Anybody who has kept fish, whether it be a large built in aquarium or a small betta bowl, knows there is a lot involved with creating an ecosystem that can sustain life. We have filters, lighting, food, nets, testing equipment, medication, sponges & scrapers, dechlorinators, and the list goes on. There are a lot of aquarium supplies that are helpful to keep on hand, but here is our list of the the Top 5 must-haves Betta Fish care supplies.
A good quality conditioner will not only neutralize chlorine but will also handle chloramines and heavy metals. City water is often treated with chloramines, a compound that is longer lasting and more resilient than chlorine. This is why the water aging method that was popular before decholorinators where available to fish keepers is no longer enough. Even if you don’t use city water it is necessary to treat your betta’s water for heavy metals, which can poison your fish. We like Kordon’s AmQuel+ and NovAqua+ in combination. This product is great because it not only breaks the bond between chloramines, but it then neutralizes the ammonia byproduct making your aquarium less toxic for your betta.
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t get an email from a reader concerned that their betta fish isn’t active enough. There are lots of reasons a betta could become sluggish but the most common reason for inactivity is tank water that is too cold. Betta fish are tropical and while they may survive in cool water they often become lethargic and susceptible to stress induced illnesses like Ich, Velvet, or Cotton Wool Disease. The ideal temperature for a betta tank is a stable 78°F (25.5°C). A couple of degrees warmer or cooler is fine so long as it doesn’t fluctuate. A good mini-heater allows for temperature adjustment, is fully submersible and has an indicator light allowing you to know when it is heating. One to try is the Hagen Elite 25 watt for smaller aquariums.
Betta fish are susceptible to a variety of diseases but keeping a medicine cabinet full of pills and drops to treat parasites, bacterial infections, viruses, and fungus isn’t realistic. Most will expire past their sell-by date before you ever have the change to use them. Tropical fish medicine is not terribly expensive, but if you try to buy everything you might possibly need you will spend more than you’d need to. There are a few common illnesses that require medication like Ich, Velvet and Fin Rot, however; these diseases don’t usually cause rapid deterioration or death. If you notice Ich parasites on your betta fish, for example, it is usually fine to wait until the next day to get to the store to by medicine. If you are going to keep one medicine on hand, I suggest a wide spectrum antibiotic that can be used to treat illness that come on fast and are very serious, such as septicemia, popeye, and particularly virulent strains of flexibacter columnaris (Cotton Wool Disease). Maracyn Plus by Mardel Labs uses a combination Sulfadimidine and Trimethoprim. Both active ingredients treat gram-positive and gram-negative bacterial infections.
Quick-dip test strips are easy to use and offer several results in one test. These strips do not give very accurate results compared to reagent based aquarium water test kits, but they are great for the average betta keeper who isn’t willing to dedicate a lot of time and money to their betta fish. They will offer you a base line reading for Nitrite, Nitrate, pH, hardness and alkalinity. Before you can treat any illness or behavior problem you must identify the cause. Tropical fish are so sensitive to their environment that even minor fluctuations can cause problems. Every fish owner, whether they have a 1 gallon betta bowl or a 100 gallon built-in aquarium needs to test their water regularly. The most popular dip-stick test available is the Jungle Labs 5 Tests in One Quick-Dip
Of all the aquarium supplies available for betta fish the #1 most important item to have is an ammonia test kit. That’s right, testing is so vital that it has taken up two spots at the top of our Top 5 Must-have Betta Fish Care Items. Unfortunately the Quick-Dip tests do not test for ammonia, which is the single most dangerous chemical naturally occurring in your betta fish tank. Ammonia is the byproduct of fish waste and other decaying debris like uneaten fish food and dead plant matter. Even low levels of ammonia can lead to gill damage, weakened immune system and Fin Rot. Because most fish keepers don’t keep their bettas in filtered, cycled aquariums, ammonia testing is a must. There are a lot of good ammonia test kits available. I find that the API brand Ammonia test, which uses reagent bottles and a test tube, offers a reliable test for not a lot of money.
Of course there are aquarium supplies your betta fish can’t live without, such as a tank and nutritious food. Once you get the vary basics provided for your betta we hope that you will consider these important items on our Top 5 must-have Betta Fish care supplies.