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Old 07-29-2012, 01:13 PM   #1 
Seka's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Bluffton, SC
Tank Overheating Question

Hey guys, I joined this forum last year when I got my very first (and so far, only betta). I haven't been back to the forum until I noticed that I have a bit of a problem, and need advice.

Background information about betta:

Name: Dodo
Age: about two years old (don't know exactly, but I've had him over a year, and he was pretty big when I got him)
Tank: 10 gallon community tank, cycled, filtered, heated (heater currently off), live plants, perimeters holding within normal except for temperature; tank has been running for over a year.
Normal behavior: swimming in circles around plants and other things, sticking his nose into the other fish business (non-aggressive), sleeping inside caves during nap time, comes when called (tap on glass), comes to eat at meal times when called.
Feeding: flakes once a day (he eats the food the other fish eat, and won't touch his betta food), 1-2 days a week skipped so he's not overfed. I also offer him blood worms and his betta pellets for variety.
Problem Behavior: Sluggish, not interested in swimming around. Hiding and/or sleeping a lot. Not interested in food, or only grabbing one flake, and then going back to hiding.

Okay, here's the problem. Dodo has been acting very sluggish for the past four or so days. He's not lethargic; he just doesn't want to do anything. He also doesn't feel like eating. He looks fine, though. His fins and scales are normal, and he's not clamping the fins. His color is nice and bright. He's not over or underweight, and doesn't look bloated. When he does move, he's swimming like normal.

The tank temperature keeps going up because it's ridiculously hot here, and the thermometer registers it around 84 degrees. I'm thinking it's going higher, though.

I've been floating ice in a baggie today, and Dodo is swimming around like his usual self with the temperature at around 82 degrees. The problem is that I need a better way of keeping the temperature low. Here's what I've tried or considered so far:

1. Water change to help keep the temperature lower. The result was that the temperature just went back up in less than 12 hours. It even goes up at night.

2. Considered adding a fan. Didn't try that because I don't have one around. Even if I had one around, I have no way of safely adding it to the tank. Some of the fish in the tank are known jumpers, and taking the lid off is too risky. Also, the current from the fan would disrupt the water current too much for most of the fish in the tank. I already have to buffer the filter to keep the current low so the fan created current would most likely be an issue.

3. I read about chillers, but they seem really expensive for such a small tank. Plus, I don't think I have room to add one. I'd rather save that money and upgrade the tank to a bigger one since a bigger one would keep a more consistent water temperature (although, I can't upgrade right now due to space issues, but it's on the to-do list).

4. Floating ice in a baggie seems to work to keep the temperature lower, and Dodo has perked up a lot since the temperature has gone down. The problem is that the ice melts within minutes, and the baggie loses its effect in less than an hour. I'm replacing the ice at the rate of one baggie an hour already. I'm at home now, but if I have to go somewhere, I can't be there to replace the ice so it's not really consistent. Plus, I can't replace it at night, and the temperature goes up at night, too. If the temperature is under 82 degrees in the evening, it does stay around 82 until morning, though.

Any other ideas? Lowering the temperature in the house isn't possible since the A/C (central, not window) has broken and is barely holding the current temperature. The aquarium is not in direct sun light. Moving it to a basement would be nice, but we don't have a basement.

Thanks for reading this, though. Cookies for making it all the way through, and thanks for any advice.
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Old 07-29-2012, 01:34 PM   #2 
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Seattle, WA
With the high temp in the US, this is happenning a lot. The higher temperatures don't affect the fish unless they happen suddenly. Bettas are ok in temps up to 90's, higher than that and you should worry. I kept bettas when I lived in TX and had no problem with my fish in the higher temps.
I would remove the lid from the tank and use something like craft mesh to cover the top for the jumpers.
Your fish change in behavior might be due to something else.
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Old 07-29-2012, 02:25 PM   #3 
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I know lots of people that remove their heaters during the summer. Heat rises, so water will be warmer at the surface. If the water's cooler where your heater is, it'll kick on whether or not the rest of the water is already warm. We keep our place fairly well air conditioned, so heat is never a problem with us despite living in Texas. But if you don't keep the fish area air conditioned, removing heaters can certainly help. As far as your fish acting funny, I have no idea.
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Old 07-29-2012, 02:27 PM   #4 
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Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Bluffton, SC

That was my thought, too, that the temperature wasn't it, and that something else was making him feel that way. Unless he's hiding an illness, I've ruled out everything else, and it doesn't make sense that he'd perk up with lower temperatures. It's so hot here that we don't have any cold water except for the fridge or freezer. Even our tap is warm to hot on coldest settings. The thermometer max is 86 degrees, and it stops at 84, but I'm worried that the true temperature might be a lot higher, which would explain why the temperature is rising so quickly. A one or two degree difference would not cause the temperature to rise as quickly as in a 5-10 degree difference, no?

It's been ridiculously hot and stormy here lately. I don't know if the constant change in air pressure could also be affecting the water pressure. We have nice, sunny weather, a t-storm, sunny weather, t-storm effect daily so the air pressure is going up and down, and the amount of sun light is constantly changing. Could this be affecting him, too, in addition to the heat?

I'll see about the mesh, and removing the hood. I really don't like the hood thing anyway.

I'm not saying he's not sick. It's just, there's nothing else right now except for the high temperature. If it is something else, he's doing a really good job at hiding it.


I've considered removing the heater completely, but Dodo really likes it. It's his buddy so I was hesitant to do that. It is off, though, and it hasn't been heating the water in the past three months. You did point out that heat rises and water is warmer on the surface. I completely forgot about that. Dodo tends to spend most of his time on the bottom nowadays. I noticed that the tetras spent more time under the ice baggie while I was trying to lower the water temperature.

Last edited by Seka; 07-29-2012 at 02:31 PM.
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Old 07-29-2012, 05:53 PM   #5 
Kenny G
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Location: NYC
I personally do not use my heater in the summer months. I live in NY and with the 90 degree days it's not necessary. Plus my tank lights which are 15w 120v bulbs keeps the water warm. I first tried leaving my heaters on and my betta's became very lethargic. They would barely eat or move. I was scared they were sick. Once I turned off their heaters they returned to normal in a day. Both my betta's like temperatures in the mid 70's.
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Old 07-29-2012, 06:45 PM   #6 
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Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Bluffton, SC
The lower temperature seems to have helped. He's not as sluggish as he was the past few days, and he's not hiding anymore. He's still not moving around like he usually does, but definitely doing better. I only got the temperature down to 82 degrees, though, and any lower might be really hard to keep consistent. He also ate today, which is a great thing considering he hasn't really eaten the past few days. I'll still keep a close eye on him.

Thanks for replying, Kenny G. I don't use my tank lights at all because the fish hate the lights. My live plants are doing well without the tank lights since there's enough natural light entering the room. I turned off the heater back in June. Ah, NY weather... I don't miss it. Remember that huge black out that happened during the heat wave? That wasn't fun at all, lol.
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Old 07-29-2012, 07:10 PM   #7 
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Coastal Georgia
Our water out of the tap has been around 86 degrees. We live near the ocean and our pipes are near the ground surface. When I changed Buddy's tank today the water was 86 as opposed to his normal room temp of 80. He was hanging around the bottom of the tank, not like him at all. I took a bottle of water from the fridge, wiped it down, and put it in the tank for like 5 minutes while watching the thermometer. His water is now 80 degrees, right where he likes it. Tough when we live where it is so warm all the time. I want to keep his lid off too, but need to get some mesh first. Good luck!
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Old 07-30-2012, 10:57 AM   #8 
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Location: Bluffton, SC
Yeah, coastal GA/SC area is ridiculous right now. The coldest I can get our tap water to is around 86 degrees, too. Dodo is hiding again, but I have a baggie of ice floating yet again.

Speak of the betta, there he is, lol. I just put the baggie in, and just as I was typing the last sentence, he popped up. He's hanging out under the ice baggie. I guess he likes it, and the colder water feels good.

So far: no baggie = sluggish and hiding Dodo; baggie = Dodo swimming in circles and playing with it. I guess he really was too warm or he is bored of his tank and wants a new toy to inspect.
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