A betta's bowl is it's key factor. Without a healthy setting, the betta will slowly wilt away, losing color and only rising to breathe. They will not eat, and slowly die. There are two ways to keep a betta: by himself, or in a community of peaceful fish that are sure not to nip off their delicate fins. Here, we will focus on keeping a single betta by himself.
(Certain sentences taken from Aquarium Care of Bettas)
Inadequate Betta BowlsEdit
BowlsEditDespite their popularity, many "betta bowl" setups are terrible for the fish. Although it's possible to keep a betta in a small vessel such as a bowl or vase, this type of maintenance requires special attention. A typical "betta bowl" consists of a small, 4-5 inch plastic bowl. It has no filter or source of heat, strongly enfeebling the fish. Gravel put in the bottom will quickly become soiled by feces and small black dirt partocles will appear on the bottom. Without the gravel, the fish will attempt to eat its wastes. The plastic/glass bowl will need various changing almost every one or two days (the larger ones twice a week), and frequently changing the water will weaken the fish. Ornaments will take up all the fish's swim space and collect algae. The betta will not have room to swim at least 6 times its body length. The betta, having labyrinth organs and needing to breathe air, can suffocate if it doesn't have access to air. If you're not willing to maintain the bowl, it has no filter to self-clean it.
Either way, if not taken care of, the fish may die from disease and dirty water conditions, or frequent water changes.
The ability of a betta to breathe air leads some people to believe that the betta does not need much water. Many owners claim that their betta will thrive in a vase among the roots of a plant, feeding on the roots while the plant uses the fish's wastes. They insist it doesn't need heat, feeding, filtration, or water changes. But take a look at their bettas. They're small and cold, without the colorful fins shown on a tank betta with warmth. Betta need warmth and feeding to keep them healthy, bright, and happy. This is completely wrong. A betta can be maintained in a bowl, with or without a plant, but the betta will not eat the roots (they're carnivores) and the water does need to be cleaned.
Adequate Betta TanksEditGood betta tanks should be at least 7 inches long, 8 inches tall, and 3 inches wide. They should be at least one (1) gallon. Of course, this is just a anything smaller by an inch/ounce or two is perfectly acceptable to be considered "an appropriate betta tank". Usually betta tanks this size should come with a filter and light. Bettas, to be comfortable and at full power, need warmth and cleanliness. An ornament and/or plant would certainly light up the bowl, and gravel would make the tank more attractive. The Aquenon Mini Bow 1 is perfect for a betta. Bettas need room to swim, but on the other hand, they aren't terribly active fish. In the wild, males defend a small area around its nest and ambush its food. In addition, the lush fins of bettas aren't made to swim fast. But the betta needs room to exercise, a very important factor so your betta does not die of weight issues.
Of course, their are impressive 20 gallon tanks to keep bettas in a community, but they should be long and shallow, because the betta cannot swim deep due to their breathing of surface air.
Volume for Your TankEdit
The total volume of the water greatly influences the maintenance routine: If you only want to change your betta's water once a week, you should give your fish at least a gallon. A quart, pint, or liter will last a single betta only two or three days, at which the water will become toxic with wastes. A half quart or liter will only last a day or two, and a betta in a tiny bowl (250 ml) of water will need a complete change everyday. A jar is fine for showing a betta, but not for keeping it as housing.
Using a good filter will stretch these times out.
BEFORE taking the above as the gospel, please read up on the "nitrogen cycle" that an aquarium or other fish 'home' will process through. After said cycle is complete, the "TOXIC" water will not be so toxic. Of course, you still need to clean and exchange water from your fish's home on a regular basis. However, once the cycling is complete, you will NOT need to change it nearly as often. Please! Do NOT scrub/wipe/or overly aggressively clean your tank/bowl, as you will be removing the helpful ( read as "vital") bacterial colonies . These have developed to convert ammonia (from fish waste/overfeeding) to nitrites; 2nd vital bacteria colony that has developed to convert nitrites to nitrates - each product being progressively less toxic to your fish. Please do not use hot water to rinse your fish's environment - it can kill off your good bacteria. The bacteria willl colonize any surface area available-gravel, inside of tank, inside filter/filtration medium, etc. Please don't change your fish's water all at once...this stresses the fish, and can have other negative effects as well. Only change the entire volume if absolutely necessary. If you don't feel comfortable with deciding how often, how much, etc. you can buy an inexpensive water testing kit at your pet store. It can tell you how your bacterial colonies are developing, as well as when water is becoming unhealthy for the fish. Obviously, the water and fish must be watched more carefully when habitat is new. You can also boost the cycle if you have a friend that can give you a bit of gravel or filter material from an established tank. If you use a filter, it will filter out solid wastes and circulate your water. The bacterial colonies will also establish inside the filter, and therefore help it to remove/reduce the ammonia and nitrites. ADDITIONALLY - please read various websites/resouirces about the care and environment, etc, for your fish. Often seen are sites that have copied inaccurate information repeatedly, until it seems everyone is saying the same thing. This is often done totally word for word . Research what you read until you feel comfortabole that you have obtained accurate information.
Lighting & TemperatureEdit
A betta can survive at room temperature, Bettas, from Thailand, are tropical fish that come from warm habitats. Bettas will sometimes need a heater. Make sure not to put your betta in direct sunlight, because it could overheat the tank. At your pet/fish store, you can get a small thermometer to place on the outside of their habitat, or a small floating one, among other varieties.Some bettas glow under the correct type of light. Most light fixtures fixing above the betta will do a fine job. Regular room light, however, is fine from the fish's point of view. Normal room temperatures will not kill the betta, but water that is consistently too cool may stress the fish, making him more vulnerable to disease or illness.
If you plan to use filtration for a betta, it almost surely will make his home more comfortable (not to say it is absolutely necessary with the right set-up for a betta; however if you are keeping any tank mates, it becomes a necessity). Although betta's do have a labyrinth for taking in oxygen at the surface, they do retain their gills for a reason. Oxygenation is increased in the water if there is a filter. The movement of the water exposes more 'surface area' to our air, thereby increasing the amount of O2 present in the water. Filtration will also remove some of the solid fish wastes, excess food, and provide a large amount of surface area (including the filtration medium) for the colonization of the good bacteria referred to above. As the water is circulated through your filter (assuming some sort of power filter, but applies to any that can provide favorable environment for the bacteria) it is also being processed by the bacteria to remove ammonia and nitrites and turn them into the less toxic nitrates. In the event one is thinking of breeding bettas, it is important to note that they do not develop their own labyrinth until they reach a certain age. Until that time, they rely solely on their gills for oxygenation. It is possible that your bettas may refuse to breed if there is insufficient oxygen in their water to maintain their fry. (Different fish have differing levels of 'pickiness' as to the water parameters they will accept for breeding. Some parameters are temperature, oxygenation, movement of water, pH, levels of nitrates, etc.)
PLEASE read above regarding the "nitrogen cycle".
With frequent water changes a small betta bowl can get away without filtration. There are, however filters for certain bowls (see Aquenon Mini Bow 1) that keep the tank clean longer than without a filter. If your fish habitat can support it, a small (size depending on size of habitat) power filter will do a nice job., as it circulates a significant amount of water that results in more removal of solid waste and a great place for the bacteria to grow. In a small environment, a betta may not appreciate a fast flow of water caused by the filter. You may need to review the types and sizes available and choose depending on the habitat the betta lives in.
The BettaBreeder article, Betta filters shows how to make a type of filter.
- Article heavily revised on 9/11/2013**