FAQs on Betta Systems: Tanks, Bowls
Improved (Better?) Products for Bettas!
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
Systems 6, & Betta System: Heating, Lighting, Filtration, & Water Quality, (See also: Ammonia, Nitrite,
Nitrate, Nitrogen Cycling), Maintenance, & Bettas in General, Betta ID/Varieties, Betta Behavior, Betta Compatibility, Betta
Betta Feedings, Betta Reproduction, Betta Disease,
Small volumes (under gallons in size) are
unstable, easily changed temperature and water quality wise. Oh,
and yes Bettas do "jump out" if the lip of their tank
isn't covered or water level left down a few inches
Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
re: Low pH and tank size; Betta sys.
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
<Please try/use the search tool (on all pages), WWM is not a chat room,
but an information resource.
Or see my book on Betta care on Amazon....>
Tanks that are too tall for a Betta
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.
Freshwater Stocking Question 2/7/14
I have a 29g freshwater tank. I keep it at 78F to
accommodate both a Betta and 5 julie Corys. My tank cycled 40
days, no traces of ammonia or nitrite, nitrate is low, am carrying out
20% water changes twice a week.
Introduced my Betta, he's doing fine... loves it! Swims around, checks
Note: Petland told me my Betta would drown...
18" is to<o> deep for a Betta, sometimes they forget to breathe. I
asked her when the last time she forgot to breathe was?
After a brief discussion, she thanked me for correcting her on what
Petland has told staff for years 'at this particular location'.
Anyhow... I introduced my 5 Corys two weeks later, and they are also
doing awesome. I've had the Corys for two weeks, and am thinking
of my next additions... my little girls want guppies. I want
color. Is there any issues of adding 3 female guppies, and
then adding 3 female swordtails?
<Do a bit of reading re both... I would stock just one or the other of
these two livebearers... And realize that they will be pregnant; will
deliver young in time here>
Would the Betta, Corys, guppies and/or sword tails work well with 2
African dwarf frogs in a month or so?
<The guppies would be better than the Swords... smaller, less
aggressive, competing for foods>
Need help ASAP. Reviving my potato chip. Other
Bettas sys. f' 8/13/13
My wonderful wild caught pureblood Betta stiktos is
stupid. It jumped out of a perfectly clean tank (where I am keeping
happy neon tetras) and is now fairly dry. I picked it up and put it in
water fast. Is there anything I can do to help it? I read somewhere
opening the gills will help. Is that so? I need the answer 5 minutes ago
lol as from what I know, seconds count.
<Since it's the morning here in England, I'm guessing you've had either
a good or bad resolution to this situation. Because they can breathe
air, labyrinth fish like Bettas have fairly good survival rates when the
jump out of tanks. But what matters is how dry the skin becomes. If the
fish is alive, when returned to the aquarium it should get back to
normality without any further input from you, unless of course it was so
damaged (dried out) that its skin becomes subject to skin infections.
All Bettas are notoriously jumpy, so NEVER, EVER keep them in
open-topped tanks. Hope things worked out! Neale.>
Re: Need help ASAP. Reviving my potato chip.
She died. :( I have a lid, but there's a hole by the filter. She was
fairly dried, but the tail wasn't completely dry. Gills weren't moving
and I couldn't get them to. I bet she was just past recovery. Thanks!!!
<Sounds likely she was indeed too far gone. Too bad. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Need help ASAP. Reviving my potato chip.
<PS. Filter wool can be quite useful for blocking up "escape routes".
Push a lump in loosely so air can still move in/out. Cheers, Neale.>
Urgent Betta Problem 8/8/13
My brother has a beautiful reddish Betta fish that he keeps
alone in a relatively large, circular bowl.
<For how long has he been in there? How is it kept warm? How is it
She is active, eats well, and is presumably very healthy. I just went to
clean out the bowl, and at on top of the rocks at the bottom there is a
skin-tone bubbly-looking mass. It looks to be about 3 cm wide and 1 cm
tall. It consists of three solid tone circles that look as if they
melted together in the center, and two transparent tone bubbles of the
same peach color on either side of the solid toned mass. There
appears to be nothing inside of it. I want to know what it is before I
clean it away, because I fear it could be a sign off some sort of
<Unlikely; I would remove quickly though. No idea what it is. If it's
soft and gooey, it's likely uneaten food or decaying organic matter of
some sort, or something like that...>
I've also included a picture of the mass (it is circled in red) and I
can tell that it is definitely not a rock. Please respond as soon as you
Thank you in advance, Abigail
<Abigail, do have your brother review Betta requirements; this chap
looks underweight (a bit) and his fins look ragged from this angle, so
I'd be cautious about his future. Start here:
This fish needs, at minimum, a 4-5 gallon aquarium, a heater, and a
Sadly animals cannot survive on love alone, and do have a few
non-negotiable requirements. Cheers, Neale.>
Orange balls 6/20/13
What r these orange balls in my female Berta's bowl? It also
got very cloudy overnight.
<May be eggs from her... can't tell; but look to be something someone has
otherwise dropped in. And Bettas don't live long or well in these sorts of
bowl settings; need heater, filter. Read here:
This water needs to be changed out ASAPractical, and this fish put into a
My Betta fish: Please Help!, Housing
Hello I am a new comer to the world of Betta fish! I was wondering if it
would be safe to keep him in a vase that is about 3/4 of a
<No, a deathtrap.>
It is v-shaped but I was going to put his plant and rocks at the
bottom...I hate the tank he currently is in now but unfortunately I can
not get a new larger tank. :( Please help! Here is a picture of the vase
I want to put him in but it is about three inches wider at the bottom~
<No picture attached but I can tell you if it is a vase and not a tank
at least 5 gallons it is unsuitable for a Betta. Like all tropical
fish they need a heated, filtered, roomy tank. Please see here for
keeping Bettas outdoors in tropical
ponds? in pairs? groups? 4/13/12
Hello from Southeast Asia!
<Hello from Northwestern Europe!>
We are in the process of moving to Malaysia (yes, tropical!) where we
have space for a garden and a small garden pond or ponds (container
and/or in ground).
And have been thinking about what kinds of fish we can keep. Its
very warm here 20s to low 30s in terms of air temperature. Once
possibility we are considering are short-finned Bettas.
<Possibly, but all Bettas are amazingly good at jumping, so bear
that in mind.>
I have kept B. splendens (veil tail, crown tail, super delta tail) in
small tanks by themselves and a female in a community tank before, and
they have lived a couple of years or more. Now we have gouramis
(Trichogaster leeri) in our indoor tank. But now since we are
establishing our tropical garden we are thinking about keeping tropical
fish outdoors (may try breeding if all goes well). I suppose deep down
I have a soft spot for Bettas. I have been doing some research since I
don’t really want to keep the long finned varieties outside and a lot
of these seem frail lately anyway.
I actually prefer the short finned plakats (we have no intention of
fighting these fish, just keep as pets) and some of the wild types like
b. imbellis which are native to this part of SEA. I have read
that Betta imbellis and perhaps b. smaragdina, b. mahachai, b. stiktos
can be kept either in pairs or small groups (males and females) but I
have also read and heard otherwise.
<Ah, yes. A lot depends on the tank, I'm sure. In big tanks with
lots of floating plants and tankmates of suitable size/behaviour to
become distractions, I'm sure males and females of these species
can coexist. They obviously do so in the wild! But in smaller tanks, or
emptier tanks, or away from distractions, they can fight. The males of
all Betta species are intolerant of both males and females, and only
accept *breeding* females into their territories. Bubblenest species
are usually more aggressive than mouthbrooders, but there's some
variation among both sorts. I wouldn't trust a group of any species
to get along without carefully judging the size of the tank, adding
floating plants, and possibly adding dither fish of suitable size, such
as Ricefish or Rasboras.>
It’s a little confusing as most people who are keeping these
(aside from fish farmers/breeders) are keeping them in smaller tanks or
large community tanks but I think in our case if we have them outside
we can have a pond or two with 40 gallons to a few hundred gallons so
we would not be so constrained in terms of space for these fish.
<For sure. Ponds this size should be eminently suitable for groups
of Betta spp.>
If they thrive, we could try breeding. I’m not sure about plakats,
but perhaps even these could stay together if the fish are all are
females, with plants to hide among, or if the pond(s) were large
enough. Or perhaps even a male can be kept with a number of
females as long as they have enough space?
<Males guard patches at the surface around their nests. The more
distance between those nests, the more likely two males will tolerate
one another. As for the females, so long as they can avoid going into
the territory, the male will ignore them.>
I guess I’m thinking of Bettas as ideal for our (future) small to
medium garden ponds because these lovely fish are native to Peninsular
SEA so they can tolerate our warm conditions to begin with.
We originally were thinking of Koi; many people keep Koi in this part
of the world but I’m not certain we have the resources to maintain
these fish in good health with our very tropical weather. We also enjoy
greenery and gardening very much and Bettas should fine with water
plants such as water lettuce etc. Apparently they eat mosquito larvae
and small insects too.
Hence in the long and the short of it, if one has the facility to keep
Bettas in an outdoor tropical pond do you think is it possible to keep
them in pairs or groups? Imbellis or Mahachai in pairs? Females
in groups? More than one male with females if there is enough space (20
gallons of water per male fish?)?
<Surface area is surely more important than water volume. I
don't know the precise size of a Betta splendens territory, but
would imagine it to be at least 30 cm in radius, and ideally, you'd
want floating plants in between nests so rival males couldn't see
I understand it may depend on the species; not having kept plakats or
wild type Bettas outdoors (only long finned splendens and their
relatives gouramis in indoor tanks), we just aren’t sure what
to expect if we were to try for an outdoor Southeast Asian Betta set
up, but it might be something really interesting and fun to
try. Please let us know what you think . . . Thank you so
much for reading. Best wishes, Carol
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: keeping Bettas outdoors in tropical ponds? in pairs?
groups? - 4/17/12
Thank you for your helpful response to our outdoor Betta spp set up/pond
question for a tropical climate! Just need a couple more points of
The pond or ponds that we are considering would be in the range of 40
gallons to a few hundred gallons. They will definitely have floating
plants. With regard to male Betta spp, you mentioned that they
need at least 30cm of surface territory to prevent fights (something we
would need to keep an eye on!). Is this also the case for females? Do
they carve out territories as well, but smaller areas compared to males?
<Females aren't territorial, but they do bicker, so it's best to keep
reasonably large numbers to any aggression between them is spread out.
Bob F. often remarks that odd numbers (3, 5, 7, etc.) seem to work
Another thing is about the jumping; floating plants I'm sure will help
here but do you have any suggestions on how far down from the pond edge
the water level should be?
<If you can, allow at least 15 cm/6 inches. Alternatively, if the edges
of the pond are mostly bounded by tall aquatic plants that poke out of
the water, the fish won't jump that way at all. They aren't suicidal
animals, merely jumpy. In aquaria fish have no idea which way is land
because of the lack of boundaries beyond the glass wall, so if they
jump, there's a chance they'll jump onto the carpet. In a pond there's
normally vegetation of some sort along the edges, and that gives the
fish a sense of which way is land and which way is water.>
Since we haven't started the project yet, we can go ahead and plan for
fish that are prone to jump.
Many thanks again for your kind assistance!
Re: keeping Bettas outdoors in tropical ponds? in pairs? groups?
Thanks again, Neale. We will certainly have your advice in mind when we start on
our pond! Warm wishes, Carol
<Most welcome and good luck! Neale.>
Divided 20 gallon long
tank for two Bettas 12/14/11
I was wondering if it is ok to put two male Bettas in a divided tank if
there is a filter on each side. I have one Betta in there now with two
sponge filters. One of these filters is for "up to 40
gallons" the other for "up to 10 gallons" My husband has
a piece of Plexiglas that he drilled about 25 little holes in for the
divider. Is this a bad idea in the long run?? Thank you!!
<Mmm, well, I should state that having males being in visual contact
w/ each other continuously is too taxing, stressful, but given the
dimensions of a 20L I think this will be fine. Cheers, Bob
How tall is too tall for a Betta
<Hi there Judy>
Someone on the internet said that if a Betta is in a too tall tank they
will develop swim bladder problems, plus stress when it comes to going
to the surface for air. Is this true concerning the swim bladder
<Never seen such>
Also I have a 20 gallon tall that I may put one Betta in with no other
fish. The tank is 16 inches tall, so even with a half inch or an inch
of gravel, is that too tall for a Betta??
<It is not>
or is 12 inches the max?? Thank you!
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>
Building a five gallon tank 3/19/11
I was wondering if it is possible to build a five gallon tank for a
Betta with regular glass that they have at the hardware stores. Or do
you need glass that is thicker than that even for a tank that small?
<You need to use proper aquarium glass. Regular window glass may not
be strong enough to hold water safely, and even if it does hold the
water initially, aquarium glass is specially toughened so that knocks
don't cause it to explode but to crack. Five-gallon aquaria are
very inexpensive, and I by the time you've bought the glass and the
aquarium-grade sealant, it's hard to see how there's any kind
of economy compared to just buying a properly-made aquarium. Through
the time needed to build the thing into the
mix, along with the safety issues, and the choice becomes a
New Betta tank questions 3/8/11
Greetings to the WWM crew! I found your site a few days ago and
have learned a huge amount from it already. It's great to
have such a wealth of information in one place, and I read as
much of it as I can during the day.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
My question is this: I recently bought a five gallon Aqueon
MiniBow aquarium for my office desk into which I intend to add a
male Betta and perhaps a couple of snails or bottom feeders for
<Would skip the snails. Apple Snails (Mystery Snails) at least
are difficult to maintain for long periods. Cherry Shrimps would
make a much better alternative.>
I bought some smooth gravel for the bottom, a few ornaments with
hiding places and a couple of live plants to aid the water and
bacteria cycle. I also bought a 50w Marineland heater which keeps
the water at 78-80 degrees very nicely.
I filled it up a few days ago and let the filter run with a
recommended dose of water conditioner over the weekend. I also
took some gravel from my sister's 20 gallon Betta tank to get
the cycle started. I intend to bring a sample to my local fish
store to test before introducing any fish.
<OK. Now, in an empty tank you'll have zero ammonia so the
water test will be completely meaningless. No ammonia going into
the water, therefore no ammonia to detect. Water tests make sense
when there's ammonia going into the system, whether from a
fish or through some other source (like small pinches of flake
every day or two). In other words, unless you've added an
ammonia source, like the aforementioned pinches of flake, you
have no filter bacteria and no biological filtration. The
bacteria you carried across from your sister's tank may well
have "starved" to death.>
I have a few questions. What is a good bottom feeder to add in to
help keep the tank clean?
<Adding animals doesn't clean the tank. That's the job
of your filter!
Think of it logically -- every animal you add means you need to
add more food to the tank and that there's more waste
(ammonia, faeces) ending up in the aquarium. BY DEFINITION, a
tank with a fish and a snail is dirtier than the same size tank
with just a fish.>
I have read anything from snails to ghost shrimp to Cory
<Corydoras need at least 10 gallons, realistically 15 gallons
for a decent school of five or more specimens. In smaller tanks
they will never be happy and probably won't live
My sister has a few Corys and they seem very excited and never
I have a feeling that would stress out my Betta in a smaller five
gallon tank, which is why I was thinking more along the lines of
a couple of snails or other feeders. What do you recommend?
<Apple/Mystery Snails are hopeless. When they die, as they
usually do after 9-12 months, they rot, and they pollute the tank
so quickly they often kill their tankmates. Small snails like
Clea helena or Physa spp. pond snails would work, and Tylomelania
might work too, though Clea helena and Tylomelania at least are
carnivores so don't remove algae even if they will eat a bit
of flake food alongside to odd catfish pellet left out for
My second question is, the filter in this Aqueon tank seems to
move the water a little too much for a long-finned fish like a
Betta. Are there smaller or gentler filters (such a sponge
filter) you could recommend?
<A small air-powered sponge or box filter would be
With bottom feeders, is there any need to vacuum the gravel every
now and then?
<Snails churn the substrate to some degree, but yes, it's
a good idea to stir the gravel every week or two, and siphon off
the mulm. Alternatively, just leave the sediment alone
completely; it will become biologically active and help to remove
nitrate. I favour the latter approach, especially if the tank has
plants (with roots).>
I plan on 25% water changes every two weeks, but I don't want
the risk any of them getting sick because of bacteria under the
<Not the way it works.>
Thanks very much for your time, and please keep up the great
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: New Betta tank questions -- 3/9/11
Thanks very much for the reply! I checked the tank for nitrate,
nitrite and ammonia levels for 3 days, and all were at ideal
<Yes, but what ammonia source were you using? Let me re-state
my key point here: if the aquarium contains no livestock and no
artificial ammonia source, then it will ALWAYS show a zero
ammonia level. No aquarium will cycle WITHOUT a source of
ammonia. The easiest way to do this is by adding small pinches of
flake daily for 3-4 weeks before adding the first fish.>
I introduced my Betta and 4 Ghost shrimp after ensuring that
everything was ready.
He's mostly been floating above the thermometer, (please see
attached pic labeled "after") and I've noticed that
he has a white spot next to his gill now. It's only on his
left side. He also isn't eating very much. I feed him Betta
pellets, and have some freeze dried bloodworms on the way in the
mail to try. He'll look at them when I drop them in and even
swim over to them, but then just takes a gulp of air and goes
back to his spot over the thermometer.
<Your Betta is one of the fancy varieties created by humans.
These can't swim well. They will always rest in sheltered
spots at the top of the tank.
If your Betta isn't swimming about, then it's likely one
of two things -- too cold or too much water current.>
Does this white spot look like Ich? I took a picture of him the
day I got him and it was not there. (Please see attached pic
<Can't tell from that image.>
If it is Ich, I know I can just raise the temp of the water. Will
the Ghost shrimp tolerate 85 degree water ok if I do this?
<Should do. Do read here:
I took care to prepare everything very well, and I'm
concerned I did/didn't do something that I should have.
<Yes; if you didn't cycle the tank, then there will be a
few weeks where ammonia and nitrite will be above zero. Remember,
if either is above zero, then the fish is being stressed. A
stressed fish is more likely to get sick.>
Thank you in advance.
<Glad to help.>
|Re: New Betta tank questions -- 3/9/11
I appreciate your help.
<Glad to help.>
I see now what happened. I thought since there were a couple of
fish in here previously that the cycle had already come and gone.
Perhaps the cycle hadn't completed.
(The chain pet stores give some really bad advice.)
<Sometimes. It's worth making friends with your local fish
club. They'll know the best stores. But as with anything, read
up first, just as if you were buying a car or a new house. Visit
the store on a quiet day, not Saturday morning, when the store
manager might be around to chat for a while.>
The test strips I got are apparently not very accurate either from
what I'm reading.
<Well, they're okay. Better to use them than not at
Can you recommend a better water testing method? What about those
ammonia gauges that stick to the side of the tank and tell you when
ammonia is at dangerous levels?
<Oh, they're much worse, and wear out in a few months
The water is definitely not cold (80 degrees) and I had turned off
the filter a couple of days ago to put a sponge filter in powered
by an air pump. (That should be here tomorrow.)
I did a 50% water change this morning with treated water (making
sure it was at the same temp as the tank water) and he seems to be
swimming around a little bit more, (perhaps just from the
disturbance of changing the water) but he still won't eat
anything. If you think it's the ammonia level making him sick,
how often should I do partial water changes, and what % of the
water should I change?
<For the first, let's say 3 weeks onwards, change 20-25%
every day or two.
Feed only every other day. After that, you should be fine, and from
3 weeks inwards, switch to the usual 20-25% water changes every
weekend, and daily feeding.>
Hopefully the sponge filter and bloodworms will entice him to eat
something soon. The shrimp, meanwhile, are scurrying around picking
up anything they can and eating it.
<No need to feed if he's not hungry. Starving a fish for a
week or two does no harm at all.>
Sorry for my noob mistakes and questions. I'm sure you guys are
shaking your heads at most people who ask these questions.
<Sometimes, but we wouldn't be here if we didn't want to
help. Cheers, Neale.>
Betta males, sys. - 2/23/2011
I'm puzzled as to why y'all
<You all? Not me.>
recommend using an opaque divider in a tank with male Bettas.
<I don't recommend keeping two Betta splendens on one tank at
My two males, Whirly and Zi, flared at each other for exactly 5 days
after Zi was added. On the sixth day they basically could care less if
the other was in sight.
<Hmm'¦ there's something called "dear enemy
theory" in biology that might explain this. Animals need to spend
their energy carefully, and that means learning to ignore things that
don't matter. Experiments show that territorial males ignore males
in adjacent territories that they see all the time, but will attack
males they've never seen before that happen to come close to their
territory. In this situation, it may be that males ignore one another
once they've established they hold different territories, but
attack stranger males because the territory-holding male doesn't
know if this new male is a threat or not.>
And other than a random flaring contest they are quite content to just
swim around their section of the tank or even odder they at times
"snuggle" with the divider between them.
<They sure aren't snuggling! That's pure anthropomorphism.
Fun to do, and we all think like that from time to time, but dangerous
if you want to understand what's actually going on. Male Betta
splendens are strictly solitary animals.>
They seem to be quite happy.
<I dare say.>
I get the feed me dance.
<Perhaps. These animals may well have trained you to offer food when
they do certain things. Many pets do this, and we wrongly assume
we've trained them to do something cute in return for being given
food afterwards. It's much more common that animals discover if
they do something, like wiggle their bodies, the humans around them
dump food in their aquarium or food bowl.>
They are building bubble nests. Just very interested in the world
Yes, I have a tendency to have oddball animals.
<Ah, well if you want oddball, do consider the other Betta species,
like the mouthbrooding Betta pugnax, or the charming Betta imbellis, a
species sufficiently tolerant that groups can be kept together, in
large tanks, where the aggression between males will be limited to
ritual displays. Here in England at least, these other Betta species
aren't very commonly traded, but they are available regularly from
the better aquarium shops, as well as through aquarium clubs. That may
be the case in your own country, too; I'd encourage you look up
some of these other Betta species and try them out.>
New 23 litre/6 gal tank set-up (male Betta/Siamese Fighter)
- catfish additions? 7/28/10
I recently sent in a query about the endless problems with my tiny 6
gallon Fluval Edge (I'm a beginner, big mistake), and Neale set me
straight on a few things. Blunt but fair and very informative, thanks
<Glad to help.>
My surviving 4 guppies and 2 platys have been re-homed to a new
enormous tank, so hopefully they are now much happier and healthier. I
spent some time deciding whether or not to sell the Fluval and get
something bigger - but I have limited space available, so upgrading to
a 90 litre isn't a viable option.
And after 10 months of struggling, I'm hooked anyway! So, with all
its design flaws, pathetic size and danger to beginners, I only have
the Edge for the time being - I may be able to upgrade to 40 or 50
<Do save your pennies for something larger -- even if that's a
couple years down the line. Tanks below, say, 70 litres are really
difficult to stock and maintain. Not impossible, but hard.>
In the meantime, after hours of poring over the FAQ's on WWM, I
went and carefully selected a male Siamese fighter from my local
Maidenhead Aquatics.....Fuzzy (as named by my 5 yr old god-daughter)
has a violet and
aqua body, and blood red fins. He's very beautiful and has a
strangely expressive face! Based on what I've read so far, a single
Betta in a 6 gallon heated, filtered tank is acceptable isn't
<Yes, but the problem is that the Edge has a square "slot"
at the top rather than the whole top being open. Since Bettas need to
breathe air, they have to aim for that small slot each time they want a
gulp of air.
Lethal? Probably not. But neither is it ideal, and it's hard to
know how successful Bettas will be in these tanks over the long term.
It isn't a combination I'd recommend.>
Yes, there is some debate over the effectiveness of gas exchange in
this tank, but the design is also very poor in light of the Betta being
a surface breather.
So I have left a 5mm gap at the top of the tank, giving the fighter
more breathing options (i.e. the whole surface area) rather than just
the 7" x 6" open aperture at the back.
With the live plants, air stone and regular water changes, I hope I can
minimise the design risk to any inhabitants until I can change the
<Indeed. Should be viable.>
The Betta is eating well considering he's only been with me 3 days,
and he is very active and very curious. I still have two shrimp in the
tank (not sure what type, they're about an inch long and
<Probably an Amano shrimp; I'd have chosen Cherry Shrimps which
are smaller and bright red. You can also get blue and orange shrimps,
and these are just as hardy as the Cherry Shrimps.>
and I also added a Zebra Snail which is already doing a great job.
<Cool. All nice stock for this tank.>
Maidenhead suggested that I added some Harlequins and Cory catfish, but
I'm not convinced;
<Nor am I.>
even if they could all get along with the Betta, I would need several
of each to meet their social requirements, and that would be way too
many for this tank, right?
So, what about just a small species of Cory? From what I read, these
could be a suitable addition, being armoured bottom dwellers etc....but
I do of course have very limited space. I guess 2 would be ok in terms
of the tank size, but too few in terms of their preferred group
existence? I'm very tempted by the Panda Corys I spotted at the
shop, but presumably I cannot support 4 of them?
<Not a chance.>
Even if I could get away with adding only two, is it possible to
compromise between their respective preferred temperatures - it seems
that the Betta likes 26-28c, but the Corys prefer lower temps of around
22c. Could they all be comfortable at, say, 25c?
<Least of your problems. Do not do this. You have a system now that
should work. Accept it for what it is, a Betta aquarium.>
Alternatively, I could go for some different species of shrimp and
snails to add variety, if this wouldn't increase the bio-load too
much.....any suggestions, as there seem to be a vast number to choose
<See above. Shrimps and Nerite Snails would be fine
Would very much appreciate your advice, thank you.
Re: New 23 litre/6 gal tank set-up (male Betta/Siamese Fighter)
- catfish additions? 7/28/10
Hey Neale, thanks as always....I'm happy to keep it as it is, until
I can find some more shrimps and snails! I have noticed a microscopic
trumpet snail in my
tank which must've hitched a ride on one of the plants....not quite
what I had in mind, but good for the gravel I guess. I keep it all
fairly clean, so hopefully I won't find a billion of them one
<Indeed. Or do add one or two Clea helena, the Assassin Snail, to
keep populations in check. These are very pretty snails that breed very
slowly, and eat leftover fish food as well as snails.>
A different rep at the fish shop yesterday told me he kept 25 dwarf
barbs in an Edge with no problems'¦'¦.
but that the lights are rubbish for plants.
<Does depend on the plants, but Java fern and Anubias should be
okay, Java moss too.>
Jeez, its no wonder I get confused.
<To some extent that happens, but it's also important to go
slowly, be conservative, and wait a few months before adding new
livestock. If you add 25 Tiger Barbs all at once, I can guarantee most
would die within weeks.>
Stay cool, and cheers for all the expertise.
<Glad to help, 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
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
<I cannot say. The person to ask would be someone at the
Are the Bettas in stores like this considered
<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
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.>
<--Melinda><<Well done Melissa... fair-minded, even-handed.
Pleco in a bottle 2/1/2010
I was wondering if I could put a small Plecostomus (spelled right?) or
Bristlenose Pleco ( I've heard they stay small) could live
peacefully with a male Betta in a 1.5 gallon tank.
<No. I wouldn't even put a Betta in this tank, to be honest.
After decor and substrate, a tank this small holds about a gallon of
water in actual volume -- not viable for anything that's alive,
really. The waste buildup would lead to extremely frequent water
changes or, in their absence, a sick fish. Please read the following
pages on Betta care, and take the information found there to heart,
prior to purchasing one of these tiny tanks. They really never lead to
anything good, and end up to be disappointing attempts at fishkeeping.
Do your research, start with a realistically-sized tank (five gallons
for a Betta, at minimum), and you'll be successful here. If you are
currently keeping a Betta in a tank this small, please do ensure that
you're testing often for Nitrate, and doing water changes to keep
that level below 20. For most Betta systems, this is incredibly easy.
My Betta's tank, a five-gallon with a large Anubias Nana
on driftwood, routinely tests at 0 to 5 Nitrate with minimal
In tanks as small as the one you mention, it's a different story,
which is why they so often lead to discouraging results.
Plecos need much more than what you'd be offering here, and I
wouldn't place on in any tank under thirty gallons, even the
Ancistrus species you mention above. These can grow to six inches, and
would quickly outgrow the aquarium you're mentioning. Along the
way, it would produce copious amounts of waste, if kept properly, and
foul water quality. You need volume to dilute waste. Swimming space is
nice, but when we recommend a certain size aquarium for any fish, we
are often keeping their waste production in mind. Plecos eat a lot;
therefore, they poop a lot, and need a much larger volume than what
you're offering. When water quality begins to decline, fish begin
to get sick. Remember, in the end, this is supposed to be a fun hobby,
and if you take risk after risk, you're only going to end up
causing more trouble for yourself, and your fish. It's SO much
easier to take care the first time to do things right.
Please write back if you have further questions after reading.
Betta bubblenest???? -- 1/21/10
I am wondering if my Betta (male) made a bubble nest or maybe
they are just bubbles I'm not sure. I attached a couple
pictures of it.
<The first photo likely is; the second and third aren't.
Did you take these photos right after a water change? This looks
like the water has just been changed and the bubbles will go away
after some of the air trapped inside of them has a chance to
diffuse out of the water..>
Also is my Betta setup an ok one? Its an 5 gallon plastic
container with a plant. I change the water 2 times a week is this
setup ok for him. It does not have a filter or heater but I have
a big heater in my room and keep it around 75* F.
<This is too cold. He needs a heater, both for warmth and to
keep the temperature steady. In a small volume such as this,
water temperature will fluctuate quickly, which will stress him.
Also, since Bettas are air breathers, I would use something other
than plastic wrap to cover this vessel. Chances are small that he
will "run out" of oxygen, but this air must get pretty
stale. In addition, with no filter, there is little chance of
biological filtration, i.e., the nitrogen cycle, ever occurring.
This means that each time you change his water, the ammonia
concentration will climb until you change the water again.
He's going to be sitting in his own toxic waste products for
a good five days out of the week, at least -- the only time the
water will be clean for him are the days you change it!
Please enough of what is archived on WWM about Betta care:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/betsysfaqs.htm (and the
linked files at the top of the page)
And please read here for information on the nitrogen cycle.
Filters have several functions, and one of them is to allow space
for bacteria to grow in order to facilitate the processing of
toxic waste products into a much less-toxic product. This is how
fishkeepers get by with small weekly water changes, and these
small water changes make for a more stable environment for the
fish, reducing stress.
I think the results of keeping Bettas too cold and in unfiltered
bowls will become abundantly clear after a quick perusal of the
archived queries on WWM. If you have any further questions after
reading, please feel free to write back.
Follow-Up, regarding Maximus the Betta
Two photos of Maximus are attached. In both he is prowling his
holding-jar; in one of them the lower-portion of his aquarium can
be seen in the background... now being "cycled" by
....Michael, proud sponsor of Maximus the Betta.
<Glad to see your Betta is feeling happier and healthier.
I'm sure he's looking forward to moving to his new
aquarium. Do remember you can use filter media from an
established tank to quickly cycle a new tank. Moving water
between tanks is pointless, but moving filter media dramatically
speeds up the cycle. Cheers, Neale.>
Betta Fish sys. and beh. 6/24/06 <<Hi. Tom
here.>> How do we find out if Betta fish can jump out of their
bowls? <<I'm not quite certain that I know what you're
asking. If you want to know if it's possible, the answer is
"yes". Actually, they're well-adapted for this as a
matter of survival in their native habitats. If you want to know if
yours will try to jump out of its bowl, probably not. As long as water
conditions are good and your pet's bowl isn't kept near another
bowl housing a female that he'd like for a "girlfriend"
or, a male that he wants to "tangle" with, he'll be happy
to stay put. Put a cover on his bowl for a week or so to give him a
point of reference, i.e. the surface. This should make it quite
unlikely that he'll go "adventuring" by mistake.
Re: Jumping Bettas 6/25/06 - Tom,
Thanks. We had a Betta jump out of his bowl twice. We've lowered
the water and will keep him a little more separated from his companion
Betta whom we sometimes put right next to him. <<Amazing
critters, aren't they?>> With appreciation, Joe <<Glad
to help, Joe. Tom>>
And This Month's Award Goes to.... Betta sys. -
10/21/2006 Hi Gang, I just realized it has been some time since I
received your help and just wanted to reply with thanks. Your site is
the first place I look when I have questions, and it continues to guide
me through this sometimes very confusing (and rewarding) hobby. I also
love that you demand correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation :)
Anyway, I ended up trying all of your suggestions. I threw out my old
conditioners and switched to Stress Coat, and eventually Prime, with
the same result. I also thoroughly cleaned out my litter box (even
though it wasn't all that dirty) - but I wanted to make sure. But
perhaps I just have dirty fish. *shrugs* What I ended up doing was
making a bit of an investment. I purchased four 5.5 gallon glass tanks,
and hooked up four sponge filters to one air pump (to cut down on
plug-usage). A four-way gang valve also allows me to turn down the
current so the boys are able to swim comfortably. I have two of these
tanks side by side on two different shelves, and one strip light
running across each set of tanks. I'm in the process of planting
them, too, and with the help of a little BioSpira, my boys now all live
in ammonia-free, completely cycled water. I'm quite happy using
sponge filters, and still vacuum the gravel about every two weeks, but
it's a lot less work than before. The boys are thriving, and love
having all that room to stretch their fins! It's amazing how NOT
lethargic Bettas are when they are allowed to move. (I know I could
have divided a tank or two to make it cheaper, but I would probably
always worry about escapes, disease, and water-flow.) Anyway, sorry
this was long! You guys are awesome, thanks for all your good work.
Have a great day! Shannon <Wow! Nice set up! You get my 'Betta
God/Goddess Award' this month! And yes, sponge filters are great at
bio filtration. Only one suggestion that you may have already taken
care of. Put a solid divider between the tanks so they can not see each
other. They will flair at each other all day long which causes stress.
Betta article 07/02/05 Just read your article in Pet Age.
<An industry periodical> Just wanted to tell you great job.
Schuyler Sloane (Mr. sky) Founder and president of The Northeast
Philadelphia Aquarium Society Visit us on the web @
www.phillyfishclub.com <Thank you for this... Want to impart my
thanks to the editor there... We had a "misunderstanding" or
better, lack of understanding re the content of this piece... This
series is more "pro" toward advertisers, extant products...
But I am adverse <<or rather averse... >> to promoting poor
practices, products and techniques that are harmful or just
non-beneficial to our aquatic charges. In this case, the little death
traps which are unfiltered, unheated "bowls" for Bettas
mainly. To her credit and perseverance, the article was not tossed...
or much modified. Bob Fenner>
Dual Betta Tanks 8/29/05 Hi, great site. I currently own a
red male Betta named Fuego. In the next few months, I would like to
purchase a 10 gallon tank and add a partition in. On one side, I will
house Fuego, and some other tank mates and a plant or two. On the other
side, I would like to purchase another male Betta and create a similar
system. Will having the two male Bettas close to each other cause
stress and problems for either one? <To an extent, yes...
shouldn't be in constant visual access... can try, separate if/when
this appears to have become too much> I've seen the dual tanks
for Bettas but they seem too small, which is why I'm planning on
the 10g. <Much better> My desire isn't to have them see each
other, just to have the two tanks connected and side by side. Maybe I
should get an opaque partition? <Ah! Yes, great idea> I
haven't looked into partitions so I'm not sure what's
available. <There are darkened glass and acrylic> Any input is
appreciated. Best, Alex <Bob Fenner>
Betta splendens Bob, I just received a Betta as a gift from a
neighbor. I really don't want to maintain this fish in its own tank
if I can help it. Do you think it would survive in the fireplace tank
with the Kissing Gourami and the Loaches? <Mmm, yes... most
likely... or if push comes to proverbial shove you can arrange
something like a glass cylinder (hurricane lamp covers work great here)
to keep it separated... Two things to look/out for... that it's not
getting too bugged by other fishes, and that it's getting enough to
eat... In your care I think it will do fine. Bob Fenner> How about
the small tank with three guppies and a butterfly Goby or Goby?.
<Mmm, better in your main tank... Betta's go after male guppy
tails... and for certain eat all young.> Thanks!
Wild Betta's living quarters I am confused on this
subject. Two pet store owners have told me that Bettas come from very
small muddy pockets of water and may be kept in very confined
containers. I just read on several different web sites that they need
plenty of room to move around. Who is right? <Mmm, actually both.
The original Bettas (splendens) do hail from muddy bodies of water...
and do possess an ancillary aerial breathing apparatus (the labyrinth
organ) to "breath from the air". The recommended larger space
is mainly for stability (larger bodies of water stay physically,
chemically the same longer... given over-feeding, pollution from same,
vacillating room temperature...). Though male Bettas (females are
raised in tanks together) are grown out in less than liter volumes,
they are best kept in larger quarters> It does seem sad that
Wal-Mart has them in those extremely small cups all of the time. Is it
cruel to keep them in such cramped quarters? <Not so much cruel (as
the store temperature is kept warm, constant, and am sure that they
have excellent programs for (temporary) maintenance... this is the
prudent method of displaying, holding, selling these animals... and
Betta's are toward the far end of "unawareness" as fishes
go... not seemingly mal-affected. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Dianne All
Can a Betta live in a vase with a plant at the top? My wife
just put our Betta in a big clear vase with some fancy clear marbles in
the bottom and some kind of bare root plant at the top. there's a
cover over the top of the vase with a whole in it for the plant's
roots to be in the water, and some more of the marbles around the edge
of this cover...Can our beta live like this? <These vases are sold
all over the place and I have seen Bettas live quite a long time in
there provided you keep the water clean and he's fed well.? It
looks like he wants to get to the top, but the roots are in the way.
<make sure the Betta can get to the surface of the water! If there
is no airspace in the vase then your Betta will not be able to get the
air it needs. Bettas are one of those few fish that can
"drown" in the water. They are air breathers, and need to be
able to get air from the surface. So, make sure that you give it some
room to get to the surface.> It's nice and artistic-looking, but
I am concerned for the fish. <They can be very pretty, but I still
like seeing my Bettas in tanks with filters. Mine are all happy, and I
worry much less. -Magnus>
Betta Fanatic Needs Advice Okay...I am a Betta
fanatic! It all started with my Dad's girlfriend, who is also a
Betta lover (she has had her for three years!), told me about a purple
and black Betta she saw. Apparently the little bugger cost the owner
$200. I couldn't believe it so I did a little search on the
Internet and the next thing I know is that I found myself wanting a
just not a purple Betta but a half moon purple Betta. Well, I found one
and bought it and yes it was quite pricy. So now that I have invested
in Mr. Purple Price, I must make sure he is happy in his new home or my
investment will go down the toilet (literally). So my question is
this...what is the best aquarium setup for a Betta? I already have one
in a tank. He is Mr. Blue Buck. I bought him for $3 at Wal-Mart. He is
a lovely little thing but quite shy. He hides when he see me coming;
otherwise he is pretty healthy! Anyway, he is in a 2.5 MiniBow with a
Penguin Mini Power filter. The light keeps the temp around 80 degrees.
During the night when I turn it off it fall to about 75 degrees. The
filter seems to circulate the water too much so I turn it on for 30
minutes once a day to clean the water and exercise Mr. Blue Buck. For
Mr. Purple Price, I was thinking about buying another MiniBow but this
time a 5 gallon. But then I ran across Marineland's Eclipse systems
with the built in power filters in the lid. I was think about buying a
3 or a 6 gallon one. But then I started to think about buying a 10
gallon tank and dividing it up into 5 gallons with a Plexi glass
divider (with holes for water circulation, of course) and keeping both
Bettas in the same tank. So I did a little more internet research on
the topic and now I don't know what to think. Can you give me
advice on how to create the perfect environment for not only the Mr.
Purple Price but also Mr. Blue Buck? Am I at least on the right track?
Thanks for your help, Kathryn, Alaska USA <<Dear Kathryn,
congrats on the new Betta addiction! Aren't they great little fish?
I have always loved these, the way their little bodies move, the long,
flowing fins...these are truly gorgeous fish. Anyway, you are on the
right track with the small tanks. I have found that they prefer small
quarters (not TOO small, though) since, in large tanks, they tend to
hide due to the fact that most of these fish are being bred and raised
in small tanks and are not at all used to large tanks, they seem to
lose their confidence and hide all the time. I suppose they feel too
vulnerable in large tanks. I would probably go no larger than a 20g,
depends on the fish though. Some are bigger wusses than others...:) I
am ambiguous on the whole two-Bettas-in-one-tank thing...they do flare
and look pretty when kept together with a clear separator, but the
constant presence of another male can be stressful to them, so
excellent water quality and good foods must be given to make up for
that stress. Too much stress from too many things will cause them to
become ill more often. The trick to keeping any fish healthy is to
minimize as much of the stress as possible. Hence, keeping them
separate reduces their stress, keeping their water clean reduces their
stress, etc. So, you may draw your own conclusions and act accordingly.
Best of luck with your new pets! -Gwen>>
We Got a Jumper! Hi Don, Here I am again, begging for your
help with another Betta. My neighbor asked me to watch his male Betta
(named Mattie) for a few days. He arrived in a bowl without a cover (I
know - bad idea, but you can't tell other people what to do). I put
him under the same covered glass terrarium that my Betta lives in
(separate bowls of course). I have cats and the glass cover keeps them
safe. There is a string of white Christmas lights around the base of
the terrarium that keeps the water warm and at a steady temperature. My
Betta, Ian, is thriving in that environment. <Read ahead, so I know
what's coming. If they could see each other this is a little risky.
Some are so aggressive the will jump out in an attempt to get at the
other. Even if covered the stress is not good> Well, I guess you
know what's coming .... I got a phone call and was out of the room
for about 30 minutes. When I came back and went over to check Mattie,
he was not in his bowl. I found him on the bottom of the terrarium,
under the lights and he was pretty much shriveled and dry. I quickly
put him in some clean water with a bit of aquarium salt and water
conditioner in it and he came back to life right away. He swam around
for awhile and appeared to re-hydrate. But now he is either hanging
head up, tail down and the top of his bowl, or lying pretty much
motionless on the bottom of his bowl. BTW - I covered the bowl with
some Press and Seal with a lot of holes punched in it and put Mattie up
on a high shelf behind some plants where hopefully the cats (the
Bengal's in particular) cannot see him. Is there anything you can
suggest to improve this poor little guy's chances of survival? As
you can imagine I feel just awful about this. I called my neighbor to
tell him what happened, and he feels that Mattie was upset by the
lights. He has no previous history of jumping. Perhaps he was upset by
Ian being near him in the other bowl. I did not think it would be a
problem because last week I had another neighbor's Betta in the
terrarium with Ian and they were happy as anything. I jut feel terrible
about this. I want to wish you and your family a very happy holiday
season. <Same to you and yours> Thank you so very much for your
help. Jaime P.S. On a happier note, my Ian is really doing well. He
eats from my finger now and happily swims around his new large bowl all
day and blows lots bubbles. He was kind of a scrappy looking fish when
I got him but he is filling out beautifully now. <Great to hear
about Ian. Hope you have him for many years. As for the jumper. This is
a problem. Most other species would have died. Bettas can take O2 from
the air as long as the gills are moist, so we got lucky there. But his
skin and fins drying out is of great concern. That tissue is dead. This
opens him up to infections. But as stressed and weak as he is, a strong
med is out of the question. Try a few drops of Methylene Blue. Most pet
stores will carry this. It helps kill fungus and is gentle enough to
use on eggs and fry. It will also raise the O2 in the water helping the
gills. An airstone would also help. Keep the water clean and warm and
cross your fingers. But I have to say, I don't think his chances
are good. Sorry. Don> Betta Set-up Hey All!!! <Hello
Megan!> I'm in the process of setting up a fish tank for my
younger sister (I'm downsizing and don't have the room in my
apartment for it!). For years she has wanted a Betta, so we thought
that at this point she was old enough. I used to breed Bettas, but
it's been so many years, that I've forgotten what the best
setup would be for the tank. Right now, we have an 8 mo old completely
cycled 10 gallon glass tank (my old tank) with a dinky little in-tank
filter. Their water comes out of the tap with a very very very high
nitrate level (they're on well water). So, instead of putting
plastic plants in there, I'll be putting in Anacharis and Java Moss
to help control the nitrate level (she'll also be doing weekly H2O
changes). <Sounds good> Since this will be a community tank of
sorts, I told her to put the Betta in last because if my memory serves
me correctly, if the other fishes territories have been established
it'll, hopefully, help to keep the hostility down in the tank.
<Yes... as long as the other fishes aren't slow, have long,
flowing fins (like fancy male guppies) or too fast and nippy towards
the Betta (e.g. Tiger Barbs)> I want to put two Otos in the tank
along with the Betta. She's also curious as to what else is
compatible. I'm not real sure as to who would and wouldn't be
fin nippers and such. <Much else... small/er barbs, Danios,
Gouramis, catfishes... Do make sure and add a heater (remember,
they're all tropicals), and leave the water level down a few inches
if you don't have a top... to prevent jumping! Bob Fenner> Any
help would be great! Thanks guys!!! Megan Betta in a Pickle
(jar) Hi Crew, I was at a friends house and I noticed his Betta had
a tiny white cotton growth on his right pectoral fin only. The Betta is
eating, swims and looks health. The Betta is kept in a 2 litre jar
(approx. half gallon), and the water is changed (100%) once a week at a
temperature of approx. 70c. We did a complete water change and added
some aquarium salt. What can it be? What my have caused it? Is there
anything more he should be doing? (Example: change the water more
frequently, add some medication) Your insight would greatly be
appreciated. Thanks, Mario D. <Hi Mario, Don here. My first
suggestion is a 2.5 to 5 gallon tank with a heater and sponge filter.
This sounds like a fungus that appears when fish are kept in less than
ideal conditions. Like a half gallon jar at 70 degrees. Bettas are
tropical fish and need a steady temp in the high 70s, up to 80. What
you have done so far is correct; A water change and salt. However I
would only change about 50%, siphoning from the bottom, twice as often.
Daily until the fungus clears. Mix the salt in the replacement water
before adding it to the tank. Be careful not to let the concentration
rise. But I'm afraid these problems will continue until a better
home is provided>
Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term
by Robert (Bob) Fenner