud puddles, just trying to let folks know the attitude the folks at the pet store have about the creatures they are selling to the public. <Indeed.> I had not seen all the info on the site about heated fully cycled tanks before I bought these two, so we will read up and if we can we will get bigger, heated, tanks and let them cycle prior to introducing our fish to them. <Very good.> Thank your for your quick reply, CJ <No problem. Enjoy your fishkeeping. Cheers, Neale>

Strange Fins, Betta, env. dis. 8/30/07 Hello, and thanks ahead for your website! <Welcome> I'm the new owner of a male LPS (local pet store) Betta. After only about a week-and-a-half, I'm seeing something I haven't found on any of your FAQs. Tai's tail and fins seem to have partially rolled up and come to a point, and the tail has also twisted a bit. There appears to be no discoloration, no tears or scalloping in his fins, his color is good and unchanged as is his appetite. I'm probably watching him 'way too close, because he seems a tiny bit less active. He usually knows when I'm watching and becomes frisky to get attention. Tai is in a 2 and ½ gallon tank with silk plants, smooth bottom gravel and a hidey-hole toy. <Is this world heated, filtered?> The temperature is a regular 78 degrees, <How?> ph is good, <What?> I use Amquel + and NovAqua, and a small amount of salt <I would not do this continuously> in the water before he gets it. There's no filter <Trouble> in the tank but I've been doing 20-50 percent water changes every other day, and a complete water change once a week. <Not a good practice> Of course, we're only talking about less than 2 weeks! I don't want to use the wrong medication, and can't tell if it's bacterial, fungal, or nothing at all. Do you have any ideas? <All sorts> Thanks again for any help or reassurance you can give! Beth Rogers <Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bettasysart.htm and the linked files above. The environment... likely metabolite poisoning... Bob Fenner>

Re: Strange Fins, Betta -- 08/31/07 Thanks for the reply - I stay confused I guess! I'd thought frequent partial water changes were a good thing. <Mmm, not this much nor this frequently... Please read where you were referred to> The temperature is regulated at 78 degrees via a small heater on a timer and a thermometer. <Good> The ph is good (I used a test kit) at 7.0 to 7.2, <Good> and the ammonia is low (another test kit). <Should be zero... undetectable. Any present is harmful> So the problem must be the water changing. Will a filterless tank cycle? <Yes...> What is metabolite poisoning? <Mmm, biological process accumulation that is deleterious to the organisms health> Thanks again! -Beth <Welcome! BobF>

Tiny white bugs/crustaceans, FW... 8/29/07 Hi. Hope you can help me with this one! <Will try.> I have a 5 gallon freshwater aquarium with a Betta fish in it. A few months ago I noticed a few things: 1) tiny white bugs, barely visible to the naked eye, that swim/jump through the water and sometimes scoot along the surface of the glass <Those are very small insects or insect-like animals. Thrips, collembolans, mites, and so on. Harmless.> 2) tiny things that stick to the glass and plants. They remind me of barnacles more than anything else. They are scale-like, flat, transparent beige in color, and have a small red-orange colored center. They start out as specks on the glass and progressively grow bigger, to about the size of a pin-head. They have a hard outer "shell"....I know because I've been killing them off as best I can ("crunch"), but they continue to multiply. <Sounds like snails of some sort. Basically harmless.> 3) tiny red-orange bugs that jump/scoot on the surface of the water, which remind me of mites or water spiders or chiggers. <Again, some sort of harmless arthropod. Quite possible red mites.> I have no idea what any of these are, and my internet research thus far has not helped. I'm wondering it is it possibly a single organism that I am witnessing at different points in it's life growth cycle?? <No, not really. Aquaria become ecosystems of a sort, and animals in house attracted to warm, damp places congregate on them. Hence you find the same sorts of things on the aquarium as you'll find in the bathroom.> A few weeks ago I did a major overhaul of my tank. I boiled the gravel, driftwood, and filtration components. I threw away all the plants. I replaced all but about 10% of the water. Two weeks later, there are tons more of the white bugs, and I'm seeing more and more of the "scale" looking things on the glass everyday. <You can't get rid of them. Remove them, and more will move in from your house. I'm guessing your tank doesn't have a proper filter; these little arthropods don't tend to be such a pest where the surface of the water is agitated by a filter. In "bowl" type situations, the still water surface is a perfect habitat for them. Furthermore, in Betta bowls the water tends to have lots of nitrate and organic material in it because the volume is so small, and this encourages the growth of algae and molds. It is these that the little arthropods are feeding on. In bigger tanks with proper filtration, there's less of this stuff, and so the arthropods are less of a big deal.> These critters are such an EYE-SORE and NUISANCE in my Betta's home. Can you please help me diagnose this infestation and how I can get rid of them? <You can't. Learn to love them.> With gratitude, Shawna B. <Hope this helps, Neale>

Re: tiny white bugs/crustaceans 8/29/07 Thanks for your response about the critters in my tank. I believe a partial solution would be running the filter more often.....I only currently run it a few hours a day. <Arghhh! Why are you running the filter only a few hours per day? That's not how you use a filter, and all you're doing is killing off the "good" bacteria every time you switch the power off. A filter should run 24/7 -- end of story.> Also, I've heard to get rid of snails you can add copper to the water? They are the major eye-sore of the tank. Can you confirm this and suggest any products that accomplish that? <You heard wrong. Copper is toxic to crustaceans (which you don't have) and to a lesser extent to fish. Snails are largely indifferent to it, and you'll kill the fish long before the snails get bothered by it. Learn to live with them. Remove them by hand if you want. Otherwise just let them be. Snails only increase their numbers in "dirty" tanks. Snails eat leftover food and algae. If there's a surplus of leftover food especially they will turn that into more snails. In a clean tank, they don't have enough food to breed all that quickly. Show me a person with a "snail problem" and I'll show you a person who overfeeds their fishes or doesn't clean their aquaria properly. It's as simple as that: basic laws of physics; without the extra energy from surplus food, the snails could reproduce as quickly. So, take the snails for what they are -- a symptom of another problem. Act accordingly, and you'll find the snail population will gradually decline to the point where you'll view them as harmless additions to your aquarium.> Thanks again!! <No problems, Neale.>

Re: tiny white bugs/crustaceans 8/30/07 Hi Neale ~~~ <Shawna,> Again, I really appreciate your help and advice on the unwanted critters I have. However, I am not sure that a "dirty tank due to overfeeding" is the problem. I have a single Betta in a 5 gallon tank, who gets about 4 pellets of Betta food twice a day, and eats it all within about a minute. I generally clean the tank every 4 weeks. <A properly maintained tank shouldn't need "cleaning" this often. Betta bowls are different I admit, but really, it's the water that needs replacing regularly not the tank decorations. Now, as for the role of food, uneaten or otherwise: snails simply cannot multiply in a tank with no food added. Try it yourself some time. Put a few pond snails in a bowl and don't add any food. See how quickly they multiply. They won't. Except maybe for algae, there's nothing for them to eat, and they starve. Basic biology. The reason snails prosper in fish tanks is that the food (and to some degree fish faeces) provides them with high-protein fodder. They multiply at a rate directly proportional to the amount of food available. It really is that simple. Now, it doesn't sound like you're overfeeding your fish, I admit, so perhaps the food source is something else. Decaying plants perhaps?> I am really stumped....because as I mentioned about 2 weeks ago, I scoured the tank and boiled everything in it (with the exception of the fish of course!) To see such a dramatic re-appearance of the crusty-scale-like critters in such a short period of time.....in a clean tank....with no plants....well, I just don't get it. Believe me, I have seen small aquarium snails before, and what I have looks different. I wouldn't mind a few snails, but these guys are prolific in numbers....still multiplying....and make the tank look sick and infested. <Need photo. There are very few other shelled invertebrates that live in freshwater. Ostracods perhaps, but they're very distinctive and don't "turn up" announced. Snails are really the only common shelled stowaways in freshwater tanks. Nematodes and flatworms can be a pest, but they're wormy, not snail-like.> I had no idea I needed to run the filter all day, and I can see now how that could create a stagnant environment for unwanted critters and such. I was not doing so because I thought my Betta liked to have calm waters most of the time. I will change that habit immediately. But the snail-scale like things have got to go!! <OK.> I plan to clean and scour and boil everything in the tank again, in hopes that I can further reduce or eliminate the problem. If you have any additional thoughts, I would greatly appreciate your feedback. <Waste of time. Assuming these "critters" got in by themselves and are prospering under whatever conditions you have, my assumption would be if you clean the tank, they'll be back to full strength in a month. So I'd tend to reflect more on filtration, water changes, removal of potential food (dead plants for example) and so on.> Thanks so much. Shawna <Cheers, Neale>

Vitamin and Mineral Pyramid for Betta 8/20/07 Hi WWM Crew, <Jean, Jean, Bettas are blue... well, some of them.> Recently, I purchased from a Pet store a vitamin and mineral pyramid made by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. I wanted to cut the pyramid in half and put half of it into my 6.6 gallon tank, which is occupied by a Betta and the other half in a 5 1/2 gallon tank which is occupied by three Zebra Danios. My question is: is this vitamin and mineral pyramid safe to use on a Betta and three Danios? Please give advise. Thanks in advance for your continued help. Jean. <Mmm, likely so... but also likely unnecessary. Is the water you use mineral deficient? I'd just do regular water changes... Bob Fenner>

New Print and eBook on Amazon

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: