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Old 11-22-2012, 12:06 AM   #1 
AyalaCookiejar
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Question Confused...

So my cousin seems to think that she doesn't have luck with bettas in big tanks (she said one has never lasted a year) so she keeps her bettas in bowls. She said the one she has now she's had for three years and her last one lived for 3-4 years. I know that this statement is REALLY vague (I don't know how much decor she had, if she's ever used a heater or filter or anthing of the sort).

Also, my brother seems to think (haha) that they do better at lower temperatures. He says that they get sick less often or something and they age/grow slower (can't say that's really a good thing.)

I find it annoying that I hear a lot of different things that contradict each other. I trust the information I read on this site more than people than I know in real life because there are so many die-hard betta fans and owners :p

Anyways, what are your opinions on this? I know that a bigger tank is better and that a temp around 78 degrees is best, but what could they be doing wrong that makes their fish live longer in smaller tanks and room temperature water? (I'm waiting for DragonFish to say "not enough hiding places" regarding the bigger tank :P)
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Old 11-22-2012, 12:42 AM   #2 
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I can understand the problem with mixed information and contradicting opinions...such is the internet. I also trust the info I find here. But I can relate to this story a little.

My first betta I didn't know needed so much. He had a 2 gallon tank, a few plants, a small rock ornament, small filter and that was it. He got some fish pellets a day. And he lived for three years. But I do know I would sometimes go a while without remembering to change his water, and I reading some stuff here now, I now know he was definitely sick several times. And because I didn't know any better, and didn't think to look on the internet...he eventually died. And I knew it was my fault. I definitely wasn't giving my all into him.

From the info I've read, bettas 'can' survive in bowls, but it means frequent water changes to keep the ammonia low. There are stories of bettas surviving in 1 gallon and less without water changes, and some stories that they'll use their gills less, and breathe only air - but the breathing and ammonia arent the only things to worry about.

Betta are tropical fish. No, they don't like hot water, but where in anywhere tropical is the water actually hot? The air is, but the water where they naturally live is definitely not terribly cold or much above 81F I would guess. Guessing here, lol!

Fish like to be comfortable, they like space, they like being entertained, and above all else (and that they will never let us forget) they like food.

My honest opinion is that bigger is better. There's no need to get crazy with size, but a 2.5-10g is reasonable for a healthy betta. Add some small tank mates or a snail, some live plants. Room to stretch the fins, explore, hide, do everything a little fish needs to do while not in the wild. A constant, comfortable temperature is also great for them.

That being said, bigger tanks sometimes take more to care for. Not as frequent water changes, but vacuuming the gravel, taking care of the plants...there's definitely more to it than a small bowl. But there are plenty of betta who do very well in much more than a bowl.

The only other bit of info I've learned is some betta prefer the 2.5-5gallon range, and 10g can be a bit big. Thusly I'm splitting my 10g and he'll have a fellow betta on the otherside of some mesh along with a snail. So 5g for both, and I'm pretty sure they'll be happy fish.
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Old 11-22-2012, 12:45 AM   #3 
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I also see that I didn't really answer your questions. >.< What they were doing wrong that could've led to longer lives? Honestly, nothing. I think that bettas are naturally a very hardy fish, and try to live on as long as they can. And I think that's a little sad, because that's why they're targets for stores. They're beautiful, have personality...but take much less $$ for the stores to stock and keep compared to other fish. The cups they keep them in, hell, I asked my clerk when I bought Phy when last they changed his water and fed him, and she promptly replied that they get fed once a day and water changed (only 2.5 inches per cup) every 3 days. That's horrible. But cheaper for the store. And only because betta are truly hardy, and I think are fighters in more ways than one :)
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Old 11-22-2012, 01:01 AM   #4 
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That really doesn't explain why they would last less than a year in my cousins tank :/ my brother said he did research. I don't know where the heck he got his info from, haha.

I know they are hardy, though. My two bettas both lived a year in one gallon tanks. My first one died because my cat got to him - I went to camp, told my parents to take care of my fish, came back and the lid was knocked off and the fish was gone :( my second one is still alive, and recently got an upgrade to a 5 gallon tank. He seems to absolutely love it, way more than his 1 gallon.

Maybe some just live longer than others regardless, and she just picked the less hardy ones for her big tanks and the more hardy ones for her small tanks? It just doesn't make any sense to me. Arrrrggg I feel bad for her fish being in bowls since she believes that they live longer in bowls than in actual tanks.
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Old 11-22-2012, 01:06 AM   #5 
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Like I said, the internet is full of opinions. This is the only site I really trust about betta info. The bigger tanks do take more care than smaller ones. It could have been any number of things that made it harder for the fish in the bigger tanks. Regular water temperatures are important, and she'd need a heater for that. A filter is important, and I think plants would help a lot. if she didn't have these or the proper decor, they may have gotten too stressed. I honestly can't make a better diagnosis without more details, haha.

I really hope my little guy perks up when the 10g-turned split is ready. That's not till next month, but I'm really hoping. He was really stressed with the 10g all to himself. Some bettas just don't like too much space I suppose.
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Old 11-22-2012, 01:20 AM   #6 
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I thought my fish might get stressed out in his new tank when I upgraded from a one gallon to a five gallon because I only have one fake plant and two houses in it, but he doesn't really seem to use them. (I sat and watched him for hours until almost 2am to make sure he didn't act like he was stressed.) He's swimming around like a champ, now. I guess every fish is different, but I still don't think that her keeping her fish in a bowl is better than at least a 2.5 gallons tank.

It's just upsetting because she didn't get her information from the internet, she got it from personally owning bettas, and there's not really any way I can convince her otherwise that it's better to have a larger tank :/ It sounds like she's had quite a few over the years.

But, I think that we all probably need to take a deep breath and realize that we can't help ALL the bettas in the world. At least he's being taken care of and he's got more room in a bowl than in the little cup they keep them in at walmart, right?
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Old 11-22-2012, 01:31 AM   #7 
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Sure, it's better than a cup, but too small for a heater or most filters or the foliage they need for when they want to hide and take a rest from the light around them.

I would definitely vouch for at least a 2.5g, my guy is happy in his, thuogh I'll try him with the 5g half of the 10g just to see if he could, you know, be happier. And stop biting his fin. And giving me gray hairs with his stress stripes every time I change his water. Hopeful, hopeful...I mean, 2.5 to 4X that is a big change.....

I really don't think they should be in bowls. It means daily water changes. It means the fish being moved a lot. And I honestly think it's boring and cruel to the fish. Hardy or not, being bored until death isn't cool no matter what you are. Just because they 'can' live that long in poor conditions, doesnt mean they should.
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Old 11-22-2012, 01:40 AM   #8 
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Yes, but it is my cousins fish, and I can try to convince her otherwise, but she still thinks they live longer in bowls. No amount of statistics or research or anything else I find can change her mind because of the simple fact that she's had fish that did not live very long in tanks, and has had others who lived a long time in bowls.

I couldn't hardly fit any decor in my one gallon tank. I think he would have been thrilled even if it were an upgrade to a 2 gallon instead of a 5 gallon. It may be more work, but it's worth it to have a happier fish. I 100% agree with you. But I guess this is just one fish I'm not going to succeed in getting a larger tank for :(
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Old 11-22-2012, 09:45 AM   #9 
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I have a friend who keeps her betta in a .5 gallon bowl, she even cleans the bowl with soap occasionally

Her cats drink water out of the bowl and she replaces the water, that's how she does water changes.

Her betta is thriving!
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Old 11-22-2012, 09:57 AM   #10 
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I've also always found it strange that betta fish in small bowls without heaters and minimal water changes can live so long. I had a friend in my dorm a few years ago who had a betta that lived 3 years without ever having any of the recommended care. In contrast, it often seems like people who take good care of theirs lose them much faster. It's really intriguing, and I'd love to know whether there's any science behind the hearsay. It is rather ironic though, considering how people on this forum can be downright nasty to newbies whose fish aren't living in the "ideal" conditions.
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