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Should I clean his tank?

  • Yes, he needs a clean space

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Discussion Starter #1
So I've had my betta fish that is a male. I got Mr. Cutie for my daughter for her 4th birthday March 7th 2018. I do not know how old he was when I got him though. He was purchased from Walmart. I guess for about the first year he was in a decent tank alone with a pump. He gets regular beta food from the store. I will be honest and say keeping a fish is never one of my strong suits and his tank has not been cleaned nearly enough. I think the last time it was cleaned was over a year ago. It isn't really that dirty in his tank honestly and that's without a pump too. I call him my little miracle fish because he's so easy to take care of. I've been debating cleaning his tank but honestly I am worried if I do at this point it will be bad for him. He seems adjusted to his living area and the water. I do keep it filled when the water gets low and he is still very active. I would guess he's around 2 years old from the time I bought him at least. So is he just a rare beta? Would you recommend changing anything?
 

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What size tank is he in? Most people say you should always change 50% of the water once a week, to keep up with the nitrates that are produced from the ammonia that their waste produces. Have you ever heard of the nitrogen cycle? Would you mind me asking what brand of food you feed him?
 

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I feed his Tetra Betta Flakes and he is in a 2.5 gallon tank. I know you're supposed to clean it regularly but honestly I feel like if I start doing that now he may die. I don't know if they adapt to their surroundings but I swear it seems like that's what he has done.
 

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I do believe betta fish are hardy. That doesn't mean that he is happy. I would test the water and post the results here:
ammonia:
nitrite:
nitrate:
pH:
KH
GH
The results would help see if you actually should start changing the water more often. Ammonia will eventually get your fish sick if it is in your tank.
 

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When you say "I think the last time it was cleaned was over a year ago" do you mean cleaned as in changing the water, or cleaned as in decorations taken out & scrubbed?

If you mean scrubbing, that's fine. You can rinse them off with just plain water and put them back in if you feel like it, it's not a big deal. I usually don't clean decor in my tanks unless they get a lot of algae. You do want to clean the gravel regluarly though, either with a siphon/gravel vacuum or by stirring it up, and sucking away as much "gunk" as comes floating up. For a tank neglected as badly as yours, I'd suggest actually taking the gravel out to rinse it in the sink, or at least take your betta out in a cup before you stir it up.


If you mean it's been a year since you changed his water, you need to do a water change immediately- but a very small one!

Today change out about 10% of his water, replacing it with clean water that has a water conditioner added and is the same temperature as the water he's in. Tomorrow and the day after, do the same. The fourth day, if he hasn't reacted poorly, you can increase it to 25% of his water. Days five through seven, change out 25% daily. On day seven, take out his gravel and really rinse it well, because there is going to be a lot of "gunk" trapped in it which needs to come out and I'd rather do it at once in this situation.

After day seven, change 25% of the water twice a week for the rest of his life.

Water changes are essential for fish care. They don't just swim in it they live in it, and the waste they produce will only be removed if you the owner exchange old dirty water for clean. When water evaporates only the water evaporates, meaning all the waste is left behind and becomes more concentrated. This is why just "topping up" a tank is not a replacement for actual changes, even if it prolongs his ability to survive. (I'm sorry if I sound harsh, but a year without water changes is neglectful to the point of cruelty IMO)


The reason you want to start off with such small changes, spaced an entire day apart, is because your betta has indeed become used to the parameters of the water in his tank and changing too much at once, even if the new water is healthier, can be a shock to his system. By the time he's had an entire week of small daily changes he will essentially be in completely new, clean water, without the stress of changing it all out at once.

So your instinct of thinking he's gotten used to the water in his tank was correct, but only in part. Just because he's used to it doesn't mean it is healthy for him to continue to be exposed to it.


I am assuming his tank doesn't have a heater, and that's probably the main reason he's lived this long with this level of care. A betta kept at room temperature can survive, but their metabolism is slowed down- he would not be producing as much waste as a betta kept at the proper temperature, and has had a longer time to adapt to the water conditions.

Ordinarily I highly recommend heaters, but in this situation I would not suggest one for your tank until your betta has been in clean water for at least a month's time, to make sure he's adapting well to one change at a time.


I'm sorry if I sound discouraging or overly harsh, that isn't my intention. I do believe you can give your betta a healthier life from now on, but it will require some more work on your part. While bettas are very forgiving of their conditions compared to other fish they are still living creatures and require adequate care.

It's true that bettas are "hardy" fish and, as you've found out, can survive in neglectful conditions... But don't you think he deserves a chance to do more than just survive?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
When it was last cleaned I put him in a bowl at room temp and took everything out of the tank. I scrubbed the tank and rinsed all of the rocks and gravel along with his little decoration's and fake plant. I put in water conditioner and then let it settle and get to regular temperature so it didn't shock him. He does not have a heater in his tank and never has but the house never gets cold and he is kept near a window but not in direct sunlight. He is very lively little guy. I never meant for him to go this long like this but it got to the point where I truly felt like if I changed anything he would die and I just didn't want that to happen. You did not come off as harsh, I do understand he deserves better which is why I sought out advice for what to do for him.
 
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