Aquascape.Art | Betta tank setup
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Betta tank setup

Be kind to your betta

Your betta needs clean water to thrive, the same way we need clean air to breathe. The key to keeping them happy is simply to give them enough space, clean water, live plants, a good variety of food & some human love. That is all! They are a beautiful and intelligent species of fish and deserve proper care. Being able to take care of them and getting ready for their arrival means knowing what makes them happy and healthy so you are able to offer the best quality of life for them.

Betta essentials

The tank

Bettas will not thrive if kept in a little bowl. They will survive for a while, but they will be stressed, bored, unhealthy and unhappy and this is certainly against the betta owners’ code. A single betta can live in a 5-gallon tank—but more is always better. The Betta Police will come and arrest anyone who keeps a betta fish in a bowl. Also a tank lid is required to stop your betta jumping.

The filter

While filters aren’t mandatory, it is highly recommended. Filters reduce harmful bacteria while supporting healthy bacteria and will contribute to the overall health of your tank. A filter is available as in internal, external or hanging type. Please note that betta fish are not very strong swimmers so please make sure that you pick a filter that has an adjustable flow rate.

The lighting

Betta fish are considered as diurnal animals and need natural or artificial light while they are awake and active during the day, and darkness at night so they can rest. This establishes a regular day and night pattern to regulate their internal biological clock. They require a minimum of 8 hours or light a day to thrive.

The temperature

Betta fish come from a tropical climate in South East Asia so they require warm water in their tanks. They are also very sensitive to changes in their habitat’s temperature and water parameters. Abrupt changes can stress your fish and even cause adverse health consequences. If you live in a colder climate, please make sure you have an quarium-safe heater and maintain a tropical habitat at 76-81° Fahrenheit or 24-27° Celcius.

The cave

Mimicking a betta’s natural habitat is the best way to accomplish a content and happy betta. To achieve this, consider adding organic materials such as wood and live plants in their tank that will provide shelter and plenty of places to hide. They are curious and love to see new things and they also enjoy changes in their dwelling from time to time. They also enjoy resting by the water surface so why not try ‘betta hammocks’ – this will give them a perching spot.

The water

Water added to the tank must be free of contaminants. If you use tap water, be sure to use a water conditioner or dechlorinator to remove chlorine, chloramine, ammonia, and other heavy metals to make sure the water is safe for your betta. Never use distilled water as it has been stripped of all the essential minerals that bettas need to thrive on. I personally age my water for 24 hours before I use it – this also ensures that the water chemistry is stabilised and allows time for chlorine to evaporate.

The catappa leaves

Betta fish prefer their water’s pH to be slightly acidic with the pH range of 6.5 to 7.5. To reduce pH naturally and enhance betta fish’s vitality, I highly recommend adding Catappa leaves to your betta tank. Catappa leaves will change your tank water colour and ‘stains’ it as tannins leeches into the water during decomposition – this lowers the pH of the water. In addition to that, catappa leaves are known to have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effects to fish. These benefits have been known in Asia for many years and is extremely popular with betta breeders.

The live plants

Adding some live betta fish plants in your tank will not only make it look aesthetically pleasing and livelier, but it’ll also resemble their natural habitat. Unlike fake plants, live plants have varying levels of maintenance and can provide lots of additional benefits. Live plants for betta fish tanks can add oxygen to the water and reduce harmful ammonia and nitrate levels which can stress or even be deadly to your betta. Like fake plants, they provide hiding and resting spaces and can keep betta fish from getting bored. Boredom can lead to fin biting and other unwanted side effects.

The moss balls

Marimo moss balls are ideal for betta fish because they absorb nitrates and act like natural filters, removing  ammonia and other tank phosphates that are harmful to your betta. Marimo moss balls don’t require much light (low to medium and indirect), but do need to be rinsed and washed every so often. Betta fish love these little moss balls for a bunch of reasons, but mainly because they can be rolled around, just like a toy or real ball. Betta can also nibble on them if they want to, rest on them, and hide around them.

Remember to cycle your tank!

The purpose of cycling a fish tank is to establish a bed or colony of bacteria in your biological filter to help eliminate any harmful toxins from fish’s metabolism. Cycling your tank is crucial and usually takes about 2 weeks so make sure you time take this process into account before buying your betta.

During tank cycling process, bacteria will digest the ammonia from waste, turning it into Nitrite. The bacteria in your tank eventually turn the Nitrite into Nitrate which is relatively less harmful to fish. Accumulation of Nitrate is not only harmful, but also accelerate the growth of algae. Therefore, it is imperative that you follow the cycling process before adding your new betta.

A tank that is in the process of cycling is often referred to as having “New Tank Syndrome.” If the tank hasn’t properly cycled by the time you add your fish, it could be a toxic environment resulting in the death of your fish.

Cycling methods

Methods of fishless cycling may involve “seeding” the tank with fish food to provide nutrients for beneficial bacteria to grow – this takes a lot of time and patience (2 weeks minimum). The fastest method is to add live bacteria to the tank to jumpstart the nitrogen cycle. Normally this method will enable you to add your fish into the tank immediately. Such example is Quick Start from API but please read and follow the instructions.

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