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FAQs on Betta Systems: Tanks, Bowls

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 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 Selection, 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

New Print and eBook on Amazon

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

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....>

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>

Freshwater Stocking Question     2/7/14
Good afternoon,
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 everything out.
Note:  Petland told me my Betta would drown...
<... no>

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>
<Bob Fenner>

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.     8/14/15

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
<Hello Abigail,>
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 filtered?>
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 illness.
<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 can! 
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 filter.
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 proper environment.
Bob Fenner>

My Betta fish: Please Help!, Housing    6/8/12
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 gallon?
<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~ Sarah
<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 more.  
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/BettaGldfshKpgArt.htm  >

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 each other.>
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

Hi Neale,
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 clarification.
<Sure thing.>
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 especially well.>
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!
<Welcome. Neale.>
Re: keeping Bettas outdoors in tropical ponds? in pairs? groups?     4/22/12

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
<Hi there>
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 Fenner>

How tall is too tall for a Betta 12/14/11
<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 problems?
<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? Thank you!
<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 no-brainer.
Cheers, Neale.>

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 cleaning up.
<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 catfish.
<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 long.>
My sister has a few Corys and they seem very excited and never calm down.
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 them.>
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 ideal.>
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 gravel.
<Not the way it works.>
Thanks very much for your time, and please keep up the great work!
<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 levels.
<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.
<I see.>
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 labeled "before".)
<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.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

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.
<Can happen.>
(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 all.>
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 anyway.>
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 all.>
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 around them.
<Sounds nice.>
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.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

New 23 litre/6 gal tank set-up (male Betta/Siamese Fighter) - catfish additions? 7/28/10
Hello crew,
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 Neale.
<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 litres soon.
<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 it?
<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 tank.....
<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 colourless),
<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?
<Too many.>
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 from?
<See above. Shrimps and Nerite Snails would be fine additions.>
Would very much appreciate your advice, thank you.
<Cheers, Neale.>
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 morning.
<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'¦'¦.
<So far.>
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 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>>

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 maintenance.
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
Hello WWM
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 10/20/2009
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 eight Minnows.
....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. Tom>>

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. Don>

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>

New Print and eBook on Amazon

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

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