First Betta: Size, Lighting, Water Changes & Other Great Questions


betta3, originally uploaded by girlpirate.

Q: CBN wrote:

Hey Christie!

Great site. I’ve enjoyed reading your site and Blog. I’m a new enthusiast from Colombia, and wanted your advice on my new baby, Titan!. Despite all the ideal recommendations, I’ve made my adoption and aquarium the way I wanted it, trying to make it ideal, but not quite, since I don’t have ALL the time in the world, but wanted a betta to care for and for company.

Ok, I bought Titan yesterday, bought the one I loved and also, that appeared well cared, it was hanging in a great large tank and by himself. He was very active, so I assumed this meant healthiness, as I’ve read. I bought a circular bowl, of about 1.4-1.5 gallon (I know, not the ideal) capacity (I’m attaching pictures for you to have a better idea). I also asked them to give me some of their water, since it had been already treated, etc. So far, everything seems great and he seems to be having fun at his new home, eats well, although he lets the food pellets to fall to the bottom, then he goes and fetch’s it, spits it out to soften it (i guess), then he eats it again. He swims and maintains very active all day long. The current tank temperature is a bit low though, ranging from 21-22 degrees C, so I’m gonna get a mini heater soon, so I can achieve 24-27. I wanted your advice on my current setup and some questions I have.

- First, he seems small (4 cm maybe or less), I guess he’s just some weeks old (pictures attached), so this is better, right? more life and company if kept right?

- He surfaces pretty often for air, is this normal? how often do they do it? Sometimes he’s at the bottom and rises very fast, heh, like a torpedo for air!

- Do they need lamp light or something? would it be better for them?

- I didn’t cycle the tank, seemed very long of a process and don’t have the time right now, but I did put in all the conditioners and biological aquarium supplement in the water; would this be ok?

- How often should I change the water and total or partial? I’ve read tons of tips, but Im kinda confused since they vary, could you recommend some custom tips for my case? (don’t have an amonia kit yet)

- pH seems perfect, measure it daily, it’s about 7.0 right now.

Last, but not least, awesome site and information. Thanks for your site, your time and consideration.

A: First, bettas that are still small when you buy them at the store are usually just young. He may only be 3 or 4 months old. It’s possible he could be stunted or naturally small but it’s more likely that he is just young. You should begin to notice him bulking up over the next couple of months.

Bettas do surface pretty frequently for air. Because they rely primarily on their labyrinth organ you may find them surfacing several times per minute though the frequency they surface can vary based on a variety of factors. Once his water is heated you may notice him surfacing even more frequently due to a faster metabolism and lower dissolved oxygen levels in the water.

Bettas do live according to a natural light cycle. They are awake when it is light and sleep when it is dark. As long as they are getting ambient light they don’t require a lamp. If you do prefer to add a lamp, try to keep it on for a natural period of time (8 – 12 hours). Extremely extended periods of light (or dark) may create stress.

Cycling a tank is not required but does create a safer and more stable environment for the fish and will save you time and money. If you choose to maintain an uncycled tank it will require greater diligence, frequent water testing and regular 100% water changes before any dangerous toxins have the chance to accumulate.

There is no hard an fast rule to determine how frequently you have to change YOUR betta’s water but here is a link to an article that will help you plan better. There are several things to consider including the size of the tank, the bioload, feeding, etc. Water Changes: Frequency Determining the frequency is custom for every case and water changes may vary from tank to tank. Take a look at the article and you should be able to determine exactly how often you need to clean Titan’s aquarium. You will need that ammonia kit as soon as possible.

I agree your pH is perfect. More important then a neutral pH is a stable pH. A pH that changes rapidly can be very dangerous. As long as yours isn’t changing much, it should be fine.

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Christie F is a Betta splendens hobbyist that enjoys spending time caring for her fish and helping new betta keepers learn the ropes. More posts by:

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