Q: LB wrote,

Hi! I am an old hand at tropical fish keeping and used to run both a 50 gallon and a 90 gallon tank. However, I’ve been out of it for 10 years or so. My daughter is in college and bought herself a Betta for a pet, however, she doesn’t have the time to care for it properly and is soon moving out of the college residence. So good old Mom is going to take the Betta off her hands. Tonight, I went shopping for something to keep the dude in. I refuse to keep him in a bowl! What I purchased was a Mini Bow 5, plus a mini heater. Upon unpacking the tank, I discovered that the included filter is NOT adjustable, although I understood it should be. Assuming this problem cannot be resolved and I’m stuck with a Mini Bow 5 with a non-adjustable filter… will the Betta be able to handle the current? Alternatively, I can return this tank for an Eclipse 6. The 6′s filter is also not adjustable and I’ve read contradictory reviews where people say the filter is fine for Betta’s and other people say it’s too strong. I’ve also noticed that the Eclipse 6 has a fluorescent light whereas the Mini Bow 5 has an incandescent light — the Betta would look much nicer under the fluorescent! But it’s the current that I’m really most concerned about.

Both the MiniBow 5 and the Eclipse 6 are great options for betta fish aquariums. Over the years, I have kept several bettas in my Eclipse 6 aquarium. Bettas, especially long finned males, aren’t the strongest swimmers and may need a little time to adjust to the moderate current in either aquarium. Neither aquarium has an especially strong current and with a few modifications can be easily made to suit most bettas. Some of the smaller models, like the Eclipse 3 make it hard to keep the current down due to their smaller size.
With either tank I would suggest adding a fair amount of plant material, either real or silk (plastic is okay if you don’t select anything too sharp). Dense vegetation not only looks nice and helps your betta feel comfortable but it also disperses much of the filter current so your betta can swim comfortably and rest when necessary. It is my personal opinion that bushy plant material is enough to make both the MiniBow 5 and the Eclipse 6 well suited for most betta fish. Some bettas seem more agitated by the current than others. Some even appear to play in it. You’ll have to see how your daughter’s betta fares after you set up the tank.

Another option is to create a surface barrier at the filter outlet. To create a barrier purchase one plastic mesh tank divider kit, available at just about any fish store, PetCo or PetSmart, and cut a long 1 to 2 inch strip from the mesh. Dwarf Gourami
Attach it to the brackets as you would if you were setting up the divider, and attach the brackets to the sides of the aquarium, just around the flow output. Make sure the mesh is at the top of the water and sticking out the surface just a bit. This won’t cut the current throughout the entire aquarium but will create calm areas where your fish can rest.
Another popular option is to cut the toes out of a pair of pantyhose. Tie the pantyhose around the filter intake with a rubber band. This will help to slow the intake and thus the current.
I think either option is a good choice and with little modification can be perfect for your betta. If you want to read my review of the Eclipse 6 I have it posted here.

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