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I had a betta that passed away a few weeks ago (fairwell, dear Lenny), and my wife and I are ready to get a new betta. We hadn’t changed the set up of the tank, but we were wondering if we needed to replace the substrate and plants for risk of the bacteria still in the tank.

I’m not sure if the form will help, but I’ve provided it here just in case:


Housing:
How many gallons is your tank?
3.5 liters (≈0.9 gallons)

Does it have a filter?
No

Does it have a heater?
No, we live in the tropics and they’re kept in a non-airconditioned room with morning sun. It’s still there, plants and substrate and all sans any fish :(

What temperature is your tank?
25°–27°C (77°–80°F)

Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration?
No

Does your Betta have tank mates? What kind?
No

Food:
What food brand do you use?
Not sure, my wife’s vet colleague gave her some of his. I trust him because he keeps massive tanks of freshwater fish in different habitats.

Do you feed flakes or pellets?
Pellets

Freeze-dried?
Yes

How often do you feed your Betta? How much?
1/day for six days, fast one day
Just a pinch

Maintenance:
Before your Betta became ill how often did you perform a water change?
Once or twice a week

What percentage of water did you change?
80–90%

What is the source of your water?

Tap water with declorinator

Do you vacuum the substrate or just dip out water?
Dip out water

What additives do you use other than conditioner? What brand of conditioner?
None

Water Parameters:
What are your water parameters? Please give exact numbers. If tested by pet store please get exact numbers. "Fine" or "Safe" won't help us help you. Important: Test your water before the regular water change; not after one.

Ammonia:
0.1 ppm

Nitrite:
0.1 ppm

Nitrate:
0.2 ppm

pH:
Always ranged between 6.8–7.2

Hardness (GH):
Don’t know

Alkalinity (KH):
Don’t know

Symptoms and Treatment:
When did you first notice the symptoms?
Six weeks ago

How has your Betta’s appearance changed?
Lethargic, weak

How has your Betta’s behavior changed?
Not interested in eating

Is your Betta still eating?
It wasn’t eating on the day we noticed it was lethargic, and it passed away the next day

Have you started treating your Betta? If so, how?
At the vet yes, antibiotics (can’t remember what it was), 2.5 mg/L

Does your Betta have any history of being ill?
The vet noticed some white spots on the rostrum, which was something my wife and I noticed on the first day we brought him home and didn’t think much of it. Three weeks later he passed away ☹

How long have you owned your Betta?
3 weeks ☹

Was he or she ill or suffering some sort of damage when purchased?
Likely sick when we purchased them, based on what the vet said.
 

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A tank under 1 gallon will need daily water changes... You want ammonia and nitrites at 0. Possible that water quality is what led to his death.

Are you able to get a new tank that is 2.5 gallons or so? Still super small and easy to care for (2 times a week water changes) but gives a bit more swimming space and will maintain a more uniform temp and water quality.
 

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I agree with everything Momofbetta said.

I am sorry for you loss! I just feel I need to address something and I hope you do not mind me doing so.

I see you dip out water. This can impact the health of a betta by weakening their immune system. The waste at the bottom builds up and will cause bad water quality quickly in your tank as it breaks down into toxins for your betta. It burns their gills as well!

For any betta from now on, you must either siphon the tank with an aquarium siphon, or use a clean unused turkey baster. I would do this daily, to keep the tank bottom clean and avoid the problems above.

Do not be hard on yourself, as we all have had aspects of our care that could use improvement as beginners. I would recommend reading and asking as many questions as possible here to fully prepare before bringing home another betta. It is in the best interest of you both because you deserve to be able to have a betta that is healthy and one you can enjoy for its hopefully long life!
 

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In answer to your question, no, you do not need to replace plants or substrate. Just give both a good rinse. This means rinsing the substrate until the water runs clear.

For future, keep the parameters at 0 ppm Ammonia and Nitrite and under 10 ppm Nitrate.If the parameters rise and stay that way even after a water change, you will need to do a 100%.

If you get a siphon or a turkey as suggested above you should be okay. Use a turkey baster on a daily basis to remove feces and leftover food. If the parameters rise and stay there even after a water change you will need a 100%.

While I prefer tanks of 2.5 gallons or better because the maintenance is easier, a well-maintained one is fine.

Let us know when you get your new Betta.
 

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Everyone has answered your question I believe. The interesting thing is the bigger the tank, the less work is usually needed for maintenance.

Another thing to note is the food. I would try to find out what type of food it is. If your wife's colleague has massive tanks, odds are he's feeding a bulk food (cheap but high on fillers). Additionally he may be feeding a vegetarian or omnivore diet. Bettas can benefit from a protein rich diet made for insectivores. It may be valuable to find out what is in the food.
 
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