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Vases and bowls have been the first choice of many beginning fishkeepers for their new betta for years. After all, a vase is cheap, doesn’t take up much space, looks pretty with a plant in it and bettas are very hardy and don’t require much specific care at all, right? Unfortunately, this info, which is mostly spread by pet stores who are trying to maximize their profits, is often accepted without second thought.
People assume pet store employees are knowledgeable and never look up additional information – when the betta dies after a few months, they are told it passed away from old age. Keep reading for information on what a good betta tank should actually look like, what equipment it should contain and, most importantly, tons of photos of beautiful betta tanks that will hopefully convince you that an actual aquarium looks much better than a bowl anyway! For more information on exactly why bowls are unsuitable betta homes, check out why betta bowls are bad.
Betta bowls can be very pretty but are not suitable. Quin’s Fish by fraleigh.
Betta tank size
How to decorate a betta tank
Betta tank mates
Dividing betta aquarium
Betta aquarium inspiration
Betta tank size
Try to go for a minimum of 5 gallons (19L). Tanks that size will actually cycle when a filter is used (click here for more info about cycling an aquarium), which reduces the need to do water changes. Tanks of 15 gallons (57L) and up can sustain some types of tank mates besides small snails like trumpet snails.
A good example of an aquarium suitable for a single betta is this aquarium kit.
But why not just a bowl? Bettas are naturally found in ponds, rice paddies and slow moving rivers in Thailand and Cambodia. Contrary to popular belief, they do not live in animal footprints and tiny pools and therefore can’t just be kept in jars and bowls.
But I see big fish rooms with tons of bettas in jars all the time!, I hear you say. Correct! However, these fish are kept by experienced betta breeders who often use a drip filter system so their bettas are supplied with fresh water 24/7 and heat their entire fish room to a stable temperature. Without a drip system, a full water change has to be done every other day to prevent ammonia poisoning, which is of course quite stressful for the fish (and for you, when you’re sick, tired or just in a hurry). Bowls, jars and vases are also often too small to put a heater in, and without heated water bettas will get lethargic and stressed from temperature fluctuations. In short, an aquarium is just much easier and reduces the risk of stress-related illnesses or even death.
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Ko Yao Yai by notashamed. Rice fields like these are an example of a natural betta habitat.
Heater – Bettas are tropical fish that require a stable temperature of 77-82 F (25-28 C). Without a heater, they will become lethargic because of the cold water and fluctuating temperature. This is a major cause of premature death in bettas.
Small filter – Bettas don’t produce a lot of waste, so there is no need for huge canister filters. A simple hang on back or internal filter is enough to cycle the tank and keep water values stable. When dealing with bettas with long, flowing fins it might be necessary to baffle the filter. This can be done easily by tying a piece of sponge in front of the outflow or putting a plant with big leaves in front of it.
A water testing kit like this one will last you a long time and gives an accurate picture of water values and whether your aquarium is safe for your betta.Water testing kit – As with all types of aquariums, you are going to need a test kit like the one pictured to the side to monitor the water values in your betta tank. I recommend drop tests, as they are cheaper than test strips in the long run and certainly much more accurate. The API Freshwater Master Test Kit is a favorite among many aquarists.
Water conditioner – Often forgotten by new fishkeepers, water conditioner removes chloramine (which is used to desinfect tap water in most countries) and heavy metals, thus making tap water suitable for the aquarium. Follow the instructions on the bottle after every water change.