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Beginner's Tank Size Guide for Betta Keeping

There are many varying opinions about which tank sizes for bettas are humane or spoiling them rotten. This guide is for beginners to outline which tank they believe to be the best size for them to start out or upgrade to. This guide will provide pros and cons for varying tank sizes, so that you, the reader of this guide, can pick a tank size that works FOR YOU.

This guide is only unbiased in the fact that bettas cannot give a verbal opinion about their living space. Some bettas prefer small tanks while some do well in larger tanks. There are also bettas that prefer solitude while some can handle communities.

Therefore, for the sake of this guide, we are going to talk about your average betta who doesn't really care about tank size and can do well in both solitude and communities.

Also, due to my inexperience with natural planted tanks (NPTs), this guide will not include the influence of plant-life, other than the brief mention of lighting.


1/2 gallon/2 Litres

Advantages:
- Small footprint so you can have many tanks
- easy to clean
- easy to move/transport
- inexpensive, especially if you purchase a bowl/vase from a craft shop
- Can be placed anywhere in any kind of living environment (bedroom, kitchen, university dorm, bathroom, etc.)

Disadvantages:
- Toxic ammonia builds up quickly
- Must do 100% water changes very often to combat ammonia build up
- Difficult to heat SAFELY
- Water-related problems can happen FAST due to the small amount
- Difficult to dose some medications (medications with packets for 10 Gallons), Aquarium salt and Epsom salt if you don't want to do the math
- King/Giant/Larger bettas and Halfmoons may not have enough space to show full potential
- VERY difficult to cycle
- NO tank mates
- If inactive, you cannot tell if it is cold, sick or bored or simply lack space to swim
- Bored bettas may start tail biting
- Small space does not allow your betta to exercise and may have health impacts

1 Gallon/4 Litres

Advantages:
- same as 0.5Gal/2L
- Easy to dose Aquarium Salt and Epsom salt
- Good size for a hospital tank
- Some filters available

Disadvantages:
- same as 0.5 Gal/2L
- difficult to dose other medications
- Difficult to cycle
- NO tank mates
- If inactive, you cannot tell if it is cold, sick or bored or simply lack space to swim
- Small space does not allow your betta to exercise and may have health impacts

2-4 Gallons/8-15L

Advantages:
- relatively small footprint, but generally requires a sturdy piece of furniture such as a counter top or a desk
- Able to be heated safely with a low-wattage heater
- Filters are available to purchase on their own or in kits

Disadvantages:
- Some filters are a bit strong and must be baffled
- If no filter, 100% water changes start to become laborious
- If there is a filter, cycle is not impossible but difficult to keep stable
- Difficult to dose some medications (medications with packets for 10 Gallons), Aquarium salt and Epsom salt if you don't want to do the math
- NO tank mates


5 Gallons/20L

Advantages:
- Can hold a stable cycle, drastically reduces the need and amount of water changes; 100% water changes no longer necessary if cycled
- Lots of space for a Halfmoon
- Can be divided into two sections
- Can have a snail or two as a tank mate
- Lots of space for decorations
- Kits are readily available for purchase: Comes with the tank, filter and light hood
- Many heaters available
- Some lighting options available for live plants if desired

Disadvantages:
- Significant footprint, requires a very sturdy surface to hold the weight
- SOME university dorms will not allow this size
- NO tank mates other than a snail
- Divided tanks will transmit diseases readily
- In a divided tank, if one fish gets sick, you may have to treat both
- If not doing 100% water changes, a gravel vacuum is recommended
- If you do not have a filter, 100% water changes are very laborious
- If divided, some bettas may tail bite due to misplaced aggression


10 Gallons/40L

Advantages:
- Same as 5 gallons
- Plenty space for a King/Giant/Halfmoon on its own
- Can be divided up to 4 different sections
- Can stock a certain variety of tank mates (consult compatibility section)
- Kits are readily available for purchase: Comes with the tank, filter and light hood
- Large variety of lighting available
- Future betta purchases/upgrades already taken into account
- Very easy to dose many medications, as they come in packets to dose 10 gallons

Disadvantages:
- expensive start up cost: Includes purchase of extra decorations
- very large footprint; requires a very sturdy piece of furniture or the purchase of a tank stand
- Diseases spread rapidly through a community and divided tank
- If doing a divided tank, sometimes two filters are necessary
- Dividing the tank into 4 sections gives a very small “viewing” area from the front due to the shape of the tank
- If divided, some bettas may tail bite due to misplaced aggression


Disclaimer #1: This guide is geared towards absolute beginners who are in the process of deciding which tank to purchase to accommodate their first and future bettas.

Disclaimer #2: I did not include sororities as they are GENERALLY not recommended for beginners. If you would like to start a sorority anyway, please consult the forum.

Disclaimer #3: If anybody even THINKS about starting a subjective argument instead of posting FACTS about certain tank sizes, I will NOT hesitate to contact a moderator. You will either have to deal with them or deal with me. Your correct choice would be the former.

I hope this gives some insight into picking a proper tank for either your first or subsequent betta fish. This guide was designed to give you objective data based on knowledge and experience from many members I asked to help me with this guide. This guide provides objective data, your brain will hopefully process it and make a subjective opinion on what kind of life you want your betta to have. If you want to put them in a 0.5 gallon tank, that is YOUR CHOICE ONLY. If you want to put them in a 500 gallon tank, that is YOUR CHOICE ONLY.

This guide has given you advantages and warnings of the majority of popular-sized tanks. Whichever size you pick, YOU are responsible for the health and life of your fish. Don't re-post back here and claim that I killed your fish, or am promoting cruelty just because your fish died in an X-gallon tank.

Also please don't preach to others about which tank size is "the most appropriate", or slam others with tanks that you find inappropriate. As long as the owner loves and cares for their fish properly, let them do as they please.

Feel free to PM me any concerns or questions. Any useful bits of information, I will try to ask a moderator to slip it into this guide

Thank you for reading,
Bahamut285

Thanks to: Vaygirl, cajunamy, 1fish2fish, Sweeda88 and Luimeril
 

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Nice guide, should help out beginners, thanks!

Also like that you put down "Also please don't preach to others about which tank size is "the most appropriate"", as I agree completely, as long as the betta is properly cared for and kept clean/warm, then the size doesn't matter a great deal, if any at all.
 

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+1 This is a great guide! *thumbs up*
Hopefully people will recognize now that it's much harder to upkeep a .5 gal then they think. ;)
 

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Great guide. I confess to some surprise at a 5 gallon being considered a "significant footprint", though. But then, I'm used to 5 gallons and above and only use smaller ones as quarantine tanks. :)
 

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Great guide. I confess to some surprise at a 5 gallon being considered a "significant footprint", though. But then, I'm used to 5 gallons and above and only use smaller ones as quarantine tanks. :)
I was thinking this too :p maybe a moderate footprint as my 5 gallon fits nicely on my nighttable and isnt too big
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Great guide. I confess to some surprise at a 5 gallon being considered a "significant footprint", though. But then, I'm used to 5 gallons and above and only use smaller ones as quarantine tanks. :)
Oh don't worry, I don't think 5 Gallons is a significant footprint either. I've just come to terms with the fact that a lot of younger members' parents won't let them get a 5 gallon because "IT'S TOO BIG"

I've heard a bunch of members also start arguing with others saying that they can't get a 5 Gallon because it won't fit on their desk at home/dorm, etc.

I've got TWO 5 gallons sitting on my desk at home, but I have a big desk, LOL


Thank you for reading :D
 

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I have a 5G on my desk too. It drives me nuts though - Its too heavy to lift and carry to the sink but not big enough to get the siphon to work on it. My uncycled 20G is less work then the 5G LOL
 

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Lovely guide.
You might want to mention the daily water changes on the half gallon and the daily/every other changes on the 1 gallon.
 

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Nice post! I wished I had this 15 years ago with my first betta. He was happy and lived for almost 2 years in my dorm.

One I think should be mentioned (maybe others don't agree with me though- so you can remove if needed) but my fish all needed different things. I had one fish who was in a 1.5 gal unheated bowl. We slowly tried to get him into a heated 2 gal tank and he freaked out big time! He was put back into his bowl and was super happy. Even with the cold winter no heat for him, he just didn't want nay part of it. Heck we even tried to move his tank into our bedroom where it was a bit warmer on the 2nd floor and he didn't like the change of location! He had to be in one spot only and only in that bowl! Funny little guy! He lived over 2 years so he was pretty healthy.

My last fish was the same. We tried to put different things near his tank and he'd freak out. We had to keep him with one plant near him and nothing else. I even tried to switch it out with flowers once and again he freaked out. We put a cloth under him to decorate for halloween and had to get rid of it.

I've had fish who thought anything bigger then a gal was too scary, and others who could probably go bigger then the 2.5 gal tank we use, but are fine in the 2.5 gal.

I think your fish's personality also should be taken into consideration with tanks/bowls. Some feel scared and never adjust into a bigger tank, some really need a bigger tank. Some want it 75*F some want it as high as 84*F. Maybe my fish were just crazy? ha ha!
 

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I love it! Great job!

This is my favorite line, "You will either have to deal with them or deal with me. Your correct choice would be the former."

Also, when you mentioned a betta in a 500 gallon tank, instead of picturing a tiny fish in a big tank, I pictured a people-sized betta LOL!
 

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Very good info.. This would have saved me a few bucks a while back..

From my own experience though the "larger is less work" isnt always the truth. Some of the smaller "engineered" tanks I think are very good. A great example of this is the Fluval Spec. The 3 stage filtration moves it up a couple notches in the ease of use category even though its only a 2 gallon tank. A 5 gallon with a typical cheapo HOB filter that normally comes with the kits for around the same cost as the spec would definitely net you more space, but more work to keep clean.

There are other small tanks that I would call "engineered" that also do a great job (The marineland eclipse 3 gallon is another good example). I Guess that comes to technology over tradition.
 
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