Before you bring your Betta fish home from the pet store, it's a very good idea to have a home ready to go for your new pet friends. When first preparing their new home, it's best to try to replicate a Betta's natural environment. This will lesson stress in their lives and help the fish live a happy and longer life. This article including 7 simple tasks will help you to easily get started your first Betta tank even if you are "brand-new" to the fish keeping hobby.
Step 1 - Choosing a fish tank for your Betta
If you only want to keep one male Betta, a 2.5-3 gallon fish tank is an affordable option that provides just enough space for the fish to thrive in. If you want to stock your Betta together with some tank mates, a 5 gallon fish tank or 10 gallon fish tank will provide a larger house for the fish.
The larger the tank is, it is easier for you to provide a stable water condition for your fish. It has been observed that Bettas that have adequate space and enough exercise will live a longer and happier life.
Step 2 - Placing the tank in an appropriate place
When first preparing their new home, it's best to try to replicate a Betta's natural environment. This will lessen stress in their lives and increase the likelihood of them flourishing in their new surroundings.
Bettas are accustomed to experiencing sunlight in their natural environment. If the room in which the tank sits does not receive natural light, the next best option is to provide artificial light. The light will not only benefit the Bettas but will also help the nitrification bacteria and plants located inside of the tank.
It is better to set your Betta fish aquarium in a space that's consistently climate-controlled. Keep the tank away from sources that produce extremes of hot and cold, such as near windows, heaters, lights, air conditioners, and vents. Bettas can take a temperature change of 3°, at most. Any more might prove stressful for them.
Step 3 - Adding substrate, plants, and decorations
When considering a substrate for the aquarium, it's best to use a natural sort. Gravel that is painted is not a good option because the paint can dissolve into the tank’s water, which can harm your fish. You should also choose gravel free from jagged edges because the edges can cause damage to your fish upon contact. For this same reason, it's also best to avoid metallic decorations.
Natural plants are an excellent choice for your Betta's home and your fish will appreciate your attention to detail in this sometimes overlooked aspect of Betta fish care. Not only do natural plants serve as natural hiding places for Bettas, they also provide your little friends with some oxygen and help to break down nitrates which accumulate in the tank water. Marimo moss balls, Guppy grass, and Amazon Sword plants are some of the best plants for Betta tanks.
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If you don't like to use live plants, you can use artificial ones or equip your Betta aquarium with a floating Betta log and a bed leaf hammock that will provide the fish peaceful places near the water surface to rest and gulp air.
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Step 4 - Fill the tank with dechlorinated water
The water added to the tank must be completely free of any trace of chlorine. Tap water is an acceptable option provided it sits for at least 24 hours that enables the chlorine in the water to completely evaporate into the air. Alternatively, you can treat the water with a water conditioner which removes not only chlorine but also any harmful substances from the tap water. To keep Bettas healthy, the water in the tank should also be soft to medium (dGH 5-19) and neutral or slightly acidic (pH 6.8 - 7.4).
You'll also need to remember to leave some space between the top of the aquarium and the water surface. Betta fish are known for their jumping ability, and it's not uncommon for them to occasionally jump out of their aquarium. If a hood or glass cover is not available for one reason or another, a netting or mesh could substitute as a cover for the tank.
Step 5 - Setting up equipment
Do Betta fish need a filter?
Like Gouramis, Bettas are so hardy and they can live without a filter in a large enough fish tank; however, you will need to change the water more regular than using a filter. Using a filter, which helps to clean nitrogenous toxins (ammonia and nitrites) produced by fish wastes, is certainly better for the fish.
Bettas like still waters; hence, a filter with too strong flow rate can cause a lot of water turbulence and is not suitable for the fish. A gentle aquarium filter with adjustable flow rate is recommended for any Betta tanks.
Choose a filter for your Betta here: https://lovefishtank.com/small-5-gallon-fish-tank-filter/.
Do Betta fish need a heater?
Originally from tropical Asia, Betta fish are accustomed to water temperatures that are sometimes over 80 °F. Like all other freshwater fish, Bettas are temperature-sensitive. Too cool waters (below 75 °F) make them lethargic; too warm waters cause them to become overactive and their metabolisms to go into overdrive.
So what temperature should a Betta fish tank be? The survival temperature range for Bettas is between 72 and 86 °F (22-30 °C) while the optimal range is between 76-82 °F (25-28 °C). You will need a fish tank heater to keep the water temperature in this optimal range. Using a 25-watt aquarium heater for nano Betta tanks under 5 gallons, 50-watt for 10 gallons, and 100-watt for 20 gallons.
Do Betta fish need a light?
If your Betta tank is placed in a room, which does not receive natural light, the answer is yes. The light will benefit not only the Bettas but also the aquatic plants in your tank and the nitrification bacteria in the filtration system.
Make sure the light you use does not heat the tank water beyond what Bettas can tolerate. Placing the light at a safe distance from the tank will usually pose no risk of raising the water temperature. A cheap clip-on LED aquarium light is just enough to light a small Betta tank with under 10 gallons of water.
After setting up all equipment you need for the tank, plug them it and check if they are working properly or not before adding your new Betta fish to the tank. Because Bettas are hardy fish, you don't need to wait for a month for the tank to cycle before stocking fish.
Step 6 - Adding your new Betta fish to the tank
Because the water that the fish is in at the pet store may be very different from the water in your home aquarium, you need to acclimate the new fish to your tank water (chemistry and temperature) before dropping it into your tank. These first hours can make the difference your Betta living a long and healthy life or becoming ill and swimming upside down in your tank.
Here is some important advice to follow to help ensure a happy experience for you and your new Betta fish:
When transporting your fish home they will be in a plastic bag (with water of course). Take the bag and float it in the aquarium for about thirty minutes, this allows the temperature of the water in the bag to adjust to match that in the aquarium.
Carefully open up the bag and add a little water from the tank to the water in the bag, about 10% of the amount in the bag should be enough. Repeat this process every 20 to 30 minutes until the bag is full of tank water. This process will adjust the water chemistry in the bag to match that of the aquarium.
Finally, slowly lower the bag into the water of your tank and allow your fish to swim out. Congratulation! Now you have a new Betta tank with a beautiful Betta swimming around inside the tank. The rest work is so simple, just maintain your tank every week (water changing) to keep it clean and your fish healthy.
Step 7 - Maintaining a Betta fish tank
How much water should be changed?
Just like it is for any aquarium, regular changing water for your Betta tank is the easiest way to keep the water quality high and your Betta healthy. The amount of water that has to be changed depends on many factors: tank size, amount of fish, live plants, filter or no filter, etc.
At least a 2.5 to 5 gallon fish tank with a filter is required for the less maintenance. As a rule of thumb, weekly 15-20% water change should be performed. If there are live aquatic plants, it will need even less maintenance. Buying Nitrate test kit and testing the water once a week will tell you lot about how often the water needs to be changed. The higher nitrate reading after a fixed time means your tank water needs to be changed more frequently.
- Contains one (1) API NITRATE 90-Test Freshwater and Saltwater Aquarium Water Test Kit, including 2 bottles of testing solution, 2 color cards and 1 glass test tube with cap
- Detects high nitrate levels from 0-160 ppm
- Helps monitor and adjust pH and prevent invisible water problems that can be harmful to fish
If there is no filter in your tank, it is better to change the water a little more often, 10% water change twice a week should be performed. For a tank smaller than 1 gallon, partial water changes should be done regularly to keep your Betta fish healthy.
Four steps for cleaning a small Betta fish tank
Cleaning the algae.You should leave your Betta in his house and use some specific tools for water changes to clean the tank. Firstly, use an algae magnet cleaner to clean the algae on the aquarium walls.
Cleaning the gravel and remove 15-20% water
Maintaining the filterSimply rinse your filter media (foams, ceramic rings...) in the old aquarium water from the previous step. Sometimes, change the foam pads if they are too old; the ceramic rings can be reused for many years. If you use carbon media in your filter, it should be changed once a month to ensure the efficiency of chemical filtration.
Supplement new water to the tankAlways adding water conditioner to the tap water prior to use it for your fish or shrimps so that harmful chlorine is completely dissipated. Because temperature fluctuations are very stressful for Bettas, you should raise the temperature of the water to match the temperature in the Betta tank before using it. You can use an aquarium heater to do this work.
Using a gravel vacuum cleaner to remove all leftover food particles and solid fish waste from the gravel. Remove decorations, and vacuum underneath them as well. If there are live plants in the tank, leave them there and vacuum around. NEVER use soap or other cleansers to clean anything that comes in contact with your Betta!