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


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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

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

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

Betta Housing  9/19.5/05 Thanks for the reply.  Sounds like I have to convince the wife that Bob the Betta is happiest on his own (although snacking on the blue shrimp might make him even happier!). I realize it's not a 10g tank, but I didn't think of the bowl as little (18-20 inches high, and about 14 inches across at the widest point).  Is that too small for a Betta if the water is changed 2-3X a week? < If you feed your Betta sparingly and remove any left over food after a couple of minutes with a siphon or a net then you may get by with once a week. More will not hurt. A good rule of thumb would be if you notice any smell to the water then it is a good time to change it.> What about the submerged filter option I mentioned - would that make it more habitable? < A filter will increase the water circulation and improve water quality when it is seasoned with nitrifying bacteria. Bettas really don't like too much water flow.> I occasionally swat mosquitoes flying around my office (between my hands).  Based on the comments about waiting for insects, can I toss these dead mosquitoes in the bowl for him? < Sure, try them . If he doesn't eat them after a while then you will need to take them out.> We are going to get a hand siphon pump today, so we can easily change the water in the bowl.  I figure 25% of volume, 2-3 times a week.  We have a source for bottled spring water we can use instead of tap water; is that a sound alternative to trying to get the chlorine to evaporate from tap water? < Sounds good.-Chuck> Thanks for the help, George

10 Gallon Betta tank  9/19.5/05 Dear WWM crew:   I haven't had to write in a while, because you guys (and gals) gave me such excellent advice when I was first starting up the hobby about a year and a half ago. Glad you're still here! I now have a 40 gallon freshwater tank up and running, and have just re-started up my initial 10 gallon tank to house 1 Betta and 3 red platies. I am using a small Aqua-tech 10-20 filter so I get SOME filtration, not too much water movement for the Betta.  My temperature is at 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This filter doesn't have a bio-wheel, but it has a bio-fiber filter in addition to the regular carbon filter, which means it provides biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration. I also used water from my established tank in order to eliminate (minimize?) the cycling process. I need a second opinion about my choices regarding lack of water movement and filtration. I'd like to add one airstone for a little movement, but I'm wondering if even that would be too much for my Betta. I know these choices are enough for the Betta, but have I created a comfortable home for the platies?  I have added lots of plastic plants (a.k.a. places to hide), which I know the Betta sometimes likes to have, the gravel is dark, and the light is low and diffused. Also, at present, I have no plans to add fish, but would there be room for another platy if I did?  Thanks in advance, Cyndy Monarez >>>Hi Cindy I wouldn't add anymore fish to that tank. Secondly, regarding the water movement, all I can suggest is to try the airstone and see if the results are satisfactory. If it looks to be a bit too much for the beta, but a small valve in the air line and turn it down a bit. Hope this helps. Cheers Jim<<<

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

Betta Beginnings - 09/02/2005 Hi. I just got 3 Bettas for about 4 days now. <Much to learn!  Uh, also, PLEASE learn to capitalize properly....  including "I", "I'm", the beginnings of sentences, etc....  We have to fix these errors prior to posting on the site.  It gets very tedious.> I have some concerns/questions: 1: Summer is almost over, and its getting colder. The temperature at my house during the day is around 80+ degrees, and it gets around the 70s at night. I know that it is going to be colder when fall hits (I live in California). <Me, too.> So my question is: do I need a heater for my fishes (keep in mind that I have 3 small bowls--will it fit?), <Yes, you do, and no, it won't fit in a small bowl.> and if so, how much is the cheapest, and are they innovative ways to keep the bowls warmer with household products? <Aside from keeping the room they are in at a constant temperature, there is no such method.> 2: My Bettas are 3 inches (so they are adult, I guess). Well, I'm afraid I am overfeeding them. the problem is, they constantly go to the water surface for food, and feeling sorry for them, I feed them. I've been feeding them at least 4 pellets and 2 bloodworms a day, per fish. So my question is: am I feeding too much? How many pellets and bloodworms should I feed each Betta?     <I would offer them this same amount of food every other day.> 3: I've done research, I found out that Bettas can be ear damaged if the volume of say, the TV and boom box, is too loud. And what's more, they can be stressed by the aggravation, and thus, die sooner. <Correct.> So my question is: how loud is too loud, for the TV, and for the boom box? <I haven't got a decibel statistic for you; use common sense and discretion, and keep your animals far from these devices.> 4: I read from your forum that Bettas like to live in aquariums of at least a quart. <That's a hazardous minimum.  I urge systems of 2 gallons or more, for environmental stability, which is of the utmost importance to the longevity of ANY fish.> Two of them are in a fish bowl of dimensions of a 1.5 inch radius (3 inches in diameter), by 5.5 inches tall, <Distressingly small, and impossible to keep stable....> and those two are way more happy in them (they blow bubble nests regularly)   <You've had the animals less than a week....  I assure you, these volumes are far too small for long-term survival.  Such containers are developed for people who tend to be more interested in aesthetics than the lives forced to live in such confines.  These fish will not be "happy" for a great deal of time, I fear.> than my other fish, which is in a 1.5 quart aquarium, and it was 2 days late in blowing bubbles nests. <Even this is too small....  but better, at least.  Bubblenests, this early on, are pretty much irrelevant in gauging the fish's status.> The question is, should I upgrade to a bigger aquarium? <I would, absolutely, if at all possible.  A 10 gallon tank divided into three sections with substrate and decor would be great.> Thank you so much for getting the time out to help me. <Please read more here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bettasysart.htm .  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>
Betta Beginnings - II - 09/04/2005
Hello Sabrina. <Hello, again!> Thank you so much for helping me out so quickly. I wish every business was as reliant as you. I will be getting a bigger aquarium soon, equipped with a heater, so rest assured, my Bettas will no longer be suffering. <Wonderful to hear, my friend!!> P.S.: I capitalized just for you! <I am truly grateful.  Thank you very much.  Wishing you and your scaly pals well,  -Sabrina>
Betta Beginnings - IV - 10/29/2005
Oh yes. I am putting a lot of thought and care into my Bettas' well-being because they are the first organisms that I have managed to keep alive for more than a week. TWO WHOLE MONTHS NOW!!! :) Laters.  <Excellent news, my friend! I am delighted to have been of help - keep up the good work, sounds like you and your fish are doing awesome! -Sabrina>

Cloudy water  8/31/05 I have my Betta in a 3.5 gal aquarium that was cycled for a month before buying the fish.  Temp is 80 and steady.  I treated for fin rot as he got a hole in his tail and the next day it expanded to missing a large chunk so Maracyn 2 was added for 5 days.  That was last week and I did my water change on Saturday, by Sunday I had a white cloudy water problem. <The Minocycline (the M II) has forestalled your cycling...> I understand from web info that this is probably a bacteria problem. <Yes... a "population explosion"> I've checked for ammonia and so far so good.  Do you recommend I leave it alone, add a water treatment to clear it, do some water changes? <The last...> My little guy is not quite acting his usual self so am wondering if he is stressed? <Yes, likely so> Spends more time swimming and resting on or near bottom of tank.  I don't usually have the air pump on but have started running it in case water needs oxygenating.  Any suggestions are appreciated. New owner <Bettas don't need air in their water... are aerial respirators, but you do want to move the water through your filter... Bob Fenner>

Siamese Fighting Fish feeding 8/31/05 Hi, I recently purchased a Siamese Fighting Fish named Dragon and have made a home for it by itself in a double Penn-Plax Betta Bow Front Tank (no, this is not an advertisement for Penn-Plax). I have just noticed that Dragon has not consumed any of the Penn-Plax Pro Balance Betta Food Pellets I have fed it over the past week. Every time I place a pellet in the tank he swims around it extremely disinterested. I am worried and do not know what to do. Please advise. <Hi Prudence, Jorie here.  Some Bettas are extremely picky with what they eat.  I am not familiar with the pellets you describe, but I'd try offering your fish either frozen, then thawed bloodworms or Mysid shrimp.  To thaw, you can add some garlic extract to the water (just a drop!) Garlic is an appetite stimulant and most fish can't resist food soaked in it! You could try soaking a pellet in the garlic extract as well (for a different feeding, of course) and see if that makes him interested.  If not, try switching brands of dry food.  I personally like Hikari's Betta food - good quality stuff.> Thanks ;) P.S. Re cleaning the tank (bowl), I know that I should half empty the tank each week and add treated water, however is it best to take the fish out and clean the whole tank i.e. stones and all?. <No, you don't want to remove the fish each time you do a water change, as this will needlessly stress him out.  Leaving the stones in place will allow the tank to cycle, as the beneficial bacteria will establish colonies underneath.  If things get really grungy, in time, it's OK to clean everything and temporarily re-house your Betta, but you shouldn't need to do that more than once a year or so...assuming the tank you are describing has filtration (Sorry, not familiar with the brand).  Just be careful not to overfeed and the tank will stay cleaner!  Good luck, Jorie>

Betta fish freaked out, attacking walls  8/31/05 Hello, <Hi - I'm Jorie> I recently moved my Betta fish to a 10 gallon tank after reading your enlightening articles on the cruelty of those little Betta bowls (I was so ignorant!). <Hey, we all have to start learning somewhere, right?> The tank is heated at 80 degrees, has a filter and an aerator, and some soft fake plants and medium gravel. I let the whole setup run for an entire day and tested the water before putting him in (he's in there alone). He has been in the tank for 3 days, and is completely freaked out. <It's normal for a fish to take some time to adapt to his new surroundings...> I expected that he would freak out at first, but his behavior is increasingly manic. After the first day, I turned off the aerator and the filter, and that seemed to help a tiny bit. <I agree with your decision to turn off the aeration, but am not sure about the filter.  What kind of filtration unit is this? Bio-wheel, carbon filter, etc.?> But he has refused to slow down long enough to eat. After a day, he started attacking the sides of the tank, flaring at his reflection (or what I assume to be his reflection) and bumping against the sides with his nose. He has never ever been an aggressive fish before this, I couldn't get him to flare at a mirror held up against his bowl before. But now, he's a complete maniac. I'm worried because he won't eat a thing and doesn't seem to be acclimating to his new home at all. <I've found that each Betta is different in personality - I once had one who was so neurotic he spent almost his entire life hiding inside a fake ornament in his 3 gal. tank.  For him, I was extremely careful to make sure his tank wasn't in a heavily trafficked area, and that he wasn't bumped up against the other Betta tank.  For your situation, I'd suggest turning off the tank light for a bit to let him relax.  Cover the entire tank with a towel to simulate night time and let him calm down.> The tank is still cycling, I'm testing every day and today the pH was 7.2, the ammonia was 0.25ppm, and the nitrites were 0. So it's still very early in the cycle. <This likely isn't helping.  You need to get that ammonia out of the tank ASAP - do a 50-75% water change as soon as you can...the entire problem could be related to the toxins in your Betta's water. Don't worry about disrupting the cycle - when faced with a choice between making the fish more comfortable and prolonging the cycle, well, it really isn't a choice.  The tank will eventually cycle, especially if you turn the filtration back on.> I'm changing 10% (1 gallon) of the water every other day (using treated water of course).  I am just very worried about my fish, he's not eating and is exhausting himself constantly with his attacks on the aquarium walls. There is a standard sheet of "marine" background against the back of the tank, and the rest of the tank's sides are uncovered. Should I cover the sides of the tank with black paper, do you think that would reduce his reflection? <Hopefully I've answered this above.  If the marine background is plastic, perhaps it is catching the light and creating a mirror effect? Try taking it off and see if this improves things.> Should I put him back in his little torture bowl where he seemed so content before? <Try what I've suggested above.  Definitely do the water change immediately, but try just one of the other suggestions at a time so you can see exactly what works.> Thank you so much for your assistance, I love this fish like a baby and your help means a lot to me. <I totally understand - I completely pamper my Bettas also!!! They are like my children!> Sincerely, Rachael <I hope I've helped, Rachel.  Try these tips and I'll cross my fingers that one or more work for you and your Betta.  Sincerely, Jorie>

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 Tank, reptile heater 08/26/2005 Hi it's me Clayton again and I have one more question.  <Sure.> I also own a reptile heater that was used in the past and I was wondering if I might be able to use it with my new Betta in the 15 gallon tank? <I would not.  Save up for a submersible aquarium heater.> So ya thanks that's my last question. <Glad to be of service.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

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

Divided Bettas - 08/19/2005 I recently bought two Betta fish: one blue and one red.  I just bought today a special tank that can hold both fish because there is a divider.   <I hope this is one of the "larger" divided Betta systems, on the order of a couple or a few gallons?> I noticed, though, that the divider has two small slits towards the bottom and the fish have noticed as well.  They frequently swim to the bottom and stare at each other with flaring gills and fins spread out.  I know this is normal when one Betta sees another (at least I hope so!), <You're correct.> but can it be harmful if they continue to do this frequently?   <Occasionally, this is not a problem.  It can become a problem (stress, damaged fins, etc.) if it is frequent or constant.> What should I do??   <I would put numerous plants (either live, or very soft, non-abrasive, fake ones) around near the divider, so there's a bit of a break in line-of-sight for them.> The other question I have is concerning feeding.  I have been giving them the Betta pellets and they have taken well to them.  The package says to feed them 3-4 pellets twice a day and that's what I have been doing for the past few days.  After reading your website, I went out and bought freeze dried blood worms for the Bettas as well.  Now, can I feed them the worms and pellets at the same time or is that harmful?   <Not harmful....  just keep in mind that it is VERY easy to overfeed a Betta.  I tend to recommend feeding every other day or every third day, and have had excellent results with this myself.> Can I or should I alternate with worms and pellets?   <You can.  No problem.> And how many times a day should they eat they worms if daily?   <Just once....  again, perhaps every other day or so.> Sorry for all the questions but the package for the worms doesn't indicate and I don't want to overfeed them.  Please respond to my email.  I just got my Bettas on Sunday and I am fond of these beautiful fish and I don't want them to die on me! <Sounds like you're doing good so far....  I would like to recommend that you read this article:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bettasysart.htm  and look at the FAQs and other related articles, linked in blue, at the top of that page.  Much info to be had here!> Thanks! <You bet.> Monica <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina> Mirror on Betta tank 7/20/05 a coworker taped a mirror to her Betta's tank and leaves it there  permanently <Mmm, not a good idea> some think this causes stress to the fish ( a fighter fish) (one coworker went as far as to steal the mirror)... coworker has since replaced it..... is the mirror a bad idea? <Correct> signed stressed about stressed fish <Thank you for expressing your concern, sharing. Bob Fenner> Prob. with Betta tank 7/20/05 Hey there! I have a small prob with my Betta. I'll give you the run-down. Our Betta used to be in a large (approx 90 litre) tank with 4 white clouds, 4 silver tipped tetras and one Bristlenose catty. My friend then bought me 2 more Bristlenose and a bumblebee goby. When we added the new fish, all was fine and good, we conditioned them to the water temp and they seemed fine. However the next day my Betta came up with pop-eye - i later found that we aren't supposed to add the new fishes water (from the petshop) to our tank. We quarantined the Betta in a small 16 litre (approx) tank and medicated him with some Epsom salts (i found this on your website) and MelaFix every day as per instructions... after about a week he seemed to recover and all evidence of the swelling and pop eye was gone so we eased off and stopped medicating. <Okay> But now i don't know what is wrong. I looked at the little tank (where he lives now) and at first glance it seemed like tiny white hairs all over the glass and in the water! but at a closer glance they looked like very tiny worms wriggling around and reproducing in front of my eyes - i should mention at this point that we have been feeding him Tubifex worms from the pet shop as he wouldn't eat the pellets while he was sick. <Has nothing to do with a/the illness... just worms that can/will grow given conditions...> I haven't found anything to explain what this is - have we been overfeeding him? <Possibly, or under-cleaning the container...> Did he miss one and it reproduced? or - is this a bacterial infection spreading or has our Betta got worms? <Neither> He doesn't seem to be affected in any way - is still blowing bubble nests and swimming around - he had a pale patch below the eye that had Popeye /under his mouth and we took a rotting plant out that had cottony bits on it. We change the water once a week... please help. <Nothing wrong here> We intend on doing a complete water change and rinsing everything really well and hopefully we can prevent this again - do we need to worm him? Aaahh what should we do? If you need to email me my email XXXX or I'll just check the site? Thanks, Alison and Grant <We respond directly. I would "stay the course" here. No worries. Bob Fenner>

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

Coffee pot home for a Betta 7/17/05 Hey, I just got a new Betta today. His name is Maxwell House and I have converted an old coffee pot into a fish bowl for him. <Heeee! I'll bet he's "good to the last drop."> It holds a little over 1.5 liters and I am not certain if this is enough space. I know...the silly Canadian girl only knows the metric system. <A matter of very frequent (twice weekly) water changes, with pre-made water, keeping the water tropical somehow (low perk?), and careful feeding> I'm sure he will be fine since he has been in a little cup for who knows how long. I was also very upset to see they had the fish stored in front of mirrors! talk about trying to make them (fish) mad. thank you Amythest <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bettasysart.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

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>

Chilly Betta and stray voltage 07/01/05         Does anyone no of any heater that can be used in a .75-1 gallon, (a little under a gallon) desktop tank. <Yes. Hydor Products.> I bought this one which was rated for 2-5 gallon tanks. The box stated the heater would only raise the temp. 2-5 degrees but it raised by beta's bowl/vase to about 90 degrees. <You need a small wattage unit that is thermostatic, likely external...> I ordered a small desktop aquarium with a filter which measures 6x6x8". I want to be able to keep him a little warm since the building operator knows how to crank the air conditioning. Thank goodness for us but not for Delta, (my work beta buddy). Know of any products? <Look for Hydor, dealers on the Net> Like I said the only one I've found is the flat one which made the water way too hot.. Any other suggestions would be appreciated as well. P.S. A bigger aquarium is also out of the question. My boss is being nice as it is with what I have.         While I'm here, one more question, if it's all right..... Is there any way to check for stray voltage. I think one of the devices in my 54 gallon saltwater might be giving off juice. Thank You as always. Enjoy the fourth and have a safe holiday.                                 -Heather <There are a few methods... there are stray potential meters... Might be better here to have an actual electrician out to check rather than buy the gear yourself... and to seek out, install a grounding device. Bob Fenner>

Re: Chilly Betta <with two "t's"> Bob,         The Hydor product is the one which I used last time which made the bowl way too hot... (90+degrees), it was the flat one which is rated for small bowls. The heater is only rated for 2 gallons and up. Anything i can do for a bowl 1 gallon or less? Maybe position the heater somewhere else, (you said something about externally) <Yes... the outside... should provide sufficient thermal insulation to make this unit useful here> or use a 6" heater rated for 10 Ga. and above? <No... too many watts> I'm sure there are many others out there like me with cold Bettas in smaller tanks, so is there anything we can do? Also about the stray voltage.. I can't really afford to hire an electrician so are there any ways to find stray voltage in the water otherwise? <Yes... but am hesitant to suggest your not hiring a professional... depending on 1) whether there is actually an electrical leak, or 2) the source thereof, there may be a real potential hazard here. At the very least I suggest you wire in or between a GFI circuit. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/gfcimarines.htm> Or, should I just turn one piece of equipment off at a time for a month or so,  to see if my fish get better? Once again Thanks for you time. Hope you all had a nice holiday.                                         -Heather <... do you have a low voltage meter? A neighbor who has one, an understanding of electricity? Bob Fenner>

New Tank with New Betta Dear Crew: I recently (June 6, 2005) came into possession of a Betta fish (he was a centerpiece at my sister-in-law's wedding -- don't get me started -- and I rescued him at the end of the night when he was left over).  A 7 1/2 hour car ride later (during which he sloshed all the way -- my poor guy) and he is now with my husband and me. He came in a small bowl, and before that from a pet shop.  I did a lot of research online and *thought* I was doing everything right... I bought an Eclipse 3 gallon aquarium (as you probably know, comes with unobtrusive mechanical and biological filter) set it up using spring water and let it run for 24 hours, as suggested in directions. Then I measured the pH and temp, got them so they were similar (7.0 from what I recall and approx. 82 degrees) and then introduced my fish. Unfortunately, I had read nowhere (until the other day) about ammonia and nitrites/nitrates. So I bought a kit yesterday (June 20, 2005) and tested everything ... my ammonia levels are at around 3!  No nitrites or nitrates. My fish is already in the tank, has been for two weeks, and he has already endured a lot of trauma (second day we got him home he developed body fungus, which I treated with Maracyn for one week. It disappeared by the next day. He also looks like he has tail rot, but I cannot tell if it has been halted and/or is in recovery stages yet.) I have occasionally (twice) added aquarium salt to the water, as I read it is good as a general tonic. There are no other living/dead things in the tank and I do not believe we overfeed (we give a sprinkling of this really fine Betta food; maybe 8 miniscule granules -- not the larger pellets that I have seen -- a day. He eats it all in about 10 seconds.) I already searched your site and found all sorts of advice, but much of it is conflicting... in some cases Stress Zyme is recommended, in other cases Bio Spira, also Ammo-lock, but in some cases these are not recommended. I want to make sure I do what's appropriate, and with as little trauma to my fish as possible!  Should I do a water change? < With these high ammonia levels I would recommend a 30% water change while removing any waste that has accumulated on the bottom of the tank.> I haven't yet; I was told by the pet shop to do one after a month.  If so, how much? < See above.> How will I ensure that the ammonia in the new water is low? (Obviously wasn't the first time!) < Ammonia comes from the fish waste and not from the water.> Shouldn't the bio filter have taken care of this ammonia by now? < The bio-wheel needs to grow bacteria that live on the wheel. It will be fully seeded after a month, sooner if you use Bio-Spira.> I am especially concerned because of the high alkaline content of the pH, which I read can worsen the effect of the ammonia(?) < Ammonia is more toxic at alkaline pH levels.> He (his name is Giles) alternately patrols and rests, but now from what I've read I am super paranoid and am convinced his patrolling/resting is actually "flashing" and "lethargy" due to ammonia toxicity. Please help Giles as soon as you can, and thank you!!!   Julie < Go to Marineland.com and go to Dr. Tim's library. Check out the article called " The First 30 Days". This should give you some info on cycling your tank.-Chuck>

Betta bowl search We are looking to purchase about 30 Betta fish for fish bowls on a table for a party.  Do you have any idea where I can purchase these wholesale. Please let me know.  Thanks Tammy <Mmm, I'd try making a deal with a local fish store, perhaps look at the "five and dimes" in your area, and floral shops (use small glass bowls for arrangements at times). The folks in the trade deal in much larger quantities. Bob Fenner>

Distilled Water 6.12.05 Robert, I have always used distilled water for Betta tank when I change the water. My fish is two+ years old and seems happy. I am giving a new fish to a friend and the fish store says to use spring water. Why should I do this if I know the distilled water has kept MY fish happy for two years? I am interested in your opinion. Also...when I do my community aquariums I use tap water and Stress-Coat" or similar water conditioner, and I love that stuff but never have used it for the Betta. Why start now?? Thank you for your help, Jeanie from MA ...  Siamese fighting fish lover <Hi Jeanie, you've got Gage today, but I am a big fan of water so I think I can help.  First for your Betta, if it is working don't change it, if I say use conditioned tap water and you try it and your fish dies for some reason you will blame me and we can't have that, I'd prefer to stay friends.  For all my freshwater fish I have always used tap water and water conditioner, I like Prime because it is really concentrated and seems to work for me.  I am sure others work well too but if I change on someone else's suggestion and something happens to my fish, well you know.  What's the difference? Distilled water is null and void of any minerals, ions, salts, all kinds of science type stuff that your fish need.  The dissolved solids in your water also buffer your water so that you do not experience large PH swings.  On a large scale distilled water is too expensive for aquarium use, most folks who mix up their own water will go with reverse osmosis and or deionized water.  Spring water. . . I guess it's makeup would have to depend on the spring that it came from, I have not really looked into it.  So, if your tap water is not bad, dechlorinate it and use it.  If you are just changing a small Betta container, feel free to use whichever water makes you and your fish happy (I still might mix a little tap water in with the distilled water to buffer it).  Feel free to search our site for a whole lot more detail on the different water options.  And for me, I will drink water from Abita Springs, LA because I named my dog "Abita Turbo Dog" after the beer.  Hope this helps, Gage>

A Betta, Tetra, and Tank Size Question Hey, I'm actually a first-time Betta owner so I bought the entire half-gallon Betta kit that they sold in the store to go with my new Betta.  However, the first night I brought him home, he seemed really listless and unwilling to eat so I brought him back to the pet store the next day.  The guy in the pet store suggested getting him some tetra friends so he recommended that I purchase 2 orange tetras to accompany him. <In a half gallon system? Is it heated, filtered?...> They seemed to get along fine but lately the tetra has been "stalking" the two tetras and nipping them whenever he gets close to them.  I'm wondering if he's trying to eat them or if he's just being friendly or what's going on. <Among other things, increased stress due to crowding...>   Right now, I have separated the two fish, and I'm wondering if it would be better to just buy a completely separate bowl for my Betta or to purchase a few more tetra for my tank so the Betta is more intimidated. <... not unless you get a much larger system> My only concern with the latter decision is that the half gallon tank will not be able to hold that many fish. <Bingo!> I'm really concerned about my fish so if you could reply ASAP, that would be wonderful.  Thank you very much in advance and I look very forward to your response! Fendy <Please read on WWM re Freshwater systems, stocking... Betta Compatibility... Bob Fenner>

The Curse of the Betta Bowl Hi WWM! <Hey, Mike G with you tonight.> I'm hoping you may be able to provide some insight into a sort of strange problem we've been having. <That's what we're here for!> My mom has wanted to keep a Betta fish in the bathroom ever since she remodeled it with a watery fishy feel. Her attempts have  not been successful. The first Betta definitely died from too much water conditioner being used (we had some unfortunate measurement errors). <Hmm... Many conditioners, or dare I say, most conditioners, cannot be overdosed with fatal results. I doubt that a miscalculation in dosage would do this guy in. I think this all has something to do with the environment: Bettas are hardy fish, and so many Bettas do not die randomly. I bet there is an underlying cause to all of their demises.> Anyway, that poor guy's death is explained. Soon after she tried with number two. Number  two lived a whole day and then died as well. The bowl he was living in contained  natural sea glass and so it was thought that maybe that was somehow contaminating the water and it was removed from the bowl and replaced with marbles. <Maybe a contaminant, maybe not. Again, I don't think it would be a large problem.> Betta number three only lived a few more days then number two. This was  several years ago and the bowl has been sitting empty on the shelf since then,  as mom felt jinxed and was afraid to be  the cause of another poor Betta's  death. I'm now in my third year of college and living in the dorms. This year,  about a month and a half ago my RA had a floor program where we got Bettas for  free. My Betta, named Love, is doing well in a small tank in my room now at home  since school got out about two weeks ago. He is very active. My suitemate had no  where to bring her Betta and she gave him to me so my mom could give another  shot at the Betta in the bathroom bowl. This Betta was named Sebastian, and both  Love and Sebastian were treated exactly the same as far as feeding and water  changes. Sebastian lived for only two weeks in the bathroom. He was found  floating this morning when I went to feed him. <Definitely, most absolutely an underlying cause of all of the fishes' deaths. Maybe it's the bathroom.> He seemed to spend a lot of time  at the bottom of the bowl, and was often found inside an Apple Snail shell that  was in his bowl. My thought is that his sluggishness was a sign of disease, but  I was wondering is maybe you had any other thoughts. <Something killed all of the Bettas, and something killed them swiftly. They were all in the same bowl, in the same room, under the same conditions, and died within a similar timeframe.. But what did it?> A few suggestions we have  considered is that the bowl is kept very high on a shelf in the room, only a few  inches from the ceiling, <Doesn't sound problematic.> and that showers are taken in the room with the door  closed and the bowl is covered in condensation. Could the marbles be the  problem? <I seriously doubt it. I think you just answered your question: the showers. I'll bet the temperature fluctuates crazily (for lack of a better word), and that stresses your fish out. I think everything about taking a shower with a fish in the room can cause much stress in many areas. Try a Betta in the same bowl, with the same food and etc., but in a different room with stable conditions. (like your dorm) I'll bet he lives. Best of luck, Mike G> Please let me know if you have any thoughts or if you just think we  have bad luck! Thanks! Christine

Betta System I recently purchased a Betta and have him in a large vase-bowl. However, I want him to be happier, so I have a five-gallon [I think] tank that only has a aerator in it. Does he need a filter? Or is the aerator enough? Or should I buy a pump? I don't know. I just filled the big tank, and am going to wait about a week before I put him in, and I put this stuff for Betta health...no pun intended, called Aquahealth I think. what should I do? >> I think that you are on the right track. But, a filter will help. I would suggest that you buy a sponge filter, which your air pump will run easily, and it has a gentle flow that Bettas like very much. Good Luck, Oliver

My Betta Vase Hi - I've recently acquired a male Betta and installed him in a large vase with a Styrofoam cover which has a hole in the center for live greenery. My question is, can I fill the vase with water up to the Styrofoam cover or should I leave some breathing room for 'Spike'? <<He needs to be able to breathe off the surface. You should have at least an inch of space between the surface of the water and the cover. For Bettas you do not really need to cover the tank/bowl they rarely jump, and your fish will likely do better with the bowl open to allow for better air exchange. Oliver >>

Prom Night Betta Hi, I'm new to the Betta thing, and very confused! I got my Betta from my prom. I know lame but hey, I saw it and I wanted it. It's in a small, but medium bowl, about a gal. *I'm guessing here* He's a very lovely pink and red color. I named him Fishy. Fishy isn't doing to well. I have small stones on the bottom of the bowl and feed him Betta pellets *four pellets a day*. Fishy doesn't eat and I'm worried. I don't have anything. I changed the water yesterday (5/21) I got him 5/19. It was tap water warmed to room temp. Other then that I'm not sure what to do. I'm worried, and I don't want him to die. :-( I'm very fond of Fishy. Can you recommend a good site that would help me. What should I do about Fishy not eating? Thanks, Ash <OK. You wanted him, you got him, now it's time for a trip to the pet store to spend a little money. If nothing else you need dechlorinator for his water. These days there are long lasting chemicals in the water that will kill if not removed. I also strongly suggest upgrading his housing. Your Betta will not live a long life in an small, cold bowl. A 5 gallon tank with a glass lid, heater, sponge filter and air pump will create a Betta Paradise. Add a little fluorescent desk lamp for your viewing enjoyment. Stay away from incandescent hoods for a small tank. They heat the water too much. Look for a starter kit. You can sometimes get everything you need in one package at a discount. If kept in the bowl you will need to replace 50% of his water two to three times a week. The set up I suggested will "cycle" in a month or so and water changes could be reduced. Read here on cycling. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm.  It will explain the ammonia build up you will be fighting if he is kept in an unfiltered system. For right now get him in dechlorinated water and stop feeding for a day or two. Don>
Prom Night Betta pt 2
Me again. I got Fishy a new tank, and gravel, and a live plant that he loves. He's in a tank with a light and filter, got a dechlorinator, gravel. It came in a starter kit. I'm excited. Another question. Another fish came with my live plant that we had no clue about until we got home, it looks like a catfish, but much smaller. It's ugly. Would he be okay with my Betta? Thanks. <That would depend on the species of catfish. Most, such as Corys, make great tankmates. There are others that get huge and will eat anything that will fit in their mouths. You'll need to do a little research. Make sure he gets his share of the food. You may need to feed him a sinking food after lights out. Glad to hear up upgraded him, thank you. You did not mention a heater. If one was not included, that's your next purchase. And please read the link in my last answer. This new tank will need to cycle before it is fish safe. Bio filtration is the single most important thing you must learn to keep your fish alive and thriving. You should get tests for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Then do water changes to correct spikes. No chemicals, except dechlorinator. Good luck with him. Don> 

Frosty Betta Could be Cookin' Betta! Hey! <<Hey!>> I read up a lot on your site before getting myself a Betta for my office, and your advice has been awesome help so far. I do have a question though, that you might be able to answer. <<A'ight.>> I know that Bettas prefer moderately warmer water (around 75-80 degrees F). <<Well, that's moderate if you're also considering the pupfish.>> The gorgeous Betta I just purchased seems very happy and healthy at my home (which is pretty warm), but I plan on taking him with me to work sometime soon to keep me company in my cube, and they keep the place a little on the chilly side. I have him in a glass container that's roughly about a quart in size. I know this might sound like a horrible idea, but I was considering getting one of those small mug warmers to rest the bowl on to keep it warmer than the roughly 65 degrees it is in my office. <<OH yeah, it'll keep it warmer alright!>> I figure a little 18 watt warmer designed to heat only about 12 fl. oz. and not a whole quart wouldn't be too much to fry the poor guy, but I would plan on testing it first. <<Is this thing thermostatically controlled? I would think that if you simply oversize the volume being heated it would just work overtime. I also think that it *could* indeed heat up a quart of liquid to be hot enough for us Americans to enjoy drinking it.. which should be about hot enough to poach an egg perfectly.>> They even make warmers that plug into USB ports, which is even more ideal for an office! <<Dang! If only I were addicted to coffee!>> I want to be sure that this is a good idea at all before I go out and buy one, though. What are your thoughts? Shawn <<I think that because it's designed to keep things HOT, not warm, it could very well cook your fish. I also think that because it probably cannot be thermostatically controlled your endeavor would be hit or miss. I would go with something more like a heating pad (think reptile warmer, maybe?), even a simple light bulb over the "tank" (tankette?). What about the weekends? I also think that any manufacturer who taps this tiny system market might be smart. How many tiny Betta setups do you see with NO heat regulation whatsoever? ALL of them, my friend. I'm wondering if there's something used for culturing yeast that would be applicable. I culture my sourdough in my oven with the light on - stays a pretty even 80F unless it's really warm in the house. Honestly, a heating pad might be better applied here, continue searching after you've experimented with the mug heater. Marina>> 

Betta Problems, improper setting, treatment Hi, I have searched your info on Bettas and I can't seem to find the answer. My Betta is about 10 months old. He is in a glass bowl/vase. <Unless you are changing pretty much all the water here... every week at the longest, and keeping your house very warm, and carefully feeding... this is not a suitable home for this fish> He usually eats really good, twice a day. I change his water completely about every 2-3 weeks (cause when I change the water he won't eat for a week). <Needs to be done twice a week...> When I changed the water the other day (it was overdue to be changed), I put him in another bowl and when I went to net him he jumped out of the net but back into bowl, I re-netted him and put him into his bowl. Ever since then he has been lying on his side and tries to swim with his front fins but doesn't get anywhere. I use water conditioner and stress coat as I always do. I thought he was dead so I tapped the glass and he hid for 2 days and today is at the top floating on his side again. I have been doing everything the same for the last 10 months. What's wrong with him? He hasn't eaten in about a week (this whole thing happened 3 days ago). Help! Kristin <Please help yourself. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bettasysart.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

A Betta Life Hi there, <Hello> We recently purchased our daughter a Betta as well as a 1/2 gallon 'starter kit' from the pet store.  The employees at the store assured us that a heater would not be needed for such a small tank size, but I have my doubts. <You should... this is a tropical fish...>   I've been reading as much as I can about Bettas in the last week (I'm quickly becoming obsessed with 'Fishy') and I know that his water is nowhere near the recommended 80 degrees.  He is being fed a mix of flake, pellet and freeze dried bloodworms.  His appetite is fine, he loves to play with me and he's quite active.  I'm sure his health is fine right now, although I'm worried about his long-term prospects in cooler water.  I've been doing 50% water changes twice weekly with tap water that has been treated with the water conditioner that came in the starter kit and has been sitting for 48 hours before the change. What I would like to know is, is there a heater that is appropriate for his tank size? <Mmm, yes, but hard to find... only need a dozen or two watts...> I would love to move him to a larger tank but currently that's not a financial possibility.  Also, are there any other recommendations that you have for me?  I want Fishy to have a long and healthy life! Thanks so much, Anna <There are other means of heating the water... small heat pads, outside lighting... Need some experimentation. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bettasysart.htm Bob Fenner>

Film on Water (a pet fish in the sky) Hi again...once again, I need to thank you over and over for your quick responses and wonderful website. It's just great to know that you can get help/advice when you need it from the best! My cycled 3 gallon Eclipse tank w/BioWheel has some sort of problem that I just can't seem to fix. The tank houses 1 male Betta and several plants: Java ferns, 1 Red Ludwigia, & 2 tufts of some long grass. The gravel is not the little stuff but bigger natural colored pebbles. My water readings are Ammonia: 0, Nitrite: 0, Nitrate: Between 5.0 and 10, PH is: Between 7.0 and 7.2.  Having plants, I leave the light on 7-10 hours a day. The Betta is in excellent health, eats, blows bubble nests regularly every day, has no torn or frayed fins.  The problem is, every 3 days I develop a film (like floating patches) on the top of the tank. If I view the top of the water with a flashlight they look worse. I do a 10-20 percent water change each week just to get rid of this stuff. Also 1 time per week I vacuum a selected section of the tank and I also have washed my carbon cartridge filter (but not at the same time) because it seems to get a lot of plant debris, etc., which does seem to help more than the water change. I have tried to wick this away with paper towels...it seems to just break up and float around.  Can someone tell me what this is and if there is a better way to get rid of it? Could my plants be causing any of this film? I am afraid that it could harm my Betta eventually. I am also concerned about the continual water changes and filter washing affecting my cycled tank eventually, so far it has not but if this keeps up I am afraid that it will. Thank you again, Sue <Hi Sue. The film is most likely from the Betta's food. It will not cause a problem. In fact if it's causing you to do an extra water change once a week then I would call it a good thing. As long as you do not clean the bio wheel you should not have a problem. The main concern would be a thick layer preventing gas exchange at the surface. Doesn't sound like you're close to that. It dose sound like you have a happy Betta there. Good job. Don>

Smelly fish tank... need to study re Bettas, WWM I recently bought two Bettas a week ago and bought one of those double Betta tanks. I guess I am not sure as I thought I was with how to care for them. The salesperson I talked to said that he really like the double Betta tanks that have a divider shield, but I started to notice that one of them just seemed to me that he didn't have enough room so I went and bought that same size tank and separated them like after a day. The size of the tank is like a 1/2 gallon tank. (I know not very big, but I don't have anywhere to put a big tank. Plus I have two cats and my mom did not really want me to get the fish unless it was out of the cats' sight). The salesperson at the store also told me that I could use spring water and that would be okay. I have heard of people using spring water with their Bettas. Is it okay that I use spring water?  <This is not a "type" of water, but a brand name... depends on what the make-up of the water is itself... Please read on WWM re Betta Set-ups/Systems...> My main concern is the smell of one of the tanks. The one that I had them both in the first day I bought them is the one that really has a horrific smell to it. I did do a water change 3 days after I had separated them and it still had a smell to it. Any suggestions? Also, can you please give me some pointers too with how to care for them? Thank-you.  Crystal <Please read on WWM re Bettas en toto. Bob Fenner>

Bettas and brackish This question is threefold, but background first. I have a two-year running planted tank with just about the easiest to grow plants in them (hornwort and Cabomba weeds) and a Betta (who is in heaven).  Ten gallons, inexpensive waterfall-type filtration turned all the way down to keep the water filtered but generally undisturbed at the surface, temperature at 82-84F, full spectrum lighting (as I pretty much used to use it as a plant-isolation tank to get the snails out of them... used to have a swarm of apple snails, which has since stabilized as the Betta tends to eat the egg sacs and young snails... basically anything he could fit in his mouth).  It was my first foray into plants and gave me the knowledge I needed to go into planting my goldfish tanks. <Outstanding> I am now interested in getting some (generally) bottom-dwelling small crabs, and according to the research I have done, while they can tolerate freshwater (poorly), they prefer brackish. <Most of the species sold in the trade, yes> I've done research into setting up a brackish system and I feel ready for it.  I've also been briefed in the requirements of the types of crabs I'm considering (but will eventually settle on a single pair of a single type, most likely the small red-clawed crabs) and feel ready to meet them. <Okay> Question one is:  Can the Betta tolerate a brackish or slightly-less-than-brackish salinity?   <Yes... as can the hornwort/Ceratophyllum... but the Cabomba may well do its falling apart act> I'd like to keep him (I got him as a fry and know he is around 19 months of age now) where he is, and possibly just slowly up the salinity to desired levels to get him used to it, as well as letting the microorganism population adapt to the change. <Good technique> Question two:  Would the Betta be socially compatible with these scavengers?  He generally will sleep on the plants and I've almost never seen him sleep on the gravel (I work nights, and keep the room dark on my nights off, so I have observed him during the 'night' part of his cycle). <The Betta should not harm the crabs, but the reverse may well not be so... almost all crabs are opportunistic omnivores... and if hungry, might attack, consume the Betta> Question three:  Answered on your brackish plants page, no, the plants will stick around. Thank you, Dan <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Betta Contortionist Hi! I have my Eclipse 3 gallon tank set up, it is cycled and I have a new Betta...okay, everything is great, I am really enjoying this fish but...I have a couple of questions please. Tonight I came home from work and my new Betta had swam into the outflow tube (located below the bio wheel) which has 2 ports, his tail was hanging out one side, his head out the other! <Yikes!> I opened the lid of the tank and he popped himself out. He looks okay, he is eating fine, but why on earth would he do this?  <Betta splendens are "not the sharpest fish-tool in the world"> Is there anything at all I can do to prevent this from happening again? Your opinion of his actions and advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Sue <Screen over all such openings, or make a space twixt them and the water surface... Bob Fenner> 

New to Bettas Hello. My name's Kat. I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask this or not, but I'm desperate, lol. I'm doing a long term project for my aquatic school involving Bettas. I'm going to be getting the Betta in a few days, and I've been doing research on their care, but I can't find anything that's clear. I'd like to know, basically, what conditions are optimal for the health and growth of my Betta. Like temperature, feeding...what to do for the tank. Everything, basically, lol. Sorry about this. Also, if I were raising a baby Betta (can't remember the exact name) to an adult, what would I need to do to make sure it stays alive and thrives? Sorry if there's any inconvenience, and thanks in advance. <The ideal set up for a Betta is a 2.5 to 5 gallon tank with a heater and sponge filter. Keep the temperature steady, anywhere from 78 to 82 will be fine. The sponge will take time to become established with a bacterial colony that will control ammonia. Read here on FW cycling. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm For food there are many good Betta pellets and flakes on the market. They also love bloodworms, but try to get frozen rather than dried. You can give them a treat of any small bugs or spiders you find. Don>  

Betta with Too Many Bubbles Hi I just bought my first Betta today, I have him in a gallon? tank with no filter just a air bubble tube going down the middle of the tank. My question does this make too much noise for the fish? It sounds loud to me, but makes lots of bubbles! help thanks.  < Your Betta really requires no aeration since it has an organ that enables it to get the oxygen it needs from the air. The noisy cheap pump will not bother the fish but the current generated by the air movement will.-Chuck>

Betta Not the Same Hi there, sorry, don't seem to be chat savvy. I put my Betta in a larger tank, and for the first time, used "Splendid Betta: Complete Water Conditioner." I put in exactly the amount prescribed. I also added a little "cave" and fake plant purchased at the local pet store. I rinsed them vigorously, with no chemicals, before adding to his tank. For some reason his water seems slimier, a coating on the surface, and he is barely responsive to me, and he isn't building his bubble nest, which he normally does within hours of a water change. Sujan Bryan < Your local water supply may have variations in the water chemistry that may be affecting you Betta. Check the water temp. It should be around 80 degrees F. In the meantime I would get some bottled/filtered water and change some of the existing tank water with some of the filtered/bottled water. This usually will dilute whatever the problem is. Don't change more that half the water.-Chuck> 

Betta torture chambers... EBay Expose'! Hi <Hello> Sorry to bother you with this but you have always been a great help with advice and resource in the past, and I hold you all in the highest regard. I was looking at a site on the wonderful beta fish (a fish I am passionate about) when I came across this (see links bellow to EBay). I thought I would bring it to the attention of yourselves at the wet web as you may be able to do something about stopping this and/or bring it to the attention of other users of your site. The RSPC recently banned a 'glass brick' containing these wonderful fish being given to executives as a novelty gift at meetings, but this is far far worse I feel.  I hope you can help and you don't think that I am being a busy body or over dramatic as the poor fish must surely live a short and miserable life. Please let me know if you can do anything about it. Yours Oz  Thank you. http://stores.ebay.com/BETTA-GUMBALLS-AND-MORE_W0QQssPageNameZl2QQtZkm  http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=20919&item=5969507990&rd=1  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=20755&item=4367829389  <Thank you for writing... it is my long-standing stance to expose, try to limit such gear, practices that are not in the interest of successfully keeping aquatics. Bob Fenner>

Betta Bowl Help? Why is there almost always a layer of slime on the surface of my Betta's water...usually within 24hours of cleaning his bowl??? We clean his bowl twice a week? Thanks, Ingrid <Mmm, may be the food/s you're using, a lack of filtration, your initial water quality and more contributing to the need/frequency of your cleanings... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlivestkindex.htm.  Scroll down to the Betta area... these fish can be kept in bowls, but are better in actual heated, filtered aquariums... Bob Fenner>

Betta jar manufacturer Hello, <Hi there> My name is Eric of Viking Pet Supplies & Distributions. We are a company established in Malaysia to produce aquatic & pet products. We have recently designed a first of its kind in the world Betta jar with exclusive backdrops that are made from the latest technology in acrylic patterns. Our Betta jars which we call the VIKING "Better Betta Jar" is designed for hobbyists to place them on flat surfaces or even hung on walls! They make a great decorative item and the feature will also help enhance the colors of the Betta fish. <I am decidedly against this sort of habitat for Bettas... these are tropical fish that need to stay warm... not hang on cold, variably colder walls> You can see a sample of the jar in our website at http://www.vikingpets.com/bettajar.php  . We believe that you might be interested to include our product into your current range of products that you are currently having. We are looking for dealers all over the world and we look forward to have you as one of them. <Very decorative, but not functional. They won't keep the animals alive> I happened to stumble on your website and felt that it might be relevant for me to introduce this product of ours to you. <Sorry, no> Please do email me your reply and let me know if you might be interested in this product and we can discuss the business possibilities further. It would be great if you could also provide us with your contact number so that I could call you direct. <I'd like to talk you out of making them period> However if you feel that you are not keen on our product, I sincerely apologize for taking up your time and I hope that you can also email me a reply to say that you are not interested in what we have to offer so that I will not make the mistake of writing to you again with regards to this product. Thank you for your time and I am looking forward to your reply. Have a nice day. Eric <You can see my opinions re Betta habitats here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bettasysart.htm>

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

Cool Betta My Betta, Norman has been acting very strange yesterday and today. Yesterday he wiggled and fought to get to the surface of his tank, and then stayed there. He reminded me of a salmon swimming upstream to spawn. Today he stays with his head completely out of the water for hours, only moving if I touch him with a straw or something. He hasn't eaten for a few days, and the last thing he ate I believe were some live blood worms. I just changed his water after reading a few pages of your messages, and added some Epsom salts. The temperature in the room where he is is about 68 degrees, and he doesn't have a heater in the tank. Thanks for your help. <Bettas are tropical fish and need to be kept in the high 70's. That could be the underlying problem here. If possible add a heater. Continue with small daily water changes and discontinue the Epsom salts unless he is bloating. you may want to try about a teaspoon per gallon of aquarium salt instead. Make sure you remove any uneaten food. Don>

Aging Betta Dear Robert, <Hi, Cheryl! Bob's out of the country at the moment, so you're stuck with crewmember Sabrina today - hope I can be of service to you!> I was given a Betta in a bowl with the live plant as a gift ( which was popular about five or six years ago).  <Mm, I do recall these. I have always stood firm that, when properly maintained, these can be excellent homes for Betta's - a lot of folks do disagree with that, but I think your fish shows just how great such a setup can be....> I thought that if I was fortunate, I might have the Betta for perhaps 6 months, well we are now on 5-1/2 years! I have had to replace the plant where others may have had to replace the Betta! <Very, very impressive, nowadays. I recall about a decade ago when I lost a Betta that had been with me for over five years, but Betta's now just don't seem to be what they used to be. I would say that three years is about the norm, now, provided that you start with an ultimately healthy Betta, which is also getting hard to come by.... I fear that extensive selective inbreeding has really damaged the genetics and longevity of these animals. Sigh.> Needless to say over the years I have become very attached to my Betta "Sushi". I have fed him only the shrimp pellets all these years, 4 pellets in the morning and 4 pellets in the evening, and have used Arrowhead drinking water all these years, and keeping his bowl clean and the plant healthy. I have always mixed some of his old water with any new water that I introduced to his bowl.  <Though there are things I would have done differently, you're obviously doing something quite right! At this point, I would not change any of your habits - "if it isn't broken, don't fix it", as it were.> I realize now after reading your information, that Sushi is really pushing the lifespan of a Betta!  <Indeed. The friend that gave you this fish either has a good eye for a healthy fish, or a great deal of luck!> He is slowing down a bit and spending more time at the bottom of the bowl, but does swim up to the surface and comes up to be fed.  <Pretty much to be expected, for a geriatric Betta.> This behavior has been happening for about the past three weeks or so. When he does come up to the top he seems strong, but it appears that his back end is going out on him and he has trouble keeping horizontal. He will place himself in the roots of the plants to keep himself horizontal, otherwise his front ends starts to float upward.  <Perhaps a condition with the swim bladder - I have seen many such cases in older Betta's.> I am wondering if there is anything I can do for him in addition to what I am already doing.  <I would urge you to do exactly as you have been doing - again, you're obviously doing something right!> Do you think his current behavior is a part of the aging process for a Betta?  <Mm, essentially, yes. As fish (any fish, not just Betta's) get quite old, their immune systems weaken, and organs can start to have problems - just like in a cat or dog or person. It is not at all uncommon to see symptoms like you describe in an old fish. At this point, pride yourself in having done a wonderful job in caring for Sushi, and continue to care for him as you have. He may yet have several months to play with.> After reading some of your information, I feel I should have been doing more for him over the years. I was not aware of nitrates or feeding anything other than the pellets.  <Again, there are things I would have done differently (more varied diet, different water, etc.), but it is quite obvious that you have done an excellent job with this fish. Again, I urge you not to change your habits at this point, just rest assured that you have done very well by your fishy friend.> Any information or suggestions you have would really be appreciated!! <If you want to do something a little extra for his diet, just to "perk him up" a bit, you could offer him a couple frozen or freeze-dried bloodworms from time to time (can get these at most fish stores), or even collect a couple small live mosquito larvae for him from a clean container (can just set a wide, low bucket on your back porch for a few days, in a place where no herbicides or insecticides can get in from your or your neighbors' gardens). Remember to feed less of his other food if you do this. You could offer him these "treats" a couple times a week, perhaps. There is a possibility that his buoyancy issue is related to an internal bacterial infection, but I urge strongly against trying to medicate such a condition, especially in such an old fish. Medicating at this point would cause more harm than good, I fear. And again, Cheryl, you have obviously given this fish fantastic care - don't change anything that you're doing for his maintenance. Just keep doing as you have been, and a great big "Kudos!" to you for your success with this fish!> Thank you for your time and consideration! <Any time.> Sincerely, Cheryl <My best wishes for you and Sushi, -Sabrina>

Betta Gets An Upgrade Hello, I have recently purchased a royal blue male Betta. I had him in a 2 gallon Aqua-Gardens tank. I then upgraded to a Marineland/Aqua-Tech 5 gallon Hexagonal Tank w/ 3 step filtration to create a healthier environment for him. I noticed right before I transferred him from the 2 gallon to the 5 gallon he was rubbing himself on the filter and now in the 5 gallon he isn't too active and just floats near the top and occasionally swims around the tank. Do you think the filter current is too strong for him? If so, how would I limit the current strength (there's no knob or nozzle to turn down the current. Are there any techniques to use?) or should I just return the 5 gallon hex. and get another aquarium al together? Your help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Darin <Sounds like you have him in an uncycled tank. That bio filter will do a great job for you, but it takes time. Read here on cycling. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm.  For the next month to six weeks it will be important that you do regular partial water changes. About a gallon every two or three days. A test kit would be a good investment at this time so you could monitor the cycle. Don>

Male Betta Fish, dying in a bowl Wed, 16 Mar 2005 Hello, <Greetings> My name is Tricia. About a week ago I bought my 3 year son a male Betta fish, not realizing that the Betta's fins had a white line on it and the fins started falling off and scaling. Well, so far a portion of the fins have fallen off and now the white line appears further on the Betta kinda looks like it's scaling again. What does this mean? <Dis-ease, disease... from poor environment and nutrition from reading below> The Betta is in a gallon bowl and I feed it Betta food daily about 3 to 4 little pebbles. Please help or tell me who can help. Thank you. Tricia Deal <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlivestkindex.htm scroll down to the articles and FAQs on "Betta Systems", "Betta Disease".... Bob Fenner> 

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

New Betta Blues I bought a Betta about a week ago and the first few days he was fine. Now he just lays on the plant. It is like he is always sleeping. Does he need a heater? We bought him with a "kit" and the lady at Petsmart said that would be fine so we didn't buy anything else. I am scared for him. When I change his water how often should it be? Should I net him out? Do I have to "calibrate" the waters like I did when I first got him? I hope you guys write back soon! I really appreciate your help! Thank you Trish <Bettas are tropical fish and will do much better if kept at a steady temp in the high 70's to 80. Steady is very important. So yes, a heater is needed. But it depends on the size of the bowl or tank he is in. Very small systems, less than 2.5 gallons, are very hard to heat. I would not add a heater to any but the largest bowls. IMO the best set up for a Betta is a 2.5 to 5 gallon tank with a heater and a sponge filter. How often you do water changes is also dependant on the size of the tank. In a small bowl 20% a day may be needed. In a larger tank 20% may be enough each week. Always remove water from the bottom with a siphoning gravel vac. Replacement water must be dechlorinated and temp matched to tank. Do not remove the Betta. Too much stress. Don>

Smelly Tank Hi. I have a 10 gallon fish tank with 3 small zebras and a Betta fish. The other day after doing a 20% water change, and treating the water with Tetra AquaSafe water conditioner (the recommended amount), I noticed that the top of my tank was covered in air bubbles. Along with these air bubbles came a really bad smell. I tested my water and the only thing that came back high was my PH level. Any help you can give me on this would be greatly appreciated. Stephanie <The smell and bubbles usually mean you have some extra organics in the tank. Make sure you always use a gravel vac when you remove water from the tank. Move any rocks, driftwood, bubbling treasure chests, etc., and clean under them. Up the water changes to around 50% and do them daily for a few days. Another possibility is that you see and smell the chlorine being released from the water. If it was that organic, "dirty fish tank" smell do the water changes. If a more chemical, "swimming pool" smell, treat in a bucket before adding the replacement water. Don>

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

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

Betta Question To The Good People at WWM,     After a few hours of scouring your website, I still have yet to find a suitable answer to my question. I have a good amount of male Bettas, all living in acrylic cubes that measure 4x4x5 inches. There are currently 9 males, all stacked on a stand that I made for them out of wood. The stand has 3 shelves, each shelf fitting 3 cubes in a stepped pattern, so that all the fish are visible at once. <Nice> The problem is that the temperature in my house becomes rather cold at night, even during the summer because of the air conditioning. During the day, heat is provided by a desk lamp with a 75 watt bulb that manages to keep the temperature in the high 70s to low 80s depending on it's distance from them, however at night, the temperature may drop as low as 65 - 68 degrees,
<Too cold, and too much shift> and I often wake up in the morning to see the Bettas very washed out and on the bottom, staying unresponsive for 2 or 3 hours until the light has managed to warm them back up. Because I do not have the space or money to upgrade all the Bettas to 2.5 gallons with individual heaters, I wanted to know if there was any feasible and relatively simple way to heat all 9 of the Betta boxes together. <A couple of possibilities... the easiest... to shift the light/dark cycle, to have the light on during the colder nights rather than the warmer day. The second, more involved, calls for drilling twixt the cubes, arranging for all to drain into a sump with one heater and a powerhead or small submersible pump to return water to all... have the water flow either to/from individual cubes or between on all three levels... with a heater in the central sump...> I am familiar with sumps because of my experience with reef tanks, but do not know how to go about building one on such a small scale. Another alternative that I thought might work  was the use of reptile heating pads under the rows of boxes, but was afraid that they might overheat and cook the Bettas completely. <This worries me also... as well as the possibility of fire> Please help me work this dilemma out. Thank you.                                        Sincerely,                   Ricky Chawla <Do consider a plan to drill, bit all to/through a sump. Bob Fenner>

New Home for George the Betta I have had my Betta, George for 6 months.  He started out in a gallon bowl (no heater, no filter) where I did two 80 percent water changes per week.  In the 6th month George stopped eating, developed Popeye, fin rot, and the "pine cone" look (dropsy?). <Yes... all likely directly environmental in origin>   My LFS advised me to use some Simply Betta fungus/bacteria drops and some kind of white brick thing...well, I knew this was NOT going to get it, but I did put it in anyway and went to a better store 2 days later as George was not responding...getting worse actually.  I purchased Maracyn I and II, I treated him for 4 days, I did 50 percent water changes daily, retreated the water each day and gave George an Epsom salt bath in a separate bowl while I was working on his water.  On the 2nd day of treatment he began eating and I was so desperate, I soaked his Biogold pellets in Maracyn II which he also ate.  He started looking amazingly better and returning to his old self again.  On the 5th day I purchased an Eclipse 3 gallon tank (BioWheel & heater) <Yay!> and ran the tank for 24 hours after treating the water with BioCoat/dechlorinator, etc. The bad thing I did was move him because his gallon bowl was so erratic in temperature...67 - 70 <Too cold> degrees up and down depending on what day it was.  I did not have time for fishless cycling or any other kind of cycling for all that matters. Incredibly, after he was moved, George is eating, flaring, growing his fins back, all of those good things but I am fighting the tank cycling with George in the tank!  Daily I do water tests for ammonia and nitrite, the ammonia is always .25 ppm or .50 ppm (which prompts me to do a water change of 50 percent.)  The nitrite has remained at zero.  I was worried that 50 percent was too much because it would keep the tank from the cycling process, <You are correct here> so I reduced the amount to 20 percent daily on the advise of a phone rep from Marineland... Lost I am.  I am feeding George 2 times per day 2 Biogold pellets each time, he eats them all, nothing is falling to the bottom. <Good> I really need to understand the frequency I should be doing these water changes and the amount of water I should remove in order to successfully cycle the tank as IMO George does not deserve to have any more stress or discomfort, it is amazing he is alive today! Could you please, please point me in the correct direction regarding the water changes?  Thank you,  Sue <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm there are a few ways to "speed up" cycling... as you will read/see... I would likely just "stay the course" that you're on now... small water changes, scant feeding... and wait for the cycle to occur on its own. If you want to "get it going", consider getting a bit of "old" water, "old/used" plastic plant, conditioned gravel... or a commercial prep. (like Marineland's BioSpira) and you and your fish won't have to wait as long. Bob Fenner>
Re: New Home for George the Betta
Hi again Bob, First I would like to thank you for your excellent advice and for access to such a wonderful website. George is loving his new home... and particularly his new heat which is holding steady at 80 and the room to swim around! <Outstanding> I am on day 17 and still attempting to cycle the Eclipse 3 gallon tank but I guess my question is now...how do I know that it is cycled or not? My readings have been as high as 1.0 ammonia, and .25 nitrite. I currently have a 5.0 nitrate reading but the nitrite is 0 with the ammonia currently being between .50 and 1.0 <It's "on its way"... not completely cycled yet> I also added a package of Bio Spira about 10 days ago, but honestly, I just have not seen a change. When the ammonia goes to 1.0 I am guilty of doing a 15% water change, but I just didn't want George to get irritated from the ammonia. <I would do this as well> The Marineland customer service told me that I could do small water changes with the Bio Spira, that it sticks to the rocks, plants, etc.? <Okay> Could you please tell me what I am doing wrong again? I am almost embarrassed to ask...Thank you. Sue <Nothing wrong as far as I can tell... just need "time to go by". Bob Fenner>

Just a Few Basic Questions Hi, I just have a few questions about my Betta. First off, is a 2.5 gallon tank big enough or should I get a bigger one? I'm contemplating on a new filter, right now I have a sponge filter, is it adequate enough or should I really consider buying a power filter? And what recommendations do you have? Also, is it okay for me to put marbles on the bottom of my tank or should I include some gravel too? And one more! ;-) My fish has ick, but he only has two spots so far, the one on his face left after I added some aquarium salt, and my friend has some "Ick away" by Wardley, is that brand okay or should I buy a different one, I want to stop the ick before it gets worse. My Betta has been acting sort of weird, ever since I put him in his new tank he sometimes goes spastic and swims up and down and in circles really fast, is that normal? Or is there something wrong? The water is at the right temp. and I put water conditioner in it (TetraAqua "AquaSafe"), so is he just being himself or is there something I should do? And just a curious question I guess, whenever I turn the lights off in my room, but he charges at the glass with his gills flared and his fins open wide, I assume that he can see his reflection better, does he think there is another fish in the tank or is there some other purpose for it? Thank you for your time!! Chelsey W. <Great set up for a Betta. First problem to deal with is the Ick. All you need is salt. Read here for it's proper use. http://www.aquariumadvice.com/showquestion.php?faq=2&fldAuto=32 I would not use the Ick Away, salt will do the trick. Leave the bottom bare until treatment is finished. Do water changes with a siphon from the bottom. That's where the Ick reproduces. Always mix the same concentration of salt in to the new water before adding it to the tank. Turn the temp up to 84 and increase the air going to the sponge if possible. Continue treatment for at least two weeks after the last spot drops. After that you can add marbles if you like. I like gravel, but it's up to you. I think you're right about why he's charging the glass. As long as he doesn't bang his head too hard it's not a problem. When you get the Ick cleared out you will need to re establish the beneficial bacteria in the sponge. Read here.    http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm Never wash the sponge. Tap water will kill the bacterial colony. If it gets clogged rinse it out in water removed from the tank. Sponges are great for removing ammonia and nitrite from the water after that bacteria gets established. Until then you should be testing and doing water changes to correct any spikes. Don>

On Bettas, Bowls Hello. <Hi there, Mike G. here> I was just wondering if you could tell me if the way I have my Betta's bowl set up is ok for him temperature-wise. <Okay> I have a 1 gallon bowl (I live in a dorm) and I don't have any sort of heater for it so I use a nearby lamp to warm the tank. (I read that they like their water warmer closer to 80 degrees, is that right?) <Correct, Betta splendens do prefer warmer temperatures from between 78 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. I personally would not advocate the use of a lamp to heat the water. Bettas, like all other fishes, do not do well with large changes in water parameters, this includes temperature. Ideally, temperature should not fluctuate more than 2 to 3 degrees a day. The water will inevitably cool down at night in absence of the light's heat, and, once the light is turned on come daytime, the heat from the bulb will cause the water temperature to rapidly rise, especially in such a small water volume as 1 gallon. This will cause much unnecessary stress to your Betta.> Well, he seems to like the heat he swims around more when it's warmer. <Bettas, as with all other fishes, are cold blooded, meaning that their body temperature is controlled by the temperature of their environment. You are noticing that your Betta is more active because, due to the increased heat and, consequently, body temperature, the Betta's metabolism and activity level will increase.> Anyways, I wasn't sure if it's bad for him because at night when I turn the light of the bowl can get down to like 69 degrees over several hours. <From around 80 degrees to around 69 degrees over several hours is quite a temperature difference, I would not think this is a particularly healthy situation for your fish.> I clean the bowl for him once a week and it seems to stay pretty clear.  Do you think his living situation is ok? <Other than the temperature issue, which I advise you correct, your Betta's living arrangements sound fine.> Thanks for all your help, this is a great site!!! <Glad I could be of assistance. I just recently signed on with WWM, and would have to agree with you there.> Katrina P.S. Oh and do Betta's mind having light around them like that all the time? Thanks! :-) <If you mean having light around them constantly, I would think that would cause unnecessary stress to your fish, as fish do sleep. If you mean only having lights on in the day and off in the night, it is only natural.>

Re: Betta bowl temp. Hello again! <Hi there. Mike G again> I was reading a website about Betta's and it said that bowls or tanks less than 5 gallons can't use heaters.  Is this true even if they're small ones that are low wattage? <As per your query, I have done some extensive web crawling in an attempt to locate a heater for such a small bowl. I am sad to report that I have yet to find one.> I'm curious because Triton (my Betta) lives in a 1 gallon bowl in a dorm and the room temp. (although suitable that it's not too low for him) isn't in the high 70s and he doesn't swim around very much at all when I don't heat the bowl with my nearby lamp. I recently sent in a question about my lamp heating scheme and I know I need a different way of heating it because right now I just leave it on all the time and it stays a steady temp. of 77-80 degrees unless I turn it off. I just want him to have a happy space and to swim around in warm water! :-) Please help. :-) <It is my personal recommendation that you obtain a larger tank. A 5 gallon set up with lights, a heater, small filter, some marbles if you care for them, and a few pieces of decor (again, if you care for them), should not run over $100, and your set up would have much more versatility in the long run. (i.e., the option to add another Betta with a divider, more stable conditions, more space, etc.)> Thanks ~ Katrina <Glad to be of assistance, and good luck whichever way you decide to go.>

Betta Getting an Upgrade! Hi Crew, I have had two Bettas since Sept/04 in a half gallon container without a filter and no heater, and since I did weekly 100% water changes, I felt no need to test their water. But, I recently upgraded to a 5g with a sponge filter, and heater, on Jan. 16/05. I also added some small sea rocks instead of gravel with a plastic plant and a ceramic cup for decorations. Because of the cold weather I decided to add my Bettas, a female and a male with a separator, into the new system before it had a chance to cycle. I keep the temp at 79, and because I have a separator, the filter is at one end of the tank and contains the female, while the other side where I keep the male does not get any benefits from the filter; I think it is because of this separator stopping the circulation. The tank did not come with a hood so I created one out of cardboard with openings. I found that this separator does not allow the filter to circulate the flow passed it. I noticed the side that does not have the filter at the top of the water more dust is accumulating over time and the waste will not be picked up by the filter. What can I do to so that beside will benefit from the filter? I notice that my water is a light brownish color; therefore I decided the buy a test kit. When I did my test I used the water from the side that does not contain the filter. Do you think I should test the water that contains the filter? Could the quality of the water be affected by this separator? One side have a different reading that the other?  Yesterday (Feb 4), I decided to buy a test kit. I used the water from the side that does not contain the filter, and found out the following. Ammonia = 1.0; Nitrite = 0.25; Nitrate = 0 to 5; pH (it came with 2 indicators) pH = 7.4 and High Range pH = 8.0 (Which pH reading should I pay attention to. Why?) For the readings above I should be more concern about the pH levels. What is your input on the reading above, how often should I be testing the water? Since (Sept/04), that I have had the male, I found this fins to be saggy/clump together most of the time can it be because of this pH level? On the other hand the female's fins are very beautiful. Is the pH too high? If so and if kept at these levels will it make them sicker or cause algae growth? What natural products can I use to lower or higher the PH levels (i.e. baking soda)? I do 25% water changes twice a week using an airline tube not a vacuum to remove any of the waste at the bottom and the water at the same time form the tank. Should I continue to siphon the bottom during each water change or let the waste accumulate until the system is cycled? Should I only change the water for the ammonia or nitrites rises to high? Is anything above 1 for either too high? Am I on the right track to getting my system cycled, your insight on the matters above and what I need to do going forward is greatly appreciated. Thank you, Mario D. <OK. pH first. Don't do anything. You have two tests so you can read a wider range of values. One, the high end in your case, is always "off the chart" while the other will fall in the working range on the color chart. Your pH is 7.4 which is fine. It is not an incorrect pH that kills, but a change in pH. So you want it steady. As to the filter question. A sponge filter is great for a Betta because it produces little current while handling the bio filtration of your water. This lack of current could be a drawback to you with the divider in there. Why not test both sides and see? Also, any way to cut a opening in the divider to arrange the sponge to extend to both sides? Or a second sponge teeing off the same pump? Continue your siphoning. And do as many water changes as you must to keep ammonia and nitrite near zero until your sponge becomes established. I really want to thank you for giving your Bettas a new home. Good luck with them. Don>     

Betta and algae I just noticed some brown spots on the inside of my Betta's tank.  I'm assuming it's a kind of algae. <Likely so>   He will hopefully be moving to a new tank soon (5 gallons).  When I move him, is it advisable to put something in the tank to help prevent algae? <Yes... most appropriately a bit of live aquatic plant life to compete for nutrients, light...> Do all tanks get algae? <Yes! A very good question, point... all aquatic biological systems do... very adventitious organisms... that have been on the planet a very long time> Could I put in some sort of fish or snail or crab perhaps in this situation? <Yes... not a crab, but there are other erstwhile algae eaters for such size, type systems. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm and the linked files... in blue, above.>   My son would love to add something else.  My son would love a crab.  I know there are crabs for salt water but how about ones that are compatible with a Betta's environment? <Mmm, am very hesitant here... Unfortunately, almost all crabs offered as freshwater are not, nor are they "safe" with such slow moving, docile fish as Bettas... I would NOT mix these two together>   Also, would a Betta bother another inhabitant? <There are other compatible fishes... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/betcompfaqs.htm>   I could add them at the same time if that would be better, because the Betta is not in the new tank yet since it isn't cycled yet. <Ahh, do move some of the Betta's "old" water into the new tank... this will speed things up> If this is a good idea, what should I add and what if there is no algae yet? <No, wait till there is>   Will whatever I add survive?  What other ways are there to prevent algae?  Would my tank be fine with nothing added? Thanks so much for all your advice. Kim <Please read where you lead yourself via the links above. Bob Fenner>

Betta question Hi, <Howdy> Carolyn here. :) <Bob here> I've searched Google & spent an hour browsing your site (very nice, btw!!) I hope I'm not asking a question already out there. My son has a beautiful red/blue Betta named "Fighter". <Good name> We've had fish tanks for years, but this is our first Betta. Fighter is the single resident in a 2.5 gallon tank. He seems pretty happy, active & healthy. But the water in the tank...yuck. We have a filter system going but the water seems to have a lot of algae growing. <Mmm, wonder... about your initial water make-up, foods, feeding practices... aiding the algae outbreak> Even with regular water changes & scraping down the tank walls, eventually the rocks & plants get covered. We've had pH levels tested; I can't remember the numbers but we were told they were fine. Our biggest question is whether or not a Plecos. can live in the same tank as a Betta? <Good question, and no... all the vast number of species of South (and Central) American Sucker Mouth Catfishes get too big for this size system, or require too much "other" care to be of practical use... am given to suggest... large/r species of aquatic snails... Like Ramshorn, Mysteries...> Would it help? one more question, is there anything you can recommend us trying that might help reduce the algae growth? Thanks so much for your time!! Carolyn <All sorts of things might help... foremost, checking, making sure your water lacks a reasonable amount of "food" for the algae... maybe start with a blend of reverse osmosis and some (like half) tap water... to dilute the inorganic nutrient proportionately... What sort of filter do you have? Can you add a bit of activated carbon to it to absorb nutrient? What re food/s and feeding... check the label and show your son how important it is to carefully NOT overfeed... Importantly, I'd try adding a bit of living "grass"... remember Anacharis/Elodea/Egeria, Myriophyllum/Parrotfeather... et al.? A sprig or two will really help to use up algae-feeding nutrient, light... and make the system overall better. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm  and the linked FAQs (above, in blue). Bob Fenner> 

Incredibly worried and confused. Betta, system, platies Hi, whomever is the lucky person to read this! I've gone all over this site trying to find answers to my questions and have just gotten confused, so I would like to go to the source. Sorry if I am redundant with my questions, I just don't want to lose my Betta. <Okay... calm yourself> So yes, this about a Betta and a few other things. I have had my Betta for about 3 months now. In his old bowl (which was one of those dual chamber ones with the divider removed), he seemed happy and was making his spitty nests and such (once I warmed up his water with an overhead light). <Ahh!> Then, because that light was getting in the way, I changed him over to a 1.5 gallon aquarium tank that had a hooded light which kept his water at a constant 74 degrees, except when I turned it off at night so he could sleep, and it would then dip down a few degrees to 72 (room temp) at night. <All a bit cool, but better to not have a wide diurnal thermal swing> This really didn't seem to bother him, but after going through your site and realizing all the ways I might be stressing and possibly hurting him, I started getting very nervous. So I got him a heater just yesterday and have the tank at 79 degrees now. <Mmm, okay... but better to not raise, and definitely not lower temperature so abruptly> The same day I bought his heater (yesterday) I also changed his water, which I do weekly (a full change) and used the standard Bowl buddies fizz tablets I usually do. <And better to have the change water set out a week in advance and skip water treatments altogether... it turns out, tap/source water is actually quite a variable product...> I also went out and bought some alkaline/nitrites/nitrates/pH strip things but honestly, I have no idea how to read them. <Mmm, appreciate your honesty here... you want no nitrites, some alkalinity, some/little nitrate, and a moderate (near 7, twixt 6-8 pH> There's a 'this should be your colors' thing on the side with numbers on it, but absolutely nothing to tell me that is the color is like this, that means you're at this number and the fish could explode kind of explanation. In other words, if my colors aren't exactly at what the box says, I don't know if they're too high, too low, or how to fix anything. <Akin to "warning lights" on automobiles... I don't like these> Very frustrating. (I also have the exact same tank with two platies in it. I tested their water which was a few days old... maybe 4 days... and then used a new strip on my Betta's water which had been changed literally 10 minutes before and the colors were identical. Now I have no idea if that's good or bad. But I can tell you this: Nitrates look about right. Nitrites look a little pinker for the Betta than the platies (good? bad?)... <Bad, should be undetectable... that is, zero> ...hardness for both is sienna brown, not at all green (good? Bad?) <Likely not important> alkalinity is a med. slate blue, not yellow, and pH is bright salmon pink rather than pumpkin orange-ish. The Betta tank has a teaspoon of aquarium salt in it- first time I have ever tried the salts, thought he'd like it or something- but the platies do not have this yet. The platies, however, have a C-100 ammonia removing pillow in their tank as of yesterday as they have only an aerator and not a filter. And I am worried about changing their water out every week (are they as strong as Bettas?) so was going to do partial changes on them and full changes on the Betta. <Do use pre-stored water... please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2ochgs.htm  and the Related FAQs (in blue, above)> Now then! After all this, here are my real dilemmas, aside from the strip readings:  My Betta, still active and eating well, has developed -as of today- some white nodes around his left 'nostril'. Nothing stringy about them, nothing fuzzy, he hasn't been scratching himself, so I am assuming this is not ich but body fungus. It's entirely possible I am wrong. I don't know if another water change, so soon, will stress him too much. I also just bought StressCoat (have not used it yet) to replace Bowl Buddies thinking it may be better... <Is better> ...but I read here that one of your advisors hates the stuff, so I may take it back and continue with the Bowl buddies instead. More information: My Betta had, for a short time (maybe a week) been in the smaller, original bowl with some platies (though not the ones I have now) about a month ago because I stupidly thought he may be lonely. All these fish have been bought from Wal-mart, by the way, and I had three platies, all of which have died by now, the last one just a week or less ago. Which was very sad because I liked him very much. But I moved him from the Betta and got him his own aquarium because Louie (my Betta buddy) kept picking on him and nipping his fins. So he was kind of run down, I guess. But knowing they liked company, I bought the two I have now for him. All males, I think. Anyway, Servo, the orange, nipped platy, soon became stand-offish from the other two and I noticed he wasn't behaving properly. His back half looked rubbed away (I thought maybe the other platies had been bullying him or something, nipping scales off him. Now I know they don't do that) and on the last day I noticed patches of his scales were not laying flat to his body, a problem I did read about on your site. <Yes... a dropsical condition> Unfortunately, it was too late and he died very shortly after I removed him the platy tank and placed him in the quarantine tank. So Servo had short-lived contact with Louie some time ago... could what Servo had maybe finally affected Louie even though the symptoms are very different? <Possibly> Or could Servo had caught what he had from the two new fish who, so far, exhibit no signs of any sickness at all? <Ditto> Should I treat their water anyway, just to be sure? <You have... with the salt> They were in contact with him for only a few days and I changed their water completely the day I removed Servo from the tank. Of course, all because I didn't know to quarantine new fish until I stumbled onto your site a few days ago trying to figure out what was wrong with Servo. (And the water change was to try and save Servo as I read that water changes are the best places to begin. However, I think it was too much for him at that point. Poor little fella.) And how do I treat Louie? I am very, very concerned about him. I have become quite attached to him. If I could hug him and pet him, I would. Please help me out so I don't lose my favorite fish. I hope I have supplied enough information for you to help me. <I would NOT add more stress by adding other chemicals here... and start with partial water changes, not complete... WITH pre-stored water> Oh, just in case... I feed him high-quality pellets and yesterday (bought a lot yesterday!) I bought bloodworms, which the platies LOVE, but Louie won't touch. He only wants his pellets. I am pretty careful about fishing out what the fish won't eat, though generally with my piggy platies, that's not a problem. Louie regulates himself very well with food. I also just switched the bottom gravel I did have with glass rocks on the bottom of Louie's bowl. <These are best not used... the glass is too slick to be of much value as a biological filter medium, and is too sharp... capable of cutting fishes> He seemed quite happy with his home yesterday. (Though he's never made his spitty nests since I removed him from his old, first home. That one could have been warmer with the overhead lamp. That put out some serious heat.) I think I also read somewhere, probably on this site, not sure, that platies shouldn't have gravel or something because food particles get caught there and cause ammonia. So I was planning to change that out to glass marble rock things this weekend. Is that a wise choice? <Yes> Okay, that was longer than I expected. Thank you very much in advance for your patience and help! Warmest regards, Bex <Your rate of growth in the hobby is astronomical! You will soon be a bonafide fishkeeper no doubt in my mind. Bob Fenner>
Re: Incredibly worried and confused, Betta
Thank you sooo much for the quick reply! Much appreciated! And not to beat a dead horse, but I'm not sure this salt thing is going to be enough. I waited one day for a reply before it came (fast!!) and in that time, I decided to go ahead and change the Betta's water again, just in case. I added a little more than a teaspoon full of aquarium salt and the fungus or whatever on his lip vanished. Elated, I checked later than night and the white spots had come back. It's become a full blown problem again, the white spots, after time, DO develop into fuzzy threads that I am worried will actually get into his eyes. I am going to do another water change tonight, a half water change instead of a full, using Stress Coat conditioner and was wondering if I should be adding more salt to the water than I am. It's less than a 2 gallon tank, but the Betta has a definite thing on his face (this time on the other side, but I think it's starting to take over that entire little upper lip strip there). And I will remove the glass marbles and add gravel instead, switching the glass (which are all smooth and flat) to the platies' tank instead. Are these good plans of action?  <If you must buy something, look into a medicine containing a combination of an antibiotic and anti-protozoal... No more salt should be added> Also, when I siphon the tanks for the changes (never done that before, always did full changes), do I take the fish out first? <Yes... best to pour out with some water, put this water back in the cleaned container>  I would assume that if I did not, it would cause some serious stress, and it's probably a silly question, but I'm asking it anyway. Will the siphon work with the glass marbles, since it picks up the gravel which is much lighter and smaller? <Will work if it has an expanded end... to work as a vacuum... if not, better to rinse the marbles... in a colander perhaps...> And one more question: I picked up some ACE- Ammonia clearing liquid stuff, but someone told me that, due to the fact it needs strong aeration for an hour, it's too strong for my small tanks. <This is NOT a good product... contains a toxic compound...> So I haven't used it. Not even sure if I would use it with the fish in the tank or if I had to take them out first. Is this true? <I would not use it period> I lied. One more question. I read the 'letting water stand for a week' article and will implement that soon as I have water that old, but before I begin, there's nothing that tells me if I let it stand covered, uncovered or if it matters at all. Sorry for all this, but thanks for all your patience and help!!!  You guys and gals rule! Bex <Covered or not actually... the sanitizer will "leave" either way. Bob Fenner>

High nitrites in Betta tank Hi and thanks again for all your help.  You answered a question several days ago regarding high ammonia in my 2.5 gallon Betta tank.( Tank and fish are new as of Christmas).  I took your advice and did some 50% water changes everyday.  The ammonia is down from 4.0 to .25 but now my nitrites are somewhere between 2.0 and 5.0.   <Yikes, way too high... I'd hold off on feeding ANYthing till these are zero> Nitrates are at 10.  Even after a water change the nitrites don't seem to go down very much if at all.   <Don't worry much re nitrates... relatively non-toxic to Bettas> Can my Betta survive the cycling process under these conditions?   <Not indefinitely> Should I still do daily water changes and if so, how much? <I'd do daily changes till both ammonia AND nitrites are below 1.0 ppm, and then every other day ones till the system cycles> How often should I vacuum the gravel? <None till the system cycles. This disrupts the beneficial microbes too much. Then once a week once it is cycled> I ordered a sponge filter to replace my box filter but it still hasn't arrived.  When it does, what is the best way to keep the tank from starting over again with the cycle? <To run both for a few weeks>   Should I keep the box filter in for several weeks with the sponge filter until that can develop biological filtration, or will that make it take longer? <Ahh! You do understand... best to run both for a few weeks...> The fish still seems happy and isn't showing signs of distress that I can see.  Is there anything you would recommend adding to the water?  Thanks so much for all your help! Kim <There are chemical prep.s... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the blue/linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Betta with 2 Females I have 1 male with 2 females in a 5 gallon tank. First of all, should this not be a permanent living arrangement? <No... in some settings both sexes can co-exist peacefully enough... this five gallon is likely too small...> I'm not feeding the girls extra snacks to breed.  Just wanted more activity in the tank. <I'd look into other "dither" fish... like Whiteclouds... for this> I'm also having trouble with algae.  I keep the temp around 75 degrees, and have a filter that gets dirty pretty quickly.  I actually had less trouble when I didn't use a filter and changed the water less often.  What am I doing wrong? <Too broad a field of possibilities... Please read through the Betta material, Maintenance on WetWebMedia.com for freshwater systems. Bob Fenner>

I have 2 questions concerning the care of Betta fish <OK, this is Jorie, and I'll try to answer your questions.>   1. Can you keep a male and female in the same tank without them fighting or killing one another?  I was under the impression you could but my female Betta killed the male. <To the best of my knowledge, it's really better not to keep a one to one male:female ratio of Bettas in the same tank, unless you are planning on breeding the pair and raising the little ones (and this takes a good deal of hard work and a decent amount of resources.)  Also, with regards to your question, it depends on the size of the tank and the amount of hiding places, etc.  Personally, I prefer to keep one male Betta to a 3-5 gal. tank by himself, as they each have unique little personalities and are pretty independent fish.  If you want to keep females, I'd suggest maybe keeping a few together in a min. 10 gal. tank, but in all honesty, unless you plan to become a somewhat serious Betta breeder, I'd suggest keeping the males and females separate (and, of course, the males and males separate!)  Sorry you lost your boy.> 2. What is the milky white film floating on the top of my Betta tank?  I recently moved from Maryland to Virginia and I have had my Betta and Spongebob tank for almost 2 years.  Within a month of relocating a thin milky white substance appeared at the top of my tank. What is it?  I am assuming it either indicates the fish is sick or the minerals in the water must be treated.  Please help. <I'm not sure exactly what this is, but it doesn't sound good.  Do you have a test kit to test the water parameters? I'd suggest you do a large water change ASAP, if you haven't already (75% or so may be in order - of course, be careful to match the old and new water parameters as closely as possible).  How often do you normally do water changes? What type of filtration does this tank have? If it uses carbon cartridges, when was the last time you changed the cartridge? Do you use tap water? Do you normally treat it with anything? (e.g. chlorine remover, etc.) Some of these details may help shed some light.  Also, does the fish appear sick at all? Is there any noticeable markings or her? Has her behavior changed?> Alisa T. Johnson <Alisa, if you could respond back with the details requested above, I'll be better suited to help you out...Jorie>

Better Betta Accommodations? - 01/11/2005 I have a red Betta fish in a vase.  I want to change him into a fish  tank primarily to keep him warm because my apartment is very cold and so is  his water, not to say to give him space. <Excellent plan, glad to hear it!> My question is if a 10 gallon  fish tank would be too big for him?   <No.  This would be a perfect tank for him.  At that size, you could even get him some (very peaceful) tankmates, like platies or Corydoras catfish.  Avoid anything that nips (barbs, tetras....).  Or, if you like, he could have the whole space to himself, and really be king of his "palace"!> The reason is that the heaters are for fish tanks and not vases.  I want the best for him.  I can't sleep well thinking he is in that cold water.   <Very well understood.  I am glad that you are moving him into a better house!> Also my fish built a bubble nest  and every time we look close at him his gills come out like ready to attack, he is really guarding it with his life.   <Sounds like he's in excellent health.> Can he get sick if he doesn't mate??   <Nope, not at all.  In fact, if you do decide to get a couple other fish for the 10g tank, make sure you don't put any female Bettas in with him....  Sounds weird, I know, but he will pursue them until they are very, very stressed, and he can even be so "passionate" toward them that he gets tears in his fins.  So, no other Bettas (male OR female), unless you plan to breed him (which is a whole other topic altogether).> Please help me.  I want the best for him.   <You obviously do - thank you for caring so much for your fish!> Tanya <Wishing you and your Betta well,  -Sabrina>

Betta Could Be Feelin' Betta -- 01/11/2005 Hi!  I just got a Betta for Christmas that came in a vase with a peace lily plant.  I read on the internet that this is not necessarily a good arrangement and put the Betta in 1 gallon bowl instead.   <Though the peace lily arrangement can be done successfully, it takes a little more care than is usually discussed, and, he's probably much better off in the larger space.> Because he came with instructions to change the water only every 6 weeks or so, he was swimming in water that had several dead roots, a few fertilizer pellets, and a few pieces of dirt before I read online that I actually need to change the water every week.   <Sounds delicious'¦.  I'm glad you're stepping up your water change schedule!> I recently noticed he has a little fin rot and put him in a 1 gallon bowl with some aquarium salt and fungus eliminator.   <For just fin rot, I wouldn't necessarily start medicating right away -- often, improved water conditions alone will bring about a 'cure'.> Around that time, I noticed that the skin/scales under on chin was turning slightly grey.  It's been 5 days, and now he is grey around the mouth, a little around the eyes, and has a few spots of grey on the top of his head.  The grey doesn't look fuzzy or like grains of salt; it just looks like his gills are turning grey.  I would have that if it was a fungus, the first fungus treatment would have healed it or at least kept it from spreading.  Do you have any idea what might be causing the grey or what to do about it?   <It is possible that this is natural coloration -- but it could be a number of things.  It could be reaction to too strong a dose of medicine, or could be a parasitic protozoan infection'¦.  Does this area look 'slimy' or 'filmy'?  Is it very plainly the scales that are colored, or does it look as though there is a 'haze' on top of the scales?> Thanks so much for your help! <I certainly hope to be of more assistance than this'¦.  Please do respond, and we'll be glad to help you through this.  If at all possible, please let us know your readings for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate (if you don't have test kits, you can bring a sample of water to the fish store -- have them show you the results, and jot the figures down on a piece of paper to let us know).  Also, what is the primary coloration of the Betta?  Many 'steel' blue Bettas will have a lot of grayish cast to them.  Also, I urge you to go to any local fish store to look at the Bettas for sale -- notice especially how the heads of the Bettas almost invariably are of a different, darker color than the rest of the Betta -- what you are seeing on your fish may very well be just normal coloration.  Please get back to us.  Wishing you and your Betta well,  -Sabrina>

New Betta, cloudy water Hi.  Our old Betta lasted 3 years and we loved him dearly. <This is a good long life for this species> After his demise, we bought a new Betta.  This Betta is in a new but same size 5 gal. aquarium.  He is fed Bio-gold Betta pellets, and any food not eaten in 10min. are removed.  The water is always treated and dechlorinated.  My question is about the water quality.  Our old Betta's water would stay clean for weeks or even months (with changes of 10% every 2 weeks).  The new Betta water gets cloudy, foamy, smelly in about 2 weeks and the whole set up has to be changed and cleaned.  What are we doing wrong with our new fish?  Thanks <Likely your tank is just "breaking in" with the addition of the new fish, or some bit of uneaten food has eluded you... I would cut back on feeding, maybe check for ammonia if you have a test kit, but otherwise all should be fine in a few weeks. Bob Fenner>
Betta with Ammonia Build-up
Hi and thank you for all your wonderful advice so far.  I recently wrote in about a new Betta that we keep in a 2 ½ gallon tank with box filter and heater that we have been able to steadily maintain a temp. of about 78 degrees. There is gravel on the bottom and a few silk plants with smooth edges. The fish seems very happy and swims around often, eagerly comes to eat (3 or 4 pellet in the A.M. and either the same at night or some freeze dried blood worms). His favorite resting spot is on the suction cup of the heater! My question is about the water quality. The ammonia is at 4.0 and the pH at 7.4 (down from 8.4 two days ago when I added in some pH stabilizer), nitrite at .25 and Nitrate at 6.0 to 7.0. I am really new to all this and trying to make sense out of these readings. I've vacuumed the gravel twice this past week and with each time had to replace about 25% of the water. I keep treated tap water on hand that has a ½ tsp. per gallon of aquarium salt. The ammonia level hasn't changed, so today I did a 20% water change. Still no change. Are these levels okay? Am I obsessing over nothing? Can I be doing water changes too much or still not enough? I think I waited too long to clean the gravel because we got him on Christmas and I first cleaned the gravel three days ago. Any advice on what I should be looking for would be great. Other than that it should eventually be 0 ammonia and nitrite, what can I expect along the way to that with hurting this fish? I understand about cycling, I just want to do the best I can with minimal stress to the fish. I know it is harder to maintain water conditions in such a small tank. Also, we ordered a sponge filter and will switch to that once it arrives. Can I just turn off the box filter and replace with the sponge? Thanks so much for your help. Kim <Hi Kim, That ammonia reading is of great concern. Start doing a 50% water changes at once. Wait a few hours and do another. Then at least daily until at zero. Cut the feeding to once a day for now. The sponge will need a month or more to grow the two bacteria needed to control the water quality. Until then you need to keep doing enough water changes to keep ammonia, and in a little while nitrite, near zero. That will be a task since you have already changed the tank's pH. All water changes of the size I am recommending must be done with matching pHs. Don>

Betta Upgrade Hi, I have a question about my Betta and eating. Recently my Betta lived in a 1/2 gallon bowl. After each water change he would make bubble nests, and ate twice a day, and would even jump for his food sometimes, he seemed like a pretty happy guy. I recently got a 10 gallon tank with a filter and heater, treated the water let it cycle and finally put him in. He took to it immediately. He is always exploring and swimming around. He hangs out mainly by the filter and hugs the heater a lot. My problem is its been about 3 days and he hasn't eaten once. I put the food in and it just gets swept away with the current or drops to the bottom. I usually feed him Betta bites which he seemed to love and on occasion I would put in some freeze dried worms. When he didn't eat the bites I put in the worms, and he didn't eat those either.  He's not hanging out at the bottom of the tank at all, always at the top, but its really concerning to me that he hasn't eaten. I even tried to float a cup and put the food in it so that it wouldn't float away, but he just looked at it and wasn't interested. What should I do? I'm considering putting him in the bowl each time I want him to eat, but I don't think that is a good idea?? Thank you. <First let me say thank you! A 10 gallon with a filter and heater is a great home for a Betta! You could even add a few Corys in there. It's normal for him not to eat for a few days after a move. Are you testing his water? A fishless cycle requires about 6 weeks to complete, with a some sort of decaying organic matter to feed the filter's bacterial colony. You must test in order to see when the cycling is complete. Even if you did not do this, it's OK. Just don't add any more fish for a while. Do a 30% water change once or twice a week for a few weeks and you should be fine. A single Betta, lightly feed, will not foul the water quickly. But testing the water is the only way to be sure. Make sure you do not overfeed and always use a gravel vac to remove waste and uneaten food when doing water changes. This is very important. Good luck. Don>

Betta on the Move First of all, I just wanted to say thanks for the service you provide. I have spent many hours reading through the FAQs and the information has been far more valuable to me (and my fish) than any single (or several) book/s I could have purchased. Until reading a comment in one of the FAQs recently, I didn't realize that there was a "click to pay" option on the site. I will certainly do this and I'd encourage you to more prominently display this option on the site as I'm sure there are many others like me who are more than happy to contribute. <Thank you for your support> Anyway, now to my question. I have been keeping a male Betta in an eclipse 6 gallon tank with 3 small panda Cory cats.  The Betta was civil at first, but recently began attacking the Corys at mealtime. I have pulled the Betta back out of the main tank into his original, unheated half-gallon bowl. I know this is not ideal, so today I purchased another eclipse tank (3 gallon) with heater to house only the Betta. However, I am concerned about putting him in a new, uncycled tank. I was thinking of taking the bio-wheel out of the 6 gallon tank and gently stirring it around in the new tank to hopefully transfer some of the beneficial bacteria. Will this be helpful? I will plan on doing frequent water changes at first to help, but I'm not quite sure how often and how much water I should change. I currently do about a 10% weekly water change on the 6 gallon tank. Is there anything else I can or should do to make this an easy transition? Thanks again. Rick <I think the best bet is to add some caves to the 6 gallon for the cats to hide in. A few flat rocks leaning up against the glass will do. Drop in a sinking wafer at night to feed the Corys. Then do a fishless cycle on the 3. Stirring the established bio wheel in the new tank will seed the filter, but it will still need a few weeks to grow an strong bacterial colony. You should get a test kit for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. If you move the Betta do water changes to keep the first two at zero, nitrates below 20ppm. No water changes needed if you go the fishless route. Just wait until ammonia and nitrite spike and crash and nitrates are on the rise before stocking. Don>       

The Proper Use of Beer in FW Cycling <Love that title!> I know this question has been asked before, however, I still am not 100% sure of the answer and was wondering if you could provide a list of maybe 10 specific species. I have a male and female Betta (Fabio and Francesca) in a small tank and I am setting up a 30 gallon tank. I want to find colorful, relaxed fish. I read the article about having more female Bettas (5) but I am wondering what else would do well. Also, when doing research, I came across a site that stated you should do a 25% water change weekly. Isn't this too much? Wouldn't that change the water quality too frequently and cause distress to the fish and possibly death? How frequent should this be done? Are there any specific sites that I should review before setting up my tank? Does it need to be set up for two weeks before I put fish in it? As you can tell, I am new to this (had a tank growing up but that was a long time ago) so any information you have would be greatly appreciated. I know you have been asked these questions thousands of times but one more for a fish lover. <You're right. All this has been asked many times. So I'll trade you. I'll go over the start up, you research the fish. But I will advise to stay away from Tiger Barbs and Zebra Danios. Fin nippers. A small group of Corys would be great. To start up your tank correctly you will need a test kit that will test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. You also need a raw shrimp and a few beers. Fill and decorate the tank and get your filter and heater going. Temp to about 78 for now. Throw in the shrimp and go have a beer. You're done for a few weeks. You can test the water every few days. You will see ammonia start to build as the shrimp decays. Soon a bacteria will grow in the bio media of your filter (never clean this) that will convert the ammonia to nitrite. Your test will show ammonia crashing and nitrite spiking. This will take a week or two. Go have another beer. Do nothing to the tank. It will take about twice as long, but soon enough a second bacteria will grow that converts nitrite into nitrate. Your test will show ammonia and nitrite at zero and nitrate spiking. Do a 50% water change using a gravel vac to get the remains of the shrimp out of there. That can be a little gross, so steady yourself with a beer. Add a pair of fish, sit back and...well you know by now. The next morning take a few aspirin and test the water. If you see any ammonia or nitrite OR if nitrates are above 20ppm, do a water change. Do not have a beer after this water change. Too early. When ammonia and nitrite stay at zero for a few days you can add a few more fish. Best to do this later in the day, for the obvious reason. Always test after stocking, the bacterial colony in your filter will need time to adjust to the new bio load. I should also be talking you through the proper use of a QT, but I'm out of bourbon. Don>   

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Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term

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