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Old 05-11-2012, 07:29 AM   #1 
Cattitude
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Care for small tanks or bowls

I am writing this for those of us who keep our bettas in tanks or bowls that are less than 5 gallons. These could include vases, wineglasses, the little cube habitats from pet stores, etc.

I read a lot of people here telling small bowl owners "get rid of it, it's bad for your fish" but the bottom line is that some people don't have the space or the money to buy a bigger tank. Or, they spent a lot of money for a decorative setup and want to keep it.

So here are the requirements to keep a healthy betta in a small bowl. If you can't meet these requirements, then you should get a larger tank for the health of your betta.

1. Clean water. In small bowls it's usually impossible to provide filtration and even if you do, these tanks are too small to cycle. The only way to keep the water clean is to change it - frequently. At least 50% every second day with one 100% change once or twice a week! Make sure the fresh water is treated with a water conditioner.

Another way to help water quality is to use a turkey baster to pick up any unwanted food after each feeding.

2. Heated water. Contrary to what pet stores tell you, bettas are tropical fish and need warm water. Small tanks are vulnerable to room temperature changes; a heater prevents these. Bettas need water that is 78* F to 86*. You can get small 10 watt submersible heaters for less than $20.

3. Filtration. This is not always possible in some tanks. In a non-cycled environment it is not as critical; it mainly adds oxygen to the water.

4. Oxygen. Some bowls and vases have little water surface exposed to air. This is a problem because it's hard for the betta to access the surface to breathe, and because there's limited gas exchange between the water and the air. To address this, get an air pump and tubing to blow some air into the tank, perhaps with an air stone. Note: bubbles can create a strong current. You can get a valve to attach to your air hose which can control the flow of air.

5. Decoration. A betta needs mental stimulation and places to hide. However, space is at a premium and your betta needs room to swim. You can omit gravel in the tank and just use some larger pebbles which take up less space and are easier to clean. Use a bushy silk plant with broad leaves, silk is less likely to tear fins.

Live plants are a good idea as well. They clean the water to a certain extent and are harmless to fins. I recommend a marimo moss ball. They are compact, don't root in the substrate and require minimal light and care.

6. Tankmates. Not needed and they just produce more wastes to foul the water. Even a snail produces a lot of waste. In a small bowl or tank the betta is fine by him/herself.

I hope this list will be helpful to new small-tank owners. Maybe it could be made sticky? If I have forgotten anything please feel free to add your comments.
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Old 05-11-2012, 07:51 AM   #2 
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Water change. You will not need thwt amount of water changes, they will differ depending on the amount of fish you have and the size of the tank, in a smaller 1 gallon tank with one male Betta one 50% and one 100% water change will keep ammonia which is toxic to fish minimal. You won't typically have to worry about nitrate or nitrites poisoning as a cycle would be hard to establish in a tank of that size,

Nutritional foods. Bettas they do require nutritional foods, to thrive and do well, withiut a diet that contains the main, improtant, key ingrediants they will modt likely et sick due to stress, or lowered immune system. such as omega - one pellets, new life spectrum pellets, and atisons Betta pro. Not to be confused with attisons Petra pro, this item has been discontinued, they also should have a varied diet aswell, the pellets would be considered the staple diet and another type of food such as frozen or live foods could be fed once or twice a week

# 3 and # 4 are both incorrect, In a tank of that size. A filter would be virtually useless as the lack of surface area, and the O2 content in the water is probably minimal which leaves the nitrifying bacteria in a difficult place to establish, grow and colonize. I would just leave the filter off. And go along with the regular water changes of one 100% and one 50% to keep ammonia minimal. You won't have to worry about nitrite and nitrate poisoning as nitrifying bacteria will most likely not grow strong in this type of habitat, nitrifying bacteria is what oxidizes harmful substances into less harmful ones.

In anything less than 5 gallons, and more than 1 gallon you should ideally do 1 50% and one 100% water changes weekly to minimize ammonia, and nitrites content. In a A tank of that size you shouldn't have to worry about nitrate/nitrite poisoning as nitrates/nitrites are both a result of bacteria oxidizing ammonia into those substances. Cycling doesn't occur as much in tanks less than 5 gallons. In a tnk upwards of 5 gallons. It has the ability to hold a stable cycle, and depending on the stocking. You should do 25-50% water changes. As 100% changes can slightly impact the cycle

Bettas are anataboids/labyrinth fish, which means they have the ability to derive there oxygen from the air/surface, and don't use the water for dissolved oxygen as many other fish do. Which means they have the ability to survive in oxygen depleted water given that they have the ability to get to the surface of the water. They rely on this organ mainly for breathing,

Last edited by Mo; 05-11-2012 at 08:10 AM.
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Old 05-11-2012, 08:09 AM   #3 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mo View Post
You are aware that bettas are labyrinth fish meaning hat they derive there oxygen from the surface of the water and don't use dossivoed oxygen as other fish do, so no extra oxygenation is needed at all. Which means # 3 and # 4 should b removed from the list. Those would be needed only if you had another type of fish that wasn't classified as a labyrinth fish
I know that bettas are labyrinth fish, however, they also use their gills to absorb oxygen. In fact young bettas' labyrinth organs are not fully developed and they require more oxygen from the water. Many people buy the baby bettas from Petco; these would definitely need oxygenated water.

In any case, if you have a tall tank, the fish must swim further to reach the surface for air and this is a stressor. IMO in this situation it's not optimal for the fish to have to rely strictly on air from the surface.

Another purpose for the extra oxygenation is to increase gaseous exchange at the surface when there is little surface area in a tank. A tall vase or round bowl has a lot of water and little surface area. As a result, gasses such as CO2 are not dissipated as much as they should be and this fouls the water. Bubbles cause the water to move, plus gasses dissipate into the bubbles to facilitate gas exchange.

If someone with a small tank (i.e. a round goldfish bowl) doesn't want to aerate their water, the next best thing would be to fill the bowl only half to three quarters of the way, to increase water surface area.
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Old 05-11-2012, 08:13 AM   #4 
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Nutritional foods. Bettas they do require nutritional foods, to thrive and do well
The need for nutritional foods goes without saying, however, it applies to bettas in all tank sizes. I created this thread to highlight the special needs of bettas in small tanks and bowls only.
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