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Old 06-08-2008, 05:49 PM   #1 
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new betta fish owner - how do I clean the bowl

hey. i just got 2 betta fish in 2 seperate bowls. i LOVE them. i read the half gallon bowls i bought for them weren't big enough and went back to the pet store to see if i could exchange the bowls for larger ones and the fish store people convinced me again and again that the half gallon bowls were perfect, in asia the betta live in puddle and are often kept in half coconut shells for years at a time, and if the aquarium is too big, the betta get scared and hide out.
should i listen to them or trust my get and get a bigger bowl?

then they told me to clean the bowls a few times a week by sucking out wasted material/debris with a turkey baster, and when the water gets lower, to match tap water temperature to the fish bowl water temperature in a seperate cup, at a tiny amount of NEUTRAL RGULATOR PH BALANCER to remove chrorine, ammonia etc.. and also to add STRESS ZYME, biological filtration booster. they also sold me KENT FRESHWATER PLANT FOOD, i do have a small live plant in each bowl. and they said to add a small amount of salt once a week.
i'm feeding them tiny live worms i reluctantly keep in my fridge, and BETTA BIO GOLD food from HIKARI.
i've read on here your'e supposed to clean small bowls daily or everyother day, but a friend says dailys is too much and will stress the fish. i want to be a worthy parent to these majestic fish.
thank you
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Old 06-08-2008, 06:22 PM   #2 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: IN
Welcome to the forum Christopher! It's always great to hear from people who are actually researching the care of their new bettas instead of just dumping them in a vase or fish bowl. Sounds like you're off to a good start.

I would highly recommend trading out the bowls for 2.5 or 5 gallon tanks for each fish. Getting a 5 or 10 gallon tank and dividing it with an aquarium divider would also work fine. Depending on where you live you'll also need a heater & glass thermometer to keep the water at 78-80*. Room temperature water will make bettas very lethargic and unhealthy. I don't need heaters for my bettas in the summer, but come winter they become quite necessary. If you're able to get a filter, it would be really good for your fish. They're not absolutely mandatory, but highly recommended, especially in a small tank. If you were to get a single tank and divide it, you would only need one heater and filter. It's not true that bettas live in small puddles in the wild... I would like to know when they've traveled to Asia and found betta filled puddles. Bettas do live in low oxygen enviroments, that are relatively shallow, but definatly NOT puddles. Although they could survive in puddles, they are generally found in much larger bodies of water. Just becuase they can survive in a small bowl, it's no excuse to keep them in one for their entire lives.

As far as feeding goes, those are great choices. Just be careful not to feed too many worms, as an overload could cause health problems in some fish. I feed my bettas (and my other fish) live bloodworms regularly, and have never had a problem. I feed the same pellets you're using as the staple though.

Sounds to me like they found a way to make a little more money off you with the plant fertilizer, stress zyme, and ph balancer. Stress zyme does next to nothing, and since the 1/2 gallon bowls they sold you cannot cycle anyways, adding stress zyme is even more useless. Any plant that can survive in the low light conditions of a bowl shouldn't need fertilizer. In many cases the fertilizer will just speed up algea growth. Constantly adjusting ph with a nuetralizer does more harm than good for your fish. A fluctuating ph is worse than a slightly off balance, but steady, ph. The only thing I would add to the bowl is water conditioner, to remove chlorine (the ph balancer doesn't remove chlorine or ammonia).

Pet store employees often mean well, they just don't know enough about the fish their selling to give solid advice. Others are just more interested in making money than advising customers on the proper care of their new pets. Sounds to me like you've run into both.

Good luck with your new bettas! Let us know what you decide to do.
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Old 06-08-2008, 09:01 PM   #3 
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You don't need the salt either. And be careful with the worms...only feed one or two a week.
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Old 06-09-2008, 08:18 AM   #4 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: New Jersey
Salt is quite good and keeps bettas healthy and prevents many things, like parasites.
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Old 06-09-2008, 04:40 PM   #5 
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Bettas are not as tolerant of salt as other fish. I agree with flashygrrl - no salt. It can be good for some community fish and many livebearers, but I wouldn't use it for my bettas.[/u]
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Old 06-09-2008, 05:28 PM   #6 
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I never heard of adding salt to a betta bowl. Why would you?
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Old 06-10-2008, 02:03 PM   #7 
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Thanks everybody for the great feedback. I really appreciate it. I am definitely going to buy larger bowls, 2.5 or 5 gallon, with filters heater and thermometers. but until i can do that, which probably wont be for a few days to a week, can someone tell me how to change the water?

the fish store told me to suck out waste and garbage with a turkey baster, and to leave the water as is until i clearly need to add more. then use my fingers to match tap water with the bowl water temperature, add some ph balancer to the tap water, stir, and add to the bowl.

my question is do i have to change all the water, or add just enough to fill up the bowl? is it ok that the water is the same water from the pet store for over a week now? can they sit like that if i keep cleaning the gunk out until i get a bigger tank from the fish store in about a week? any advice on how to transfer them to their new home when i get it? sorry to be so naggy and needy, but i realize now how ill prepared i was. i should have done research first. i'm gonna buy myself a good book online as well.
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Old 06-10-2008, 02:57 PM   #8 
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to be honest... i dont think a turkey baster would suck up much debri lol. since you dont have a filter currently my suggestion is put 50% of the water inside the bowl aside somewhere (dont throw it out!) you can then take the fish and put it in this water. then take the rest of the water and the gravel in his home and dump the nasty water leaving the gravel inside. keep sloshing around fresh water in the bowl forcefully and you will dislodge most of the debri in the gravel after one minute.

then fill the bowl back up w/ water as close to the temp as the fish was in to half way. add the water conditioner. AND my personal opinion... tho you dont have to listen its not essential is add a little aquarium salt... half the dose recommended. Bettas have a low tolerance for salt... which is why i add a low amount because it protects against fungi and most parasites. My fishy hasnt been sick since the 2 years ive had him! :)

then add the originally 50% water with your fish that you set aside. That way he'll have some of his original water conditions as to not shock him. do this abt twice a week until u get a filter.

welps! good luck!
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Old 06-10-2008, 03:06 PM   #9 
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I would change about half of the water every other day. The best way to do it is to just leave the fish in the bowl, and use the turkey baster to suck up the gunk on the bottom and remove water at the same time. Adjust the temperature of the water coming out of your tap until it feels about the same as the water in the bowl. Use a large cup or some other container, fill it with tap water, add the appropriate amount of water conditioner, give it a quick stir with your hand and then slowly pour it into the fish bowl.

When you get larger tanks, I would only fill them with as much water as is needed in order for the filters to function properly. Then, for about a week or two, whenever you change the water out of your betta's bowls, add this water to the new tanks. You can also try using some of the gravel and decorations from the bowls in the new tanks.

The reason for all of this is to speed up the cycling process of the new tanks. With small fish bowls, it's unlikely that there will ever be enough beneficial bacteria growth to support a betta. Hence the need for frequent large water changes. With a larger tank with a filtration system, bacteria that can break down fish waste can grow in your gravel, water, filter and on all the surfaces in your tank. Establishing this biological filter is the aquarium cycle and can take a while but by using old water from the fish bowls and things like gravel and decorations, you can speed up the process.

Monitoring the progress of the cycle can be done by using a liquid test kit, like the API Freshwater Master Test Kit. I recommend getting one of these and buying it online, since the big chain pet stores tend to sell it for twice what online retailers charge. The kit will give you information about the aquarium cycle and will tell you how to test your water parameters and what they mean.

Once the tanks are cycled, you can move the bettas to the tanks just like you would normally add a fish to a new aquarium. Get a plastic bag, put some water in it from the betta's bowl, put the betta in it, roll up the edges of the bag so they trap some air and float the bag in the new aquarium. Every ten minutes or so, add a little of the water from the new aquarium to the bag. After you've doubled the volume of water in the bag, you can dump the contents (including the fish) into the new aquarium.
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Old 06-10-2008, 11:43 PM   #10 
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Normally, cycling is extremely important. In this case however, I would not think it would be beneficial to keep the betta in a small uncycled bowl instead of moving it into a larger uncycled tank. Either way, it's in an uncycled enviroment, so it might as well be the larger one. More water means lower concentrations of toxic ammonia, which is another benefit of having it in the larger tank, even if it's not yet cycled. Buying the API test kit is still a good idea, becuase the tank will still cycle - it will just have your betta in it while it cycles.

Don't assume that cycling isn't important just becuase you can "skip it" in this situation. If you ever start another tank, it will be very important to let it cycle before adding fish.
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