In order to ensure the continued health of your betta fish, its habitat is going to require some regular maintenance. Opinions will differ on this subject, but what follows are some very solid suggestions on this critical aspect of betta fish care.
Change the Water
Betta fish are constantly expelling waste into the water in which they live, and in this way harmful substances accumulate. To prevent the concentration of waste from becoming too concentrated, frequent water changes are necessary. How often and the amount of water change necessary will depend on the size of the tank and whether the water is cycled.
For tanks holding 1-2 gallons of water, a water change ranging from 25% to 50% is suggested every other day. A complete water change (100%) is recommend once each week.
For a tank that holds 2.5 gallons or more, and if your tank is cycled, it is recommended that you change 10% of the water in the tank at least twice a week or, alternatively, change 25% of the tank’s water once each week.
If you use faucet water to fill your tank, it’s important to know that the water that comes out of the majority of faucets is chlorinated and also contains other miscellaneous harmful substances. While these substances may be safe for most people, they can actually be toxic for your bettas.
To rectify a potentially calamitous end for your fish, a water conditioner is needed. A water conditioner conditions the water that comes out of the faucet and makes it safe for your fish to live in. Always adhere to your particular water conditioner’s instructions when performing a water change to make sure the water added into your fish tank is safe for your bettas.
Test the Water Readings
There are many aquarium test kits available that allow you to see how good of a job you are doing in maintaining high quality water within your aquarium. A tank that is cycled should have an ammonia reading of “0”, a nitrite reading of “0”, a nitrate reading under 20 ppm, and a pH reading of 7.0 (6.0 – 7.5 is the range which betta fish can tolerate).
If you have performed all of your tests and noticed that your tank water’s readings for nitrite, nitrate or ammonia are unacceptable, you will need to partially change the water to lower the overall concentration in the water. If the pH level in the water is either too high or too low, you can avail yourself to any number of pH aquarium supplements available at your local pet store to adjust the level accordingly. Just make sure to follow the specific recommendations included in any test kit you purchase.
Occasionally, betta owners feel compelled to clean the ornaments inside the tank. Just one word of warning before you take on such a task: never use soap to clean the ornaments. If the ornaments are going back inside of the aquarium after cleaning, it’s important to understand that soap is toxic to your bettas. Even if you do a very thorough job rinsing the ornaments, trace amounts of soap may remain, and this could prove disastrous to the health of your fish.
If you want to follow proper betta fish care when cleaning aquarium ornaments, all that is usually needed is to rinse them under hot water. But if you find that hot water is not doing a good enough job cleaning the ornaments, you can try soaking them in a bowl of white vinegar. White vinegar softens the mineral deposits the hot water alone is not able to eradicate. After soaking, just make certain to again thoroughly rinse the ornaments under hot to remove all traces of vinegar.
Lighting The Tank
Betta fish naturally live in rice patties and, as such, are exposed to darkness at night and sunlight during the day. Proper betta fish care recommends doing your best to match this natural experience. This can be done by placing the aquarium near a window where natural sunlight streams in or using an artificial light.
Should you decide to light your aquarium with an artificial light, make certain it does not heat the tank’s water above acceptable levels for the bettas. Most household lamps positioned far enough away from the aquarium will not raise the temperature of the water. An even safer alternative is to purchase a light specifically designed for aquariums. Many of these lamps are designed to have minimal impact on the temperature of the water inside the tank.